His visit to M. de Treville being paid, the pensive d'Artagnan took th_ongest way homeward.
On what was d'Artagnan thinking, that he strayed thus from his path, gazing a_he stars of heaven, and sometimes sighing, sometimes smiling?
He was thinking of Mme. Bonacieux. For an apprentice Musketeer the young woma_as almost an ideal of love. Pretty, mysterious, initiated in almost all th_ecrets of the court, which reflected such a charming gravity over he_leasing features, it might be surmised that she was not wholly unmoved; an_his is an irresistible charm to novices in love. Moreover, d'Artagnan ha_elivered her from the hands of the demons who wished to search and ill trea_er; and this important service had established between them one of thos_entiments of gratitude which so easily assume a more tender character.
D'Artagnan already fancied himself, so rapid is the flight of our dreams upo_he wings of imagination, accosted by a messenger from the young woman, wh_rought him some billet appointing a meeting, a gold chain, or a diamond. W_ave observed that young cavaliers received presents from their king withou_hame. Let us add that in these times of lax morality they had no mor_elicacy with respect to the mistresses; and that the latter almost alway_eft them valuable and durable remembrances, as if they essayed to conquer th_ragility of their sentiments by the solidity of their gifts.
Without a blush, men made their way in the world by the means of wome_lushing. Such as were only beautiful gave their beauty, whence, withou_oubt, comes the proverb, "The most beautiful girl in the world can only giv_hat she has." Such as were rich gave in addition a part of their money; and _ast number of heroes of that gallant period may be cited who would neithe_ave won their spurs in the first place, nor their battles afterward, withou_he purse, more or less furnished, which their mistress fastened to the saddl_ow.
D'Artagnan owned nothing. Provincial diffidence, that slight varnish, th_phemeral flower, that down of the peach, had evaporated to the winds throug_he little orthodox counsels which the three Musketeers gave their friend.
D'Artagnan, following the strange custom of the times, considered himself a_aris as on a campaign, neither more nor less than if he had been i_landers—Spain yonder, woman here. In each there was an enemy to contend with, and contributions to be levied.
But, we must say, at the present moment d'Artagnan was ruled by a feeling muc_ore noble and disinterested. The mercer had said that he was rich; the youn_an might easily guess that with so weak a man as M. Bonacieux; and interes_as almost foreign to this commencement of love, which had been th_onsequence of it. We say ALMOST, for the idea that a young, handsome, kind, and witty woman is at the same time rich takes nothing from the beginning o_ove, but on the contrary strengthens it.
There are in affluence a crowd of aristocratic cares and caprices which ar_ighly becoming to beauty. A fine and white stocking, a silken robe, a lac_erchief, a pretty slipper on the foot, a tasty ribbon on the head do not mak_n ugly woman pretty, but they make a pretty woman beautiful, withou_eckoning the hands, which gain by all this; the hands, among wome_articularly, to be beautiful must be idle.
Then d'Artagnan, as the reader, from whom we have not concealed the state o_is fortune, very well knows—d'Artagnan was not a millionaire; he hoped t_ecome one someday, but the time which in his own mind he fixed upon for thi_appy change was still far distant. In the meanwhile, how disheartening to se_he woman one loves long for those thousands of nothings which constitute _oman's happiness, and be unable to give her those thousands of nothings. A_east, when the woman is rich and the lover is not, that which he cannot offe_he offers to herself; and although it is generally with her husband's mone_hat she procures herself this indulgence, the gratitude for it seldom revert_o him.
Then d'Artagnan, disposed to become the most tender of lovers, was at the sam_ime a very devoted friend, In the midst of his amorous projects for th_ercer's wife, he did not forget his friends. The pretty Mme. Bonacieux wa_ust the woman to walk with in the Plain St. Denis or in the fair of St.
Germain, in company with Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, to whom d'Artagnan ha_ften remarked this. Then one could enjoy charming little dinners, where on_ouches on one side the hand of a friend, and on the other the foot of _istress. Besides, on pressing occasions, in extreme difficulties, d'Artagna_ould become the preserver of his friends.
And M. Bonacieux? whom d'Artagnan had pushed into the hands of the officers, denying him aloud although he had promised in a whisper to save him. We ar_ompelled to admit to our readers that d'Artagnan thought nothing about him i_ny way; or that if he did think of him, it was only to say to himself that h_as very well where he was, wherever it might be. Love is the most selfish o_ll the passions.
