M. de Troisville, as his family was still called in Gascony, or M. d_reville, as he has ended by styling himself in Paris, had really commence_ife as d'Artagnan now did; that is to say, without a sou in his pocket, bu_ith a fund of audacity, shrewdness, and intelligence which makes the poores_ascon gentleman often derive more in his hope from the paternal inheritanc_han the richest Perigordian or Berrichan gentleman derives in reality fro_is. His insolent bravery, his still more insolent success at a time whe_lows poured down like hail, had borne him to the top of that difficult ladde_alled Court Favor, which he had climbed four steps at a time.
He was the friend of the king, who honored highly, as everyone knows, th_emory of his father, Henry IV. The father of M. de Treville had served him s_aithfully in his wars against the league that in default of money—a thing t_hich the Bearnais was accustomed all his life, and who constantly paid hi_ebts with that of which he never stood in need of borrowing, that is to say, with ready wit—in default of money, we repeat, he authorized him, after th_eduction of Paris, to assume for his arms a golden lion passant upon gules, with the motto FIDELIS ET FORTIS. This was a great matter in the way of honor, but very little in the way of wealth; so that when the illustrious companio_f the great Henry died, the only inheritance he was able to leave his son wa_is sword and his motto. Thanks to this double gift and the spotless name tha_ccompanied it, M. de Treville was admitted into the household of the youn_rince where he made such good use of his sword, and was so faithful to hi_otto, that Louis XIII, one of the good blades of his kingdom, was accustome_o say that if he had a friend who was about to fight, he would advise him t_hoose as a second, himself first, and Treville next—or even, perhaps, befor_imself.
Thus Louis XIII had a real liking for Treville—a royal liking, a self- interested liking, it is true, but still a liking. At that unhappy period i_as an important consideration to be surrounded by such men as Treville. Man_ight take for their device the epithet STRONG, which formed the second par_f his motto, but very few gentlemen could lay claim to the FAITHFUL, whic_onstituted the first. Treville was one of these latter. His was one of thos_are organizations, endowed with an obedient intelligence like that of th_og; with a blind valor, a quick eye, and a prompt hand; to whom sigh_ppeared only to be given to see if the king were dissatisfied with anyone, and the hand to strike this displeasing personage, whether a Besme, _aurevers, a Poltiot de Mere, or a Vitry. In short, up to this period nothin_ad been wanting to Treville but opportunity; but he was ever on the watch fo_t, and he faithfully promised himself that he would not fail to seize it b_ts three hairs whenever it came within reach of his hand. At last Louis XII_ade Treville the captain of his Musketeers, who were to Louis XIII i_evotedness, or rather in fanaticism, what his Ordinaries had been to Henr_II, and his Scotch Guard to Louis XI.
On his part, the cardinal was not behind the king in this respect. When he sa_he formidable and chosen body with which Louis XIII had surrounded himself, this second, or rather this first king of France, became desirous that he, too, should have his guard. He had his Musketeers therefore, as Louis XIII ha_is, and these two powerful rivals vied with each other in procuring, not onl_rom all the provinces of France, but even from all foreign states, the mos_elebrated swordsmen. It was not uncommon for Richelieu and Louis XIII t_ispute over their evening game of chess upon the merits of their servants.
Each boasted the bearing and the courage of his own people. While exclaimin_oudly against duels and brawls, they excited them secretly to quarrel, deriving an immoderate satisfaction or genuine regret from the success o_efeat of their own combatants. We learn this from the memoirs of a man wh_as concerned in some few of these defeats and in many of these victories.
Treville had grasped the weak side of his master; and it was to this addres_hat he owed the long and constant favor of a king who has not left th_eputation behind him of being very faithful in his friendships. He parade_is Musketeers before the Cardinal Armand Duplessis with an insolent air whic_ade the gray moustache of his Eminence curl with ire. Treville understoo_dmirably the war method of that period, in which he who could not live at th_xpense of the enemy must live at the expense of his compatriots. His soldier_ormed a legion of devil-may-care fellows, perfectly undisciplined toward al_ut himself.
Loose, half-drunk, imposing, the king's Musketeers, or rather M. d_reville's, spread themselves about in the cabarets, in the public walks, an_he public sports, shouting, twisting their mustaches, clanking their swords, and taking great pleasure in annoying the Guards of the cardinal whenever the_ould fall in with them; then drawing in the open streets, as if it were th_est of all possible sports; sometimes killed, but sure in that case to b_oth wept and avenged; often killing others, but then certain of not rottin_n prison, M. de Treville being there to claim them. Thus M. de Treville wa_raised to the highest note by these men, who adored him, and who, ruffians a_hey were, trembled before him like scholars before their master, obedient t_is least word, and ready to sacrifice themselves to wash out the smalles_nsult.
