M. de Treville was at the moment in rather ill-humor, nevertheless he salute_he young man politely, who bowed to the very ground; and he smiled o_eceiving d'Artagnan's response, the Bearnese accent of which recalled to hi_t the same time his youth and his country—a double remembrance which makes _an smile at all ages; but stepping toward the antechamber and making a sig_o d'Artagnan with his hand, as if to ask his permission to finish with other_efore he began with him, he called three times, with a louder voice at eac_ime, so that he ran through the intervening tones between the imperativ_ccent and the angry accent.
"Athos! Porthos! Aramis!"
The two Musketeers with whom we have already made acquaintance, and wh_nswered to the last of these three names, immediately quitted the group o_hich they had formed a part, and advanced toward the cabinet, the door o_hich closed after them as soon as they had entered. Their appearance, although it was not quite at ease, excited by its carelessness, at once ful_f dignity and submission, the admiration of d'Artagnan, who beheld in thes_wo men demigods, and in their leader an Olympian Jupiter, armed with all hi_hunders.
When the two Musketeers had entered; when the door was closed behind them; when the buzzing murmur of the antechamber, to which the summons which ha_een made had doubtless furnished fresh food, had recommenced; when M. d_reville had three or four times paced in silence, and with a frowning brow, the whole length of his cabinet, passing each time before Porthos and Aramis, who were as upright and silent as if on parade—he stopped all at once full i_ront of them, and covering them from head to foot with an angry look, "Do yo_now what the king said to me," cried he, "and that no longer ago tha_esterday evening—do you know, gentlemen?"
"No," replied the two Musketeers, after a moment's silence, "no, sir, we d_ot."
"But I hope that you will do us the honor to tell us," added Aramis, in hi_olitest tone and with his most graceful bow.
"He told me that he should henceforth recruit his Musketeers from among th_uards of Monsieur the Cardinal."
"The Guards of the cardinal! And why so?" asked Porthos, warmly.
"Because he plainly perceives that his piquette[](footnotes.xml#footnote_2) stands in need of being enlivened by a mixture of good wine."
The two Musketeers reddened to the whites of their eyes. d'Artagnan did no_now where he was, and wished himself a hundred feet underground.
"Yes, yes," continued M. de Treville, growing warmer as he spoke, "and hi_ajesty was right; for, upon my honor, it is true that the Musketeers make bu_ miserable figure at court. The cardinal related yesterday while playing wit_he king, with an air of condolence very displeasing to me, that the da_efore yesterday those DAMNED MUSKETEERS, those DAREDEVILS—he dwelt upon thos_ords with an ironical tone still more displeasing to me—those BRAGGARTS, added he, glancing at me with his tiger-cat's eye, had made a riot in the Ru_erou in a cabaret, and that a party of his Guards (I thought he was going t_augh in my face) had been forced to arrest the rioters! MORBLEU! You mus_now something about it. Arrest Musketeers! You were among them—you were!
Don't deny it; you were recognized, and the cardinal named you. But it's al_y fault; yes, it's all my fault, because it is myself who selects my men.
You, Aramis, why the devil did you ask me for a uniform when you would hav_een so much better in a cassock? And you, Porthos, do you only wear such _ine golden baldric to suspend a sword of straw from it? And Athos—I don't se_thos. Where is he?"
"Very ill, say you? And of what malady?"
"It is feared that it may be the smallpox, sir," replied Porthos, desirous o_aking his turn in the conversation; "and what is serious is that it wil_ertainly spoil his face."
"The smallpox! That's a great story to tell me, Porthos! Sick of the smallpo_t his age! No, no; but wounded without doubt, killed, perhaps. Ah, if I knew!
S'blood! Messieurs Musketeers, I will not have this haunting of bad places, this quarreling in the streets, this swordplay at the crossways; and abov_ll, I will not have occasion given for the cardinal's Guards, who are brave, quiet, skillful men who never put themselves in a position to be arrested, an_ho, besides, never allow themselves to be arrested, to laugh at you! I a_ure of it—they would prefer dying on the spot to being arrested or takin_ack a step. To save yourselves, to scamper away, to flee—that is good for th_ing's Musketeers!"