Let our readers reassure themselves. IF d'Artagnan forgets his host, o_ppears to forget him, under the pretense of not knowing where he has bee_arried, we will not forget him, and we know where he is. But for the moment, let us do as did the amorous Gascon; we will see after the worthy merce_ater.
D'Artagnan, reflecting on his future amours, addressing himself to th_eautiful night, and smiling at the stars, ascended the Rue Cherish-Midi, o_hase-Midi, as it was then called. As he found himself in the quarter in whic_ramis lived, he took it into his head to pay his friend a visit in order t_xplain the motives which had led him to send Planchet with a request that h_ould come instantly to the mousetrap. Now, if Aramis had been at home whe_lanchet came to his abode, he had doubtless hastened to the Rue de_ossoyeurs, and finding nobody there but his other two companions perhaps, they would not be able to conceive what all this meant. This mystery require_n explanation; at least, so d'Artagnan declared to himself.
He likewise thought this was an opportunity for talking about pretty littl_me. Bonacieux, of whom his head, if not his heart, was already full. We mus_ever look for discretion in first love. First love is accompanied by suc_xcessive joy that unless the joy be allowed to overflow, it will stifle you.
Paris for two hours past had been dark, and seemed a desert. Eleven o'cloc_ounded from all the clocks of the Faubourg St. Germain. It was delightfu_eather. D'Artagnan was passing along a lane on the spot where the Rue d'Assa_s now situated, breathing the balmy emanations which were borne upon the win_rom the Rue de Vaugirard, and which arose from the gardens refreshed by th_ews of evening and the breeze of night. From a distance resounded, deadened, however, by good shutters, the songs of the tipplers, enjoying themselves i_he cabarets scattered along the plain. Arrived at the end of the lane, d'Artagnan turned to the left. The house in which Aramis dwelt was situate_etween the Rue Cassette and the Rue Servandoni.
D'Artagnan had just passed the Rue Cassette, and already perceived the door o_is friend's house, shaded by a mass of sycamores and clematis which formed _ast arch opposite the front of it, when he perceived something like a shado_ssuing from the Rue Servandoni. This something was enveloped in a cloak, an_'Artagnan at first believed it was a man; but by the smallness of the form, the hesitation of the walk, and the indecision of the step, he soon discovere_hat it was a woman. Further, this woman, as if not certain of the house sh_as seeking, lifted up her eyes to look around her, stopped, went backward, and then returned again. D'Artagnan was perplexed.
"Shall I go and offer her my services?" thought he. "By her step she must b_oung; perhaps she is pretty. Oh, yes! But a woman who wanders in the street_t this hour only ventures out to meet her lover. If I should disturb _endezvous, that would not be the best means of commencing an acquaintance."
Meantime the young woman continued to advance, counting the houses an_indows. This was neither long nor difficult. There were but three hotels i_his part of the street; and only two windows looking toward the road, one o_hich was in a pavilion parallel to that which Aramis occupied, the othe_elonging to Aramis himself.
"PARDIEU!" said d'Artagnan to himself, to whose mind the niece of th_heologian reverted, "PARDIEU, it would be droll if this belated dove shoul_e in search of our friend's house. But on my soul, it looks so. Ah, my dea_ramis, this time I shall find you out." And d'Artagnan, making himself a_mall as he could, concealed himself in the darkest side of the street near _tone bench placed at the back of a niche.
The young woman continued to advance; and in addition to the lightness of he_tep, which had betrayed her, she emitted a little cough which denoted a swee_oice. D'Artagnan believed this cough to be a signal.
Nevertheless, whether the cough had been answered by a similar signal whic_ad fixed the irresolution of the nocturnal seeker, or whether without thi_id she saw that she had arrived at the end of her journey, she resolutel_rew near to Aramis's shutter, and tapped, at three equal intervals, with he_ent finger.
"This is all very fine, dear Aramis," murmured d'Artagnan. "Ah, Monsieu_ypocrite, I understand how you study theology."
The three blows were scarcely struck, when the inside blind was opened and _ight appeared through the panes of the outside shutter.
"Ah, ah!" said the listener, "not through doors, but through windows! Ah, thi_isit was expected. We shall see the windows open, and the lady enter b_scalade. Very pretty!"
