The Three Musketeers
Alexandre Dumas [Pere]
Part 9 out of 17
dying of my wounds at first, and of hunger afterward, in a
beggarly inn at Chantilly, without you ever deigning once to
reply to the burning letters I addressed to you."
"But, Monsieur Porthos," murmured the procurator's wife, who
began to feel that, to judge by the conduct of the great ladies
of the time, she was wrong.
"I, who had sacrificed for you the Baronne de--"
"I know it well."
"The Comtesse de--"
"Monsieur Porthos, be generous!"
"You are right, madame, and I will not finish."
"But it was my husband who would not hear of lending."
"Madame Coquenard," said Porthos, "remember the first letter you
wrote me, and which I preserve engraved in my memory."
The procurator's wife uttered a groan.
"Besides," said she, "the sum you required me to borrow was
"Madame Coquenard, I gave you the preference. I had but to write
to the Duchesse--but I won't repeat her name, for I am incapable
of compromising a woman; but this I know, that I had but to write
to her and she would have sent me fifteen hundred."
The procurator's wife shed a tear.
"Monsieur Porthos," said she, "I can assure you that you have
severely punished me; and if in the time to come you should find
yourself in a similar situation, you have but to apply to me."
"Fie, madame, fie!" said Porthos, as if disgusted. "Let us not
talk about money, if you please; it is humiliating."
"Then you no longer love me!" said the procurator's wife, slowly
Porthos maintained a majestic silence.
"And that is the only reply you make? Alas, I understand."
"Think of the offense you have committed toward me, madame! It
remains HERE!" said Porthos, placing his hand on his heart, and
pressing it strongly.
"I will repair it, indeed I will, my dear Porthos."
"Besides, what did I ask of you?" resumed Porthos, with a
movement of the shoulders full of good fellowship. "A loan,
nothing more! After all, I am not an unreasonable man. I know
you are not rich, Madame Coquenard, and that your husband is
obliged to bleed his poor clients to squeeze a few paltry crowns
from them. Oh! If you were a duchess, a marchioness, or a
countess, it would be quite a different thing; it would be
The procurator's wife was piqued.
"Please to know, Monsieur Porthos," said she, "that my strongbox,
the strongbox of a procurator's wife though it may be, is better
filled than those of your affected minxes."
"The doubles the offense," said Porthos, disengaging his arm from
that of the procurator's wife; "for if you are rich, Madame
Coquenard, then there is no excuse for your refusal."
"When I said rich," replied the procurator's wife, who saw that
she had gone too far, "you must not take the word literally. I
am not precisely rich, though I am pretty well off."
"Hold, madame," said Porthos, "let us say no more upon the
subject, I beg of you. You have misunderstood me, all sympathy
is extinct between us."
"Ingrate that you are!"
"Ah! I advise you to complain!" said Porthos.
"Begone, then, to your beautiful duchess; I will detain you no
"And she is not to be despised, in my opinion."
"Now, Monsieur Porthos, once more, and this is the last! Do you
love me still?"
"Ah, madame," said Porthos, in the most melancholy tone he could
assume, "when we are about to enter upon a campaign--a campaign,
in which my presentiments tell me I shall be killed--"
"Oh, don't talk of such things!" cried the procurator's wife,
bursting into tears.
"Something whispers me so," continued Porthos, becoming more and
"Rather say that you have a new love."
"Not so; I speak frankly to you. No object affects me; and I
even feel here, at the bottom of my heart, something which speaks
for you. But in fifteen days, as you know, or as you do not
know, this fatal campaign is to open. I shall be fearfully
preoccupied with my outfit. Then I must make a journey to see my
family, in the lower part of Brittany, to obtain the sum
necessary for my departure."
Porthos observed a last struggle between love and avarice.
"And as," continued he, "the duchess whom you saw at the church
has estates near to those of my family, we mean to make the
journey together. Journeys, you know, appear much shorter when
we travel two in company."
"Have you no friends in Paris, then, Monsieur Porthos?" said the
"I thought I had," said Porthos, resuming his melancholy air;
"but I have been taught my mistake."
"You have some!" cried the procurator's wife, in a transport that
surprised even herself. "Come to our house tomorrow. You are
the son of my aunt, consequently my cousin; you come from Noyon,
in Picardy; you have several lawsuits and no attorney. Can you
recollect all that?"
"Come at dinnertime."
"And be upon your guard before my husband, who is rather shrewd,
notwithstanding his seventy-six years."
"Seventy-six years! PESTE! That's a fine age!" replied Porthos.
"A great age, you mean, Monsieur Porthos. Yes, the poor man may
be expected to leave me a widow, any hour," continued she,
throwing a significant glance at Porthos. "Fortunately, by our
marriage contract, the survivor takes everything."
"You are a woman of precaution, I see, my dear Madame Coquenard,"
said Porthos, squeezing the hand of the procurator's wife
"We are then reconciled, dear Monsieur Porthos?" said she,
"For life," replied Porthos, in the same manner.
"Till we meet again, then, dear traitor!"
"Till we meet again, my forgetful charmer!"
"Tomorrow, my angel!"
"Tomorrow, flame of my life!"
30 D'ARTAGNAN AND THE ENGLISHMAN
D'Artagnan followed Milady without being perceived by her.
He saw her get into her carriage, and heard her order the
coachman to drive to St. Germain.
It was useless to try to keep pace on foot with a carriage
drawn by two powerful horses. d'Artagnan therefore returned
to the Rue Ferou.
In the Rue de Seine he met Planchet, who had stopped before
the house of a pastry cook, and was contemplating with
ecstasy a cake of the most appetizing appearance.
He ordered him to go and saddle two horses in M. de
Treville's stables--one for himself, d'Artagnan, and one for
Planchet--and bring them to Athens's place. Once for all,
Treville had placed his stable at d'Artagnan's service.
Planchet proceeded toward the Rue du Colombier, and
d'Artagnan toward the Rue Ferou. Athos was at home,
emptying sadly a bottle of the famous Spanish wine he had
brought back with him from his journey into Picardy. He
made a sign for Grimaud to bring a glass for d'Artagnan, and
Grimaud obeyed as usual.
D'Artagnan related to Athos all that had passed at the
church between Porthos and the procurator's wife, and how
their comrade was probably by that time in a fair way to be
"As for me," replied Athos to this recital, "I am quite at
my ease; it will not be women that will defray the expense
of my outfit."
"Handsome, well-bred, noble lord as you are, my dear Athos,
neither princesses nor queens would be secure from your
"How young this d'Artagnan is!" said Athos, shrugging his
shoulders; and he made a sign to Grimaud to bring another
At that moment Planchet put his head modestly in at the
half-open door, and told his master that the horses were
"What horses?" asked Athos.
"Two horses that Monsieur de Treville lends me at my
pleasure, and with which I am now going to take a ride to
"Well, and what are you going to do at St. Germain?" then
Then d'Artagnan described the meeting which he had at the
church, and how he had found that lady who, with the
seigneur in the black cloak and with the scar near his
temple, filled his mind constantly.
"That is to say, you are in love with this lady as you were
with Madame Bonacieux," said Athos, shrugging his shoulders
contemptuously, as if he pitied human weakness.
"I? not at all!" said d'Artagnan. "I am only curious to
unravel the mystery to which she is attached. I do not know
why, but I imagine that this woman, wholly unknown to me as
she is, and wholly unknown to her as I am, has an influence
over my life."
"Well, perhaps you are right," said Athos. "I do not know a
woman that is worth the trouble of being sought for when she
is once lost. Madame Bonacieux is lost; so much the worse
for her if she is found."
"No, Athos, no, you are mistaken," said d'Artagnan; "I love
my poor Constance more than ever, and if I knew the place in
which she is, were it at the end of the world, I would go to
free her from the hands of her enemies; but I am ignorant.
All my researches have been useless. What is to be said? I
must divert my attention!"
"Amuse yourself with Milady, my dear d'Artagnan; I wish you
may with all my heart, if that will amuse you."
