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Chapter 25 PORTHOS

  • Instead of returning directly home, d'Artagnan alighted at the door of M. d_reville, and ran quickly up the stairs. This time he had decided to relat_ll that had passed. M. de Treville would doubtless give him good advice as t_he whole affair. Besides, as M. de Treville saw the queen almost daily, h_ight be able to draw from her Majesty some intelligence of the poor youn_oman, whom they were doubtless making pay very dearly for her devotedness t_er mistress.
  • M. de Treville listened to the young man's account with a seriousness whic_roved that he saw something else in this adventure besides a love affair.
  • When d'Artagnan had finished, he said, "Hum! All this savors of his Eminence, a league off."
  • "But what is to be done?" said d'Artagnan.
  • "Nothing, absolutely nothing, at present, but quitting Paris, as I told you, as soon as possible. I will see the queen; I will relate to her the details o_he disappearance of this poor woman, of which she is no doubt ignorant. Thes_etails will guide her on her part, and on your return, I shall perhaps hav_ome good news to tell you. Rely on me."
  • D'Artagnan knew that, although a Gascon, M. de Treville was not in the habi_f making promises, and that when by chance he did promise, he more than kep_is word. He bowed to him, then, full of gratitude for the past and for th_uture; and the worthy captain, who on his side felt a lively interest in thi_oung man, so brave and so resolute, pressed his hand kindly, wishing him _leasant journey.
  • Determined to put the advice of M. de Treville in practice instantly, d'Artagnan directed his course toward the Rue des Fossoyeurs, in order t_uperintend the packing of his valise. On approaching the house, he perceive_. Bonacieux in morning costume, standing at his threshold. All that th_rudent Planchet had said to him the preceding evening about the siniste_haracter of the old man recurred to the mind of d'Artagnan, who looked at hi_ith more attention than he had done before. In fact, in addition to tha_ellow, sickly paleness which indicates the insinuation of the bile in th_lood, and which might, besides, be accidental, d'Artagnan remarked somethin_erfidiously significant in the play of the wrinkled features of hi_ountenance. A rogue does not laugh in the same way that an honest man does; _ypocrite does not shed the tears of a man of good faith. All falsehood is _ask; and however well made the mask may be, with a little attention we ma_lways succeed in distinguishing it from the true face.
  • It appeared, then, to d'Artagnan that M. Bonacieux wore a mask, and likewis_hat that mask was most disagreeable to look upon. In consequence of thi_eeling of repugnance, he was about to pass without speaking to him, but, a_e had done the day before, M. Bonacieux accosted him.
  • "Well, young man," said he, "we appear to pass rather gay nights! Seve_'clock in the morning! PESTE! You seem to reverse ordinary customs, and com_ome at the hour when other people are going out."
  • "No one can reproach you for anything of the kind, Monsieur Bonacieux," sai_he young man; "you are a model for regular people. It is true that when a ma_ossesses a young and pretty wife, he has no need to seek happiness elsewhere.
  • Happiness comes to meet him, does it not, Monsieur Bonacieux?"
  • Bonacieux became as pale as death, and grinned a ghastly smile.
  • "Ah, ah!" said Bonacieux, "you are a jocular companion! But where the devi_ere you gladding last night, my young master? It does not appear to be ver_lean in the crossroads."
  • D'Artagnan glanced down at his boots, all covered with mud; but that sam_lance fell upon the shoes and stockings of the mercer, and it might have bee_aid they had been dipped in the same mud heap. Both were stained wit_plashes of mud of the same appearance.
  • Then a sudden idea crossed the mind of d'Artagnan. That little stout man, short and elderly, that sort of lackey, dressed in dark clothes, treate_ithout ceremony by the men wearing swords who composed the escort, wa_onacieux himself. The husband had presided at the abduction of his wife.
  • A terrible inclination seized d'Artagnan to grasp the mercer by the throat an_trangle him; but, as we have said, he was a very prudent youth, and h_estrained himself. However, the revolution which appeared upon hi_ountenance was so visible that Bonacieux was terrified at it, and h_ndeavored to draw back a step or two; but as he was standing before the hal_f the door which was shut, the obstacle compelled him to keep his place.
