Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 40 A TERRIBLE VISION

  • The cardinal leaned his elbow on his manuscript, his cheek upon his hand, an_ooked intently at the young man for a moment. No one had a more searching ey_han the Cardinal de Richelieu, and d'Artagnan felt this glance run throug_is veins like a fever.
  • He however kept a good countenance, holding his hat in his hand and awaitin_he good pleasure of his Eminence, without too much assurance, but als_ithout too much humility.
  • "Monsieur," said the cardinal, "are you a d'Artagnan from Bearn?"
  • "Yes, monseigneur," replied the young man.
  • "There are several branches of the d'Artagnans at Tarbes and in its environs,"
  • said the cardinal; "to which do you belong?"
  • "I am the son of him who served in the Religious Wars under the great Kin_enry, the father of his gracious Majesty."
  • "That is well. It is you who set out seven or eight months ago from you_ountry to seek your fortune in the capital?"
  • "Yes, monseigneur."
  • "You came through Meung, where something befell you. I don't very well kno_hat, but still something."
  • "Monseigneur," said d'Artagnan, "this was what happened to me—"
  • "Never mind, never mind!" resumed the cardinal, with a smile which indicate_hat he knew the story as well as he who wished to relate it. "You wer_ecommended to Monsieur de Treville, were you not?"
  • "Yes, monseigneur; but in that unfortunate affair at Meung—"
  • "The letter was lost," replied his Eminence; "yes, I know that. But Monsieu_e Treville is a skilled physiognomist, who knows men at first sight; and h_laced you in the company of his brother-in-law, Monsieur Dessessart, leavin_ou to hope that one day or other you should enter the Musketeers."
  • "Monseigneur is correctly informed," said d'Artagnan.
  • "Since that time many things have happened to you. You were walking one da_ehind the Chartreux, when it would have been better if you had bee_lsewhere. Then you took with your friends a journey to the waters of Forges; they stopped on the road, but you continued yours. That is all very simple: you had business in England."
  • "Monseigneur," said d'Artagnan, quite confused, "I went—"
  • "Hunting at Windsor, or elsewhere—that concerns nobody. I know, because it i_y office to know everything. On your return you were received by an augus_ersonage, and I perceive with pleasure that you preserve the souvenir sh_ave you."
  • D'Artagnan placed his hand upon the queen's diamond, which he wore, an_uickly turned the stone inward; but it was too late.
  • "The day after that, you received a visit from Cavois," resumed the cardinal.
  • "He went to desire you to come to the palace. You have not returned tha_isit, and you were wrong."
  • "Monseigneur, I feared I had incurred disgrace with your Eminence."
  • "How could that be, monsieur? Could you incur my displeasure by havin_ollowed the orders of your superiors with more intelligence and courage tha_nother would have done? It is the people who do not obey that I punish, an_ot those who, like you, obey—but too well. As a proof, remember the date o_he day on which I had you bidden to come to me, and seek in your memory fo_hat happened to you that very night."
  • That was the very evening when the abduction of Mme. Bonacieux took place.
  • D'Artagnan trembled; and he likewise recollected that during the past hal_our the poor woman had passed close to him, without doubt carried away by th_ame power that had caused her disappearance.
  • "In short," continued the cardinal, "as I have heard nothing of you for som_ime past, I wished to know what you were doing. Besides, you owe me som_hanks. You must yourself have remarked how much you have been considered i_ll the circumstances."
  • D'Artagnan bowed with respect.
  • "That," continued the cardinal, "arose not only from a feeling of natura_quity, but likewise from a plan I have marked out with respect to you."
  • D'Artagnan became more and more astonished.
  • "I wished to explain this plan to you on the day you received my firs_nvitation; but you did not come. Fortunately, nothing is lost by this delay, and you are now about to hear it. Sit down there, before me, d'Artagnan; yo_re gentleman enough not to listen standing." And the cardinal pointed wit_is finger to a chair for the young man, who was so astonished at what wa_assing that he awaited a second sign from his interlocutor before he obeyed.
  • "You are brave, Monsieur d'Artagnan," continued his Eminence; "you ar_rudent, which is still better. I like men of head and heart. Don't b_fraid," said he, smiling. "By men of heart I mean men of courage. But youn_s you are, and scarcely entering into the world, you have powerful enemies; if you do not take great heed, they will destroy you."
  • "Alas, monseigneur!" replied the young man, "very easily, no doubt, for the_re strong and well supported, while I am alone."
  • "Yes, that's true; but alone as you are, you have done much already, and wil_o still more, I don't doubt. Yet you have need, I believe, to be guided i_he adventurous career you have undertaken; for, if I mistake not, you came t_aris with the ambitious idea of making your fortune."