"Hear me, Athos," said d'Artagnan. "Instead of shutting
yourself up here as if you were under arrest, get on
horseback and come and take a ride with me to St. Germain."
"My dear fellow," said Athos, "I ride horses when I have
any; when I have none, I go afoot."
"Well," said d'Artagnan, smiling at the misanthropy of
Athos, which from any other person would have offended him,
"I ride what I can get; I am not so proud as you. So AU
REVOIR, dear Athos."
"AU REVOIR," said the Musketeer, making a sign to Grimaud to
uncork the bottle he had just brought.
D'Artagnan and Planchet mounted, and took the road to St.
All along the road, what Athos had said respecting Mme.
Bonacieux recurred to the mind of the young man. Although
d'Artagnan was not of a very sentimental character, the
mercer's pretty wife had made a real impression upon his
heart. As he said, he was ready to go to the end of the
world to seek her; but the world, being round, has many
ends, so that he did not know which way to turn. Meantime,
he was going to try to find out Milady. Milady had spoken
to the man in the black cloak; therefore she knew him. Now,
in the opinion of d'Artagnan, it was certainly the man in
the black cloak who had carried off Mme. Bonacieux the
second time, as he had carried her off the first.
d'Artagnan then only half-lied, which is lying but little,
when he said that by going in search of Milady he at the
same time went in search of Constance.
Thinking of all this, and from time to time giving a touch
of the spur to his horse, d'Artagnan completed his short
journey, and arrived at St. Germain. He had just passed by
the pavilion in which ten years later Louis XIV was born.
He rode up a very quiet street, looking to the right and the
left to see if he could catch any vestige of his beautiful
Englishwoman, when from the ground floor of a pretty house,
which, according to the fashion of the time, had no window
toward the street, he saw a face peep out with which he
thought he was acquainted. This person walked along the
terrace, which was ornamented with flowers. Planchet
recognized him first.
"Eh, monsieur!" said he, addressing d'Artagnan, "don't you
remember that face which is blinking yonder?"
"No," said d'Artagnan, "and yet I am certain it is not the
first time I have seen that visage."
"PARBLEU, I believe it is not," said Planchet. "Why, it is
poor Lubin, the lackey of the Comte de Wardes--he whom you
took such good care of a month ago at Calais, on the road to
the governor's country house!"
"So it is!" said d'Artagnan; "I know him now. Do you think
he would recollect you?"
"My faith, monsieur, he was in such trouble that I doubt if
he can have retained a very clear recollection of me."
"Well, go and talk with the boy," said d'Artagnan, "and make
out if you can from his conversation whether his master is
Planchet dismounted and went straight up to Lubin, who did
not at all remember him, and the two lackeys began to chat
with the best understanding possible; while d'Artagnan
turned the two horses into a lane, went round the house, and
came back to watch the conference from behind a hedge of
At the end of an instant's observation he heard the noise of
a vehicle, and saw Milady's carriage stop opposite to him.
He could not be mistaken; Milady was in it. D'Artagnan
leaned upon the neck of his horse, in order that he might
see without being seen.
Milady put her charming blond head out at the window, and
gave her orders to her maid.
The latter--a pretty girl of about twenty or twenty-two
years, active and lively, the true SOUBRETTE of a great
lady--jumped from the step upon which, according to the
custom of the time, she was seated, and took her way toward
the terrace upon which d'Artagnan had perceived Lubin.
D'Artagnan followed the soubrette with his eyes, and saw her
go toward the terrace; but it happened that someone in the
house called Lubin, so that Planchet remained alone, looking
in all directions for the road where d'Artagnan had disappeared.
The maid approached Planchet, whom she took for Lubin, and
holding out a little billet to him said, "For your master."
"For my master?" replied Planchet, astonished.
"Yes, and important. Take it quickly."
Thereupon she ran toward the carriage, which had turned
round toward the way it came, jumped upon the step, and the
carriage drove off.
Planchet turned and returned the billet. Then, accustomed
to passive obedience, he jumped down from the terrace, ran
toward the lane, and at the end of twenty paces met
d'Artagnan, who, having seen all, was coming to him.
"For you, monsieur," said Planchet, presenting the billet to
the young man.
"For me?" said d'Artagnan; "are you sure of that?"
"PARDIEU, monsieur, I can't be more sure. The SOUBRETTE said,
'For your master.' I have no other master but you; so-
a pretty little lass, my faith, is that SOUBRETTE!"
D'Artagnan opened the letter, and read these words:
"A person who takes more interest in you than she is willing
to confess wishes to know on what day it will suit you to
walk in the forest? Tomorrow, at the Hotel Field of the
Cloth of Gold, a lackey in black and red will wait for your
"Oh!" said d'Artagnan, "this is rather warm; it appears that
Milady and I are anxious about the health of the same
person. Well, Planchet, how is the good Monsieur de Wardes?
He is not dead, then?"
"No, monsieur, he is as well as a man can be with four sword
wounds in his body; for you, without question, inflicted
four upon the dear gentleman, and he is still very weak,
having lost almost all his blood. As I said, monsieur,
Lubin did not know me, and told me our adventure from one
end to the other."
"Well done, Planchet! you are the king of lackeys. Now jump
onto your horse, and let us overtake the carriage."
This did not take long. At the end of five minutes they
perceived the carriage drawn up by the roadside; a cavalier,
richly dressed, was close to the door.
The conversation between Milady and the cavalier was so
animated that d'Artagnan stopped on the other side of the
carriage without anyone but the pretty SOUBRETTE perceiving
The conversation took place in English--a language which
d'Artagnan could not understand; but by the accent the young
man plainly saw that the beautiful Englishwoman was in a
great rage. She terminated it by an action which left no
doubt as to the nature of this conversation; this was a blow
with her fan, applied with such force that the little
feminine weapon flew into a thousand pieces.
The cavalier laughed aloud, which appeared to exasperate
Milady still more.
D'Artagnan thought this was the moment to interfere. He
approached the other door, and taking off his hat
respectfully, said, "Madame, will you permit me to offer you
my services? It appears to me that this cavalier has made
you very angry. Speak one word, madame, and I take upon
myself to punish him for his want of courtesy."
At the first word Milady turned, looking at the young man
with astonishment; and when he had finished, she said in
very good French, "Monsieur, I should with great confidence
place myself under your protection if the person with whom I
quarrel were not my brother."
"Ah, excuse me, then," said d'Artagnan. "You must be aware
that I was ignorant of that, madame."
"What is that stupid fellow troubling himself about?" cried
the cavalier whom Milady had designated as her brother,
stooping down to the height of the coach window. "Why does
not he go about his business?"
"Stupid fellow yourself!" said d'Artagnan, stooping in his
turn on the neck of his horse, and answering on his side
through the carriage window. "I do not go on because it
pleases me to stop here."
The cavalier addressed some words in English to his sister.
"I speak to you in French," said d'Artagnan; "be kind
enough, then, to reply to me in the same language. You are
Madame's brother, I learn--be it so; but fortunately you are
It might be thought that Milady, timid as women are in
general, would have interposed in this commencement of
mutual provocations in order to prevent the quarrel from
going too far; but on the contrary, she threw herself back
in her carriage, and called out coolly to the coachman,
The pretty SOUBRETTE cast an anxious glance at d'Artagnan,
whose good looks seemed to have made an impression on her.
The carriage went on, and left the two men facing each
other; no material obstacle separated them.
The cavalier made a movement as if to follow the carriage;
but d'Artagnan, whose anger, already excited, was much
increased by recognizing in him the Englishman of Amiens who
had won his horse and had been very near winning his diamond
of Athos, caught at his bridle and stopped him.
"Well, monsieur," said he, "you appear to be more stupid
than I am, for you forget there is a little quarrel to
arrange between us two."
"Ah," said the Englishman, "is it you, my master? It seems
you must always be playing some game or other."
"Yes; and that reminds me that I have a revenge to take. We
will see, my dear monsieur, if you can handle a sword as
skillfully as you can a dice box."
"You see plainly that I have no sword," said the Englishman.
"Do you wish to play the braggart with an unarmed man?"