Porthos and Aramis trembled with rage. They could willingly have strangled M.
de Treville, if, at the bottom of all this, they had not felt it was the grea_ove he bore them which made him speak thus. They stamped upon the carpet wit_heir feet; they bit their lips till the blood came, and grasped the hilts o_heir swords with all their might. All without had heard, as we have said, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis called, and had guessed, from M. de Treville's ton_f voice, that he was very angry about something. Ten curious heads were glue_o the tapestry and became pale with fury; for their ears, closely applied t_he door, did not lose a syllable of what he said, while their mouths repeate_s he went on, the insulting expressions of the captain to all the people i_he antechamber. In an instant, from the door of the cabinet to the stree_ate, the whole hotel was boiling.
"Ah! The king's Musketeers are arrested by the Guards of the cardinal, ar_hey?" continued M. de Treville, as furious at heart as his soldiers, bu_mphasizing his words and plunging them, one by one, so to say, like so man_lows of a stiletto, into the bosoms of his auditors. "What! Six of hi_minence's Guards arrest six of his Majesty's Musketeers! MORBLEU! My part i_aken! I will go straight to the louvre; I will give in my resignation a_aptain of the king's Musketeers to take a lieutenancy in the cardinal'_uards, and if he refuses me, MORBLEU! I will turn abbe."
At these words, the murmur without became an explosion; nothing was to b_eard but oaths and blasphemies. The MORBLEUS, the SANG DIEUS, the MORTS TOUT_ES DIABLES, crossed one another in the air. D'Artagnan looked for som_apestry behind which he might hide himself, and felt an immense inclinatio_o crawl under the table.
"Well, my Captain," said Porthos, quite beside himself, "the truth is that w_ere six against six. But we were not captured by fair means; and before w_ad time to draw our swords, two of our party were dead, and Athos, grievousl_ounded, was very little better. For you know Athos. Well, Captain, h_ndeavored twice to get up, and fell again twice. And we did not surrender—no!
They dragged us away by force. On the way we escaped. As for Athos, the_elieved him to be dead, and left him very quiet on the field of battle, no_hinking it worth the trouble to carry him away. That's the whole story. Wha_he devil, Captain, one cannot win all one's battles! The great Pompey los_hat of Pharsalia; and Francis the First, who was, as I have heard say, a_ood as other folks, nevertheless lost the Battle of Pavia."
"And I have the honor of assuring you that I killed one of them with his ow_word," said Aramis; "for mine was broken at the first parry. Killed him, o_oniarded him, sir, as is most agreeable to you."
"I did not know that," replied M. de Treville, in a somewhat softened tone.
"The cardinal exaggerated, as I perceive."
"But pray, sir," continued Aramis, who, seeing his captain become appeased, ventured to risk a prayer, "do not say that Athos is wounded. He would be i_espair if that should come to the ears of the king; and as the wound is ver_erious, seeing that after crossing the shoulder it penetrates into the chest, it is to be feared—"
At this instant the tapestry was raised and a noble and handsome head, bu_rightfully pale, appeared under the fringe.
"Athos!" cried the two Musketeers.
"Athos!" repeated M. de Treville himself.
"You have sent for me, sir," said Athos to M. de Treville, in a feeble ye_erfectly calm voice, "you have sent for me, as my comrades inform me, and _ave hastened to receive your orders. I am here; what do you want with me?"
And at these words, the Musketeer, in irreproachable costume, belted as usual, with a tolerably firm step, entered the cabinet. M. de Treville, moved to th_ottom of his heart by this proof of courage, sprang toward him.
"I was about to say to these gentlemen," added he, "that I forbid m_usketeers to expose their lives needlessly; for brave men are very dear t_he king, and the king knows that his Musketeers are the bravest on the earth.
Your hand, Athos!"
And without waiting for the answer of the newcomer to this proof of affection, M. de Treville seized his right hand and pressed it with all his might, without perceiving that Athos, whatever might be his self-command, allowed _light murmur of pain to escape him, and if possible, grew paler than he wa_efore.
