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Chapter 5 THE KING'S MUSKETEERS AND THE CARDINAL'S GUARDS

  • D'Artagnan was acquainted with nobody in Paris. He went therefore to hi_ppointment with Athos without a second, determined to be satisfied with thos_is adversary should choose. Besides, his intention was formed to make th_rave Musketeer all suitable apologies, but without meanness or weakness, fearing that might result from this duel which generally results from a_ffair of this kind, when a young and vigorous man fights with an adversar_ho is wounded and weakened—if conquered, he doubles the triumph of hi_ntagonist; if a conqueror, he is accused of foul play and want of courage.
  • Now, we must have badly painted the character of our adventure seeker, or ou_eaders must have already perceived that d'Artagnan was not an ordinary man; therefore, while repeating to himself that his death was inevitable, he di_ot make up his mind to die quietly, as one less courageous and les_estrained might have done in his place. He reflected upon the differen_haracters of men he had to fight with, and began to view his situation mor_learly. He hoped, by means of loyal excuses, to make a friend of Athos, whos_ordly air and austere bearing pleased him much. He flattered himself h_hould be able to frighten Porthos with the adventure of the baldric, which h_ight, if not killed upon the spot, relate to everybody a recital which, wel_anaged, would cover Porthos with ridicule. As to the astute Aramis, he di_ot entertain much dread of him; and supposing he should be able to get s_ar, he determined to dispatch him in good style or at least, by hitting hi_n the face, as Caesar recommended his soldiers do to those of Pompey, t_amage forever the beauty of which he was so proud.
  • In addition to this, d'Artagnan possessed that invincible stock of resolutio_hich the counsels of his father had implanted in his heart: "Endure nothin_rom anyone but the king, the cardinal, and Monsieur de Treville." He flew, then, rather than walked, toward the convent of the Carmes Dechausses, o_ather Deschaux, as it was called at that period, a sort of building without _indow, surrounded by barren fields—an accessory to the Preaux-Clercs, an_hich was generally employed as the place for the duels of men who had no tim_o lose.
  • When d'Artagnan arrived in sight of the bare spot of ground which extende_long the foot of the monastery, Athos had been waiting about five minutes, and twelve o'clock was striking. He was, then, as punctual as the Samarita_oman, and the most rigorous casuist with regard to duels could have nothin_o say.
  • Athos, who still suffered grievously from his wound, though it had bee_ressed anew by M. de Treville's surgeon, was seated on a post and waiting fo_is adversary with hat in hand, his feather even touching the ground.
  • "Monsieur," said Athos, "I have engaged two of my friends as seconds; bu_hese two friends are not yet come, at which I am astonished, as it is not a_ll their custom."
  • "I have no seconds on my part, monsieur," said d'Artagnan; "for having onl_rrived yesterday in Paris, I as yet know no one but Monsieur de Treville, t_hom I was recommended by my father, who has the honor to be, in some degree, one of his friends."
  • Athos reflected for an instant. "You know no one but Monsieur de Treville?" h_sked.
  • "Yes, monsieur, I know only him."
  • "Well, but then," continued Athos, speaking half to himself, "if I kill you, _hall have the air of a boy-slayer."
  • "Not too much so," replied d'Artagnan, with a bow that was not deficient i_ignity, "since you do me the honor to draw a sword with me while sufferin_rom a wound which is very inconvenient."
  • "Very inconvenient, upon my word; and you hurt me devilishly, I can tell you.
  • But I will take the left hand—it is my custom in such circumstances. Do no_ancy that I do you a favor; I use either hand easily. And it will be even _isadvantage to you; a left-handed man is very troublesome to people who ar_ot prepared for it. I regret I did not inform you sooner of thi_ircumstance."
  • "You have truly, monsieur," said d'Artagnan, bowing again, "a courtesy, fo_hich, I assure you, I am very grateful."
  • "You confuse me," replied Athos, with his gentlemanly air; "let us talk o_omething else, if you please. Ah, s'blood, how you have hurt me! My shoulde_uite burns."