"I hope you have a sword at home; but at all events, I have
two, and if you like, I will throw with you for one of
"Needless," said the Englishman; "I am well furnished with
"Very well, my worthy gentleman," replied d'Artagnan, "pick
out the longest, and come and show it to me this evening."
"Where, if you please?"
"Behind the Luxembourg; that's a charming spot for such
amusements as the one I propose to you."
"That will do; I will be there."
"A PROPOS, you have probably one or two friends?"
"I have three, who would be honored by joining in the sport
"Three? Marvelous! That falls out oddly! Three is just my
"Now, then, who are you?" asked the Englishman.
"I am Monsieur d'Artagnan, a Gascon gentleman, serving in
the king's Musketeers. And you?"
"I am Lord de Winter, Baron Sheffield."
"Well, then, I am your servant, Monsieur Baron," said
d'Artagnan, "though you have names rather difficult to
recollect." And touching his horse with the spur, he
cantered back to Paris. As he was accustomed to do in all
cases of any consequence, d'Artagnan went straight to the
residence of Athos.
He found Athos reclining upon a large sofa, where he was
waiting, as he said, for his outfit to come and find him.
He related to Athos all that had passed, except the letter
to M. de Wardes.
Athos was delighted to find he was going to fight an
Englishman. We might say that was his dream.
They immediately sent their lackeys for Porthos and Aramis,
and on their arrival made them acquainted with the
Porthos drew his sword from the scabbard, and made passes at
the wall, springing back from time to time, and making
contortions like a dancer.
Aramis, who was constantly at work at his poem, shut himself
up in Athos's closet, and begged not to be disturbed before
the moment of drawing swords.
Athos, by signs, desired Grimaud to bring another bottle of
D'Artagnan employed himself in arranging a little plan, of
which we shall hereafter see the execution, and which
promised him some agreeable adventure, as might be seen by
the smiles which from time to time passed over his
countenance, whose thoughtfulness they animated.
31 ENGLISH AND FRENCH
The hour having come, they went with their four lackeys to a
spot behind the Luxembourg given up to the feeding of goats.
Athos threw a piece of money to the goatkeeper to withdraw.
The lackeys were ordered to act as sentinels.
A silent party soon drew near to the same enclosure,
entered, and joined the Musketeers. Then, according to
foreign custom, the presentations took place.
The Englishmen were all men of rank; consequently the odd
names of their adversaries were for them not only a matter
of surprise, but of annoyance.
"But after all," said Lord de Winter, when the three friends
had been named, "we do not know who you are. We cannot
fight with such names; they are names of shepherds."
"Therefore your lordship may suppose they are only assumed
names," said Athos.
"Which only gives us a greater desire to know the real
ones," replied the Englishman.
"You played very willingly with us without knowing our
names," said Athos, "by the same token that you won our
"That is true, but we then only risked our pistoles; this
time we risk our blood. One plays with anybody; but one
fights only with equals."
"And that is but just," said Athos, and he took aside the
one of the four Englishmen with whom he was to fight, and
communicated his name in a low voice.
Porthos and Aramis did the same.
"Does that satisfy you?" said Athos to his adversary. "Do
you find me of sufficient rank to do me the honor of
crossing swords with me?"
"Yes, monsieur," said the Englishman, bowing.
"Well! now tell I tell you something?" added Athos, coolly.
"What?" replied the Englishman.
"Why, that is that you would have acted much more wisely if
you had not required me to make myself known."
"Because I am believed to be dead, and have reasons for
wishing nobody to know I am living; so that I shall be
obliged to kill you to prevent my secret from roaming over
The Englishman looked at Athos, believing that he jested,
but Athos did not jest the least in the world.
"Gentlemen," said Athos, addressing at the same time his
companions and their adversaries, "are we ready?"
"Yes!" answered the Englishmen and the Frenchmen, as with
"On guard, then!" cried Athos.
Immediately eight swords glittered in the rays of the
setting sun, and the combat began with an animosity very
natural between men twice enemies.
Athos fenced with as much calmness and method as if he had
been practicing in a fencing school.
Porthos, abated, no doubt, of his too-great confidence by
his adventure of Chantilly, played with skill and prudence.
Aramis, who had the third canto of his poem to finish,
behaved like a man in haste.
Athos killed his adversary first. He hit him but once, but
as he had foretold, that hit was a mortal one; the sword
pierced his heart.
Second, Porthos stretched his upon the grass with a wound
through his thigh, As the Englishman, without making any
further resistance, then surrendered his sword, Porthos took
him up in his arms and bore him to his carriage.
Aramis pushed his so vigorously that after going back fifty
paces, the man ended by fairly taking to his heels, and
disappeared amid the hooting of the lackeys.
As to d'Artagnan, he fought purely and simply on the
defensive; and when he saw his adversary pretty well
fatigued, with a vigorous side thrust sent his sword flying.
The baron, finding himself disarmed, took two or three steps
back, but in this movement his foot slipped and he fell
D'Artagnan was over him at a bound, and said to the
Englishman, pointing his sword to his throat, "I could kill
you, my Lord, you are completely in my hands; but I spare
your life for the sake of your sister."
D'Artagnan was at the height of joy; he had realized the
plan he had imagined beforehand, whose picturing had
produced the smiles we noted upon his face.
The Englishman, delighted at having to do with a gentleman
of such a kind disposition, pressed d'Artagnan in his arms,
and paid a thousand compliments to the three Musketeers, and
as Porthos's adversary was already installed in the
carriage, and as Aramis's had taken to his heels, they had
nothing to think about but the dead.
As Porthos and Aramis were undressing him, in the hope of
finding his wound not mortal, a large purse dropped from his
clothes. d'Artagnan picked it up and offered it to Lord de
"What the devil would you have me do with that?" said the
"You can restore it to his family," said d'Artagnan.
"His family will care much about such a trifle as that! His
family will inherit fifteen thousand louis a year from him.
Keep the purse for your lackeys."
D'Artagnan put the purse into his pocket.
"And now, my young friend, for you will permit me, I hope,
to give you that name," said Lord de Winter, "on this very
evening, if agreeable to you, I will present you to my
sister, Milady Clarik, for I am desirous that she should
take you into her good graces; and as she is not in bad odor
at court, she may perhaps on some future day speak a word
that will not prove useless to you."
D'Artagnan blushed with pleasure, and bowed a sign of
At this time Athos came up to d'Artagnan.
"What do you mean to do with that purse?" whispered he.
"Why, I meant to pass it over to you, my dear Athos."
"Me! why to me?"
"Why, you killed him! They are the spoils of victory."
"I, the heir of an enemy!" said Athos; "for whom, then, do
you take me?"
"It is the custom in war," said d'Artagnan, "why should it
not be the custom in a duel?"
"Even on the field of battle, I have never done that."
Porthos shrugged his shoulders; Aramis by a movement of his
lips endorsed Athos.
"Then," said d'Artagnan, "let us give the money to the
lackeys, as Lord de Winter desired us to do."
"Yes," said Athos; "let us give the money to the lackeys--not
to our lackeys, but to the lackeys of the Englishmen."
Athos took the purse, and threw it into the hand of the
coachman. "For you and your comrades."
This greatness of spirit in a man who was quite destitute
struck even Porthos; and this French generosity, repeated by
Lord de Winter and his friend, was highly applauded, except
by MM. Grimaud, Bazin, Mousqueton and Planchet.
Lord de Winter, on quitting d'Artagnan, gave him his
sister's address. She lived in the Place Royale--then the
fashionable quarter--at Number 6, and he undertook to call
and take d'Artagnan with him in order to introduce him.
d'Artagnan appointed eight o'clock at Athos's residence.
This introduction to Milady Clarik occupied the head of our
Gascon greatly. He remembered in what a strange manner this
woman had hitherto been mixed up in his destiny. According
to his conviction, she was some creature of the cardinal,
and yet he felt himself invincibly drawn toward her by one
of those sentiments for which we cannot account. His only
fear was that Milady would recognize in him the man of Meung
and of Dover. Then she knew that he was one of the friends
of M. de Treville, and consequently, that he belonged body
and soul to the king; which would make him lose a part of
his advantage, since when known to Milady as he knew her, he
played only an equal game with her. As to the commencement
of an intrigue between her and M. de Wardes, our
presumptuous hero gave but little heed to that, although the
marquis was young, handsome, rich, and high in the
cardinal's favor. It is not for nothing we are but twenty years old,
above all if we were born at Tarbes.