  • "Ah, but you are joking, my worthy man!" said d'Artagnan. "It appears to m_hat if my boots need a sponge, your stockings and shoes stand in equal nee_f a brush. May you not have been philandering a little also, Monsieu_onacieux? Oh, the devil! That's unpardonable in a man of your age, and wh_esides, has such a pretty wife as yours."
  • "Oh, Lord! no," said Bonacieux, "but yesterday I went to St. Mande to mak_ome inquiries after a servant, as I cannot possibly do without one; and th_oads were so bad that I brought back all this mud, which I have not yet ha_ime to remove."
  • The place named by Bonacieux as that which had been the object of his journe_as a fresh proof in support of the suspicions d'Artagnan had conceived.
  • Bonacieux had named Mande because Mande was in an exactly opposite directio_rom St. Cloud. This probability afforded him his first consolation. I_onacieux knew where his wife was, one might, by extreme means, force th_ercer to open his teeth and let his secret escape. The question, then, wa_ow to change this probability into a certainty.
  • "Pardon, my dear Monsieur Bonacieux, if I don't stand upon ceremony," sai_'Artagnan, "but nothing makes one so thirsty as want of sleep. I am parche_ith thirst. Allow me to take a glass of water in your apartment; you kno_hat is never refused among neighbors."
  • Without waiting for the permission of his host, d'Artagnan went quickly int_he house, and cast a rapid glance at the bed. It had not been used. Bonacieu_ad not been abed. He had only been back an hour or two; he had accompanie_is wife to the place of her confinement, or else at least to the first relay.
  • "Thanks, Monsieur Bonacieux," said d'Artagnan, emptying his glass, "that i_ll I wanted of you. I will now go up into my apartment. I will make Planche_rush my boots; and when he has done, I will, if you like, send him to you t_rush your shoes."
  • He left the mercer quite astonished at his singular farewell, and askin_imself if he had not been a little inconsiderate.
  • At the top of the stairs he found Planchet in a great fright.
  • "Ah, monsieur!" cried Planchet, as soon as he perceived his master, "here i_ore trouble. I thought you would never come in."
  • "What's the matter now, Planchet?" demanded d'Artagnan.
  • "Oh! I give you a hundred, I give you a thousand times to guess, monsieur, th_isit I received in your absence."
  • "When?"
  • "About half an hour ago, while you were at Monsieur de Treville's."
  • "Who has been here? Come, speak."
  • "Monsieur de Cavois."
  • "Monsieur de Cavois?"
  • "In person."
  • "The captain of the cardinal's Guards?"
  • "Himself."
  • "Did he come to arrest me?"
  • "I have no doubt that he did, monsieur, for all his wheedling manner."
  • "Was he so sweet, then?"
  • "Indeed, he was all honey, monsieur."
  • "Indeed!"
  • "He came, he said, on the part of his Eminence, who wished you well, and t_eg you to follow him to the Palais-Royal."[[5]](footnotes.xml#footnote_5)
  • "What did you answer him?"
  • "That the thing was impossible, seeing that you were not at home, as he coul_ee."
  • "Well, what did he say then?"
  • "That you must not fail to call upon him in the course of the day; and then h_dded in a low voice, 'Tell your master that his Eminence is very wel_isposed toward him, and that his fortune perhaps depends upon thi_nterview.'"
  • "The snare is rather MALADROIT for the cardinal," replied the young man, smiling.
  • "Oh, I saw the snare, and I answered you would be quite in despair on you_eturn.
  • "'Where has he gone?' asked Monsieur de Cavois.
  • "'To Troyes, in Champagne,' I answered.
  • "'And when did he set out?'
  • "'Yesterday evening.'"
  • "Planchet, my friend," interrupted d'Artagnan, "you are really a preciou_ellow."
  • "You will understand, monsieur, I thought there would be still time, if yo_ish, to see Monsieur de Cavois to contradict me by saying you were not ye_one. The falsehood would then lie at my door, and as I am not a gentleman, _ay be allowed to lie."
  • "Be of good heart, Planchet, you shall preserve your reputation as a veraciou_an. In a quarter of an hour we set off."
  • "That's the advice I was about to give Monsieur; and where are we going, may _sk, without being too curious?"
  • "PARDIEU! In the opposite direction to that which you said I was gone.
  • Besides, are you not as anxious to learn news of Grimaud, Mousqueton, an_azin as I am to know what has become of Athos, Porthos, and Aramis?"
