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Chapter 4 THE SHOULDER OF ATHOS, THE BALDRIC OF PORTHOS AND TH_ANDKERCHIEF OF ARAMIS

  • D'Artagnan, in a state of fury, crossed the antechamber at three bounds, an_as darting toward the stairs, which he reckoned upon descending four at _ime, when, in his heedless course, he ran head foremost against a Musketee_ho was coming out of one of M. de Treville's private rooms, and striking hi_houlder violently, made him utter a cry, or rather a howl.
  • "Excuse me," said d'Artagnan, endeavoring to resume his course, "excuse me, but I am in a hurry."
  • Scarcely had he descended the first stair, when a hand of iron seized him b_he belt and stopped him.
  • "You are in a hurry?" said the Musketeer, as pale as a sheet. "Under tha_retense you run against me! You say. 'Excuse me,' and you believe that i_ufficient? Not at all my young man. Do you fancy because you have hear_onsieur de Treville speak to us a little cavalierly today that other peopl_re to treat us as he speaks to us? Undeceive yourself, comrade, you are no_onsieur de Treville."
  • "My faith!" replied d'Artagnan, recognizing Athos, who, after the dressin_erformed by the doctor, was returning to his own apartment. "I did not do i_ntentionally, and not doing it intentionally, I said 'Excuse me.' It appear_o me that this is quite enough. I repeat to you, however, and this time on m_ord of honor—I think perhaps too often—that I am in haste, great haste. Leav_our hold, then, I beg of you, and let me go where my business calls me."
  • "Monsieur," said Athos, letting him go, "you are not polite; it is easy t_erceive that you come from a distance."
  • D'Artagnan had already strode down three or four stairs, but at Athos's las_emark he stopped short.
  • "MORBLEU, monsieur!" said he, "however far I may come, it is not you who ca_ive me a lesson in good manners, I warn you."
  • "Perhaps," said Athos.
  • "Ah! If I were not in such haste, and if I were not running after someone,"
  • said d'Artagnan.
  • "Monsieur Man-in-a-hurry, you can find me without running—ME, you understand?"
  • "And where, I pray you?"
  • "Near the Carmes-Deschaux."
  • "At what hour?"
  • "About noon."
  • "About noon? That will do; I will be there."
  • "Endeavor not to make me wait; for at quarter past twelve I will cut off you_ars as you run."
  • "Good!" cried d'Artagnan, "I will be there ten minutes before twelve." And h_et off running as if the devil possessed him, hoping that he might yet fin_he stranger, whose slow pace could not have carried him far.
  • But at the street gate, Porthos was talking with the soldier on guard. Betwee_he two talkers there was just enough room for a man to pass. D'Artagna_hought it would suffice for him, and he sprang forward like a dart betwee_hem. But d'Artagnan had reckoned without the wind. As he was about to pass, the wind blew out Porthos's long cloak, and d'Artagnan rushed straight int_he middle of it. Without doubt, Porthos had reasons for not abandoning thi_art of his vestments, for instead of quitting his hold on the flap in hi_and, he pulled it toward him, so that d'Artagnan rolled himself up in th_elvet by a movement of rotation explained by the persistency of Porthos.
  • D'Artagnan, hearing the Musketeer swear, wished to escape from the cloak, which blinded him, and sought to find his way from under the folds of it. H_as particularly anxious to avoid marring the freshness of the magnificen_aldric we are acquainted with; but on timidly opening his eyes, he foun_imself with his nose fixed between the two shoulders of Porthos—that is t_ay, exactly upon the baldric.
  • Alas, like most things in this world which have nothing in their favor bu_ppearances, the baldric was glittering with gold in the front, but wa_othing but simple buff behind. Vainglorious as he was, Porthos could no_fford to have a baldric wholly of gold, but had at least half. One coul_omprehend the necessity of the cold and the urgency of the cloak.
  • "Bless me!" cried Porthos, making strong efforts to disembarrass himself o_'Artagnan, who was wriggling about his back; "you must be mad to run agains_eople in this manner."
  • "Excuse me," said d'Artagnan, reappearing under the shoulder of the giant,
  • "but I am in such haste—I was running after someone and—"
  • "And do you always forget your eyes when you run?" asked Porthos.
  • "No," replied d'Artagnan, piqued, "and thanks to my eyes, I can see what othe_eople cannot see."
  • Whether Porthos understood him or did not understand him, giving way to hi_nger, "Monsieur," said he, "you stand a chance of getting chastised if yo_ub Musketeers in this fashion."
  • "Chastised, Monsieur!" said d'Artagnan, "the expression is strong."
  • "It is one that becomes a man accustomed to look his enemies in the face."
  • "Ah, PARDIEU! I know full well that you don't turn your back to yours."
  • And the young man, delighted with his joke, went away laughing loudly.
  • Porthos foamed with rage, and made a movement to rush after d'Artagnan.
  • "Presently, presently," cried the latter, "when you haven't your cloak on."
  • "At one o'clock, then, behind the Luxembourg."
  • "Very well, at one o'clock, then," replied d'Artagnan, turning the angle o_he street.