But to the great astonishment of d'Artagnan, the shutter remained closed.
Still more, the light which had shone for an instant disappeared, and all wa_gain in obscurity.
D'Artagnan thought this could not last long, and continued to look with al_is eyes and listen with all his ears.
He was right; at the end of some seconds two sharp taps were heard inside. Th_oung woman in the street replied by a single tap, and the shutter was opene_ little way.
It may be judged whether d'Artagnan looked or listened with avidity.
Unfortunately the light had been removed into another chamber; but the eyes o_he young man were accustomed to the night. Besides, the eyes of the Gascon_ave, as it is asserted, like those of cats, the faculty of seeing in th_ark.
D'Artagnan then saw that the young woman took from her pocket a white object, which she unfolded quickly, and which took the form of a handkerchief. Sh_ade her interlocutor observe the corner of this unfolded object.
This immediately recalled to d'Artagnan's mind the handkerchief which he ha_ound at the feet of Mme. Bonacieux, which had reminded him of that which h_ad dragged from under the feet of Aramis.
"What the devil could that handkerchief signify?"
Placed where he was, d'Artagnan could not perceive the face of Aramis. We sa_ramis, because the young man entertained no doubt that it was his friend wh_eld this dialogue from the interior with the lady of the exterior. Curiosit_revailed over prudence; and profiting by the preoccupation into which th_ight of the handkerchief appeared to have plunged the two personages now o_he scene, he stole from his hiding place, and quick as lightning, bu_tepping with utmost caution, he ran and placed himself close to the angle o_he wall, from which his eye could pierce the interior of Aramis's room.
Upon gaining this advantage d'Artagnan was near uttering a cry of surprise; i_as not Aramis who was conversing with the nocturnal visitor, it was a woman!
D'Artagnan, however, could only see enough to recognize the form of he_estments, not enough to distinguish her features.
At the same instant the woman inside drew a second handkerchief from he_ocket, and exchanged it for that which had just been shown to her. Then som_ords were spoken by the two women. At length the shutter closed. The woma_ho was outside the window turned round, and passed within four steps o_'Artagnan, pulling down the hood of her mantle; but the precaution was to_ate, d'Artagnan had already recognized Mme. Bonacieux.
Mme. Bonacieux! The suspicion that it was she had crossed the mind o_'Artagnan when she drew the handkerchief from her pocket; but wha_robability was there that Mme. Bonacieux, who had sent for M. Laporte i_rder to be reconducted to the Louvre, should be running about the streets o_aris at half past eleven at night, at the risk of being abducted a secon_ime?
This must be, then, an affair of importance; and what is the most importan_ffair to a woman of twenty-five! Love.
But was it on her own account, or on account of another, that she expose_erself to such hazards? This was a question the young man asked himself, who_he demon of jealousy already gnawed, being in heart neither more nor les_han an accepted lover.
There was a very simple means of satisfying himself whither Mme. Bonacieux wa_oing; that was to follow her. This method was so simple that d'Artagna_mployed it quite naturally and instinctively.
But at the sight of the young man, who detached himself from the wall like _tatue walking from its niche, and at the noise of the steps which she hear_esound behind her, Mme. Bonacieux uttered a little cry and fled.
D'Artagnan ran after her. It was not difficult for him to overtake a woma_mbarrassed with her cloak. He came up with her before she had traversed _hird of the street. The unfortunate woman was exhausted, not by fatigue, bu_y terror, and when d'Artagnan placed his hand upon her shoulder, she san_pon one knee, crying in a choking voice, "Kill me, if you please, you shal_now nothing!"
D'Artagnan raised her by passing his arm round her waist; but as he felt b_er weight she was on the point of fainting, he made haste to reassure her b_rotestations of devotedness. These protestations were nothing for Mme.
Bonacieux, for such protestations may be made with the worst intentions in th_orld; but the voice was all. Mme. Bonacieux thought she recognized the soun_f that voice; she reopened her eyes, cast a quick glance upon the man who ha_errified her so, and at once perceiving it was d'Artagnan, she uttered a cr_f joy, "Oh, it is you, it is you! Thank God, thank God!"
"Yes, it is I," said d'Artagnan, "it is I, whom God has sent to watch ove_ou."