  • "I am at the age of extravagant hopes, monseigneur," said d'Artagnan.
  • "There are no extravagant hopes but for fools, monsieur, and you are a man o_nderstanding. Now, what would you say to an ensign's commission in my Guards, and a company after the campaign?"
  • "Ah, monseigneur."
  • "You accept it, do you not?"
  • "Monseigneur," replied d'Artagnan, with an embarrassed air.
  • "How? You refuse?" cried the cardinal, with astonishment.
  • "I am in his Majesty's Guards, monseigneur, and I have no reason to b_issatisfied."
  • "But it appears to me that my Guards—mine—are also his Majesty's Guards; an_hoever serves in a French corps serves the king."
  • "Monseigneur, your Eminence has ill understood my words."
  • "You want a pretext, do you not? I comprehend. Well, you have this excuse: advancement, the opening campaign, the opportunity which I offer you—so muc_or the world. As regards yourself, the need of protection; for it is fit yo_hould know, Monsieur d'Artagnan, that I have received heavy and seriou_omplaints against you. You do not consecrate your days and nights wholly t_he king's service."
  • D'Artagnan colored.
  • "In fact," said the cardinal, placing his hand upon a bundle of papers, "_ave here a whole pile which concerns you. I know you to be a man o_esolution; and your services, well directed, instead of leading you to ill, might be very advantageous to you. Come; reflect, and decide."
  • "Your goodness confounds me, monseigneur," replied d'Artagnan, "and I a_onscious of a greatness of soul in your Eminence that makes me mean as a_arthworm; but since Monseigneur permits me to speak freely—"
  • D'Artagnan paused.
  • "Yes; speak."
  • "Then, I will presume to say that all my friends are in the king's Musketeer_nd Guards, and that by an inconceivable fatality my enemies are in th_ervice of your Eminence; I should, therefore, be ill received here and il_egarded there if I accepted what Monseigneur offers me."
  • "Do you happen to entertain the haughty idea that I have not yet made you a_ffer equal to your value?" asked the cardinal, with a smile of disdain.
  • "Monseigneur, your Eminence is a hundred times too kind to me; and on th_ontrary, I think I have not proved myself worthy of your goodness. The sieg_f La Rochelle is about to be resumed, monseigneur. I shall serve under th_ye of your Eminence, and if I have the good fortune to conduct myself at th_iege in such a manner as merits your attention, then I shall at least leav_ehind me some brilliant action to justify the protection with which you hono_e. Everything is best in its time, monseigneur. Hereafter, perhaps, I shal_ave the right of giving myself; at present I shall appear to sell myself."
  • "That is to say, you refuse to serve me, monsieur," said the cardinal, with _one of vexation, through which, however, might be seen a sort of esteem;
  • "remain free, then, and guard your hatreds and your sympathies."
  • "Monseigneur—"
  • "Well, well," said the cardinal, "I don't wish you any ill; but you must b_ware that it is quite trouble enough to defend and recompense our friends. W_we nothing to our enemies; and let me give you a piece of advice; take car_f yourself, Monsieur d'Artagnan, for from the moment I withdraw my hand fro_ehind you, I would not give an obolus for your life."
  • "I will try to do so, monseigneur," replied the Gascon, with a nobl_onfidence.
  • "Remember at a later period and at a certain moment, if any mischance shoul_appen to you," said Richelieu, significantly, "that it was I who came to see_ou, and that I did all in my power to prevent this misfortune befalling you."
  • "I shall entertain, whatever may happen," said d'Artagnan, placing his han_pon his breast and bowing, "an eternal gratitude toward your Eminence fo_hat which you now do for me."
  • "Well, let it be, then, as you have said, Monsieur d'Artagnan; we shall se_ach other again after the campaign. I will have my eye upon you, for I shal_e there," replied the cardinal, pointing with his finger to a magnificen_uit of armor he was to wear, "and on our return, well—we will settle ou_ccount!"
  • "Young man," said Richelieu, "if I shall be able to say to you at another tim_hat I have said to you today, I promise you to do so."
  • This last expression of Richelieu's conveyed a terrible doubt; it alarme_'Artagnan more than a menace would have done, for it was a warning. Th_ardinal, then, was seeking to preserve him from some misfortune whic_hreatened him. He opened his mouth to reply, but with a haughty gesture th_ardinal dismissed him.
  • D'Artagnan went out, but at the door his heart almost failed him, and he fel_nclined to return. Then the noble and severe countenance of Athos crossed hi_ind; if he made the compact with the cardinal which he required, Athos woul_o more give him his hand—Athos would renounce him.
  • It was this fear that restrained him, so powerful is the influence of a trul_reat character on all that surrounds it.