D'Artagnan began by making his most splendid toilet, then
returned to Athos's, and according to custom, related
everything to him. Athos listened to his projects, then
shook his head, and recommended prudence to him with a shade
"What!" said he, "you have just lost one woman, whom you
call good, charming, perfect; and here you are, running
headlong after another."
D'Artagnan felt the truth of this reproach.
"I loved Madame Bonacieux with my heart, while I only love
Milady with my head," said he. "In getting introduced to
her, my principal object is to ascertain what part she plays
"The part she plays, PARDIEU! It is not difficult to divine
that, after all you have told me. She is some emissary of
the cardinal; a woman who will draw you into a snare in
which you will leave your head."
"The devil! my dear Athos, you view things on the dark side,
"My dear fellow, I mistrust women. Can it be otherwise? I
bought my experience dearly--particularly fair women. Milady
is fair, you say?"
"She has the most beautiful light hair imaginable!"
"Ah, my poor d'Artagnan!" said Athos.
"Listen to me! I want to be enlightened on a subject; then,
when I shall have learned what I desire to know, I will
"Be enlightened!" said Athos, phlegmatically.
Lord de Winter arrived at the appointed time; but Athos,
being warned of his coming, went into the other chamber. He
therefore found d'Artagnan alone, and as it was nearly eight
o'clock he took the young man with him.
An elegant carriage waited below, and as it was drawn by two
excellent horses, they were soon at the Place Royale.
Milady Clarik received d'Artagnan ceremoniously. Her hotel
was remarkably sumptuous, and while the most part of the
English had quit, or were about to quit, France on account
of the war, Milady had just been laying out much money upon
her residence; which proved that the general measure which
drove the English from France did not affect her.
"You see," said Lord de Winter, presenting d'Artagnan to his
sister, "a young gentleman who has held my life in his
hands, and who has not abused his advantage, although we
have been twice enemies, although it was I who insulted him,
and although I am an Englishman. Thank him, then, madame,
if you have any affection for me."
Milady frowned slightly; a scarcely visible cloud passed
over her brow, and so peculiar a smile appeared upon her
lips that the young man, who saw and observed this triple
shade, almost shuddered at it.
The brother did not perceive this; he had turned round to
play with Milady's favorite monkey, which had pulled him by
"You are welcome, monsieur," said Milady, in a voice whose
singular sweetness contrasted with the symptoms of ill-humor
which d'Artagnan had just remarked; "you have today acquired
eternal rights to my gratitude."
The Englishman then turned round and described the combat
without omitting a single detail. Milady listened with the
greatest attention, and yet it was easily to be perceived,
whatever effort she made to conceal her impressions, that
this recital was not agreeable to her. The blood rose to
her head, and her little foot worked with impatience beneath
Lord de Winter perceived nothing of this. When he had
finished, he went to a table upon which was a salver with
Spanish wine and glasses. He filled two glasses, and by a
sign invited d'Artagnan to drink.
D'Artagnan knew it was considered disobliging by an
Englishman to refuse to pledge him. He therefore drew near
to the table and took the second glass. He did not,
however, lose sight of Milady, and in a mirror he perceived
the change that came over her face. Now that she believed
herself to be no longer observed, a sentiment resembling
ferocity animated her countenance. She bit her handkerchief
with her beautiful teeth.
That pretty little SOUBRETTE whom d'Artagnan had already
observed then came in. She spoke some words to Lord de
Winter in English, who thereupon requested d'Artagnan's
permission to retire, excusing himself on account of the
urgency of the business that had called him away, and
charging his sister to obtain his pardon.
D'Artagnan exchanged a shake of the hand with Lord de
Winter, and then returned to Milady. Her countenance, with
surprising mobility, had recovered its gracious expression;
but some little red spots on her handkerchief indicated that
she had bitten her lips till the blood came. Those lips
were magnificent; they might be said to be of coral.
The conversation took a cheerful turn. Milady appeared to
have entirely recovered. She told d'Artagnan that Lord de
Winter was her brother-in-law, and not her brother. She had
married a younger brother of the family, who had left her a
widow with one child. This child was the only heir to Lord
de Winter, if Lord de Winter did not marry. All this showed
d'Artagnan that there was a veil which concealed something;
but he could not yet see under this veil.
In addition to this, after a half hour's conversation
d'Artagnan was convinced that Milady was his compatriot; she
spoke French with an elegance and a purity that left no
doubt on that head.
D'Artagnan was profuse in gallant speeches and protestations
of devotion. To all the simple things which escaped our
Gascon, Milady replied with a smile of kindness. The hour
came for him to retire. D'Artagnan took leave of Milady,
and left the saloon the happiest of men.
On the staircase he met the pretty SOUBRETTE, who brushed
gently against him as she passed, and then, blushing to the
eyes, asked his pardon for having touched him in a voice so
sweet that the pardon was granted instantly.
D'Artagnan came again on the morrow, and was still better
received than on the evening before. Lord de Winter was not
at home; and it was Milady who this time did all the honors
of the evening. She appeared to take a great interest in
him, asked him whence he came, who were his friends, and
whether he had not sometimes thought of attaching himself to
D'Artagnan, who, as we have said, was exceedingly prudent
for a young man of twenty, then remembered his suspicions
regarding Milady. He launched into a eulogy of his
Eminence, and said that he should not have failed to enter
into the Guards of the cardinal instead of the king's Guards
if he had happened to know M. de Cavois instead of M. de
Milady changed the conversation without any appearance of
affectation, and asked d'Artagnan in the most careless
manner possible if he had ever been in England.
D'Artagnan replied that he had been sent thither by M. de
Treville to treat for a supply of horses, and that he had
brought back four as specimens.
Milady in the course of the conversation twice or thrice bit
her lips; she had to deal with a Gascon who played close.
At the same hour as on the preceding evening, d'Artagnan
retired. In the corridor he again met the pretty Kitty; that
was the name of the SOUBRETTE. She looked at him with an
expression of kindness which it was impossible to mistake;
but d'Artagnan was so preoccupied by the mistress that he
noticed absolutely nothing but her.
D'Artagnan came again on the morrow and the day after that,
and each day Milady gave him a more gracious reception.
Every evening, either in the antechamber, the corridor, or
on the stairs, he met the pretty SOUBRETTE. But, as we have
said, d'Artagnan paid no attention to this persistence of
32 A PROCURATOR'S DINNER
However brilliant had been the part played by Porthos in the
duel, it had not made him forget the dinner of the
On the morrow he received the last touches of Mousqueton's
brush for an hour, and took his way toward the Rue aux Ours
with the steps of a man who was doubly in favor with
His heart beat, but not like d'Artagnan's with a young and
impatient love. No; a more material interest stirred his
blood. He was about at last to pass that mysterious
threshold, to climb those unknown stairs by which, one by
one, the old crowns of M. Coquenard had ascended. He was
about to see in reality a certain coffer of which he had
twenty times beheld the image in his dreams--a coffer long
and deep, locked, bolted, fastened in the wall; a coffer of
which he had so often heard, and which the hands--a little
wrinkled, it is true, but still not without elegance--of the
procurator's wife were about to open to his admiring looks.
And then he--a wanderer on the earth, a man without fortune,
a man without family, a soldier accustomed to inns,
cabarets, taverns, and restaurants, a lover of wine forced
to depend upon chance treats--was about to partake of family
meals, to enjoy the pleasures of a comfortable
establishment, and to give himself up to those little
attentions which "the harder one is, the more they please,"
as old soldiers say.