"Was it with that intention you followed me?" asked the young woman, with _oquettish smile, whose somewhat bantering character resumed its influence, and with whom all fear had disappeared from the moment in which she recognize_ friend in one she had taken for an enemy.
"No," said d'Artagnan; "no, I confess it. It was chance that threw me in you_ay; I saw a woman knocking at the window of one of my friends."
"One of your friends?" interrupted Mme. Bonacieux.
"Without doubt; Aramis is one of my best friends."
"Aramis! Who is he?"
"Come, come, you won't tell me you don't know Aramis?"
"This is the first time I ever heard his name pronounced."
"It is the first time, then, that you ever went to that house?"
"And you did not know that it was inhabited by a young man?"
"By a Musketeer?"
"It was not he, then, you came to seek?"
"Not the least in the world. Besides, you must have seen that the person t_hom I spoke was a woman."
"That is true; but this woman is a friend of Aramis—"
"I know nothing of that."
"—since she lodges with him."
"That does not concern me."
"But who is she?"
"Oh, that is not my secret."
"My dear Madame Bonacieux, you are charming; but at the same time you are on_f the most mysterious women."
"Do I lose by that?"
"No; you are, on the contrary, adorable."
"Give me your arm, then."
"Most willingly. And now?"
"Now escort me."
"Where I am going."
"But where are you going?"
"You will see, because you will leave me at the door."
"Shall I wait for you?"
"That will be useless."
"You will return alone, then?"
"Perhaps yes, perhaps no."
"But will the person who shall accompany you afterward be a man or a woman?"
"I don't know yet."
"But I will know it!"
"I will wait until you come out."
"In that case, adieu."
"I do not want you."
"But you have claimed—"
"The aid of a gentleman, not the watchfulness of a spy."
"The word is rather hard."
"How are they called who follow others in spite of them?"
"They are indiscreet."
"The word is too mild."
"Well, madame, I perceive I must do as you wish."
"Why did you deprive yourself of the merit of doing so at once?"
"Is there no merit in repentance?"
"And do you really repent?"
"I know nothing about it myself. But what I know is that I promise to do al_ou wish if you allow me to accompany you where you are going."
"And you will leave me then?"
"Without waiting for my coming out again?"
"Word of honor?"
"By the faith of a gentleman. Take my arm, and let us go."
D'Artagnan offered his arm to Mme. Bonacieux, who willingly took it, hal_aughing, half trembling, and both gained the top of Rue de la Harpe. Arrivin_here, the young woman seemed to hesitate, as she had before done in the Ru_augirard. She seemed, however, by certain signs, to recognize a door, an_pproaching that door, "And now, monsieur," said she, "it is here I hav_usiness; a thousand thanks for your honorable company, which has saved m_rom all the dangers to which, alone I was exposed. But the moment is come t_eep your word; I have reached my destination."
"And you will have nothing to fear on your return?"
"I shall have nothing to fear but robbers."
"And that is nothing?"
"What could they take from me? I have not a penny about me."
"You forget that beautiful handkerchief with the coat of arms."
"That which I found at your feet, and replaced in your pocket."
"Hold your tongue, imprudent man! Do you wish to destroy me?"
"You see very plainly that there is still danger for you, since a single wor_akes you tremble; and you confess that if that word were heard you would b_uined. Come, come, madame!" cried d'Artagnan, seizing her hands, an_urveying her with an ardent glance, "come, be more generous. Confide in me.
Have you not read in my eyes that there is nothing but devotion and sympath_n my heart?"
"Yes," replied Mme. Bonacieux; "therefore, ask my own secrets, and I wil_eveal them to you; but those of others—that is quite another thing."
"Very well," said d'Artagnan, "I shall discover them; as these secrets ma_ave an influence over your life, these secrets must become mine."
"Beware of what you do!" cried the young woman, in a manner so serious as t_ake d'Artagnan start in spite of himself. "Oh, meddle in nothing whic_oncerns me. Do not seek to assist me in that which I am accomplishing. This _sk of you in the name of the interest with which I inspire you, in the nam_f the service you have rendered me and which I never shall forget while _ave life. Rather, place faith in what I tell you. Have no more concern abou_e; I exist no longer for you, any more than if you had never seen me."
"Must Aramis do as much as I, madame?" said d'Artagnan, deeply piqued.
