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Chapter 18 LOVER AND HUSBAND

  • "Ah, Madame," said d'Artagnan, entering by the door which the young woma_pened for him, "allow me to tell you that you have a bad sort of a husband."
  • "You have, then, overheard our conversation?" asked Mme. Bonacieux, eagerly, and looking at d'Artagnan with disquiet.
  • "The whole."
  • "But how, my God?"
  • "By a mode of proceeding known to myself, and by which I likewise overhear_he more animated conversation which he had with the cardinal's police."
  • "And what did you understand by what we said?"
  • "A thousand things. In the first place, that, unfortunately, your husband is _impleton and a fool; in the next place, you are in trouble, of which I a_ery glad, as it gives me a opportunity of placing myself at your service, an_od knows I am ready to throw myself into the fire for you; finally, that th_ueen wants a brave, intelligent, devoted man to make a journey to London fo_er. I have at least two of the three qualities you stand in need of, and her_ am."
  • Mme. Bonacieux made no reply; but her heart beat with joy and secret hop_hone in her eyes.
  • "And what guarantee will you give me," asked she, "if I consent to confid_his message to you?"
  • "My love for you. Speak! Command! What is to be done?"
  • "My God, my God!" murmured the young woman, "ought I to confide such a secre_o you, monsieur? You are almost a boy."
  • "I see that you require someone to answer for me?"
  • "I admit that would reassure me greatly."
  • "Do you know Athos?"
  • "No."
  • "Porthos?"
  • "No."
  • "Aramis?"
  • "No. Who are these gentleman?"
  • "Three of the king's Musketeers. Do you know Monsieur de Treville, thei_aptain?"
  • "Oh, yes, him! I know him; not personally, but from having heard the quee_peak of him more than once as a brave and loyal gentleman."
  • "You do not fear lest he should betray you to the cardinal?"
  • "Oh, no, certainly not!"
  • "Well, reveal your secret to him, and ask him whether, however important, however valuable, however terrible it may be, you may not confide it to me."
  • "But this secret is not mine, and I cannot reveal it in this manner."
  • "You were about to confide it to Monsieur Bonacieux," said d'Artagnan, wit_hagrin.
  • "As one confides a letter to the hollow of a tree, to the wing of a pigeon, t_he collar of a dog."
  • "And yet, me—you see plainly that I love you."
  • "You say so."
  • "I am an honorable man."
  • "You say so."
  • "I am a gallant fellow."
  • "I believe it."
  • "I am brave."
  • "Oh, I am sure of that!"
  • "Then, put me to the proof."
  • Mme. Bonacieux looked at the young man, restrained for a minute by a las_esitation; but there was such an ardor in his eyes, such persuasion in hi_oice, that she felt herself constrained to confide in him. Besides, she foun_erself in circumstances where everything must be risked for the sake o_verything. The queen might be as much injured by too much reticence as by to_uch confidence; and—let us admit it—the involuntary sentiment which she fel_or her young protector decided her to speak.
  • "Listen," said she; "I yield to your protestations, I yield to you_ssurances. But I swear to you, before God who hears us, that if you betra_e, and my enemies pardon me, I will kill myself, while accusing you of m_eath."
  • "And I—I swear to you before God, madame," said d'Artagnan, "that if I a_aken while accomplishing the orders you give me, I will die sooner than d_nything that may compromise anyone."
  • Then the young woman confided in him the terrible secret of which chance ha_lready communicated to him a part in front of the Samaritaine. This was thei_utual declaration of love.
  • D'Artagnan was radiant with joy and pride. This secret which he possessed, this woman whom he loved! Confidence and love made him a giant.
  • "I go," said he; "I go at once."
  • "How, you will go!" said Mme. Bonacieux; "and your regiment, your captain?"
  • "By my soul, you had made me forget all that, dear Constance! Yes, you ar_ight; a furlough is needful."
  • "Still another obstacle," murmured Mme. Bonacieux, sorrowfully.
  • "As to that," cried d'Artagnan, after a moment of reflection, "I shal_urmount it, be assured."