The door had remained open, so strong was the excitement produced by th_rrival of Athos, whose wound, though kept as a secret, was known to all. _urst of satisfaction hailed the last words of the captain; and two or thre_eads, carried away by the enthusiasm of the moment, appeared through th_penings of the tapestry. M. de Treville was about to reprehend this breach o_he rules of etiquette, when he felt the hand of Athos, who had rallied al_is energies to contend against pain, at length overcome by it, fell upon th_loor as if he were dead.
"A surgeon!" cried M. de Treville, "mine! The king's! The best! A surgeon! Or, s'blood, my brave Athos will die!"
At the cries of M. de Treville, the whole assemblage rushed into the cabinet, he not thinking to shut the door against anyone, and all crowded round th_ounded man. But all this eager attention might have been useless if th_octor so loudly called for had not chanced to be in the hotel. He pushe_hrough the crowd, approached Athos, still insensible, and as all this nois_nd commotion inconvenienced him greatly, he required, as the first and mos_rgent thing, that the Musketeer should be carried into an adjoining chamber.
Immediately M. de Treville opened and pointed the way to Porthos and Aramis, who bore their comrade in their arms. Behind this group walked the surgeon; and behind the surgeon the door closed.
The cabinet of M. de Treville, generally held so sacred, became in an instan_he annex of the antechamber. Everyone spoke, harangued, and vociferated, swearing, cursing, and consigning the cardinal and his Guards to all th_evils.
An instant after, Porthos and Aramis re-entered, the surgeon and M. d_reville alone remaining with the wounded.
At length, M. de Treville himself returned. The injured man had recovered hi_enses. The surgeon declared that the situation of the Musketeer had nothin_n it to render his friends uneasy, his weakness having been purely and simpl_aused by loss of blood.
Then M. de Treville made a sign with his hand, and all retired excep_'Artagnan, who did not forget that he had an audience, and with the tenacit_f a Gascon remained in his place.
When all had gone out and the door was closed, M. de Treville, on turnin_ound, found himself alone with the young man. The event which had occurre_ad in some degree broken the thread of his ideas. He inquired what was th_ill of his persevering visitor. d'Artagnan then repeated his name, and in a_nstant recovering all his remembrances of the present and the past, M. d_reville grasped the situation.
"Pardon me," said he, smiling, "pardon me my dear compatriot, but I had wholl_orgotten you. But what help is there for it! A captain is nothing but _ather of a family, charged with even a greater responsibility than the fathe_f an ordinary family. Soldiers are big children; but as I maintain that th_rders of the king, and more particularly the orders of the cardinal, shoul_e executed—"
D'Artagnan could not restrain a smile. By this smile M. de Treville judge_hat he had not to deal with a fool, and changing the conversation, cam_traight to the point.
"I respected your father very much," said he. "What can I do for the son? Tel_e quickly; my time is not my own."
"Monsieur," said d'Artagnan, "on quitting Tarbes and coming hither, it was m_ntention to request of you, in remembrance of the friendship which you hav_ot forgotten, the uniform of a Musketeer; but after all that I have see_uring the last two hours, I comprehend that such a favor is enormous, an_remble lest I should not merit it."
"It is indeed a favor, young man," replied M. de Treville, "but it may not b_o far beyond your hopes as you believe, or rather as you appear to believe.
But his majesty's decision is always necessary; and I inform you with regre_hat no one becomes a Musketeer without the preliminary ordeal of severa_ampaigns, certain brilliant actions, or a service of two years in some othe_egiment less favored than ours."
D'Artagnan bowed without replying, feeling his desire to don the Musketeer'_niform vastly increased by the great difficulties which preceded th_ttainment of it.
"But," continued M. de Treville, fixing upon his compatriot a look so piercin_hat it might be said he wished to read the thoughts of his heart, "on accoun_f my old companion, your father, as I have said, I will do something for you, young man. Our recruits from Bearn are not generally very rich, and I have n_eason to think matters have much changed in this respect since I left th_rovince. I dare say you have not brought too large a stock of money wit_ou?"
D'Artagnan drew himself up with a proud air which plainly said, "I ask alms o_o man."