"This is the second or third time, monsieur, that you have repeated that name, and yet I have told you that I do not know him."
"You do not know the man at whose shutter you have just knocked? Indeed, madame, you believe me too credulous!"
"Confess that it is for the sake of making me talk that you invent this stor_nd create this personage."
"I invent nothing, madame; I create nothing. I only speak that exact truth."
"And you say that one of your friends lives in that house?"
"I say so, and I repeat it for the third time; that house is one inhabited b_y friend, and that friend is Aramis."
"All this will be cleared up at a later period," murmured the young woman;
"no, monsieur, be silent."
"If you could see my heart," said d'Artagnan, "you would there read so muc_uriosity that you would pity me and so much love that you would instantl_atisfy my curiosity. We have nothing to fear from those who love us."
"You speak very suddenly of love, monsieur," said the young woman, shaking he_ead.
"That is because love has come suddenly upon me, and for the first time; an_ecause I am only twenty."
The young woman looked at him furtively.
"Listen; I am already upon the scent," resumed d'Artagnan. "About three month_go I was near having a duel with Aramis concerning a handkerchief resemblin_he one you showed to the woman in his house—for a handkerchief marked in th_ame manner, I am sure."
"Monsieur," said the young woman, "you weary me very much, I assure you, wit_our questions."
"But you, madame, prudent as you are, think, if you were to be arrested wit_hat handkerchief, and that handkerchief were to be seized, would you not b_ompromised?"
"In what way? The initials are only mine—C. B., Constance Bonacieux."
"Or Camille de Bois-Tracy."
"Silence, monsieur! Once again, silence! Ah, since the dangers I incur on m_wn account cannot stop you, think of those you may yourself run!"
"Yes; there is peril of imprisonment, risk of life in knowing me."
"Then I will not leave you."
"Monsieur!" said the young woman, supplicating him and clasping her hand_ogether, "monsieur, in the name of heaven, by the honor of a soldier, by th_ourtesy of a gentleman, depart! There, there midnight sounds! That is th_our when I am expected."
"Madame," said the young man, bowing; "I can refuse nothing asked of me thus.
Be content; I will depart."
"But you will not follow me; you will not watch me?"
"I will return home instantly."
"Ah, I was quite sure you were a good and brave young man," said Mme.
Bonacieux, holding out her hand to him, and placing the other upon the knocke_f a little door almost hidden in the wall.
D'Artagnan seized the hand held out to him, and kissed it ardently.
"Ah! I wish I had never seen you!" cried d'Artagnan, with that ingenuou_oughness which women often prefer to the affectations of politeness, becaus_t betrays the depths of the thought and proves that feeling prevails ove_eason.
"Well!" resumed Mme. Bonacieux, in a voice almost caressing, and pressing th_and of d'Artagnan, who had not relinquished hers, "well: I will not say a_uch as you do; what is lost for today may not be lost forever. Who knows, when I shall be at liberty, that I may not satisfy your curiosity?"
"And will you make the same promise to my love?" cried d'Artagnan, besid_imself with joy.
"Oh, as to that, I do not engage myself. That depends upon the sentiments wit_hich you may inspire me."
"Then today, madame—"
"Oh, today, I am no further than gratitude."
"Ah! You are too charming," said d'Artagnan, sorrowfully; "and you abuse m_ove."
"No, I use your generosity, that's all. But be of good cheer; with certai_eople, everything comes round."
"Oh, you render me the happiest of men! Do not forget this evening—do no_orget that promise."
"Be satisfied. In the proper time and place I will remember everything. No_hen, go, go, in the name of heaven! I was expected at sharp midnight, and _m late."
"By five minutes."
"Yes; but in certain circumstances five minutes are five ages."
"When one loves."
"Well! And who told you I had no affair with a lover?"
"It is a man, then, who expects you?" cried d'Artagnan. "A man!"
"The discussion is going to begin again!" said Mme. Bonacieux, with a half- smile which was not exempt from a tinge of impatience.
"No, no; I go, I depart! I believe in you, and I would have all the merit o_y devotion, even if that devotion were stupidity. Adieu, madame, adieu!"
And as if he only felt strength to detach himself by a violent effort from th_and he held, he sprang away, running, while Mme. Bonacieux knocked, as at th_hutter, three light and regular taps. When he had gained the angle of th_treet, he turned. The door had been opened, and shut again; the mercer'_retty wife had disappeared.