To come in the capacity of a cousin, and seat himself every
day at a good table; to smooth the yellow, wrinkled brow of
the old procurator; to pluck the clerks a little by teaching
them BASSETTE, PASSE-DIX, and LANSQUENET, in their utmost
nicety, and winning from them, by way of fee for the lesson
he would give them in an hour, their savings of a month--all
this was enormously delightful to Porthos.
The Musketeer could not forget the evil reports which then
prevailed, and which indeed have survived them, of the
procurators of the period--meanness, stinginess, fasts; but
as, after all, excepting some few acts of economy which
Porthos had always found very unseasonable, the procurator's
wife had been tolerably liberal--that is, be it understood,
for a procurator's wife--he hoped to see a household of a
highly comfortable kind.
And yet, at the very door the Musketeer began to entertain
some doubts. The approach was not such as to prepossess
people--an ill-smelling, dark passage, a staircase half-
lighted by bars through which stole a glimmer from a
neighboring yard; on the first floor a low door studded with
enormous nails, like the principal gate of the Grand
Porthos knocked with his hand. A tall, pale clerk, his face
shaded by a forest of virgin hair, opened the door, and
bowed with the air of a man forced at once to respect in
another lofty stature, which indicated strength, the
military dress, which indicated rank, and a ruddy
countenance, which indicated familiarity with good living.
A shorter clerk came behind the first, a taller clerk behind
the second, a stripling of a dozen years rising behind the
third. In all, three clerks and a half, which, for the
time, argued a very extensive clientage.
Although the Musketeer was not expected before one o'clock,
the procurator's wife had been on the watch ever since
midday, reckoning that the heart, or perhaps the stomach, of
her lover would bring him before his time.
Mme. Coquenard therefore entered the office from the house
at the same moment her guest entered from the stairs, and
the appearance of the worthy lady relieved him from an
awkward embarrassment. The clerks surveyed him with great
curiosity, and he, not knowing well what to say to this
ascending and descending scale, remained tongue-tied.
"It is my cousin!" cried the procurator's wife. "Come in,
come in, Monsieur Porthos!"
The name of Porthos produced its effect upon the clerks, who
began to laugh; but Porthos turned sharply round, and every
countenance quickly recovered its gravity.
They reached the office of the procurator after having
passed through the antechamber in which the clerks were, and
the study in which they ought to have been. This last
apartment was a sort of dark room, littered with papers. On
quitting the study they left the kitchen on the right, and
entered the reception room.
All these rooms, which communicated with one another, did
not inspire Porthos favorably. Words might be heard at a
distance through all these open doors. Then, while passing,
he had cast a rapid, investigating glance into the kitchen;
and he was obliged to confess to himself, to the shame of
the procurator's wife and his own regret, that he did not
see that fire, that animation, that bustle, which when a
good repast is on foot prevails generally in that sanctuary
of good living.
The procurator had without doubt been warned of his visit,
as he expressed no surprise at the sight of Porthos, who
advanced toward him with a sufficiently easy air, and
saluted him courteously.
"We are cousins, it appears, Monsieur Porthos?" said the
procurator, rising, yet supporting his weight upon the arms
of his cane chair.
The old man, wrapped in a large black doublet, in which the
whole of his slender body was concealed, was brisk and dry.
His little gray eyes shone like carbuncles, and appeared,
with his grinning mouth, to be the only part of his face in
which life survived. Unfortunately the legs began to refuse
their service to this bony machine. During the last five or
six months that this weakness had been felt, the worthy
procurator had nearly become the slave of his wife.
The cousin was received with resignation, that was all. M.
Coquenard, firm upon his legs, would have declined all
relationship with M. Porthos.
"Yes, monsieur, we are cousins," said Porthos, without being
disconcerted, as he had never reckoned upon being received
enthusiastically by the husband.
"By the female side, I believe?" said the procurator,
Porthos did not feel the ridicule of this, and took it for a
piece of simplicity, at which he laughed in his large
mustache. Mme. Coquenard, who knew that a simple-minded
procurator was a very rare variety in the species, smiled a
little, and colored a great deal.
M. Coquenard had, since the arrival of Porthos, frequently
cast his eyes with great uneasiness upon a large chest
placed in front of his oak desk. Porthos comprehended that
this chest, although it did not correspond in shape with
that which he had seen in his dreams, must be the blessed
coffer, and he congratulated himself that the reality was
several feet higher than the dream.
M. Coquenard did not carry his genealogical investigations
any further; but withdrawing his anxious look from the chest
and fixing it upon Porthos, he contented himself with saying,
"Monsieur our cousin will do us the favor of dining with us
once before his departure for the campaign, will he not,
This time Porthos received the blow right in his stomach,
and felt it. It appeared likewise that Mme. Coquenard was
not less affected by it on her part, for she added, "My
cousin will not return if he finds that we do not treat him
kindly; but otherwise he has so little time to pass in Paris,
and consequently to spare to us, that we must entreat him to
give us every instant he can call his own previous to his
"Oh, my legs, my poor legs! where are you?" murmured
Coquenard, and he tried to smile.
This succor, which came to Porthos at the moment in which he
was attacked in his gastronomic hopes, inspired much
gratitude in the Musketeer toward the procurator's wife.
The hour of dinner soon arrived. They passed into the eating
room--a large dark room situated opposite the kitchen.
The clerks, who, as it appeared, had smelled unusual perfumes
in the house, were of military punctuality, and held their
stools in hand quite ready to sit down. Their jaws moved
preliminarily with fearful threatenings.
"Indeed!" thought Porthos, casting a glance at the three hungry
clerks--for the errand boy, as might be expected, was not
admitted to the honors of the magisterial table, "in my
cousin's place, I would not keep such gourmands! They look
like shipwrecked sailors who have not eaten for six weeks."
M. Coquenard entered, pushed along upon his armchair with
casters by Mme. Coquenard, whom Porthos assisted in rolling
her husband up to the table. He had scarcely entered when
he began to agitate his nose and his jaws after the example
of his clerks.
"Oh, oh!" said he; "here is a soup which is rather
"What the devil can they smell so extraordinary in this
soup?" said Porthos, at the sight of a pale liquid, abundant
but entirely free from meat, on the surface of which a few
crusts swam about as rare as the islands of an archipelago.
Mme. Coquenard smiled, and upon a sign from her everyone
eagerly took his seat.
M. Coquenard was served first, then Porthos. Afterward Mme.
Coquenard filled her own plate, and distributed the crusts
without soup to the impatient clerks. At this moment the
door of the dining room unclosed with a creak, and Porthos
perceived through the half-open flap the little clerk who,
not being allowed to take part in the feast, ate his dry
bread in the passage with the double odor of the dining room
After the soup the maid brought a boiled fowl--a piece of
magnificence which caused the eyes of the diners to dilate
in such a manner that they seemed ready to burst.
"One may see that you love your family, Madame Coquenard,"
said the procurator, with a smile that was almost tragic.
"You are certainly treating your cousin very handsomely!"
The poor fowl was thin, and covered with one of those thick,
bristly skins through which the teeth cannot penetrate with
all their efforts. The fowl must have been sought for a
long time on the perch, to which it had retired to die of
"The devil!" thought Porthos, "this is poor work. I respect
old age, but I don't much like it boiled or roasted."
And he looked round to see if anybody partook of his
opinion; but on the contrary, he saw nothing but eager eyes
which were devouring, in anticipation, that sublime fowl
which was the object of his contempt.
Mme. Coquenard drew the dish toward her, skillfully detached
the two great black feet, which she placed upon her
husband's plate, cut off the neck, which with the head she
put on one side for herself, raised the wing for Porthos,
and then returned the bird otherwise intact to the servant
who had brought it in, who disappeared with it before the
Musketeer had time to examine the variations which
disappointment produces upon faces, according to the
characters and temperaments of those who experience it.
In the place of the fowl a dish of haricot beans made its
appearance--an enormous dish in which some bones of mutton
that at first sight one might have believed to have some
meat on them pretended to show themselves.
But the clerks were not the dupes of this deceit, and their
lugubrious looks settled down into resigned countenances.
Mme. Coquenard distributed this dish to the young men with
the moderation of a good housewife.