  • "Yes, monsieur," said Planchet, "and I will go as soon as you please. Indeed, I think provincial air will suit us much better just now than the air o_aris. So then—"
  • "So then, pack up our luggage, Planchet, and let us be off. On my part, I wil_o out with my hands in my pockets, that nothing may be suspected. You ma_oin me at the Hotel des Gardes. By the way, Planchet, I think you are righ_ith respect to our host, and that he is decidedly a frightfully low wretch."
  • "Ah, monsieur, you may take my word when I tell you anything. I am _hysiognomist, I assure you."
  • D'Artagnan went out first, as had been agreed upon. Then, in order that h_ight have nothing to reproach himself with, he directed his steps, for th_ast time, toward the residences of his three friends. No news had bee_eceived of them; only a letter, all perfumed and of an elegant writing i_mall characters, had come for Aramis. D'Artagnan took charge of it. Te_inutes afterward Planchet joined him at the stables of the Hotel des Gardes.
  • D'Artagnan, in order that there might be no time lost, had saddled his hors_imself.
  • "That's well," said he to Planchet, when the latter added the portmanteau t_he equipment. "Now saddle the other three horses."
  • "Do you think, then, monsieur, that we shall travel faster with two horse_piece?" said Planchet, with his shrewd air.
  • "No, Monsieur Jester," replied d'Artagnan; "but with our four horses we ma_ring back our three friends, if we should have the good fortune to find the_iving."
  • "Which is a great chance," replied Planchet, "but we must not despair of th_ercy of God."
  • "Amen!" said d'Artagnan, getting into his saddle.
  • As they went from the Hotel des Gardes, they separated, leaving the street a_pposite ends, one having to quit Paris by the Barriere de la Villette and th_ther by the Barriere Montmartre, to meet again beyond St. Denis—a strategi_aneuver which, having been executed with equal punctuality, was crowned wit_he most fortunate results. D'Artagnan and Planchet entered Pierrefitt_ogether.
  • Planchet was more courageous, it must be admitted, by day than by night. Hi_atural prudence, however, never forsook him for a single instant. He ha_orgotten not one of the incidents of the first journey, and he looked upo_verybody he met on the road as an enemy. It followed that his hat was foreve_n his hand, which procured him some severe reprimands from d'Artagnan, wh_eared that his excess of politeness would lead people to think he was th_ackey of a man of no consequence.
  • Nevertheless, whether the passengers were really touched by the urbanity o_lanchet or whether this time nobody was posted on the young man's road, ou_wo travelers arrived at Chantilly without any accident, and alighted at th_avern of Great St. Martin, the same at which they had stopped on their firs_ourney.
  • The host, on seeing a young man followed by a lackey with two extra horses, advanced respectfully to the door. Now, as they had already traveled eleve_eagues, d'Artagnan thought it time to stop, whether Porthos were or were no_n the inn. Perhaps it would not be prudent to ask at once what had become o_he Musketeer. The result of these reflections was that d'Artagnan, withou_sking information of any kind, alighted, commended the horses to the care o_is lackey, entered a small room destined to receive those who wished to b_lone, and desired the host to bring him a bottle of his best wine and as goo_ breakfast as possible—a desire which further corroborated the high opinio_he innkeeper had formed of the traveler at first sight.
  • D'Artagnan was therefore served with miraculous celerity. The regiment of th_uards was recruited among the first gentlemen of the kingdom; and d'Artagnan, followed by a lackey, and traveling with four magnificent horses, despite th_implicity of his uniform, could not fail to make a sensation. The hos_esired himself to serve him; which d'Artagnan perceiving, ordered two glasse_o be brought, and commenced the following conversation.
  • "My faith, my good host," said d'Artagnan, filling the two glasses, "I aske_or a bottle of your best wine, and if you have deceived me, you will b_unished in what you have sinned; for seeing that I hate drinking my myself, you shall drink with me. Take your glass, then, and let us drink. But wha_hall we drink to, so as to avoid wounding any susceptibility? Let us drink t_he prosperity of your establishment."
  • "Your Lordship does me much honor," said the host, "and I thank you sincerel_or your kind wish."
  • "But don't mistake," said d'Artagnan, "there is more selfishness in my toas_han perhaps you may think—for it is only in prosperous establishments tha_ne is well received. In hotels that do not flourish, everything is i_onfusion, and the traveler is a victim to the embarrassments of his host.
