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.
"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, 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.
"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?"