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Chapter 8 CONCERNING A COURT INTRIGUE

  • In the meantime, the forty pistoles of King Louis XIII, like all other thing_f this world, after having had a beginning had an end, and after this end ou_our companions began to be somewhat embarrassed. At first, Athos supporte_he association for a time with his own means.
  • Porthos succeeded him; and thanks to one of those disappearances to which h_as accustomed, he was able to provide for the wants of all for a fortnight.
  • At last it became Aramis's turn, who performed it with a good grace and wh_ucceeded—as he said, by selling some theological books—in procuring a fe_istoles.
  • Then, as they had been accustomed to do, they had recourse to M. de Treville, who made some advances on their pay; but these advances could not go far wit_hree Musketeers who were already much in arrears and a Guardsman who as ye_ad no pay at all.
  • At length when they found they were likely to be really in want, they go_ogether, as a last effort, eight or ten pistoles, with which Porthos went t_he gaming table. Unfortunately he was in a bad vein; he lost all, togethe_ith twenty-five pistoles for which he had given his word.
  • Then the inconvenience became distress. The hungry friends, followed by thei_ackeys, were seen haunting the quays and Guard rooms, picking up among thei_riends abroad all the dinners they could meet with; for according to th_dvice of Aramis, it was prudent to sow repasts right and left in prosperity, in order to reap a few in time of need.
  • Athos was invited four times, and each time took his friends and their lackey_ith him. Porthos had six occasions, and contrived in the same manner that hi_riends should partake of them; Aramis had eight of them. He was a man, a_ust have been already perceived, who made but little noise, and yet was muc_ought after.
  • As to d'Artagnan, who as yet knew nobody in the capital, he only found on_hocolate breakfast at the house of a priest of his own province, and on_inner at the house of a cornet of the Guards. He took his army to th_riest's, where they devoured as much provision as would have lasted him fo_wo months, and to the cornet's, who performed wonders; but as Planchet said,
  • "People do not eat at once for all time, even when they eat a good deal."
  • D'Artagnan thus felt himself humiliated in having only procured one meal and _alf for his companions—as the breakfast at the priest's could only be counte_s half a repast—in return for the feasts which Athos, Porthos, and Aramis ha_rocured him. He fancied himself a burden to the society, forgetting in hi_erfectly juvenile good faith that he had fed this society for a month; and h_et his mind actively to work. He reflected that this coalition of four young, brave, enterprising, and active men ought to have some other object tha_waggering walks, fencing lessons, and practical jokes, more or less witty.
  • In fact, four men such as they were—four men devoted to one another, fro_heir purses to their lives; four men always supporting one another, neve_ielding, executing singly or together the resolutions formed in common; fou_rms threatening the four cardinal points, or turning toward a singl_oint—must inevitably, either subterraneously, in open day, by mining, in th_rench, by cunning, or by force, open themselves a way toward the object the_ished to attain, however well it might be defended, or however distant it ma_eem. The only thing that astonished d'Artagnan was that his friends had neve_hought of this.
  • He was thinking by himself, and even seriously racking his brain to find _irection for this single force four times multiplied, with which he did no_oubt, as with the lever for which Archimedes sought, they should succeed i_oving the world, when someone tapped gently at his door. D'Artagnan awakene_lanchet and ordered him to open it.
  • From this phrase, "d'Artagnan awakened Planchet," the reader must not suppos_t was night, or that day was hardly come. No, it had just struck four.
  • Planchet, two hours before, had asked his master for some dinner, and he ha_nswered him with the proverb, "He who sleeps, dines." And Planchet dined b_leeping.
  • A man was introduced of simple mien, who had the appearance of a tradesman.
  • Planchet, by way of dessert, would have liked to hear the conversation; bu_he citizen declared to d'Artagnan that what he had to say being important an_onfidential, he desired to be left alone with him.
  • D'Artagnan dismissed Planchet, and requested his visitor to be seated. Ther_as a moment of silence, during which the two men looked at each other, as i_o make a preliminary acquaintance, after which d'Artagnan bowed, as a sig_hat he listened.
  • "I have heard Monsieur d'Artagnan spoken of as a very brave young man," sai_he citizen; "and this reputation which he justly enjoys had decided me t_onfide a secret to him."
  • "Speak, monsieur, speak," said d'Artagnan, who instinctively scented somethin_dvantageous.
  • The citizen made a fresh pause and continued, "I have a wife who is seamstres_o the queen, monsieur, and who is not deficient in either virtue or beauty. _as induced to marry her about three years ago, although she had but ver_ittle dowry, because Monsieur Laporte, the queen's cloak bearer, is he_odfather, and befriends her."
  • "Well, monsieur?" asked d'Artagnan.
  • "Well!" resumed the citizen, "well, monsieur, my wife was abducted yesterda_orning, as she was coming out of her workroom."
  • "And by whom was your wife abducted?"
  • "I know nothing surely, monsieur, but I suspect someone."
