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38. HOW ATHOS PROCURES HIS EQUIPMENT

D'Artagnan was so completely bewildered that without taking
any heed of what might become of Kitty he ran at full speed
across half Paris, and did not stop till he came to Athos's
door. The confusion of his mind, the terror which spurred
him on, the cries of some of the patrol who started in
pursuit of him, and the hooting of the people who,
notwithstanding the early hour, were going to their work,
only made him precipitate his course.

He crossed the court, ran up the two flights to Athos's
apartment, and knocked at the door enough to break it down.

Grimaud came, rubbing his half-open eyes, to answer this
noisy summons, and d'Artagnan sprang with such violence into
the room as nearly to overturn the astonished lackey.

In spite of his habitual silence, the poor lad this time
found his speech.

"Holloa, there!" cried he; "what do you want, you strumpet?
What's your business here, you hussy?"

D'Artagnan threw off his hood, and disengaged his hands from
the folds of the cloak. At sight of the mustaches and the
naked sword, the poor devil perceived he had to deal with a
man. He then concluded it must be an assassin.

"Help! murder! help!" cried he.

"Hold your tongue, you stupid fellow!" said the young man; "I am
d'Artagnan; don't you know me? Where is your master?"

"You, Monsieur d'Artagnan!" cried Grimaud, "impossible."

"Grimaud," said Athos, coming out of his apartment in a
dressing gown, "Grimaud, I thought I heard you permitting
yourself to speak?"

"Ah, monsieur, it is--"

"Silence!"

Grimaud contented himself with pointing d'Artagnan out to
his master with his finger.

Athos recognized his comrade, and phlegmatic as he was, he
burst into a laugh which was quite excused by the strange
masquerade before his eyes--petticoats falling over his
shoes, sleeves tucked up, and mustaches stiff with
agitation.

"Don't laugh, my friend!" cried d'Artagnan; "for heaven's
sake, don't laugh, for upon my soul, it's no laughing
matter!"

And he pronounced these words with such a solemn air and
with such a real appearance of terror, that Athos eagerly
seized his hand, crying, "Are you wounded, my friend? How
pale you are!"

"No, but I have just met with a terrible adventure! Are you
alone, Athos?"

"PARBLEU! whom do you expect to find with me at this hour?"

"Well, well!" and d'Artagnan rushed into Athos's chamber.

"Come, speak!" said the latter, closing the door and bolting
it, that they might not be disturbed. "Is the king dead?
Have you killed the cardinal? You are quite upset! Come,
come, tell me; I am dying with curiosity and uneasiness!"

"Athos," said d'Artagnan, getting rid of his female
garments, and appearing in his shirt, "prepare yourself to
hear an incredible, an unheard-of story."

"Well, but put on this dressing gown first," said the
Musketeer to his friend.

D'Artagnan donned the robe as quickly as he could, mistaking
one sleeve for the other, so greatly was he still agitated.

"Well?" said Athos.

"Well," replied d'Artagnan, bending his mouth to Athos's
ear, and lowering his voice, "Milady is marked with a
FLEUR-DE-LIS upon her shoulder!"

"Ah!" cried the Musketeer, as if he had received a ball in
his heart.

"Let us see," said d'Artagnan. "Are you SURE that the OTHER
is dead?"

"THE OTHER?" said Athos, in so stifled a voice that
d'Artagnan scarcely heard him.

"Yes, she of whom you told me one day at Amiens."

Athos uttered a groan, and let his head sink on his hands.

"This is a woman of twenty-six or twenty-eight years."

"Fair," said Athos, "is she not?"

"Very."

"Blue and clear eyes, of a strange brilliancy, with black
eyelids and eyebrows?"

"Yes."

"Tall, well-made? She has lost a tooth, next to the
eyetooth on the left?"

"Yes."

"The FLEUR-DE-LIS is small, rosy in color, and looks as if
efforts had been made to efface it by the application of
poultices?"

"Yes."

"But you say she is English?"

"She is called Milady, but she may be French. Lord de
Winter is only her brother-in-law,"

"I will see her, d'Artagnan!"