  • "If you would permit me—" said d'Artagnan, with timidity.
  • "What, monsieur?"
  • "I have a miraculous balsam for wounds—a balsam given to me by my mother an_f which I have made a trial upon myself."
  • "Well?"
  • "Well, I am sure that in less than three days this balsam would cure you; an_t the end of three days, when you would be cured—well, sir, it would still d_e a great honor to be your man."
  • D'Artagnan spoke these words with a simplicity that did honor to his courtesy, without throwing the least doubt upon his courage.
  • "PARDIEU, monsieur!" said Athos, "that's a proposition that pleases me; no_hat I can accept it, but a league off it savors of the gentleman. Thus spok_nd acted the gallant knights of the time of Charlemagne, in whom ever_avalier ought to seek his model. Unfortunately, we do not live in the time_f the great emperor, we live in the times of the cardinal; and three day_ence, however well the secret might be guarded, it would be known, I say, that we were to fight, and our combat would be prevented. I think thes_ellows will never come."
  • "If you are in haste, monsieur," said d'Artagnan, with the same simplicit_ith which a moment before he had proposed to him to put off the duel fo_hree days, "and if it be your will to dispatch me at once, do no_nconvenience yourself, I pray you."
  • "There is another word which pleases me," cried Athos, with a gracious nod t_'Artagnan. "That did not come from a man without a heart. Monsieur, I lov_en of your kidney; and I foresee plainly that if we don't kill each other, _hall hereafter have much pleasure in your conversation. We will wait fo_hese gentlemen, so please you; I have plenty of time, and it will be mor_orrect. Ah, here is one of them, I believe."
  • In fact, at the end of the Rue Vaugirard the gigantic Porthos appeared.
  • "What!" cried d'Artagnan, "is your first witness Monsieur Porthos?"
  • "Yes, that disturbs you?"
  • "By no means."
  • "And here is the second."
  • D'Artagnan turned in the direction pointed to by Athos, and perceived Aramis.
  • "What!" cried he, in an accent of greater astonishment than before, "you_econd witness is Monsieur Aramis?"
  • "Doubtless! Are you not aware that we are never seen one without the others, and that we are called among the Musketeers and the Guards, at court and i_he city, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, or the Three Inseparables? And yet, a_ou come from Dax or Pau—"
  • "From Tarbes," said d'Artagnan.
  • "It is probable you are ignorant of this little fact," said Athos.
  • "My faith!" replied d'Artagnan, "you are well named, gentlemen; and m_dventure, if it should make any noise, will prove at least that your union i_ot founded upon contrasts."
  • In the meantime, Porthos had come up, waved his hand to Athos, and the_urning toward d'Artagnan, stood quite astonished.
  • Let us say in passing that he had changed his baldric and relinquished hi_loak.
  • "Ah, ah!" said he, "what does this mean?"
  • "This is the gentleman I am going to fight with," said Athos, pointing t_'Artagnan with his hand and saluting him with the same gesture.
  • "Why, it is with him I am also going to fight," said Porthos.
  • "But not before one o'clock," replied d'Artagnan.
  • "And I also am to fight with this gentleman," said Aramis, coming in his tur_nto the place.
  • "But not until two o'clock," said d'Artagnan, with the same calmness.
  • "But what are you going to fight about, Athos?" asked Aramis.
  • "Faith! I don't very well know. He hurt my shoulder. And you, Porthos?"
  • "Faith! I am going to fight—because I am going to fight," answered Porthos, reddening.
  • Athos, whose keen eye lost nothing, perceived a faintly sly smile pass ove_he lips of the young Gascon as he replied, "We had a short discussion upo_ress."
  • "And you, Aramis?" asked Athos.
  • "Oh, ours is a theological quarrel," replied Aramis, making a sign t_'Artagnan to keep secret the cause of their duel.
  • Athos indeed saw a second smile on the lips of d'Artagnan.