M. de Treville employed this powerful weapon for the king, in the first place, and the friends of the king—and then for himself and his own friends. For th_est, in the memoirs of this period, which has left so many memoirs, one doe_ot find this worthy gentleman blamed even by his enemies; and he had man_uch among men of the pen as well as among men of the sword. In no instance, let us say, was this worthy gentleman accused of deriving personal advantag_rom the cooperation of his minions. Endowed with a rare genius for intrigu_hich rendered him the equal of the ablest intriguers, he remained an hones_an. Still further, in spite of sword thrusts which weaken, and painfu_xercises which fatigue, he had become one of the most gallant frequenters o_evels, one of the most insinuating lady's men, one of the softest whisperer_f interesting nothings of his day; the BONNES FORTUNES of de Treville wer_alked of as those of M. de Bassompierre had been talked of twenty year_efore, and that was not saying a little. The captain of the Musketeers wa_herefore admired, feared, and loved; and this constitutes the zenith of huma_ortune.
Louis XIV absorbed all the smaller stars of his court in his own vas_adiance; but his father, a sun PLURIBUS IMPAR, left his personal splendor t_ach of his favorites, his individual value to each of his courtiers. I_ddition to the leeves of the king and the cardinal, there might be reckone_n Paris at that time more than two hundred smaller but still noteworth_eeves. Among these two hundred leeves, that of Treville was one of the mos_ought.
The court of his hotel, situated in the Rue du Vieux-Colombier, resembled _amp from by six o'clock in the morning in summer and eight o'clock in winter.
From fifty to sixty Musketeers, who appeared to replace one another in orde_lways to present an imposing number, paraded constantly, armed to the teet_nd ready for anything. On one of those immense staircases, upon whose spac_odern civilization would build a whole house, ascended and descended th_ffice seekers of Paris, who ran after any sort of favor—gentlemen from th_rovinces anxious to be enrolled, and servants in all sorts of liveries, bringing and carrying messages between their masters and M. de Treville. I_he antechamber, upon long circular benches, reposed the elect; that is t_ay, those who were called. In this apartment a continued buzzing prevaile_rom morning till night, while M. de Treville, in his office contiguous t_his antechamber, received visits, listened to complaints, gave his orders, and like the king in his balcony at the Louvre, had only to place himself a_he window to review both his men and arms.
The day on which d'Artagnan presented himself the assemblage was imposing, particularly for a provincial just arriving from his province. It is true tha_his provincial was a Gascon; and that, particularly at this period, th_ompatriots of d'Artagnan had the reputation of not being easily intimidated.
When he had once passed the massive door covered with long square-heade_ails, he fell into the midst of a troop of swordsmen, who crossed one anothe_n their passage, calling out, quarreling, and playing tricks one wit_nother. In order to make one's way amid these turbulent and conflictin_aves, it was necessary to be an officer, a great noble, or a pretty woman.
It was, then, into the midst of this tumult and disorder that our young ma_dvanced with a beating heat, ranging his long rapier up his lanky leg, an_eeping one hand on the edge of his cap, with that half-smile of th_mbarrassed a provincial who wishes to put on a good face. When he had passe_ne group he began to breathe more freely; but he could not help observin_hat they turned round to look at him, and for the first time in his lif_'Artagnan, who had till that day entertained a very good opinion of himself, felt ridiculous.
Arrived at the staircase, it was still worse. There were four Musketeers o_he bottom steps, amusing themselves with the following exercise, while ten o_welve of their comrades waited upon the landing place to take their turn i_he sport.
One of them, stationed upon the top stair, naked sword in hand, prevented, o_t least endeavored to prevent, the three others from ascending.
These three others fenced against him with their agile swords.
D'Artagnan at first took these weapons for foils, and believed them to b_uttoned; but he soon perceived by certain scratches that every weapon wa_ointed and sharpened, and that at each of these scratches not only th_pectators, but even the actors themselves, laughed like so many madmen.
He who at the moment occupied the upper step kept his adversaries marvelousl_n check. A circle was formed around them. The conditions required that a_very hit the man touched should quit the game, yielding his turn for th_enefit of the adversary who had hit him. In five minutes three were slightl_ounded, one on the hand, another on the ear, by the defender of the stair, who himself remained intact—a piece of skill which was worth to him, accordin_o the rules agreed upon, three turns of favor.
However difficult it might be, or rather as he pretended it was, to astonis_ur young traveler, this pastime really astonished him. He had seen in hi_rovince—that land in which heads become so easily heated—a few of th_reliminaries of duels; but the daring of these four fencers appeared to hi_he strongest he had ever heard of even in Gascony. He believed himsel_ransported into that famous country of giants into which Gulliver afterwar_ent and was so frightened; and yet he had not gained the goal, for there wer_till the landing place and the antechamber.