The time for wine came. M. Coquenard poured from a very
small stone bottle the third of a glass for each of the
young men, served himself in about the same proportion, and
passed the bottle to Porthos and Mme. Coquenard.
The young men filled up their third of a glass with water;
then, when they had drunk half the glass, they filled it up
again, and continued to do so. This brought them, by the
end of the repast, to swallowing a drink which from the
color of the ruby had passed to that of a pale topaz.
Porthos ate his wing of the fowl timidly, and shuddered when
he felt the knee of the procurator's wife under the table,
as it came in search of his. He also drank half a glass of
this sparingly served wine, and found it to be nothing but
that horrible Montreuil--the terror of all expert palates.
M. Coquenard saw him swallowing this wine undiluted, and
"Will you eat any of these beans, Cousin Porthos?" said Mme.
Coquenard, in that tone which says, "Take my advice, don't
"Devil take me if I taste one of them!" murmured Porthos to
himself, and then said aloud, "Thank you, my cousin, I am no
There was silence. Porthos could hardly keep his
The procurator repeated several times, "Ah, Madame
Coquenard! Accept my compliments; your dinner has been a
real feast. Lord, how I have eaten!"
M. Coquenard had eaten his soup, the black feet of the fowl,
and the only mutton bone on which there was the least
appearance of meat.
Porthos fancied they were mystifying him, and began to curl
his mustache and knit his eyebrows; but the knee of Mme.
Coquenard gently advised him to be patient.
This silence and this interruption in serving, which were
unintelligible to Porthos, had, on the contrary, a terrible
meaning for the clerks. Upon a look from the procurator,
accompanied by a smile from Mme. Coquenard, they arose
slowly from the table, folded their napkins more slowly
still, bowed, and retired.
"Go, young men! go and promote digestion by working," said
the procurator, gravely.
The clerks gone, Mme. Coquenard rose and took from a buffet
a piece of cheese, some preserved quinces, and a cake which
she had herself made of almonds and honey.
M. Coquenard knit his eyebrows because there were too many
good things. Porthos bit his lips because he saw not the
wherewithal to dine. He looked to see if the dish of beans
was still there; the dish of beans had disappeared.
"A positive feast!" cried M. Coquenard, turning about in his
chair, "a real feast, EPULCE EPULORUM. Lucullus dines with
Porthos looked at the bottle, which was near him, and hoped
that with wine, bread, and cheese, he might make a dinner;
but wine was wanting, the bottle was empty. M. and Mme.
Coquenard did not seem to observe it.
"This is fine!" said Porthos to himself; "I am prettily
He passed his tongue over a spoonful of preserves, and stuck
his teeth into the sticky pastry of Mme. Coquenard.
"Now," said he, "the sacrifice is consummated! Ah! if I had
not the hope of peeping with Madame Coquenard into her
M. Coquenard, after the luxuries of such a repast, which he
called an excess, felt the want of a siesta. Porthos began
to hope that the thing would take place at the present
sitting, and in that same locality; but the procurator would
listen to nothing, he would be taken to his room, and was
not satisfied till he was close to his chest, upon the edge
of which, for still greater precaution, he placed his feet.
The procurator's wife took Porthos into an adjoining room,
and they began to lay the basis of a reconciliation.
"You can come and dine three times a week," said Mme.
"Thanks, madame!" said Porthos, "but I don't like to abuse
your kindness; besides, I must think of my outfit!"
"That's true," said the procurator's wife, groaning, "that
"Alas, yes," said Porthos, "it is so."
"But of what, then, does the equipment of your company
consist, Monsieur Porthos?"
"Oh, of many things!" said Porthos. "The Musketeers are, as
you know, picked soldiers, and they require many things
useless to the Guardsmen or the Swiss."
"But yet, detail them to me."
"Why, they may amount to--", said Porthos, who preferred
discussing the total to taking them one by one.
The procurator's wife waited tremblingly.
"To how much?" said she. "I hope it does not exceed--" She
stopped; speech failed her.
"Oh, no," said Porthos, "it does not exceed two thousand
five hundred livres! I even think that with economy I could
manage it with two thousand livres."
"Good God!" cried she, "two thousand livres! Why, that is a
Porthos made a most significant grimace; Mme. Coquenard
"I wished to know the detail," said she, "because, having
many relatives in business, I was almost sure of obtaining
things at a hundred per cent less than you would pay
"Ah, ah!" said Porthos, "that is what you meant to say!"
"Yes, dear Monsieur Porthos. Thus, for instance, don't you
in the first place want a horse?"
"Yes, a horse."
"Well, then! I can just suit you."
"Ah!" said Porthos, brightening, "that's well as regards my
horse; but I must have the appointments complete, as they
include objects which a Musketeer alone can purchase, and
which will not amount, besides, to more than three hundred
"Three hundred livres? Then put down three hundred livres,"
said the procurator's wife, with a sigh.
Porthos smiled. It may be remembered that he had the saddle
which came from Buckingham. These three hundred livres he
reckoned upon putting snugly into his pocket.
"Then," continued he, "there is a horse for my lackey, and
my valise. As to my arms, it is useless to trouble you
about them; I have them."
"A horse for your lackey?" resumed the procurator's wife,
hesitatingly; "but that is doing things in lordly style, my
"Ah, madame!" said Porthos, haughtily; "do you take me for a
"No; I only thought that a pretty mule makes sometimes as
good an appearance as a horse, and it seemed to me that by
getting a pretty mule for Mousqueton--"
"Well, agreed for a pretty mule," said Porthos; "you are
right, I have seen very great Spanish nobles whose whole
suite were mounted on mules. But then you understand,
Madame Coquenard, a mule with feathers and bells."
"Be satisfied," said the procurator's wife.
"There remains the valise," added Porthos.
"Oh, don't let that disturb you," cried Mme. Coquenard. "My
husband has five or six valises; you shall choose the best.
There is one in particular which he prefers in his journeys,
large enough to hold all the world."
"Your valise is then empty?" asked Porthos, with simplicity.
"Certainly it is empty," replied the procurator's wife, in
"Ah, but the valise I want," cried Porthos, "is a well-
filled one, my dear."
Madame uttered fresh sighs. Moliere had not written his
scene in "L'Avare" then. Mme. Coquenard was in the dilemma
Finally, the rest of the equipment was successively debated
in the same manner; and the result of the sitting was that
the procurator's wife should give eight hundred livres in
money, and should furnish the horse and the mule which
should have the honor of carrying Porthos and Mousqueton to
These conditions being agreed to, Porthos took leave of Mme.
Coquenard. The latter wished to detain him by darting
certain tender glances; but Porthos urged the commands of
duty, and the procurator's wife was obliged to give place to
The Musketeer returned home hungry and in bad humor.
33 SOUBRETTE AND MISTRESS
Meantime, as we have said, despite the cries of his
conscience and the wise counsels of Athos, d'Artagnan became
hourly more in love with Milady. Thus he never failed to
pay his diurnal court to her; and the self-satisfied Gascon
was convinced that sooner or later she could not fail to
One day, when he arrived with his head in the air, and as
light at heart as a man who awaits a shower of gold, he
found the SOUBRETTE under the gateway of the hotel; but this
time the pretty Kitty was not contented with touching him as
he passed, she took him gently by the hand.
"Good!" thought d'Artagnan, "She is charged with some
message for me from her mistress; she is about to appoint
some rendezvous of which she had not courage to speak." And
he looked down at the pretty girl with the most triumphant
"I wish to say three words to you, Monsieur Chevalier,"
stammered the SOUBRETTE.
"Speak, my child, speak," said d'Artagnan; "I listen."
"Here? Impossible! That which I have to say is too long,
and above all, too secret."
"Well, what is to be done?"
"If Monsieur Chevalier would follow me?" said Kitty,
"Where you please, my dear child."
And Kitty, who had not let go the hand of d'Artagnan, led
him up a little dark, winding staircase, and after ascending
about fifteen steps, opened a door.
"Come in here, Monsieur Chevalier," said she; "here we shall
be alone, and can talk."
"And whose room is this, my dear child?"