  • "And who is the person whom you suspect?"
  • "A man who has pursued her a long time."
  • "The devil!"
  • "But allow me to tell you, monsieur," continued the citizen, "that I a_onvinced that there is less love than politics in all this."
  • "Less love than politics," replied d'Artagnan, with a reflective air; "an_hat do you suspect?"
  • "I do not know whether I ought to tell you what I suspect."
  • "Monsieur, I beg you to observe that I ask you absolutely nothing. It is yo_ho have come to me. It is you who have told me that you had a secret t_onfide in me. Act, then, as you think proper; there is still time t_ithdraw."
  • "No, monsieur, no; you appear to be an honest young man, and I will hav_onfidence in you. I believe, then, that it is not on account of any intrigue_f her own that my wife has been arrested, but because of those of a lady muc_reater than herself."
  • "Ah, ah! Can it be on account of the amours of Madame de Bois-Tracy?" sai_'Artagnan, wishing to have the air, in the eyes of the citizen, of bein_osted as to court affairs.
  • "Higher, monsieur, higher."
  • "Of Madame d'Aiguillon?"
  • "Still higher."
  • "Of Madame de Chevreuse?"
  • "Of the—" d'Artagnan checked himself.
  • "Yes, monsieur," replied the terrified citizen, in a tone so low that he wa_carcely audible.
  • "And with whom?"
  • "With whom can it be, if not the Duke of—"
  • "The Duke of—"
  • "Yes, monsieur," replied the citizen, giving a still fainter intonation to hi_oice.
  • "But how do you know all this?"
  • "How do I know it?"
  • "Yes, how do you know it? No half-confidence, or—you understand!"
  • "I know it from my wife, monsieur—from my wife herself."
  • "Who learns it from whom?"
  • "From Monsieur Laporte. Did I not tell you that she was the goddaughter o_onsieur Laporte, the confidential man of the queen? Well, Monsieur Laport_laced her near her Majesty in order that our poor queen might at least hav_omeone in whom she could place confidence, abandoned as she is by the king, watched as she is by the cardinal, betrayed as she is by everybody."
  • "Ah, ah! It begins to develop itself," said d'Artagnan.
  • "Now, my wife came home four days ago, monsieur. One of her conditions wa_hat she should come and see me twice a week; for, as I had the honor to tel_ou, my wife loves me dearly—my wife, then, came and confided to me that th_ueen at that very moment entertained great fears."
  • "Truly!"
  • "Yes. The cardinal, as it appears, pursues he and persecutes her more tha_ver. He cannot pardon her the history of the Saraband. You know the histor_f the Saraband?"
  • "PARDIEU! Know it!" replied d'Artagnan, who knew nothing about it, but wh_ished to appear to know everything that was going on.
  • "So that now it is no longer hatred, but vengeance."
  • "Indeed!"
  • "And the queen believes—"
  • "Well, what does the queen believe?"
  • "She believes that someone has written to the Duke of Buckingham in her name."
  • "In the queen's name?"
  • "Yes, to make him come to Paris; and when once come to Paris, to draw him int_ome snare."
  • "The devil! But your wife, monsieur, what has she to do with all this?"
  • "Her devotion to the queen is known; and they wish either to remove her fro_er mistress, or to intimidate her, in order to obtain her Majesty's secrets, or to seduce her and make use of her as a spy."
  • "That is likely," said d'Artagnan; "but the man who has abducted her—do yo_now him?"
  • "I have told you that I believe I know him."
  • "His name?"
  • "I do not know that; what I do know is that he is a creature of the cardinal, his evil genius."
  • "But you have seen him?"
  • "Yes, my wife pointed him out to me one day."
  • "Has he anything remarkable about him by which one may recognize him?"
  • "Oh, certainly; he is a noble of very lofty carriage, black hair, swarth_omplexion, piercing eye, white teeth, and has a scar on his temple."
  • "A scar on his temple!" cried d'Artagnan; "and with that, white teeth, _iercing eye, dark complexion, black hair, and haughty carriage—why, that's m_an of Meung."
  • "He is your man, do you say?"
  • "Yes, yes; but that has nothing to do with it. No, I am wrong. On th_ontrary, that simplifies the matter greatly. If your man is mine, with on_low I shall obtain two revenges, that's all; but where to find this man?"
  • "I know not."
  • "Have you no information as to his abiding place?"
  • "None. One day, as I was conveying my wife back to the Louvre, he was comin_ut as she was going in, and she showed him to me."
  • "The devil! The devil!" murmured d'Artagnan; "all this is vague enough. Fro_hom have you learned of the abduction of your wife?"
  • "From Monsieur Laporte."
  • "Did he give you any details?"
  • "He knew none himself."
  • "And you have learned nothing from any other quarter?"
  • "Yes, I have received—"
  • "What?"
  • "I fear I am committing a great imprudence."
  • "You always come back to that; but I must make you see this time that it i_oo late to retreat."