D'Artagnan pursued his way. He had given his word not to watch Mme. Bonacieux, and if his life had depended upon the spot to which she was going or upon th_erson who should accompany her, d'Artagnan would have returned home, since h_ad so promised. Five minutes later he was in the Rue des Fossoyeurs.
"Poor Athos!" said he; "he will never guess what all this means. He will hav_allen asleep waiting for me, or else he will have returned home, where h_ill have learned that a woman had been there. A woman with Athos! After all,"
continued d'Artagnan, "there was certainly one with Aramis. All this is ver_trange; and I am curious to know how it will end."
"Badly, monsieur, badly!" replied a voice which the young man recognized a_hat of Planchet; for, soliloquizing aloud, as very preoccupied people do, h_ad entered the alley, at the end of which were the stairs which led to hi_hamber.
"How badly? What do you mean by that, you idiot?" asked d'Artagnan. "What ha_appened?"
"All sorts of misfortunes."
"In the first place, Monsieur Athos is arrested."
"Arrested! Athos arrested! What for?"
"He was found in your lodging; they took him for you."
"And by whom was he arrested?"
"By Guards brought by the men in black whom you put to flight."
"Why did he not tell them his name? Why did he not tell them he knew nothin_bout this affair?"
"He took care not to do so, monsieur; on the contrary, he came up to me an_aid, 'It is your master that needs his liberty at this moment and not I, since he knows everything and I know nothing. They will believe he i_rrested, and that will give him time; in three days I will tell them who _m, and they cannot fail to let me go.'"
"Bravo, Athos! Noble heart!" murmured d'Artagnan. "I know him well there! An_hat did the officers do?"
"Four conveyed him away, I don't know where—to the Bastille or Fort l'Eveque.
Two remained with the men in black, who rummaged every place and took all th_apers. The last two mounted guard at the door during this examination; then, when all was over, they went away, leaving the house empty and exposed."
"And Porthos and Aramis?"
"I could not find them; they did not come."
"But they may come any moment, for you left word that I awaited them?"
"Well, don't budge, then; if they come, tell them what has happened. Let the_ait for me at the Pomme-de-Pin. Here it would be dangerous; the house may b_atched. I will run to Monsieur de Treville to tell them all this, and wil_eet them there."
"Very well, monsieur," said Planchet.
"But you will remain; you are not afraid?" said d'Artagnan, coming back t_ecommend courage to his lackey.
"Be easy, monsieur," said Planchet; "you do not know me yet. I am brave when _et about it. It is all in beginning. Besides, I am a Picard."
"Then it is understood," said d'Artagnan; "you would rather be killed tha_esert your post?"
"Yes, monsieur; and there is nothing I would not do to prove to Monsieur tha_ am attached to him."
"Good!" said d'Artagnan to himself. "It appears that the method I have adopte_ith this boy is decidedly the best. I shall use it again upon occasion."
And with all the swiftness of his legs, already a little fatigued however, with the perambulations of the day, d'Artagnan directed his course toward M.
M. de Treville was not at his hotel. His company was on guard at the Louvre; he was at the Louvre with his company.
It was necessary to reach M. de Treville; it was important that he should b_nformed of what was passing. D'Artagnan resolved to try and enter the Louvre.
His costume of Guardsman in the company of M. Dessessart ought to be hi_assport.
He therefore went down the Rue des Petits Augustins, and came up to the quay, in order to take the New Bridge. He had at first an idea of crossing by th_erry; but on gaining the riverside, he had mechanically put his hand into hi_ocket, and perceived that he had not wherewithal to pay his passage.
As he gained the top of the Rue Guenegaud, he saw two persons coming out o_he Rue Dauphine whose appearance very much struck him. Of the two persons wh_omposed this group, one was a man and the other a woman. The woman had th_utline of Mme. Bonacieux; the man resembled Aramis so much as to be mistake_or him.
Besides, the woman wore that black mantle which d'Artagnan could still se_utlined on the shutter of the Rue de Vaugirard and on the door of the Rue d_a Harpe; still further, the man wore the uniform of a Musketeer.
The woman's hood was pulled down, and the man held a handkerchief to his face.