  • "How so?"
  • "I will go this very evening to Treville, whom I will request to ask thi_avor for me of his brother-in-law, Monsieur Dessessart."
  • "But another thing."
  • "What?" asked d'Artagnan, seeing that Mme. Bonacieux hesitated to continue.
  • "You have, perhaps, no money?"
  • "PERHAPS is too much," said d'Artagnan, smiling.
  • "Then," replied Mme. Bonacieux, opening a cupboard and taking from it the ver_ag which a half hour before her husband had caressed so affectionately, "tak_his bag."
  • "The cardinal's?" cried d'Artagnan, breaking into a loud laugh, he havin_eard, as may be remembered, thanks to the broken boards, every syllable o_he conversation between the mercer and his wife.
  • "The cardinal's," replied Mme. Bonacieux. "You see it makes a very respectabl_ppearance."
  • "PARDIEU," cried d'Artagnan, "it will be a double amusing affair to save th_ueen with the cardinal's money!"
  • "You are an amiable and charming young man," said Mme. Bonacieux. "Be assure_ou will not find her Majesty ungrateful."
  • "Oh, I am already grandly recompensed!" cried d'Artagnan. "I love you; yo_ermit me to tell you that I do—that is already more happiness than I dared t_ope."
  • "Silence!" said Mme. Bonacieux, starting.
  • "What!"
  • "Someone is talking in the street."
  • "It is the voice of—"
  • "Of my husband! Yes, I recognize it!"
  • D'Artagnan ran to the door and pushed the bolt.
  • "He shall not come in before I am gone," said he; "and when I am gone, you ca_pen to him."
  • "But I ought to be gone, too. And the disappearance of his money; how am I t_ustify it if I am here?"
  • "You are right; we must go out."
  • "Go out? How? He will see us if we go out."
  • "Then you must come up into my room."
  • "Ah," said Mme. Bonacieux, "you speak that in a tone that frightens me!"
  • Mme. Bonacieux pronounced these words with tears in her eyes. d'Artagnan sa_hose tears, and much disturbed, softened, he threw himself at her feet.
  • "With me you will be as safe as in a temple; I give you my word of _entleman."
  • "Let us go," said she, "I place full confidence in you, my friend!"
  • D'Artagnan drew back the bolt with precaution, and both, light as shadows, glided through the interior door into the passage, ascended the stairs a_uietly as possible, and entered d'Artagnan's chambers.
  • Once there, for greater security, the young man barricaded the door. They bot_pproached the window, and through a slit in the shutter they saw Bonacieu_alking with a man in a cloak.
  • At sight of this man, d'Artagnan started, and half drawing his sword, spran_oward the door.
  • It was the man of Meung.
  • "What are you going to do?" cried Mme. Bonacieux; "you will ruin us all!"
  • "But I have sworn to kill that man!" said d'Artagnan.
  • "Your life is devoted from this moment, and does not belong to you. In th_ame of the queen I forbid you to throw yourself into any peril which i_oreign to that of your journey."
  • "And do you command nothing in your own name?"
  • "In my name," said Mme. Bonacieux, with great emotion, "in my name I beg you!
  • But listen; they appear to be speaking of me."
  • D'Artagnan drew near the window, and lent his ear.
  • M. Bonacieux had opened his door, and seeing the apartment, had returned t_he man in the cloak, whom he had left alone for an instant.
  • "She is gone," said he; "she must have returned to the Louvre."
  • "You are sure," replied the stranger, "that she did not suspect the intention_ith which you went out?"
  • "No," replied Bonacieux, with a self-sufficient air, "she is too superficial _oman."
  • "Is the young Guardsman at home?"
  • "I do not think he is; as you see, his shutter is closed, and you can see n_ight shine through the chinks of the shutters."
  • "All the same, it is well to be certain."
  • "How so?"
  • "By knocking at his door. Go."
  • "I will ask his servant."
  • Bonacieux re-entered the house, passed through the same door that had afforde_ passage for the two fugitives, went up to d'Artagnan's door, and knocked.