  • "I do not retreat, MORDIEU!" cried the citizen, swearing in order to rouse hi_ourage. "Besides, by the faith of Bonacieux—"
  • "You call yourself Bonacieux?" interrupted d'Artagnan.
  • "Yes, that is my name."
  • "You said, then, by the word of Bonacieux. Pardon me for interrupting you, bu_t appears to me that that name is familiar to me."
  • "Possibly, monsieur. I am your landlord."
  • "Ah, ah!" said d'Artagnan, half rising and bowing; "you are my landlord?"
  • "Yes, monsieur, yes. And as it is three months since you have been here, an_hough, distracted as you must be in your important occupations, you hav_orgotten to pay me my rent—as, I say, I have not tormented you a singl_nstant, I thought you would appreciate my delicacy."
  • "How can it be otherwise, my dear Bonacieux?" replied d'Artagnan; "trust me, _m fully grateful for such unparalleled conduct, and if, as I told you, I ca_e of any service to you—"
  • "I believe you, monsieur, I believe you; and as I was about to say, by th_ord of Bonacieux, I have confidence in you."
  • "Finish, then, what you were about to say."
  • The citizen took a paper from his pocket, and presented it to d'Artagnan.
  • "A letter?" said the young man.
  • "Which I received this morning."
  • D'Artagnan opened it, and as the day was beginning to decline, he approache_he window to read it. The citizen followed him.
  • "'Do not seek your wife,'" read d'Artagnan; "'she will be restored to you whe_here is no longer occasion for her. If you make a single step to find her yo_re lost.'
  • "That's pretty positive," continued d'Artagnan; "but after all, it is but _enace."
  • "Yes; but that menace terrifies me. I am not a fighting man at all, monsieur, and I am afraid of the Bastille."
  • "Hum!" said d'Artagnan. "I have no greater regard for the Bastille than you.
  • If it were nothing but a sword thrust, why then—"
  • "I have counted upon you on this occasion, monsieur."
  • "Yes?"
  • "Seeing you constantly surrounded by Musketeers of a very superb appearance, and knowing that these Musketeers belong to Monsieur de Treville, and wer_onsequently enemies of the cardinal, I thought that you and your friends, while rendering justice to your poor queen, would be pleased to play hi_minence an ill turn."
  • "Without doubt."
  • "And then I have thought that considering three months' lodging, about which _ave said nothing—"
  • "Yes, yes; you have already given me that reason, and I find it excellent."
  • "Reckoning still further, that as long as you do me the honor to remain in m_ouse I shall never speak to you about rent—"
  • "Very kind!"
  • "And adding to this, if there be need of it, meaning to offer you fift_istoles, if, against all probability, you should be short at the presen_oment."
  • "Admirable! You are rich then, my dear Monsieur Bonacieux?"
  • "I am comfortably off, monsieur, that's all; I have scraped together some suc_hing as an income of two or three thousand crown in the haberdasher_usiness, but more particularly in venturing some funds in the last voyage o_he celebrated navigator Jean Moquet; so that you understand, monsieur—But—"
  • cried the citizen.
  • "What!" demanded d'Artagnan.
  • "Whom do I see yonder?"
  • "Where?"
  • "In the street, facing your window, in the embrasure of that door—a ma_rapped in a cloak."
  • "It is he!" cried d'Artagnan and the citizen at the same time, each havin_ecognized his man.
  • "Ah, this time," cried d'Artagnan, springing to his sword, "this time he wil_ot escape me!"
  • Drawing his sword from its scabbard, he rushed out of the apartment. On th_taircase he met Athos and Porthos, who were coming to see him. The_eparated, and d'Artagnan rushed between them like a dart.
  • "Pah! Where are you going?" cried the two Musketeers in a breath.
  • "The man of Meung!" replied d'Artagnan, and disappeared.
  • D'Artagnan had more than once related to his friends his adventure with th_tranger, as well as the apparition of the beautiful foreigner, to whom thi_an had confided some important missive.
  • The opinion of Athos was that d'Artagnan had lost his letter in the skirmish.
  • A gentleman, in his opinion—and according to d'Artagnan's portrait of him, th_tranger must be a gentleman—would be incapable of the baseness of stealing _etter.
  • Porthos saw nothing in all this but a love meeting, given by a lady to _avalier, or by a cavalier to a lady, which had been disturbed by the presenc_f d'Artagnan and his yellow horse.
  • Aramis said that as these sorts of affairs were mysterious, it was better no_o fathom them.
  • They understood, then, from the few words which escaped from d'Artagnan, wha_ffair was in hand, and as they thought that overtaking his man, or losin_ight of him, d'Artagnan would return to his rooms, they kept on their way.
  • When they entered d'Artagnan's chamber, it was empty; the landlord, dreadin_he consequences of the encounter which was doubtless about to take plac_etween the young man and the stranger, had, consistent with the character h_ad given himself, judged it prudent to decamp.