"Beware, Athos, beware. You tried to kill her; she is a
woman to return you the like, and not to fail."

"She will not dare to say anything; that would be to
denounce herself."

"She is capable of anything or everything. Did you ever see
her furious?"

"No," said Athos.

"A tigress, a panther! Ah, my dear Athos, I am greatly
afraid I have drawn a terrible vengeance on both of us!"

D'Artagnan then related all--the mad passion of Milady and
her menaces of death.

"You are right; and upon my soul, I would give my life for a
hair," said Athos. "Fortunately, the day after tomorrow we
leave Paris. We are going according to all probability to
La Rochelle, and once gone--"

"She will follow you to the end of the world, Athos, if she
recognizes you. Let her, then, exhaust her vengeance on me
alone!"

"My dear friend, of what consequence is it if she kills me?"
said Athos. "Do you, perchance, think I set any great store
by life?"

"There is something horribly mysterious under all this,
Athos; this woman is one of the cardinal's spies, I am sure
of that."

"In that case, take care! If the cardinal does not hold you
in high admiration for the affair of London, he entertains a
great hatred for you; but as, considering everything, he
cannot accuse you openly, and as hatred must be satisfied,
particularly when it's a cardinal's hatred, take care of
yourself. If you go out, do not go out alone; when you eat,
use every precaution. Mistrust everything, in short, even
your own shadow."

"Fortunately," said d'Artagnan, "all this will be only
necessary till after tomorrow evening, for when once with
the army, we shall have, I hope, only men to dread."

"In the meantime," said Athos, "I renounce my plan of
seclusion, and wherever you go, I will go with you. You
must return to the Rue des Fossoyeurs; I will accompany
you."

"But however near it may be," replied d'Artagnan, "I cannot
go thither in this guise."

"That's true," said Athos, and he rang the bell.

Grimaud entered.

Athos made him a sign to go to d'Artagnan's residence, and
bring back some clothes. Grimaud replied by another sign
that be understood perfectly, and set off.

"All this will not advance your outfit," said Athos; "for if
I am not mistaken, you have left the best of your apparel
with Milady, and she will certainly not have the politeness
to return it to you. Fortunately, you have the sapphire."

"The jewel is yours, my dear Athos! Did you not tell me it
was a family jewel?"

"Yes, my grandfather gave two thousand crowns for it, as he
once told me. It formed part of the nuptial present he made
his wife, and it is magnificent. My mother gave it to me,
and I, fool as I was, instead of keeping the ring as a holy
relic, gave it to this wretch."

"Then, my friend, take back this ring, to which I see you
attach much value."

"I take back the ring, after it has passed through the hands
of that infamous creature? Never; that ring is defiled,
d'Artagnan."

"Sell it, then."

"Sell a jewel which came from my mother! I vow I should
consider it a profanation."

"Pledge it, then; you can borrow at least a thousand crowns
on it. With that sum you can extricate yourself from your
present difficulties; and when you are full of money again,
you can redeem it, and take it back cleansed from its
ancient stains, as it will have passed through the hands of
usurers."

Athos smiled.

"You are a capital companion, d'Artagnan," said be; "your
never-failing cheerfulness raises poor souls in affliction.
Well, let us pledge the ring, but upon one condition."

"What?"

"That there shall be five hundred crowns for you, and five
hundred crowns for me."

"Don't dream it, Athos. I don't need the quarter of such a
sum--I who am still only in the Guards--and by selling my
saddles, I shall procure it. What do I want? A horse for
Planchet, that's all. Besides, you forget that I have a
ring likewise."

"To which you attach more value, it seems, than I do to
mine; at least, I have thought so."

"Yes, for in any extreme circumstance it might not only
extricate us from some great embarrassment, but even a great
danger. It is not only a valuable diamond, but it is an
enchanted talisman."

"I don't at all understand you, but I believe all you say to
be true. Let us return to my ring, or rather to yours. You
shall take half the sum that will be advanced upon it, or I
will throw it into the Seine; and I doubt, as was the case
with Polycrates, whether any fish will be sufficiently
complaisant to bring it back to us."