  • "Indeed?" said Athos.
  • "Yes; a passage of St. Augustine, upon which we could not agree," said th_ascon.
  • "Decidedly, this is a clever fellow," murmured Athos.
  • "And now you are assembled, gentlemen," said d'Artagnan, "permit me to offe_ou my apologies."
  • At this word APOLOGIES, a cloud passed over the brow of Athos, a haughty smil_urled the lip of Porthos, and a negative sign was the reply of Aramis.
  • "You do not understand me, gentlemen," said d'Artagnan, throwing up his head, the sharp and bold lines of which were at the moment gilded by a bright ray o_he sun. "I asked to be excused in case I should not be able to discharge m_ebt to all three; for Monsieur Athos has the right to kill me first, whic_ust much diminish the face-value of your bill, Monsieur Porthos, and rende_ours almost null, Monsieur Aramis. And now, gentlemen, I repeat, excuse me, but on that account only, and—on guard!"
  • At these words, with the most gallant air possible, d'Artagnan drew his sword.
  • The blood had mounted to the head of d'Artagnan, and at that moment he woul_ave drawn his sword against all the Musketeers in the kingdom as willingly a_e now did against Athos, Porthos, and Aramis.
  • It was a quarter past midday. The sun was in its zenith, and the spot chose_or the scene of the duel was exposed to its full ardor.
  • "It is very hot," said Athos, drawing his sword in its turn, "and yet I canno_ake off my doublet; for I just now felt my wound begin to bleed again, and _hould not like to annoy Monsieur with the sight of blood which he has no_rawn from me himself."
  • "That is true, Monsieur," replied d'Artagnan, "and whether drawn by myself o_nother, I assure you I shall always view with regret the blood of so brave _entleman. I will therefore fight in my doublet, like yourself."
  • "Come, come, enough of such compliments!" cried Porthos. "Remember, we ar_aiting for our turns."
  • "Speak for yourself when you are inclined to utter such incongruities,"
  • interrupted Aramis. "For my part, I think what they say is very well said, an_uite worthy of two gentlemen."
  • "When you please, monsieur," said Athos, putting himself on guard.
  • "I waited your orders," said d'Artagnan, crossing swords.
  • But scarcely had the two rapiers clashed, when a company of the Guards of hi_minence, commanded by M. de Jussac, turned the corner of the convent.
  • "The cardinal's Guards!" cried Aramis and Porthos at the same time. "Sheath_our swords, gentlemen, sheathe your swords!"
  • But it was too late. The two combatants had been seen in a position which lef_o doubt of their intentions.
  • "Halloo!" cried Jussac, advancing toward them and making a sign to his men t_o so likewise, "halloo, Musketeers? Fighting here, are you? And the edicts?
  • What is become of them?"
  • "You are very generous, gentlemen of the Guards," said Athos, full of rancor, for Jussac was one of the aggressors of the preceding day. "If we were to se_ou fighting, I can assure you that we would make no effort to prevent you.
  • Leave us alone, then, and you will enjoy a little amusement without cost t_ourselves."
  • "Gentlemen," said Jussac, "it is with great regret that I pronounce the thin_mpossible. Duty before everything. Sheathe, then, if you please, and follo_s."
  • "Monsieur," said Aramis, parodying Jussac, "it would afford us great pleasur_o obey your polite invitation if it depended upon ourselves; bu_nfortunately the thing is impossible—Monsieur de Treville has forbidden it.
  • Pass on your way, then; it is the best thing to do."
  • This raillery exasperated Jussac. "We will charge upon you, then," said he,
  • "if you disobey."
  • "There are five of them," said Athos, half aloud, "and we are but three; w_hall be beaten again, and must die on the spot, for, on my part, I declare _ill never appear again before the captain as a conquered man."
  • Athos, Porthos, and Aramis instantly drew near one another, while Jussac dre_p his soldiers.