  • But neither in the street he had passed through, nor in the one which hi_ager glance pervaded, could he see anyone; however slowly the stranger ha_alked, he was gone on his way, or perhaps had entered some house. D'Artagna_nquired of everyone he met with, went down to the ferry, came up again by th_ue de Seine, and the Red Cross; but nothing, absolutely nothing! This chas_as, however, advantageous to him in one sense, for in proportion as th_erspiration broke from his forehead, his heart began to cool.
  • He began to reflect upon the events that had passed; they were numerous an_nauspicious. It was scarcely eleven o'clock in the morning, and yet thi_orning had already brought him into disgrace with M. de Treville, who coul_ot fail to think the manner in which d'Artagnan had left him a littl_avalier.
  • Besides this, he had drawn upon himself two good duels with two men, eac_apable of killing three d'Artagnans—with two Musketeers, in short, with tw_f those beings whom he esteemed so greatly that he placed them in his min_nd heart above all other men.
  • The outlook was sad. Sure of being killed by Athos, it may easily b_nderstood that the young man was not very uneasy about Porthos. As hope, however, is the last thing extinguished in the heart of man, he finished b_oping that he might survive, even though with terrible wounds, in both thes_uels; and in case of surviving, he made the following reprehensions upon hi_wn conduct:
  • "What a madcap I was, and what a stupid fellow I am! That brave an_nfortunate Athos was wounded on that very shoulder against which I must ru_ead foremost, like a ram. The only thing that astonishes me is that he di_ot strike me dead at once. He had good cause to do so; the pain I gave hi_ust have been atrocious. As to Porthos—oh, as to Porthos, faith, that's _roll affair!"
  • And in spite of himself, the young man began to laugh aloud, looking roun_arefully, however, to see that his solitary laugh, without a cause in th_yes of passers-by, offended no one.
  • "As to Porthos, that is certainly droll; but I am not the less a giddy fool.
  • Are people to be run against without warning? No! And have I any right to g_nd peep under their cloaks to see what is not there? He would have pardone_e, he would certainly have pardoned me, if I had not said anything to hi_bout that cursed baldric—in ambiguous words, it is true, but rather droll_mbiguous. Ah, cursed Gascon that I am, I get from one hobble into another.
  • Friend d'Artagnan," continued he, speaking to himself with all the amenit_hat he thought due himself, "if you escape, of which there is not muc_hance, I would advise you to practice perfect politeness for the future. Yo_ust henceforth be admired and quoted as a model of it. To be obliging an_olite does not necessarily make a man a coward. Look at Aramis, now; Arami_s mildness and grace personified. Well, did anybody ever dream of callin_ramis a coward? No, certainly not, and from this moment I will endeavor t_odel myself after him. Ah! That's strange! Here he is!"
  • D'Artagnan, walking and soliloquizing, had arrived within a few steps of th_otel d'Arguillon and in front of that hotel perceived Aramis, chatting gail_ith three gentlemen; but as he had not forgotten that it was in presence o_his young man that M. de Treville had been so angry in the morning, and as _itness of the rebuke the Musketeers had received was not likely to be at al_greeable, he pretended not to see him. D'Artagnan, on the contrary, quit_ull of his plans of conciliation and courtesy, approached the young men wit_ profound bow, accompanied by a most gracious smile. All four, besides, immediately broke off their conversation.
  • D'Artagnan was not so dull as not to perceive that he was one too many; but h_as not sufficiently broken into the fashions of the gay world to know how t_xtricate himself gallantly from a false position, like that of a man wh_egins to mingle with people he is scarcely acquainted with and in _onversation that does not concern him. He was seeking in his mind, then, fo_he least awkward means of retreat, when he remarked that Aramis had let hi_andkerchief fall, and by mistake, no doubt, had placed his foot upon it. Thi_ppeared to be a favorable opportunity to repair his intrusion. He stooped, and with the most gracious air he could assume, drew the handkerchief fro_nder the foot of the Musketeer in spite of the efforts the latter made t_etain it, and holding it out to him, said, "I believe, monsieur, that this i_ handkerchief you would be sorry to lose?"
  • The handkerchief was indeed richly embroidered, and had a coronet and arms a_ne of its corners. Aramis blushed excessively, and snatched rather than too_he handkerchief from the hand of the Gascon.
  • "Ah, ah!" cried one of the Guards, "will you persist in saying, most discree_ramis, that you are not on good terms with Madame de Bois-Tracy, when tha_racious lady has the kindness to lend you one of her handkerchiefs?"
  • Aramis darted at d'Artagnan one of those looks which inform a man that he ha_cquired a mortal enemy. Then, resuming his mild air, "You are deceived, gentlemen," said he, "this handkerchief is not mine, and I cannot fancy wh_onsieur has taken it into his head to offer it to me rather than to one o_ou; and as a proof of what I say, here is mine in my pocket."
  • So saying, he pulled out his own handkerchief, likewise a very elegan_andkerchief, and of fine cambric—though cambric was dear at the period—but _andkerchief without embroidery and without arms, only ornamented with _ingle cipher, that of its proprietor.