  • Now, I travel a great deal, particularly on this road, and I wish to see al_nnkeepers making a fortune."
  • "It seems to me," said the host, "that this is not the first time I have ha_he honor of seeing Monsieur."
  • "Bah, I have passed perhaps ten times through Chantilly, and out of the te_imes I have stopped three or four times at your house at least. Why I wa_ere only ten or twelve days ago. I was conducting some friends, Musketeers, one of whom, by the by, had a dispute with a stranger—a man who sought _uarrel with him, for I don't know what."
  • "Exactly so," said the host; "I remember it perfectly. It is not Monsieu_orthos that your Lordship means?"
  • "Yes, that is my companion's name. My God, my dear host, tell me if anythin_as happened to him?"
  • "Your Lordship must have observed that he could not continue his journey."
  • "Why, to be sure, he promised to rejoin us, and we have seen nothing of him."
  • "He has done us the honor to remain here."
  • "What, he had done you the honor to remain here?"
  • "Yes, monsieur, in this house; and we are even a little uneasy—"
  • "On what account?"
  • "Of certain expenses he has contracted."
  • "Well, but whatever expenses he may have incurred, I am sure he is in _ondition to pay them."
  • "Ah, monsieur, you infuse genuine balm into my blood. We have mad_onsiderable advances; and this very morning the surgeon declared that i_onsieur Porthos did not pay him, he should look to me, as it was I who ha_ent for him."
  • "Porthos is wounded, then?"
  • "I cannot tell you, monsieur."
  • "What! You cannot tell me? Surely you ought to be able to tell me better tha_ny other person."
  • "Yes; but in our situation we must not say all we know—particularly as we hav_een warned that our ears should answer for our tongues."
  • "Well, can I see Porthos?"
  • "Certainly, monsieur. Take the stairs on your right; go up the first fligh_nd knock at Number One. Only warn him that it is you."
  • "Why should I do that?"
  • "Because, monsieur, some mischief might happen to you."
  • "Of what kind, in the name of wonder?"
  • "Monsieur Porthos may imagine you belong to the house, and in a fit of passio_ight run his sword through you or blow out your brains."
  • "What have you done to him, then?"
  • "We have asked him for money."
  • "The devil! Ah, I can understand that. It is a demand that Porthos takes ver_ll when he is not in funds; but I know he must be so at present."
  • "We thought so, too, monsieur. As our house is carried on very regularly, an_e make out our bills every week, at the end of eight days we presented ou_ccount; but it appeared we had chosen an unlucky moment, for at the firs_ord on the subject, he sent us to all the devils. It is true he had bee_laying the day before."
  • "Playing the day before! And with whom?"
  • "Lord, who can say, monsieur? With some gentleman who was traveling this way, to whom he proposed a game of LANSQUENET."
  • "That's it, then, and the foolish fellow lost all he had?"
  • "Even to his horse, monsieur; for when the gentleman was about to set out, w_erceived that his lackey was saddling Monsieur Porthos's horse, as well a_is master's. When we observed this to him, he told us all to troubl_urselves about our own business, as this horse belonged to him. We als_nformed Monsieur Porthos of what was going on; but he told us we wer_coundrels to doubt a gentleman's word, and that as he had said the horse wa_is, it must be so."
  • "That's Porthos all over," murmured d'Artagnan.
  • "Then," continued the host, "I replied that as from the moment we seemed no_ikely to come to a good understanding with respect to payment, I hoped tha_e would have at least the kindness to grant the favor of his custom to m_rother host of the Golden Eagle; but Monsieur Porthos replied that, my hous_eing the best, he should remain where he was. This reply was too flatterin_o allow me to insist on his departure. I confined myself then to begging hi_o give up his chamber, which is the handsomest in the hotel, and to b_atisfied with a pretty little room on the third floor; but to this Monsieu_orthos replied that as he every moment expected his mistress, who was one o_he greatest ladies in the court, I might easily comprehend that the chambe_e did me the honor to occupy in my house was itself very mean for the visi_f such a personage. Nevertheless, while acknowledging the truth of what h_aid, I thought proper to insist; but without even giving himself the troubl_o enter into any discussion with me, he took one of his pistols, laid it o_is table, day and night, and said that at the first word that should b_poken to him about removing, either within the house or out of it, he woul_low out the brains of the person who should be so imprudent as to meddle wit_ matter which only concerned himself. Since that time, monsieur, nobod_ntered his chamber but his servant."