  • This short interval was sufficient to determine d'Artagnan on the part he wa_o take. It was one of those events which decide the life of a man; it was _hoice between the king and the cardinal—the choice made, it must be persiste_n. To fight, that was to disobey the law, that was to risk his head, that wa_o make at one blow an enemy of a minister more powerful than the kin_imself. All this young man perceived, and yet, to his praise we speak it, h_id not hesitate a second. Turning towards Athos and his friends, "Gentlemen,"
  • said he, "allow me to correct your words, if you please. You said you were bu_hree, but it appears to me we are four."
  • "But you are not one of us," said Porthos.
  • "That's true," replied d'Artagnan; "I have not the uniform, but I have th_pirit. My heart is that of a Musketeer; I feel it, monsieur, and that impel_e on."
  • "Withdraw, young man," cried Jussac, who doubtless, by his gestures and th_xpression of his countenance, had guessed d'Artagnan's design. "You ma_etire; we consent to that. Save your skin; begone quickly."
  • D'Artagnan did not budge.
  • "Decidedly, you are a brave fellow," said Athos, pressing the young man'_and.
  • "Come, come, choose your part," replied Jussac.
  • "Well," said Porthos to Aramis, "we must do something."
  • "Monsieur is full of generosity," said Athos.
  • But all three reflected upon the youth of d'Artagnan, and dreaded hi_nexperience.
  • "We should only be three, one of whom is wounded, with the addition of a boy,"
  • resumed Athos; "and yet it will not be the less said we were four men."
  • "Yes, but to yield!" said Porthos.
  • "That IS difficult," replied Athos.
  • D'Artagnan comprehended their irresolution.
  • "Try me, gentlemen," said he, "and I swear to you by my honor that I will no_o hence if we are conquered."
  • "What is your name, my brave fellow?" said Athos.
  • "d'Artagnan, monsieur."
  • "Well, then, Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and d'Artagnan, forward!" cried Athos.
  • "Come, gentlemen, have you decided?" cried Jussac for the third time.
  • "It is done, gentlemen," said Athos.
  • "And what is your choice?" asked Jussac.
  • "We are about to have the honor of charging you," replied Aramis, lifting hi_at with one hand and drawing his sword with the other.
  • "Ah! You resist, do you?" cried Jussac.
  • "S'blood; does that astonish you?"
  • And the nine combatants rushed upon each other with a fury which however di_ot exclude a certain degree of method.
  • Athos fixed upon a certain Cahusac, a favorite of the cardinal's. Porthos ha_icarat, and Aramis found himself opposed to two adversaries. As t_'Artagnan, he sprang toward Jussac himself.
  • The heart of the young Gascon beat as if it would burst through his side—no_rom fear, God be thanked, he had not the shade of it, but with emulation; h_ought like a furious tiger, turning ten times round his adversary, an_hanging his ground and his guard twenty times. Jussac was, as was then said, a fine blade, and had had much practice; nevertheless it required all hi_kill to defend himself against an adversary who, active and energetic, departed every instant from received rules, attacking him on all sides a_nce, and yet parrying like a man who had the greatest respect for his ow_pidermis.
  • This contest at length exhausted Jussac's patience. Furious at being held i_heck by one whom he had considered a boy, he became warm and began to mak_istakes. D'Artagnan, who though wanting in practice had a sound theory, redoubled his agility. Jussac, anxious to put an end to this, springin_orward, aimed a terrible thrust at his adversary, but the latter parried it; and while Jussac was recovering himself, glided like a serpent beneath hi_lade, and passed his sword through his body. Jussac fell like a dead mass.
  • D'Artagnan then cast an anxious and rapid glance over the field of battle.
  • Aramis had killed one of his adversaries, but the other pressed him warmly.
  • Nevertheless, Aramis was in a good situation, and able to defend himself.
  • Bicarat and Porthos had just made counterhits. Porthos had received a thrus_hrough his arm, and Bicarat one through his thigh. But neither of these tw_ounds was serious, and they only fought more earnestly.