"Oh, that's very well, young man," continued M. de Treville, "that's all ver_ell. I know these airs; I myself came to Paris with four crowns in my purse, and would have fought with anyone who dared to tell me I was not in _ondition to purchase the Louvre."
D'Artagnan's bearing became still more imposing. Thanks to the sale of hi_orse, he commenced his career with four more crowns than M. de Trevill_ossessed at the commencement of his.
"You ought, I say, then, to husband the means you have, however large the su_ay be; but you ought also to endeavor to perfect yourself in the exercise_ecoming a gentleman. I will write a letter today to the Director of the Roya_cademy, and tomorrow he will admit you without any expense to yourself. D_ot refuse this little service. Our best-born and richest gentlemen sometime_olicit it without being able to obtain it. You will learn horsemanship, swordsmanship in all its branches, and dancing. You will make some desirabl_cquaintances; and from time to time you can call upon me, just to tell me ho_ou are getting on, and to say whether I can be of further service to you."
D'Artagnan, stranger as he was to all the manners of a court, could not bu_erceive a little coldness in this reception.
"Alas, sir," said he, "I cannot but perceive how sadly I miss the letter o_ntroduction which my father gave me to present to you."
"I certainly am surprised," replied M. de Treville, "that you should undertak_o long a journey without that necessary passport, the sole resource of u_oor Bearnese."
"I had one, sir, and, thank God, such as I could wish," cried d'Artagnan; "bu_t was perfidiously stolen from me."
He then related the adventure of Meung, described the unknown gentleman wit_he greatest minuteness, and all with a warmth and truthfulness that delighte_. de Treville.
"This is all very strange," said M. de Treville, after meditating a minute;
"you mentioned my name, then, aloud?"
"Yes, sir, I certainly committed that imprudence; but why should I have don_therwise? A name like yours must be as a buckler to me on my way. Judge if _hould not put myself under its protection."
Flattery was at that period very current, and M. de Treville loved incense a_ell as a king, or even a cardinal. He could not refrain from a smile o_isible satisfaction; but this smile soon disappeared, and returning to th_dventure of Meung, "Tell me," continued he, "had not this gentlemen a sligh_car on his cheek?"
"Yes, such a one as would be made by the grazing of a ball."
"Was he not a fine-looking man?"
"Of lofty stature."
"Of complexion and brown hair?"
"Yes, yes, that is he; how is it, sir, that you are acquainted with this man?
If I ever find him again—and I will find him, I swear, were it in hell!"
"He was waiting for a woman," continued Treville.
"He departed immediately after having conversed for a minute with her whom h_waited."
"You know not the subject of their conversation?"
"He gave her a box, told her not to open it except in London."
"Was this woman English?"
"He called her Milady."
"It is he; it must be he!" murmured Treville. "I believed him still a_russels."
"Oh, sir, if you know who this man is," cried d'Artagnan, "tell me who he is, and whence he is. I will then release you from all your promises—even that o_rocuring my admission into the Musketeers; for before everything, I wish t_venge myself."
"Beware, young man!" cried Treville. "If you see him coming on one side of th_treet, pass by on the other. Do not cast yourself against such a rock; h_ould break you like glass."
"That will not prevent me," replied d'Artagnan, "if ever I find him."
"In the meantime," said Treville, "seek him not—if I have a right to advis_ou."
All at once the captain stopped, as if struck by a sudden suspicion. Thi_reat hatred which the young traveler manifested so loudly for this man, who—_ather improbable thing—had stolen his father's letter from him—was there no_ome perfidy concealed under this hatred? Might not this young man be sent b_is Eminence? Might he not have come for the purpose of laying a snare fo_im? This pretended d'Artagnan—was he not an emissary of the cardinal, who_he cardinal sought to introduce into Treville's house, to place near him, t_in his confidence, and afterward to ruin him as had been done in a thousan_ther instances? He fixed his eyes upon d'Artagnan even more earnestly tha_efore. He was moderately reassured however, by the aspect of tha_ountenance, full of astute intelligence and affected humility. "I know he i_ Gascon," reflected he, "but he may be one for the cardinal as well as fo_e. Let us try him."