  • D'Artagnan descended by the staircase at which he had entered, and found Atho_nd the four Musketeers waiting his appearance, and beginning to grow uneasy.
  • With a word, d'Artagnan reassured them; and Planchet ran to inform the othe_entinels that it was useless to keep guard longer, as his master had come ou_afe from the Palais-Cardinal.
  • Returned home with Athos, Aramis and Porthos inquired eagerly the cause of th_trange interview; but d'Artagnan confined himself to telling them that M. d_ichelieu had sent for him to propose to him to enter into his guards with th_ank of ensign, and that he had refused.
  • "And you were right," cried Aramis and Porthos, with one voice.
  • Athos fell into a profound reverie and answered nothing. But when they wer_lone he said, "You have done that which you ought to have done, d'Artagnan; but perhaps you have been wrong."
  • D'Artagnan sighed deeply, for this voice responded to a secret voice of hi_oul, which told him that great misfortunes awaited him.
  • The whole of the next day was spent in preparations for departure. D'Artagna_ent to take leave of M. de Treville. At that time it was believed that th_eparation of the Musketeers and the Guards would be but momentary, the kin_olding his Parliament that very day and proposing to set out the day after.
  • M. de Treville contented himself with asking d'Artagnan if he could d_nything for him, but d'Artagnan answered that he was supplied with all h_anted.
  • That night brought together all those comrades of the Guards of M. Dessessar_nd the company of Musketeers of M. de Treville who had been accustomed t_ssociate together. They were parting to meet again when it pleased God, an_f it pleased God. That night, then, was somewhat riotous, as may be imagined.
  • In such cases extreme preoccupation is only to be combated by extrem_arelessness.
  • At the first sound of the morning trumpet the friends separated; th_usketeers hastening to the hotel of M. de Treville, the Guards to that of M.
  • Dessessart. Each of the captains then led his company to the Louvre, where th_ing held his review.
  • The king was dull and appeared ill, which detracted a little from his usua_ofty bearing. In fact, the evening before, a fever had seized him in th_idst of the Parliament, while he was holding his Bed of Justice. He had, no_he less, decided upon setting out that same evening; and in spite of th_emonstrances that had been offered to him, he persisted in having the review, hoping by setting it at defiance to conquer the disease which began to la_old upon him.
  • The review over, the Guards set forward alone on their march, the Musketeer_aiting for the king, which allowed Porthos time to go and take a turn in hi_uperb equipment in the Rue aux Ours.
  • The procurator's wife saw him pass in his new uniform and on his fine horse.
  • She loved Porthos too dearly to allow him to part thus; she made him a sign t_ismount and come to her. Porthos was magnificent; his spurs jingled, hi_uirass glittered, his sword knocked proudly against his ample limbs. Thi_ime the clerks evinced no inclination to laugh, such a real ear clipper di_orthos appear.
  • The Musketeer was introduced to M. Coquenard, whose little gray eyes sparkle_ith anger at seeing his cousin all blazing new. Nevertheless, one thin_fforded him inward consolation; it was expected by everybody that th_ampaign would be a severe one. He whispered a hope to himself that thi_eloved relative might be killed in the field.
  • Porthos paid his compliments to M. Coquenard and bade him farewell. M.
  • Coquenard wished him all sorts of prosperities. As to Mme. Coquenard, sh_ould not restrain her tears; but no evil impressions were taken from he_rief as she was known to be very much attached to her relatives, about who_he was constantly having serious disputes with her husband.
  • But the real adieux were made in Mme. Coquenard's chamber; they wer_eartrending.
  • As long as the procurator's wife could follow him with her eyes, she waved he_andkerchief to him, leaning so far out of the window as to lead people t_elieve she wished to precipitate herself. Porthos received all thes_ttentions like a man accustomed to such demonstrations, only on turning th_orner of the street he lifted his hat gracefully, and waved it to her as _ign of adieu.
  • On his part Aramis wrote a long letter. To whom? Nobody knew. Kitty, who wa_o set out that evening for Tours, was waiting in the next chamber.
  • Athos sipped the last bottle of his Spanish wine.
  • In the meantime d'Artagnan was defiling with his company. Arriving at th_aubourg St. Antoine, he turned round to look gaily at the Bastille; but as i_as the Bastille alone he looked at, he did not observe Milady, who, mounte_pon a light chestnut horse, designated him with her finger to two ill-lookin_en who came close up to the ranks to take notice of him. To a look o_nterrogation which they made, Milady replied by a sign that it was he. Then, certain that there could be no mistake in the execution of her orders, sh_tarted her horse and disappeared.
  • The two men followed the company, and on leaving the Faubourg St. Antoine, mounted two horses properly equipped, which a servant without livery ha_aiting for them.