"It is mine, Monsieur Chevalier; it communicates with my
mistress's by that door. But you need not fear. She will
not hear what we say; she never goes to bed before
D'Artagnan cast a glance around him. The little apartment
was charming for its taste and neatness; but in spite of
himself, his eyes were directed to that door which Kitty
said led to Milady's chamber.
Kitty guessed what was passing in the mind of the young man,
and heaved a deep sigh.
"You love my mistress, then, very dearly, Monsieur
Chevalier?" said she.
"Oh, more than I can say, Kitty! I am mad for her!"
Kitty breathed a second sigh.
"Alas, monsieur," said she, "that is too bad."
"What the devil do you see so bad in it?" said d'Artagnan.
"Because, monsieur," replied Kitty, "my mistress loves you
not at all."
"HEIN!" said d'Artagnan, "can she have charged you to tell
"Oh, no, monsieur; but out of the regard I have for you, I
have taken the resolution to tell you so."
"Much obliged, my dear Kitty; but for the intention only--for
the information, you must agree, is not likely to be at all
"That is to say, you don't believe what I have told you; is
it not so?"
"We have always some difficulty in believing such things, my
pretty dear, were it only from self-love."
"Then you don't believe me?"
"I confess that unless you deign to give me some proof of
what you advance--"
"What do you think of this?"
Kitty drew a little note from her bosom.
"For me?" said d'Artagnan, seizing the letter.
"No; for another."
"His name; his name!" cried d'Artagnan.
"Read the address."
"Monsieur El Comte de Wardes."
The remembrance of the scene at St. Germain presented itself
to the mind of the presumptuous Gascon. As quick as
thought, he tore open the letter, in spite of the cry which
Kitty uttered on seeing what he was going to do, or rather,
what he was doing.
"Oh, good Lord, Monsieur Chevalier," said she, "what are you
"I?" said d'Artagnan; "nothing," and he read,
"You have not answered my first note. Are you indisposed,
or have you forgotten the glances you favored me with at the
ball of Mme. de Guise? You have an opportunity now, Count;
do not allow it to escape."
d'Artagnan became very pale; he was wounded in his SELF-
love: he thought that it was in his LOVE.
"Poor dear Monsieur d'Artagnan," said Kitty, in a voice full
of compassion, and pressing anew the young man's hand.
"You pity me, little one?" said d'Artagnan.
"Oh, yes, and with all my heart; for I know what it is to be
"You know what it is to be in love?" said d'Artagnan,
looking at her for the first time with much attention.
"Well, then, instead of pitying me, you would do much better
to assist me in avenging myself on your mistress."
"And what sort of revenge would you take?"
"I would triumph over her, and supplant my rival."
"I will never help you in that, Monsieur Chevalier," said
"And why not?" demanded d'Artagnan.
"For two reasons."
"The first is that my mistress will never love you."
"How do you know that?"
"You have cut her to the heart."
"I? In what can I have offended her--I who ever since I have
known her have lived at her feet like a slave? Speak, I beg
"I will never confess that but to the man--who should read to
the bottom of my soul!"
D'Artagnan looked at Kitty for the second time. The young
girl had freshness and beauty which many duchesses would
have purchased with their coronets.
"Kitty," said he, "I will read to the bottom of your soul
when-ever you like; don't let that disturb you." And he gave
her a kiss at which the poor girl became as red as a cherry.
"Oh, no," said Kitty, "it is not me you love! It is my
mistress you love; you told me so just now."
"And does that hinder you from letting me know the second
"The second reason, Monsieur the Chevalier," replied Kitty,
emboldened by the kiss in the first place, and still further
by the expression of the eyes of the young man, "is that in
love, everyone for herself!"
Then only d'Artagnan remembered the languishing glances of
Kitty, her constantly meeting him in the antechamber, the
corridor, or on the stairs, those touches of the hand every
time she met him, and her deep sighs; but absorbed by his
desire to please the great lady, he had disdained the
soubrette. He whose game is the eagle takes no heed of the
But this time our Gascon saw at a glance all the advantage
to be derived from the love which Kitty had just confessed
so innocently, or so boldly: the interception of letters
addressed to the Comte de Wardes, news on the spot, entrance
at all hours into Kitty's chamber, which was contiguous to
her mistress's. The perfidious deceiver was, as may plainly
be perceived, already sacrificing, in intention, the poor
girl in order to obtain Milady, willy-nilly.
"Well," said he to the young girl, "are you willing, my dear
Kitty, that I should give you a proof of that love which you
"What love?" asked the young girl.
"Of that which I am ready to feel toward you."
"And what is that proof?"
"Are you willing that I should this evening pass with you
the time I generally spend with your mistress?"
"Oh, yes," said Kitty, clapping her hands, "very willing."
"Well, then, come here, my dear," said d'Artagnan,
establishing himself in an easy chair; "come, and let me
tell you that you are the prettiest SOUBRETTE I ever saw!"
And he did tell her so much, and so well, that the poor
girl, who asked nothing better than to believe him, did
believe him. Nevertheless, to d'Artagnan's great
astonishment, the pretty Kitty defended herself resolutely.
Time passes quickly when it is passed in attacks and
defenses. Midnight sounded, and almost at the same time the
bell was rung in Milady's chamber.
"Good God," cried Kitty, "there is my mistress calling me!
Go; go directly!"
D'Artagnan rose, took his hat, as if it had been his
intention to obey, then, opening quickly the door of a large
closet instead of that leading to the staircase, he buried
himself amid the robes and dressing gowns of Milady.
"What are you doing?" cried Kitty.
D'Artagnan, who had secured the key, shut himself up in the
closet without reply.
"Well," cried Milady, in a sharp voice. "Are you asleep,
that you don't answer when I ring?"
And d'Artagnan heard the door of communication opened
"Here am I, Milady, here am I!" cried Kitty, springing
forward to meet her mistress.
Both went into the bedroom, and as the door of communication
remained open, d'Artagnan could hear Milady for some time
scolding her maid. She was at length appeased, and the
conversation turned upon him while Kitty was assisting her
"Well," said Milady, "I have not seen our Gascon this
"What, Milady! has he not come?" said Kitty. "Can he be
inconstant before being happy?"
"Oh, no; he must have been prevented by Monsieur de Treville
or Monsieur Dessessart. I understand my game, Kitty; I have
this one safe."
"What will you do with him, madame?"
"What will I do with him? Be easy, Kitty, there is
something between that man and me that he is quite ignorant
of: he nearly made me lose my credit with his Eminence. Oh,
I will be revenged!"
"I believed that Madame loved him."
"I love him? I detest him! An idiot, who held the life of
Lord de Winter in his hands and did not kill him, by which I
missed three hundred thousand livres' income."
"That's true," said Kitty; "your son was the only heir of
his uncle, and until his majority you would have had the
enjoyment of his fortune."
D'Artagnan shuddered to the marrow at hearing this suave
creature reproach him, with that sharp voice which she took
such pains to conceal in conversation, for not having killed
a man whom he had seen load her with kindnesses.
"For all this," continued Milady, "I should long ago have
revenged myself on him if, and I don't know why, the
cardinal had not requested me to conciliate him."
"Oh, yes; but Madame has not conciliated that little woman
he was so fond of."
"What, the mercer's wife of the Rue des Fossoyeurs? Has he
not already forgotten she ever existed? Fine vengeance
that, on my faith!"
A cold sweat broke from d'Artagnan's brow. Why, this woman
was a monster! He resumed his listening, but unfortunately
the toilet was finished.
"That will do," said Milady; "go into your own room, and
tomorrow endeavor again to get me an answer to the letter I
"For Monsieur de Wardes?" said Kitty.
"To be sure; for Monsieur de Wardes."
"Now, there is one," said Kitty, "who appears to me quite a
different sort of a man from that poor Monsieur d'Artagnan."
"Go to bed, mademoiselle," said Milady; "I don't like
D'Artagnan heard the door close; then the noise of two bolts
by which Milady fastened herself in. On her side, but as
softly as possible, Kitty turned the key of the lock, and
then d'Artagnan opened the closet door.