  • "What! Mousqueton is here, then?"
  • "Oh, yes, monsieur. Five days after your departure, he came back, and in _ery bad condition, too. It appears that he had met with disagreeableness, likewise, on his journey. Unfortunately, he is more nimble than his master; s_hat for the sake of his master, he puts us all under his feet, and as h_hinks we might refuse what he asked for, he takes all he wants without askin_t all."
  • "The fact is," said d'Artagnan, "I have always observed a great degree o_ntelligence and devotedness in Mousqueton."
  • "That is possible, monsieur; but suppose I should happen to be brought i_ontact, even four times a year, with such intelligence and devotedness—why, _hould be a ruined man!"
  • "No, for Porthos will pay you."
  • "Hum!" said the host, in a doubtful tone.
  • "The favorite of a great lady will not be allowed to be inconvenienced fo_uch a paltry sum as he owes you."
  • "If I durst say what I believe on that head—"
  • "What you believe?"
  • "I ought rather to say, what I know."
  • "What you know?"
  • "And even what I am sure of."
  • "And of what are you so sure?"
  • "I would say that I know this great lady."
  • "You?"
  • "Yes; I."
  • "And how do you know her?"
  • "Oh, monsieur, if I could believe I might trust in your discretion."
  • "Speak! By the word of a gentleman, you shall have no cause to repent of you_onfidence."
  • "Well, monsieur, you understand that uneasiness makes us do many things."
  • "What have you done?"
  • "Oh, nothing which was not right in the character of a creditor."
  • "Well?"
  • "Monsieur Porthos gave us a note for his duchess, ordering us to put it in th_ost. This was before his servant came. As he could not leave his chamber, i_as necessary to charge us with this commission."
  • "And then?"
  • "Instead of putting the letter in the post, which is never safe, I too_dvantage of the journey of one of my lads to Paris, and ordered him to conve_he letter to this duchess himself. This was fulfilling the intentions o_onsieur Porthos, who had desired us to be so careful of this letter, was i_ot?"
  • "Nearly so."
  • "Well, monsieur, do you know who this great lady is?"
  • "No; I have heard Porthos speak of her, that's all."
  • "Do you know who this pretended duchess is?
  • "I repeat to you, I don't know her."
  • "Why, she is the old wife of a procurator* of the Chatelet, monsieur, name_adame Coquenard, who, although she is at least fifty, still gives hersel_ealous airs. It struck me as very odd that a princess should live in the Ru_ux Ours."
  • *Attorney
  • "But how do you know all this?"
  • "Because she flew into a great passion on receiving the letter, saying tha_onsieur Porthos was a weathercock, and that she was sure it was for som_oman he had received this wound."
  • "Has he been wounded, then?"
  • "Oh, good Lord! What have I said?"
  • "You said that Porthos had received a sword cut."
  • "Yes, but he has forbidden me so strictly to say so."
  • "And why so."
  • "Zounds, monsieur! Because he had boasted that he would perforate the strange_ith whom you left him in dispute; whereas the stranger, on the contrary, i_pite of all his rodomontades quickly threw him on his back. As Monsieu_orthos is a very boastful man, he insists that nobody shall know he ha_eceived this wound except the duchess, whom he endeavored to interest by a_ccount of his adventure."
  • "It is a wound that confines him to his bed?"
  • "Ah, and a master stroke, too, I assure you. Your friend's soul must stic_ight to his body."
  • "Were you there, then?"
  • "Monsieur, I followed them from curiosity, so that I saw the combat withou_he combatants seeing me."
  • "And what took place?"
  • "Oh! The affair was not long, I assure you. They placed themselves on guard; the stranger made a feint and a lunge, and that so rapidly that when Monsieu_orthos came to the PARADE, he had already three inches of steel in hi_reast. He immediately fell backward. The stranger placed the point of hi_word at his throat; and Monsieur Porthos, finding himself at the mercy of hi_dversary, acknowledged himself conquered. Upon which the stranger asked hi_ame, and learning that it was Porthos, and not d'Artagnan, he assisted him t_ise, brought him back to the hotel, mounted his horse, and disappeared."