On the landing they were no longer fighting, but amused themselves wit_tories about women, and in the antechamber, with stories about the court. O_he landing d'Artagnan blushed; in the antechamber he trembled. His warm an_ickle imagination, which in Gascony had rendered formidable to youn_hambermaids, and even sometimes their mistresses, had never dreamed, even i_oments of delirium, of half the amorous wonders or a quarter of the feats o_allantry which were here set forth in connection with names the best know_nd with details the least concealed. But if his morals were shocked on th_anding, his respect for the cardinal was scandalized in the antechamber.
There, to his great astonishment, d'Artagnan heard the policy which made al_urope tremble criticized aloud and openly, as well as the private life of th_ardinal, which so many great nobles had been punished for trying to pry into.
That great man who was so revered by d'Artagnan the elder served as an objec_f ridicule to the Musketeers of Treville, who cracked their jokes upon hi_andy legs and his crooked back. Some sang ballads about Mme. d'Aguillon, hi_istress, and Mme. Cambalet, his niece; while others formed parties and plan_o annoy the pages and guards of the cardinal duke—all things which appeare_o d'Artagnan monstrous impossibilities.
Nevertheless, when the name of the king was now and then uttered unthinkingl_mid all these cardinal jests, a sort of gag seemed to close for a moment o_ll these jeering mouths. They looked hesitatingly around them, and appeare_o doubt the thickness of the partition between them and the office of M. d_reville; but a fresh allusion soon brought back the conversation to hi_minence, and then the laughter recovered its loudness and the light was no_ithheld from any of his actions.
"Certes, these fellows will all either be imprisoned or hanged," thought th_errified d'Artagnan, "and I, no doubt, with them; for from the moment I hav_ither listened to or heard them, I shall be held as an accomplice. What woul_y good father say, who so strongly pointed out to me the respect due to th_ardinal, if he knew I was in the society of such pagans?"
We have no need, therefore, to say that d'Artagnan dared not join in th_onversation, only he looked with all his eyes and listened with all his ears, stretching his five senses so as to lose nothing; and despite his confidenc_n the paternal admonitions, he felt himself carried by his tastes and led b_is instincts to praise rather than to blame the unheard-of things which wer_aking place.
Although he was a perfect stranger in the court of M. de Treville's courtiers, and this his first appearance in that place, he was at length noticed, an_omebody came and asked him what he wanted. At this demand d'Artagnan gave hi_ame very modestly, emphasized the title of compatriot, and begged the servan_ho had put the question to him to request a moment's audience of M. d_reville—a request which the other, with an air of protection, promised t_ransmit in due season.
D'Artagnan, a little recovered from his first surprise, had now leisure t_tudy costumes and physiognomy.
The center of the most animated group was a Musketeer of great height an_aughty countenance, dressed in a costume so peculiar as to attract genera_ttention. He did not wear the uniform cloak—which was not obligatory at tha_poch of less liberty but more independence—but a cerulean-blue doublet, _ittle faded and worn, and over this a magnificent baldric, worked in gold, which shone like water ripples in the sun. A long cloak of crimson velvet fel_n graceful folds from his shoulders, disclosing in front the splendi_aldric, from which was suspended a gigantic rapier. This Musketeer had jus_ome off guard, complained of having a cold, and coughed from time to tim_ffectedly. It was for this reason, as he said to those around him, that h_ad put on his cloak; and while he spoke with a lofty air and twisted hi_ustache disdainfully, all admired his embroidered baldric, and d'Artagna_ore than anyone.
"What would you have?" said the Musketeer. "This fashion is coming in. It is _olly, I admit, but still it is the fashion. Besides, one must lay out one'_nheritance somehow."
"Ah, Porthos!" cried one of his companions, "don't try to make us believe yo_btained that baldric by paternal generosity. It was given to you by tha_eiled lady I met you with the other Sunday, near the gate St. Honor."
"No, upon honor and by the faith of a gentleman, I bought it with the content_f my own purse," answered he whom they designated by the name Porthos.
"Yes; about in the same manner," said another Musketeer, "that I bought thi_ew purse with what my mistress put into the old one."
"It's true, though," said Porthos; "and the proof is that I paid twelv_istoles for it."
The wonder was increased, though the doubt continued to exist.
"Is it not true, Aramis?" said Porthos, turning toward another Musketeer.
This other Musketeer formed a perfect contrast to his interrogator, who ha_ust designated him by the name of Aramis. He was a stout man, of about two- or three-and-twenty, with an open, ingenuous countenance, a black, mild eye, and cheeks rosy and downy as an autumn peach. His delicate mustache marked _erfectly straight line upon his upper lip; he appeared to dread to lower hi_ands lest their veins should swell, and he pinched the tips of his ears fro_ime to time to preserve their delicate pink transparency. Habitually he spok_ittle and slowly, bowed frequently, laughed without noise, showing his teeth, which were fine and of which, as the rest of his person, he appeared to tak_reat care. He answered the appeal of his friend by an affirmative nod of th_ead.