"Well, I will take it, then," said d'Artagnan.

At this moment Grimaud returned, accompanied by Planchet;
the latter, anxious about his master and curious to know
what had happened to him, had taken advantage of the
opportunity and brought the garments himself.


d'Artagnan dressed himself, and Athos did the same. When
the two were ready to go out, the latter made Grimaud the
sign of a man taking aim, and the lackey immediately took
down his musketoon, and prepared to follow his master.

They arrived without accident at the Rue des Fossoyeurs.
Bonacieux was standing at the door, and looked at d'Artagnan
hatefully.

"Make haste, dear lodger," said he; "there is a very pretty
girl waiting for you upstairs; and you know women don't like
to be kept waiting."

"That's Kitty!" said d'Artagnan to himself, and darted into
the passage.

Sure enough! Upon the landing leading to the chamber, and
crouching against the door, he found the poor girl, all in a
tremble. As soon as she perceived him, she cried, "You have
promised your protection; you have promised to save me from
her anger. Remember, it is you who have ruined me!"

"Yes, yes, to be sure, Kitty," said d'Artagnan; "be at ease,
my girl. But what happened after my departure?"

"How can I tell!" said Kitty. "The lackeys were brought by
the cries she made. She was mad with passion. There exist
no imprecations she did not pour out against you. Then I
thought she would remember it was through my chamber you had
penetrated hers, and that then she would suppose I was your
accomplice; so I took what little money I had and the best
of my things, and I got away.

"Poor dear girl! But what can I do with you? I am going
away the day after tomorrow."

"Do what you please, Monsieur Chevalier. Help me out of
Paris; help me out of France!"

"I cannot take you, however, to the siege of La Rochelle,"
aid d'Artagnan.

"No; but you can place me in one of the provinces with some
lady of your acquaintance--in your own country, for
instance."

"My dear little love! In my country the ladies do without
chambermaids. But stop! I can manage your business for
you. Planchet, go and find Aramis. Request him to come
here directly. We have something very important to say to
him."

"I understand," said Athos; "but why not Porthos? I should
have thought that his duchess--"

"Oh, Porthos's duchess is dressed by her husband's clerks,"
said d'Artagnan, laughing. "Besides, Kitty would not like
to live in the Rue aux Ours. Isn't it so, Kitty?"

"I do not care where I live," said Kitty, "provided I am
well concealed, and nobody knows where I am."

"Meanwhile, Kitty, when we are about to separate, and you
are no longer jealous of me--"

"Monsieur Chevalier, far off or near," said Kitty, "I shall
always love you."

"Where the devil will constancy niche itself next?" murmured
Athos.

"And I, also," said d'Artagnan, "I also. I shall always
love you; be sure of that. But now answer me. I attach
great importance to the question I am about to put to you.
Did you never hear talk of a young woman who was carried off
one night?"

"There, now! Oh, Monsieur Chevalier, do you love that woman
still?"

"No, no; it is one of my friends who loves her--Monsieur
Athos, this gentleman here."

"I?" cried Athos, with an accent like that of a man who
perceives he is about to tread upon an adder.

"You, to be sure!" said d'Artagnan, pressing Athos's hand.
"You know the interest we both take in this poor little
Madame Bonacieux. Besides, Kitty will tell nothing; will
you, Kitty? You understand, my dear girl," continued
d'Artagnan, "she is the wife of that frightful baboon you
saw at the door as you came in."

"Oh, my God! You remind me of my fright! If he should have
known me again!"

"How? know you again? Did you ever see that man before?"

"He came twice to Milady's."

"That's it. About what time?"

"Why, about fifteen or eighteen days ago."

"Exactly so."

"And yesterday evening he came again."

"Yesterday evening?"

"Yes, just before you came."

"My dear Athos, we are enveloped in a network of spies. And
do you believe he knew you again, Kitty?"

"I pulled down my hood as soon as I saw him, but perhaps it
was too
late."

"Go down, Athos--he mistrusts you less than me--and see if he
be still at his door."