  • "So it was with Monsieur d'Artagnan this stranger meant to quarrel?"
  • "It appears so."
  • "And do you know what has become of him?"
  • "No, I never saw him until that moment, and have not seen him since."
  • "Very well; I know all that I wish to know. Porthos's chamber is, you say, o_he first story, Number One?"
  • "Yes, monsieur, the handsomest in the inn—a chamber that I could have let te_imes over."
  • "Bah! Be satisfied," said d'Artagnan, laughing, "Porthos will pay you with th_oney of the Duchess Coquenard."
  • "Oh, monsieur, procurator's wife or duchess, if she will but loosen he_ursestrings, it will be all the same; but she positively answered that sh_as tired of the exigencies and infidelities of Monsieur Porthos, and that sh_ould not send him a denier."
  • "And did you convey this answer to your guest?"
  • "We took good care not to do that; he would have found in what fashion we ha_xecuted his commission."
  • "So that he still expects his money?"
  • "Oh, Lord, yes, monsieur! Yesterday he wrote again; but it was his servant wh_his time put the letter in the post."
  • "Do you say the procurator's wife is old and ugly?"
  • "Fifty at least, monsieur, and not at all handsome, according to Pathaud'_ccount."
  • "In that case, you may be quite at ease; she will soon be softened. Besides, Porthos cannot owe you much."
  • "How, not much! Twenty good pistoles, already, without reckoning the doctor.
  • He denies himself nothing; it may easily be seen he has been accustomed t_ive well."
  • "Never mind; if his mistress abandons him, he will find friends, I will answe_or it. So, my dear host, be not uneasy, and continue to take all the care o_im that his situation requires."
  • "Monsieur has promised me not to open his mouth about the procurator's wife, and not to say a word of the wound?"
  • "That's agreed; you have my word."
  • "Oh, he would kill me!"
  • "Don't be afraid; he is not so much of a devil as he appears."
  • Saying these words, d'Artagnan went upstairs, leaving his host a little bette_atisfied with respect to two things in which he appeared to be very muc_nterested—his debt and his life.
  • At the top of the stairs, upon the most conspicuous door of the corridor, wa_raced in black ink a gigantic number "1." d'Artagnan knocked, and upon th_idding to come in which came from inside, he entered the chamber.
  • Porthos was in bed, and was playing a game at LANSQUENET with Mousqueton, t_eep his hand in; while a spit loaded with partridges was turning before th_ire, and on each side of a large chimneypiece, over two chafing dishes, wer_oiling two stewpans, from which exhaled a double odor of rabbit and fis_tews, rejoicing to the smell. In addition to this he perceived that the to_f a wardrobe and the marble of a commode were covered with empty bottles.
  • At the sight of his friend, Porthos uttered a loud cry of joy; and Mousqueton, rising respectfully, yielded his place to him, and went to give an eye to th_wo stewpans, of which he appeared to have the particular inspection.
  • "Ah, PARDIEU! Is that you?" said Porthos to d'Artagnan. "You are righ_elcome. Excuse my not coming to meet you; but," added he, looking a_'Artagnan with a certain degree of uneasiness, "you know what has happened t_e?"
  • "No."
  • "Has the host told you nothing, then?"
  • "I asked after you, and came up as soon as I could."
  • Porthos seemed to breathe more freely.
  • "And what has happened to you, my dear Porthos?" continued d'Artagnan.
  • "Why, on making a thrust at my adversary, whom I had already hit three times, and whom I meant to finish with the fourth, I put my foot on a stone, slipped, and strained my knee."
  • "Truly?"
  • "Honor! Luckily for the rascal, for I should have left him dead on the spot, _ssure you."
  • "And what has became of him?"
  • "Oh, I don't know; he had enough, and set off without waiting for the rest.
  • But you, my dear d'Artagnan, what has happened to you?"
  • "So that this strain of the knee," continued d'Artagnan, "my dear Porthos, keeps you in bed?"
  • "My God, that's all. I shall be about again in a few days."
  • "Why did you not have yourself conveyed to Paris? You must be cruelly bore_ere."
  • "That was my intention; but, my dear friend, I have one thing to confess t_ou."
  • "What's that?"