This affirmation appeared to dispel all doubts with regard to the baldric.
They continued to admire it, but said no more about it; and with a rapi_hange of thought, the conversation passed suddenly to another subject.
"What do you think of the story Chalais's esquire relates?" asked anothe_usketeer, without addressing anyone in particular, but on the contrar_peaking to everybody.
"And what does he say?" asked Porthos, in a self-sufficient tone.
"He relates that he met at Brussels Rochefort, the AME DAMNEE of the cardina_isguised as a Capuchin, and that this cursed Rochefort, thanks to hi_isguise, had tricked Monsieur de Laigues, like a ninny as he is."
"A ninny, indeed!" said Porthos; "but is the matter certain?"
"I had it from Aramis," replied the Musketeer.
"Why, you knew it, Porthos," said Aramis. "I told you of it yesterday. Let u_ay no more about it."
"Say no more about it? That's YOUR opinion!" replied Porthos.
"Say no more about it! PESTE! You come to your conclusions quickly. What! Th_ardinal sets a spy upon a gentleman, has his letters stolen from him by mean_f a traitor, a brigand, a rascal-has, with the help of this spy and thanks t_his correspondence, Chalais's throat cut, under the stupid pretext that h_anted to kill the king and marry Monsieur to the queen! Nobody knew a word o_his enigma. You unraveled it yesterday to the great satisfaction of all; an_hile we are still gaping with wonder at the news, you come and tell us today,
'Let us say no more about it.'"
"Well, then, let us talk about it, since you desire it," replied Aramis, patiently.
"This Rochefort," cried Porthos, "if I were the esquire of poor Chalais, should pass a minute or two very uncomfortably with me."
"And you—you would pass rather a sad quarter-hour with the Red Duke," replie_ramis.
"Oh, the Red Duke! Bravo! Bravo! The Red Duke!" cried Porthos, clapping hi_ands and nodding his head. "The Red Duke is capital. I'll circulate tha_aying, be assured, my dear fellow. Who says this Aramis is not a wit? What _isfortune it is you did not follow your first vocation; what a delicious abb_ou would have made!"
"Oh, it's only a temporary postponement," replied Aramis; "I shall be on_omeday. You very well know, Porthos, that I continue to study theology fo_hat purpose."
"He will be one, as he says," cried Porthos; "he will be one, sooner o_ater."
"Sooner." said Aramis.
"He only waits for one thing to determine him to resume his cassock, whic_angs behind his uniform," said another Musketeer.
"What is he waiting for?" asked another.
"Only till the queen has given an heir to the crown of France."
"No jesting upon that subject, gentlemen," said Porthos; "thank God the quee_s still of an age to give one!"
"They say that Monsieur de Buckingham is in France," replied Aramis, with _ignificant smile which gave to this sentence, apparently so simple, _olerably scandalous meaning.
"Aramis, my good friend, this time you are wrong," interrupted Porthos. "You_it is always leading you beyond bounds; if Monsieur de Treville heard you, you would repent of speaking thus."
"Are you going to give me a lesson, Porthos?" cried Aramis, from whose usuall_ild eye a flash passed like lightning.
"My dear fellow, be a Musketeer or an abbe. Be one or the other, but no_oth," replied Porthos. "You know what Athos told you the other day; you ea_t everybody's mess. Ah, don't be angry, I beg of you, that would be useless; you know what is agreed upon between you, Athos and me. You go to Madam_'Aguillon's, and you pay your court to her; you go to Madame de Bois-Tracy's, the cousin of Madame de Chevreuse, and you pass for being far advanced in th_ood graces of that lady. Oh, good Lord! Don't trouble yourself to reveal you_ood luck; no one asks for your secret-all the world knows your discretion.
But since you possess that virtue, why the devil don't you make use of it wit_espect to her Majesty? Let whoever likes talk of the king and the cardinal, and how he likes; but the queen is sacred, and if anyone speaks of her, let i_e respectfully."
"Porthos, you are as vain as Narcissus; I plainly tell you so," replie_ramis. "You know I hate moralizing, except when it is done by Athos. As t_ou, good sir, you wear too magnificent a baldric to be strong on that head. _ill be an abbe if it suits me. In the meanwhile I am a Musketeer; in tha_uality I say what I please, and at this moment it pleases me to say that yo_eary me."
"Gentlemen! Gentlemen!" cried the surrounding group.
"Monsieur de Treville awaits Monsieur d'Artagnan," cried a servant, throwin_pen the door of the cabinet.
At this announcement, during which the door remained open, everyone becam_ute, and amid the general silence the young man crossed part of the length o_he antechamber, and entered the apartment of the captain of the Musketeers, congratulating himself with all his heart at having so narrowly escaped th_nd of this strange quarrel.