  • This time d'Artagnan was not hasty. He perceived his mistake; but the friend_f Aramis were not at all convinced by his denial, and one of them addresse_he young Musketeer with affected seriousness. "If it were as you pretend i_s," said he, "I should be forced, my dear Aramis, to reclaim it myself; for, as you very well know, Bois-Tracy is an intimate friend of mine, and I canno_llow the property of his wife to be sported as a trophy."
  • "You make the demand badly," replied Aramis; "and while acknowledging th_ustice of your reclamation, I refuse it on account of the form."
  • "The fact is," hazarded d'Artagnan, timidly, "I did not see the handkerchie_all from the pocket of Monsieur Aramis. He had his foot upon it, that is all; and I thought from having his foot upon it the handkerchief was his."
  • "And you were deceived, my dear sir," replied Aramis, coldly, very littl_ensible to the reparation. Then turning toward that one of the guards who ha_eclared himself the friend of Bois-Tracy, "Besides," continued he, "I hav_eflected, my dear intimate of Bois-Tracy, that I am not less tenderly hi_riend than you can possibly be; so that decidedly this handkerchief is a_ikely to have fallen from your pocket as mine."
  • "No, upon my honor!" cried his Majesty's Guardsman.
  • "You are about to swear upon your honor and I upon my word, and then it wil_e pretty evident that one of us will have lied. Now, here, Montaran, we wil_o better than that—let each take a half."
  • "Of the handkerchief?"
  • "Yes."
  • "Perfectly just," cried the other two Guardsmen, "the judgment of Kin_olomon! Aramis, you certainly are full of wisdom!"
  • The young men burst into a laugh, and as may be supposed, the affair had n_ther sequel. In a moment or two the conversation ceased, and the thre_uardsmen and the Musketeer, after having cordially shaken hands, separated, the Guardsmen going one way and Aramis another.
  • "Now is my time to make peace with this gallant man," said d'Artagnan t_imself, having stood on one side during the whole of the latter part of th_onversation; and with this good feeling drawing near to Aramis, who wa_eparting without paying any attention to him, "Monsieur," said he, "you wil_xcuse me, I hope."
  • "Ah, monsieur," interrupted Aramis, "permit me to observe to you that you hav_ot acted in this affair as a gallant man ought."
  • "What, monsieur!" cried d'Artagnan, "and do you suppose—"
  • "I suppose, monsieur that you are not a fool, and that you knew very well, although coming from Gascony, that people do not tread upon handkerchief_ithout a reason. What the devil! Paris is not paved with cambric!"
  • "Monsieur, you act wrongly in endeavoring to mortify me," said d'Artagnan, i_hom the natural quarrelsome spirit began to speak more loudly than hi_acific resolutions. "I am from Gascony, it is true; and since you know it, there is no occasion to tell you that Gascons are not very patient, so tha_hen they have begged to be excused once, were it even for a folly, they ar_onvinced that they have done already at least as much again as they ought t_ave done."
  • "Monsieur, what I say to you about the matter," said Aramis, "is not for th_ake of seeking a quarrel. Thank God, I am not a bravo! And being a Musketee_ut for a time, I only fight when I am forced to do so, and always with grea_epugnance; but this time the affair is serious, for here is a lad_ompromised by you."
  • "By US, you mean!" cried d'Artagnan.
  • "Why did you so maladroitly restore me the handkerchief?"
  • "Why did you so awkwardly let it fall?"
  • "I have said, monsieur, and I repeat, that the handkerchief did not fall fro_y pocket."
  • "And thereby you have lied twice, monsieur, for I saw it fall."
  • "Ah, you take it with that tone, do you, Master Gascon? Well, I will teach yo_ow to behave yourself."
  • "And I will send you back to your Mass book, Master Abbe. Draw, if you please, and instantly—"
  • "Not so, if you please, my good friend—not here, at least. Do you not perceiv_hat we are opposite the Hotel d'Arguillon, which is full of the cardinal'_reatures? How do I know that this is not his Eminence who has honored yo_ith the commission to procure my head? Now, I entertain a ridiculou_artiality for my head, it seems to suit my shoulders so correctly. I wish t_ill you, be at rest as to that, but to kill you quietly in a snug, remot_lace, where you will not be able to boast of your death to anybody."
  • "I agree, monsieur; but do not be too confident. Take your handkerchief; whether it belongs to you or another, you may perhaps stand in need of it."
  • "Monsieur is a Gascon?" asked Aramis.
  • "Yes. Monsieur does not postpone an interview through prudence?"
  • "Prudence, monsieur, is a virtue sufficiently useless to Musketeers, I know, but indispensable to churchmen; and as I am only a Musketeer provisionally, _old it good to be prudent. At two o'clock I shall have the honor of expectin_ou at the hotel of Monsieur de Treville. There I will indicate to you th_est place and time."
  • The two young men bowed and separated, Aramis ascending the street which le_o the Luxembourg, while d'Artagnan, perceiving the appointed hour wa_pproaching, took the road to the Carmes-Deschaux, saying to himself,
  • "Decidedly I can't draw back; but at least, if I am killed, I shall be kille_y a Musketeer."