  • "It is that as I was cruelly bored, as you say, and as I had the seventy-fiv_istoles in my pocket which you had distributed to me, in order to amus_yself I invited a gentleman who was traveling this way to walk up, an_roposed a cast of dice. He accepted my challenge, and, my faith, my seventy- five pistoles passed from my pocket to his, without reckoning my horse, whic_e won into the bargain. But you, my dear d'Artagnan?"
  • "What can you expect, my dear Porthos; a man is not privileged in all ways,"
  • said d'Artagnan. "You know the proverb 'Unlucky at play, lucky in love.' Yo_re too fortunate in your love for play not to take its revenge. Wha_onsequence can the reverses of fortune be to you? Have you not, happy rogu_hat you are—have you not your duchess, who cannot fail to come to your aid?"
  • "Well, you see, my dear d'Artagnan, with what ill luck I play," replie_orthos, with the most careless air in the world. "I wrote to her to send m_ifty louis or so, of which I stood absolutely in need on account of m_ccident."
  • "Well?"
  • "Well, she must be at her country seat, for she has not answered me."
  • "Truly?"
  • "No; so I yesterday addressed another epistle to her, still more pressing tha_he first. But you are here, my dear fellow, let us speak of you. I confess _egan to be very uneasy on your account."
  • "But your host behaves very well toward you, as it appears, my dear Porthos,"
  • said d'Artagnan, directing the sick man's attention to the full stewpans an_he empty bottles.
  • "So, so," replied Porthos. "Only three or four days ago the impertinen_ackanapes gave me his bill, and I was forced to turn both him and his bil_ut of the door; so that I am here something in the fashion of a conqueror, holding my position, as it were, my conquest. So you see, being in constan_ear of being forced from that position, I am armed to the teeth."
  • "And yet," said d'Artagnan, laughing, "it appears to me that from time to tim_ou must make SORTIES." And he again pointed to the bottles and the stewpans.
  • "Not I, unfortunately!" said Porthos. "This miserable strain confines me to m_ed; but Mousqueton forages, and brings in provisions. Friend Mousqueton, yo_ee that we have a reinforcement, and we must have an increase of supplies."
  • "Mousqueton," said d'Artagnan, "you must render me a service."
  • "What, monsieur?"
  • "You must give your recipe to Planchet. I may be besieged in my turn, and _hall not be sorry for him to be able to let me enjoy the same advantages wit_hich you gratify your master."
  • "Lord, monsieur! There is nothing more easy," said Mousqueton, with a modes_ir. "One only needs to be sharp, that's all. I was brought up in the country, and my father in his leisure time was something of a poacher."
  • "And what did he do the rest of his time?"
  • "Monsieur, he carried on a trade which I have always thought satisfactory."
  • "Which?"
  • "As it was a time of war between the Catholics and the Huguenots, and as h_aw the Catholics exterminate the Huguenots and the Huguenots exterminate th_atholics—all in the name of religion—he adopted a mixed belief whic_ermitted him to be sometimes Catholic, sometimes a Huguenot. Now, he wa_ccustomed to walk with his fowling piece on his shoulder, behind the hedge_hich border the roads, and when he saw a Catholic coming alone, th_rotestant religion immediately prevailed in his mind. He lowered his gun i_he direction of the traveler; then, when he was within ten paces of him, h_ommenced a conversation which almost always ended by the traveler'_bandoning his purse to save his life. It goes without saying that when he sa_ Huguenot coming, he felt himself filled with such ardent Catholic zeal tha_e could not understand how, a quarter of an hour before, he had been able t_ave any doubts upon the superiority of our holy religion. For my part, monsieur, I am Catholic—my father, faithful to his principles, having made m_lder brother a Huguenot."
  • "And what was the end of this worthy man?" asked d'Artagnan.
  • "Oh, of the most unfortunate kind, monsieur. One day he was surprised in _onely road between a Huguenot and a Catholic, with both of whom he had befor_ad business, and who both knew him again; so they united against him an_anged him on a tree. Then they came and boasted of their fine exploit in th_abaret of the next village, where my brother and I were drinking."
  • "And what did you do?" said d'Artagnan.
  • "We let them tell their story out," replied Mousqueton. "Then, as in leavin_he cabaret they took different directions, my brother went and hid himself o_he road of the Catholic, and I on that of the Huguenot. Two hours after, al_as over; we had done the business of both, admiring the foresight of our poo_ather, who had taken the precaution to bring each of us up in a differen_eligion."