  • Athos, wounded anew by Cahusac, became evidently paler, but did not give way _oot. He only changed his sword hand, and fought with his left hand.
  • According to the laws of dueling at that period, d'Artagnan was at liberty t_ssist whom he pleased. While he was endeavoring to find out which of hi_ompanions stood in greatest need, he caught a glance from Athos. The glanc_as of sublime eloquence. Athos would have died rather than appeal for help; but he could look, and with that look ask assistance. D'Artagnan interprete_t; with a terrible bound he sprang to the side of Cahusac, crying, "To me, Monsieur Guardsman; I will slay you!"
  • Cahusac turned. It was time; for Athos, whose great courage alone supporte_im, sank upon his knee.
  • "S'blood!" cried he to d'Artagnan, "do not kill him, young man, I beg of you.
  • I have an old affair to settle with him when I am cured and sound again.
  • Disarm him only—make sure of his sword. That's it! Very well done!"
  • The exclamation was drawn from Athos by seeing the sword of Cahusac fly twent_aces from him. D'Artagnan and Cahusac sprang forward at the same instant, th_ne to recover, the other to obtain, the sword; but d'Artagnan, being the mor_ctive, reached it first and placed his foot upon it.
  • Cahusac immediately ran to the Guardsman whom Aramis had killed, seized hi_apier, and returned toward d'Artagnan; but on his way he met Athos, wh_uring his relief which d'Artagnan had procured him had recovered his breath, and who, for fear that d'Artagnan would kill his enemy, wished to resume th_ight.
  • D'Artagnan perceived that it would be disobliging Athos not to leave hi_lone; and in a few minutes Cahusac fell, with a sword thrust through hi_hroat.
  • At the same instant Aramis placed his sword point on the breast of his falle_nemy, and forced him to ask for mercy.
  • There only then remained Porthos and Bicarat. Porthos made a thousan_lourishes, asking Bicarat what o'clock it could be, and offering him hi_ompliments upon his brother's having just obtained a company in the regimen_f Navarre; but, jest as he might, he gained nothing. Bicarat was one of thos_ron men who never fell dead.
  • Nevertheless, it was necessary to finish. The watch might come up and take al_he combatants, wounded or not, royalists or cardinalists. Athos, Aramis, an_'Artagnan surrounded Bicarat, and required him to surrender. Though alon_gainst all and with a wound in his thigh, Bicarat wished to hold out; bu_ussac, who had risen upon his elbow, cried out to him to yield. Bicarat was _ascon, as d'Artagnan was; he turned a deaf ear, and contented himself wit_aughing, and between two parries finding time to point to a spot of eart_ith his sword, "Here," cried he, parodying a verse of the Bible, "here wil_icarat die; for I only am left, and they seek my life."
  • "But there are four against you; leave off, I command you."
  • "Ah, if you command me, that's another thing," said Bicarat. "As you are m_ommander, it is my duty to obey." And springing backward, he broke his swor_cross his knee to avoid the necessity of surrendering it, threw the piece_ver the convent wall, and crossed him arms, whistling a cardinalist air.
  • Bravery is always respected, even in an enemy. The Musketeers saluted Bicara_ith their swords, and returned them to their sheaths. D'Artagnan did th_ame. Then, assisted by Bicarat, the only one left standing, he bore Jussac, Cahusac, and one of Aramis's adversaries who was only wounded, under the porc_f the convent. The fourth, as we have said, was dead. They then rang th_ell, and carrying away four swords out of five, they took their road, intoxicated with joy, toward the hotel of M. de Treville.
  • They walked arm in arm, occupying the whole width of the street and taking i_very Musketeer they met, so that in the end it became a triumphal march. Th_eart of d'Artagnan swam in delirium; he marched between Athos and Porthos, pressing them tenderly.
  • "If I am not yet a Musketeer," said he to his new friends, as he passe_hrough the gateway of M. de Treville's hotel, "at least I have entered upo_y apprenticeship, haven't I?"