  • No one answered. Porthos, in order to make a greater display, had that evenin_orrowed Planchet. As to d'Artagnan, he took care not to give the least sig_f existence.
  • The moment the hand of Bonacieux sounded on the door, the two young peopl_elt their hearts bound within them.
  • "There is nobody within," said Bonacieux.
  • "Never mind. Let us return to your apartment. We shall be safer there than i_he doorway."
  • "Ah, my God!" whispered Mme. Bonacieux, "we shall hear no more."
  • "On the contrary," said d'Artagnan, "we shall hear better."
  • D'Artagnan raised the three or four boards which made his chamber another ea_f Dionysius, spread a carpet on the floor, went upon his knees, and made _ign to Mme. Bonacieux to stoop as he did toward the opening.
  • "You are sure there is nobody there?" said the stranger.
  • "I will answer for it," said Bonacieux.
  • "And you think that your wife—"
  • "Has returned to the Louvre."
  • "Without speaking to anyone but yourself?"
  • "I am sure of it."
  • "That is an important point, do you understand?"
  • "Then the news I brought you is of value?"
  • "The greatest, my dear Bonacieux; I don't conceal this from you."
  • "Then the cardinal will be pleased with me?"
  • "I have no doubt of it."
  • "The great cardinal!"
  • "Are you sure, in her conversation with you, that your wife mentioned n_ames?"
  • "I think not."
  • "She did not name Madame de Chevreuse, the Duke of Buckingham, or Madame d_ernet?"
  • "No; she only told me she wished to send me to London to serve the interest_f an illustrious personage."
  • "The traitor!" murmured Mme. Bonacieux.
  • "Silence!" said d'Artagnan, taking her hand, which, without thinking of it, she abandoned to him.
  • "Never mind," continued the man in the cloak; "you were a fool not to hav_retended to accept the mission. You would then be in present possession o_he letter. The state, which is now threatened, would be safe, and you—"
  • "And I?"
  • "Well you—the cardinal would have given you letters of nobility."
  • "Did he tell you so?"
  • "Yes, I know that he meant to afford you that agreeable surprise."
  • "Be satisfied," replied Bonacieux; "my wife adores me, and there is yet time."
  • "The ninny!" murmured Mme. Bonacieux.
  • "Silence!" said d'Artagnan, pressing her hand more closely.
  • "How is there still time?" asked the man in the cloak.
  • "I go to the Louvre; I ask for Mme. Bonacieux; I say that I have reflected; _enew the affair; I obtain the letter, and I run directly to the cardinal."
  • "Well, go quickly! I will return soon to learn the result of your trip."
  • The stranger went out.
  • "Infamous!" said Mme. Bonacieux, addressing this epithet to her husband.
  • "Silence!" said d'Artagnan, pressing her hand still more warmly.
  • A terrible howling interrupted these reflections of d'Artagnan and Mme.
  • Bonacieux. It was her husband, who had discovered the disappearance of th_oneybag, and was crying "Thieves!"
  • "Oh, my God!" cried Mme. Bonacieux, "he will rouse the whole quarter."
  • Bonacieux called a long time; but as such cries, on account of thei_requency, brought nobody in the Rue des Fossoyeurs, and as lately th_ercer's house had a bad name, finding that nobody came, he went ou_ontinuing to call, his voice being heard fainter and fainter as he went i_he direction of the Rue du Bac.
  • "Now he is gone, it is your turn to get out," said Mme. Bonacieux. "Courage, my friend, but above all, prudence, and think what you owe to the queen."
  • "To her and to you!" cried d'Artagnan. "Be satisfied, beautiful Constance. _hall become worthy of her gratitude; but shall I likewise return worthy o_our love?"
  • The young woman only replied by the beautiful glow which mounted to he_heeks. A few seconds afterward d'Artagnan also went out enveloped in a larg_loak, which ill-concealed the sheath of a long sword.
  • Mme. Bonacieux followed him with her eyes, with that long, fond look wit_hich he had turned the angle of the street, she fell on her knees, an_lasping her hands, "Oh, my God," cried she, "protect the queen, protect me!"