"Oh, good Lord!" said Kitty, in a low voice, "what is the
matter with you? How pale you are!"
"The abominable creature" murmured d'Artagnan.
"Silence, silence, begone!" said Kitty. "There is nothing
but a wainscot between my chamber and Milady's; every word
that is uttered in one can be heard in the other."
"That's exactly the reason I won't go," said d'Artagnan.
"What!" said Kitty, blushing.
"Or, at least, I will go--later."
He drew Kitty to him. She had the less motive to resist,
resistance would make so much noise. Therefore Kitty
It was a movement of vengeance upon Milady. D'Artagnan
believed it right to say that vengeance is the pleasure of
the gods. With a little more heart, he might have been
contented with this new conquest; but the principal features
of his character were ambition and pride. It must, however,
be confessed in his justification that the first use he made
of his influence over Kitty was to try and find out what had
become of Mme. Bonacieux; but the poor girl swore upon the
crucifix to d'Artagnan that she was entirely ignorant on
that head, her mistress never admitting her into half her
secrets--only she believed she could say she was not dead.
As to the cause which was near making Milady lose her credit
with the cardinal, Kitty knew nothing about it; but this
time d'Artagnan was better informed than she was. As he had
seen Milady on board a vessel at the moment he was leaving
England, he suspected that it was, almost without a doubt,
on account of the diamond studs.
But what was clearest in all this was that the true hatred,
the profound hatred, the inveterate hatred of Milady, was
increased by his not having killed her brother-in-law.
D'Artagnan came the next day to Milady's, and finding her in
a very ill-humor, had no doubt that it was lack of an answer
from M. de Wardes that provoked her thus. Kitty came in,
but Milady was very cross with her. The poor girl ventured
a glance at d'Artagnan which said, "See how I suffer on your
Toward the end of the evening, however, the beautiful
lioness became milder; she smilingly listened to the soft
speeches of d'Artagnan, and even gave him her hand to kiss.
D'Artagnan departed, scarcely knowing what to think, but as
he was a youth who did not easily lose his head, while
continuing to pay his court to Milady, he had framed a
little plan in his mind.
He found Kitty at the gate, and, as on the preceding
evening, went up to her chamber. Kitty had been accused of
negligence and severely scolded. Milady could not at all
comprehend the silence of the Comte de Wardes, and she
ordered Kitty to come at nine o'clock in the morning to take
a third letter.
D'Artagnan made Kitty promise to bring him that letter on
the following morning. The poor girl promised all her lover
desired; she was mad.
Things passed as on the night before. D'Artagnan concealed
himself in his closet; Milady called, undressed, sent away
Kitty, and shut the door. As the night before, d'Artagnan
did not return home till five o'clock in the morning.
At eleven o'clock Kitty came to him. She held in her hand a
fresh billet from Milady. This time the poor girl did not
even argue with d'Artagnan; she gave it to him at once. She
belonged body and soul to her handsome soldier.
D'Artagnan opened the letter and read as follows:
This is the third time I have written to you to tell you
that I love you. Beware that I do not write to you a fourth
time to tell you that I detest you.
If you repent of the manner in which you have acted toward
me, the young girl who brings you this will tell you how a
man of spirit may obtain his pardon.
d'Artagnan colored and grew pale several times in reading
"Oh, you love her still," said Kitty, who had not taken her
eyes off the young man's countenance for an instant.
"No, Kitty, you are mistaken. I do not love her, but I will
avenge myself for her contempt."
"Oh, yes, I know what sort of vengeance! You told me that!"
"What matters it to you, Kitty? You know it is you alone
whom I love."
"How can I know that?"
"By the scorn I will throw upon her."
D'Artagnan took a pen and wrote:
Madame, Until the present moment I could not believe that it
was to me your first two letters were addressed, so unworthy
did I feel myself of such an honor; besides, I was so
seriously indisposed that I could not in any case have
replied to them.
But now I am forced to believe in the excess of your
kindness, since not only your letter but your servant
assures me that I have the good fortune to be beloved by
She has no occasion to teach me the way in which a man of
spirit may obtain his pardon. I will come and ask mine at
eleven o'clock this evening.
To delay it a single day would be in my eyes now to commit a
From him whom you have rendered the happiest of men,
Comte de Wardes
This note was in the first place a forgery; it was likewise
an indelicacy. It was even, according to our present
manners, something like an infamous action; but at that
period people did not manage affairs as they do today.
Besides, d'Artagnan from her own admission knew Milady
culpable of treachery in matters more important, and could
entertain no respect for her. And yet, notwithstanding this
want of respect, he felt an uncontrollable passion for this
woman boiling in his veins--passion drunk with contempt; but
passion or thirst, as the reader pleases.
D'Artagnan's plan was very simple. By Kitty's chamber he
could gain that of her mistress. He would take advantage of
the first moment of surprise, shame, and terror, to triumph
over her. He might fail, but something must be left to
chance. In eight days the campaign would open, and he would
be compelled to leave Paris; d'Artagnan had no time for a
prolonged love siege.
"There," said the young man, handing Kitty the letter
sealed; "give that to Milady. It is the count's reply."
Poor Kitty became as pale as death; she suspected what the
"Listen, my dear girl," said d'Artagnan; "you cannot but
perceive that all this must end, some way or other. Milady
may discover that you gave the first billet to my lackey
instead of to the count's; that it is I who have opened the
others which ought to have been opened by de Wardes. Milady
will then turn you out of doors, and you know she is not the
woman to limit her vengeance. "Alas!" said Kitty, "for whom
have I exposed myself to all that?"
"For me, I well know, my sweet girl," said d'Artagnan. "But
I am grateful, I swear to you."
"But what does this note contain?"
"Milady will tell you."
"Ah, you do not love me!" cried Kitty, "and I am very
To this reproach there is always one response which deludes
women. D'Artagnan replied in such a manner that Kitty
remained in her great delusion. Although she cried freely
before deciding to transmit the letter to her mistress, she
did at last so decide, which was all d'Artagnan wished.
Finally he promised that he would leave her mistress's
presence at an early hour that evening, and that when he
left the mistress he would ascend with the maid. This
promise completed poor Kitty's consolation.
34 IN WHICH THE EQUIPMENT OF ARAMIS AND PORTHOS IS TREATED
Since the four friends had been each in search of his
equipments, there had been no fixed meeting between them.
They dined apart from one another, wherever they might
happen to be, or rather where they could. Duty likewise on
its part took a portion of that precious time which was
gliding away so rapidly--only they had agreed to meet once a
week, about one o'clock, at the residence of Athos, seeing
that he, in agreement with the vow he had formed, did not
pass over the threshold of his door.
This day of reunion was the same day as that on which Kitty
came to find d'Artagnan. Soon as Kitty left him, d'Artagnan
directed his steps toward the Rue Ferou.
He found Athos and Aramis philosophizing. Aramis had some
slight inclination to resume the cassock. Athos, according
to his system, neither encouraged nor dissuaded him. Athos
believed that everyone should be left to his own free will.
He never gave advice but when it was asked, and even then he
required to be asked twice.
"People, in general," he said, "only ask advice not to
follow it; or if they do follow it, it is for the sake of
having someone to blame for having given it."
Porthos arrived a minute after d'Artagnan. The four friends
The four countenances expressed four different feelings:
that of Porthos, tranquillity; that of d'Artagnan, hope;
that of Aramis, uneasiness; that of Athos, carelessness.
At the end of a moment's conversation, in which Porthos
hinted that a lady of elevated rank had condescended to
relieve him from his embarrassment, Mousqueton entered. He
came to request his master to return to his lodgings, where
his presence was urgent, as he piteously said.
"Is it my equipment?"
"Yes and no," replied Mousqueton.
"Well, but can't you speak?"
Porthos rose, saluted his friends, and followed Mousqueton.
An instant after, Bazin made his appearance at the door.
"What do you want with me, my friend?" said Aramis, with
that mildness of language which was observable in him every
time that his ideas were directed toward the Church.
"A man wishes to see Monsieur at home," replied Bazin.
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