  • "Well, I must allow, as you say, your father was a very intelligent fellow.
  • And you say in his leisure moments the worthy man was a poacher?"
  • "Yes, monsieur, and it was he who taught me to lay a snare and ground a line.
  • The consequence is that when I saw our laborers, which did not at all suit tw_uch delicate stomachs as ours, I had recourse to a little of my old trade.
  • While walking near the wood of Monsieur le Prince, I laid a few snare in th_uns; and while reclining on the banks of his Highness's pieces of water, _lipped a few lines into his fish ponds. So that now, thanks be to God, we d_ot want, as Monsieur can testify, for partridges, rabbits, carp or eels—al_ight, wholesome food, suitable for the sick."
  • "But the wine," said d'Artagnan, "who furnishes the wine? Your host?"
  • "That is to say, yes and no."
  • "How yes and no?"
  • "He furnishes it, it is true, but he does not know that he has that honor."
  • "Explain yourself, Mousqueton; your conversation is full of instructiv_hings."
  • "That is it, monsieur. It has so chanced that I met with a Spaniard in m_eregrinations who had seen many countries, and among them the New World."
  • "What connection can the New World have with the bottles which are on th_ommode and the wardrobe?"
  • "Patience, monsieur, everything will come in its turn."
  • "This Spaniard had in his service a lackey who had accompanied him in hi_oyage to Mexico. This lackey was my compatriot; and we became the mor_ntimate from there being many resemblances of character between us. We love_porting of all kinds better than anything; so that he related to me how i_he plains of the Pampas the natives hunt the tiger and the wild bull wit_imple running nooses which they throw to a distance of twenty or thirty pace_he end of a cord with such nicety; but in face of the proof I was obliged t_cknowledge the truth of the recital. My friend placed a bottle at th_istance of thirty paces, and at each cast he caught the neck of the bottle i_is running noose. I practiced this exercise, and as nature has endowed m_ith some faculties, at this day I can throw the lasso with any man in th_orld. Well, do you understand, monsieur? Our host has a well-furnished cella_he key of which never leaves him; only this cellar has a ventilating hole.
  • Now through this ventilating hole I throw my lasso, and as I now know in whic_art of the cellar is the best wine, that's my point for sport. You see, monsieur, what the New World has to do with the bottles which are on th_ommode and the wardrobe. Now, will you taste our wine, and without prejudic_ay what you think of it?"
  • "Thank you, my friend, thank you; unfortunately, I have just breakfasted."
  • "Well," said Porthos, "arrange the table, Mousqueton, and while we breakfast, d'Artagnan will relate to us what has happened to him during the ten day_ince he left us."
  • "Willingly," said d'Artagnan.
  • While Porthos and Mousqueton were breakfasting, with the appetites o_onvalescents and with that brotherly cordiality which unites men i_isfortune, d'Artagnan related how Aramis, being wounded, was obliged to sto_t Crevecoeur, how he had left Athos fighting at Amiens with four men wh_ccused him of being a coiner, and how he, d'Artagnan, had been forced to ru_he Comtes de Wardes through the body in order to reach England.
  • But there the confidence of d'Artagnan stopped. He only added that on hi_eturn from Great Britain he had brought back four magnificent horses—one fo_imself, and one for each of his companions; then he informed Porthos that th_ne intended for him was already installed in the stable of the tavern.
  • At this moment Planchet entered, to inform his master that the horses wer_ufficiently refreshed and that it would be possible to sleep at Clermont.
  • As d'Artagnan was tolerably reassured with regard to Porthos, and as he wa_nxious to obtain news of his two other friends, he held out his hand to th_ounded man, and told him he was about to resume his route in order t_ontinue his researches. For the rest, as he reckoned upon returning by th_ame route in seven or eight days, if Porthos were still at the Great St.
  • Martin, he would call for him on his way.
  • Porthos replied that in all probability his sprain would not permit him t_epart yet awhile. Besides, it was necessary he should stay at Chantilly t_ait for the answer from his duchess.
  • D'Artagnan wished that answer might be prompt and favorable; and having agai_ecommended Porthos to the care of Mousqueton, and paid his bill to the host, he resumed his route with Planchet, already relieved of one of his led horses.