Both, as this double precaution indicated, had an interest in not bein_ecognized.
They took the bridge. That was d'Artagnan's road, as he was going to th_ouvre. D'Artagnan followed them.
He had not gone twenty steps before he became convinced that the woman wa_eally Mme. Bonacieux and that the man was Aramis.
He felt at that instant all the suspicions of jealousy agitating his heart. H_elt himself doubly betrayed, by his friend and by her whom he already love_ike a mistress. Mme. Bonacieux had declared to him, by all the gods, that sh_id not know Aramis; and a quarter of an hour after having made thi_ssertion, he found her hanging on the arm of Aramis.
D'Artagnan did not reflect that he had only known the mercer's pretty wife fo_hree hours; that she owed him nothing but a little gratitude for havin_elivered her from the men in black, who wished to carry her off, and that sh_ad promised him nothing. He considered himself an outraged, betrayed, an_idiculed lover. Blood and anger mounted to his face; he was resolved t_nravel the mystery.
The young man and young woman perceived they were watched, and redoubled thei_peed. D'Artagnan determined upon his course. He passed them, then returned s_s to meet them exactly before the Samaritaine. Which was illuminated by _amp which threw its light over all that part of the bridge.
D'Artagnan stopped before them, and they stopped before him.
"What do you want, monsieur?" demanded the Musketeer, recoiling a step, an_ith a foreign accent, which proved to d'Artagnan that he was deceived in on_f his conjectures.
"It is not Aramis!" cried he.
"No, monsieur, it is not Aramis; and by your exclamation I perceive you hav_istaken me for another, and pardon you."
"You pardon me?" cried d'Artagnan.
"Yes," replied the stranger. "Allow me, then, to pass on, since it is not wit_e you have anything to do."
"You are right, monsieur, it is not with you that I have anything to do; it i_ith Madame."
"With Madame! You do not know her," replied the stranger.
"You are deceived, monsieur; I know her very well."
"Ah," said Mme. Bonacieux; in a tone of reproach, "ah, monsieur, I had you_romise as a soldier and your word as a gentleman. I hoped to be able to rel_pon that."
"And I, madame!" said d'Artagnan, embarrassed; "you promised me—"
"Take my arm, madame," said the stranger, "and let us continue our way."
D'Artagnan, however, stupefied, cast down, annihilated by all that happened, stood, with crossed arms, before the Musketeer and Mme. Bonacieux.
The Musketeer advanced two steps, and pushed d'Artagnan aside with his hand.
D'Artagnan made a spring backward and drew his sword. At the same time, an_ith the rapidity of lightning, the stranger drew his.
"In the name of heaven, my Lord!" cried Mme. Bonacieux, throwing hersel_etween the combatants and seizing the swords with her hands.
"My Lord!" cried d'Artagnan, enlightened by a sudden idea, "my Lord! Pardo_e, monsieur, but you are not—"
"My Lord the Duke of Buckingham," said Mme. Bonacieux, in an undertone; "an_ow you may ruin us all."
"My Lord, Madame, I ask a hundred pardons! But I love her, my Lord, and wa_ealous. You know what it is to love, my Lord. Pardon me, and then tell me ho_ can risk my life to serve your Grace?"
"You are a brave young man," said Buckingham, holding out his hand t_'Artagnan, who pressed it respectfully. "You offer me your services; with th_ame frankness I accept them. Follow us at a distance of twenty paces, as fa_s the Louvre, and if anyone watches us, slay him!"
D'Artagnan placed his naked sword under his arm, allowed the duke and Mme.
Bonacieux to take twenty steps ahead, and then followed them, ready to execut_he instructions of the noble and elegant minister of Charles I.
Fortunately, he had no opportunity to give the duke this proof of hi_evotion, and the young woman and the handsome Musketeer entered the Louvre b_he wicket of the Echelle without any interference.
As for d'Artagnan, he immediately repaired to the cabaret of the Pomme-de-Pin, where he found Porthos and Aramis awaiting him. Without giving them an_xplanation of the alarm and inconvenience he had caused them, he told the_hat he had terminated the affair alone in which he had for a moment believe_e should need their assistance.
Meanwhile, carried away as we are by our narrative, we must leave our thre_riends to themselves, and follow the Duke of Buckingham and his guide throug_he labyrinths of the Louvre.