"My friend," said he, slowly, "I wish, as the son of an ancient friend—for _onsider this story of the lost letter perfectly true—I wish, I say, in orde_o repair the coldness you may have remarked in my reception of you, t_iscover to you the secrets of our policy. The king and the cardinal are th_est of friends; their apparent bickerings are only feints to deceive fools. _m not willing that a compatriot, a handsome cavalier, a brave youth, quit_it to make his way, should become the dupe of all these artifices and fal_nto the snare after the example of so many others who have been ruined by it.
Be assured that I am devoted to both these all-powerful masters, and that m_arnest endeavors have no other aim than the service of the king, and also th_ardinal—one of the most illustrious geniuses that France has ever produced.
"Now, young man, regulate your conduct accordingly; and if you entertain, whether from your family, your relations, or even from your instincts, any o_hese enmities which we see constantly breaking out against the cardinal, bi_e adieu and let us separate. I will aid you in many ways, but withou_ttaching you to my person. I hope that my frankness at least will make you m_riend; for you are the only young man to whom I have hitherto spoken as _ave done to you."
Treville said to himself: "If the cardinal has set this young fox upon me, h_ill certainly not have failed—he, who knows how bitterly I execrate him—t_ell his spy that the best means of making his court to me is to rail at him.
Therefore, in spite of all my protestations, if it be as I suspect, my cunnin_ossip will assure me that he holds his Eminence in horror."
It, however, proved otherwise. D'Artagnan answered, with the greates_implicity: "I came to Paris with exactly such intentions. My father advise_e to stoop to nobody but the king, the cardinal, and yourself—whom h_onsidered the first three personages in France."
D'Artagnan added M. de Treville to the others, as may be perceived; but h_hought this addition would do no harm.
"I have the greatest veneration for the cardinal," continued he, "and the mos_rofound respect for his actions. So much the better for me, sir, if you spea_o me, as you say, with frankness—for then you will do me the honor to estee_he resemblance of our opinions; but if you have entertained any doubt, a_aturally you may, I feel that I am ruining myself by speaking the truth. Bu_ still trust you will not esteem me the less for it, and that is my objec_eyond all others."
M. de Treville was surprised to the greatest degree. So much penetration, s_uch frankness, created admiration, but did not entirely remove hi_uspicions. The more this young man was superior to others, the more he was t_e dreaded if he meant to deceive him; "You are an honest youth; but at th_resent moment I can only do for you that which I just now offered. My hote_ill be always open to you. Hereafter, being able to ask for me at all hours, and consequently to take advantage of all opportunities, you will probabl_btain that which you desire."
"That is to say," replied d'Artagnan, "that you will wait until I have prove_yself worthy of it. Well, be assured," added he, with the familiarity of _ascon, "you shall not wait long." And he bowed in order to retire, and as i_e considered the future in his own hands.
"But wait a minute," said M. de Treville, stopping him. "I promised you _etter for the director of the Academy. Are you too proud to accept it, youn_entleman?"
"No, sir," said d'Artagnan; "and I will guard it so carefully that I will b_worn it shall arrive at its address, and woe be to him who shall attempt t_ake it from me!"
M. de Treville smiled at this flourish; and leaving his young man compatrio_n the embrasure of the window, where they had talked together, he seate_imself at a table in order to write the promised letter of recommendation.
While he was doing this, d'Artagnan, having no better employment, amuse_imself with beating a march upon the window and with looking at th_usketeers, who went away, one after another, following them with his eye_ntil they disappeared.
M. de Treville, after having written the letter, sealed it, and rising, approached the young man in order to give it to him. But at the very momen_hen d'Artagnan stretched out his hand to receive it, M. de Treville wa_ighly astonished to see his protege make a sudden spring, become crimson wit_assion, and rush from the cabinet crying, "S'blood, he shall not escape m_his time!"
"And who?" asked M. de Treville.
"He, my thief!" replied d'Artagnan. "Ah, the traitor!" and he disappeared.
"The devil take the madman!" murmured M. de Treville, "unless," added he,
"this is a cunning mode of escaping, seeing that he had failed in hi_urpose!"