Athos went down and returned immediately.

"He has gone," said he, "and the house door is shut."

"He has gone to make his report, and to say that all the
pigeons are at this moment in the dovecot"

"Well, then, let us all fly," said Athos, "and leave nobody
here but Planchet to bring us news."

"A minute. Aramis, whom we have sent for!"

"That's true," said Athos; "we must wait for Aramis."

At that moment Aramis entered.

The matter was all explained to him, and the friends gave
him to understand that among all his high connections he
must find a place for Kitty.

Aramis reflected for a minute, and then said, coloring,
"Will it be really rendering you a service, d'Artagnan?"

"I shall be grateful to you all my life."

"Very well. Madame de Bois-Tracy asked me, for one of her
friends who resides in the provinces, I believe, for a
trustworthy maid. If you can, my dear d'Artagnan, answer
for Mademoiselle-"

"Oh, monsieur, be assured that I shall be entirely devoted
to the person who will give me the means of quitting Paris."

"Then," said Aramis, "this falls out very well."

He placed himself at the table and wrote a little note which
he sealed with a ring, and gave the billet to Kitty.

"And now, my dear girl," said d'Artagnan, "you know that it
is not good for any of us to be here. Therefore let us
separate. We shall meet again in better days."

"And whenever we find each other, in whatever place it may
be," said Kitty, "you will find me loving you as I love you
today."

"Dicers' oaths!" said Athos, while d'Artagnan went to
conduct Kitty downstairs.

An instant afterward the three young men separated, agreeing
to meet again at four o'clock with Athos, and leaving
Planchet to guard the house.

Aramis returned home, and Athos and d'Artagnan busied
themselves about pledging the sapphire.

As the Gascon had foreseen, they easily obtained three
hundred pistoles on the ring. Still further, the Jew told
them that if they would sell it to him, as it would make a
magnificent pendant for earrings, he would give five hundred
pistoles for it.

Athos and d'Artagnan, with the activity of two soldiers and
the knowledge of two connoisseurs, hardly required three
hours to purchase the entire equipment of the Musketeer.
Besides, Athos was very easy, and a noble to his fingers'
ends. When a thing suited him he paid the price demanded,
without thinking to ask for any abatement. D'Artagnan would
have remonstrated at this; but Athos put his hand upon his
shoulder, with a smile, and d'Artagnan understood that it
was all very well for such a little Gascon gentleman as
himself to drive a bargain, but not for a man who had the
bearing of a prince. The Musketeer met with a superb
Andalusian horse, black as jet, nostrils of fire, legs clean
and elegant, rising six years. He examined him, and found
him sound and without blemish. They asked a thousand livres
for him.

He might perhaps have been bought for less; but while
d'Artagnan was discussing the price with the dealer, Athos
was counting out the money on the table.

Grimaud had a stout, short Picard cob, which cost three
hundred livres.

But when the saddle and arms for Grimaud were purchased,
Athos had not a sou left of his hundred and fifty pistoles.
d'Artagnan offered his friend a part of his share which he
should return when convenient.

But Athos only replied to this proposal by shrugging his
shoulders.

"How much did the Jew say he would give for the sapphire if
be purchased it?" said Athos.

"Five hundred pistoles."

"That is to say, two hundred more--a hundred pistoles for you
and a hundred pistoles for me. Well, now, that would be a
real fortune to us, my friend; let us go back to the Jew's
again."

"What! "will you--"

"This ring would certainly only recall very bitter
remembrances; then we shall never be masters of three
hundred pistoles to redeem it, so that we really should lose
two hundred pistoles by the bargain. Go and tell him the
ring is his, d'Artagnan, and bring back the two hundred
pistoles with you."

"Reflect, Athos!"

"Ready money is needful for the present time, and we must
learn how to make sacrifices. Go, d'Artagnan, go; Grimaud
will accompany you with his musketoon."

A half hour afterward, d'Artagnan returned with the two
thousand livres, and without having met with any accident.

It was thus Athos found at home resources which he did not
expect.





The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
Category:
General Fiction

Romance Literatures
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