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3. THE AUDIENCE

M. de Treville was at the moment in rather ill-humor,
nevertheless he saluted the young man politely, who bowed to the
very ground; and he smiled on receiving d'Artagnan's response,
the Bearnese accent of which recalled to him at the same time
his youth and his country--a double remembrance which makes a man
smile at all ages; but stepping toward the antechamber and making
a sign to d'Artagnan with his hand, as if to ask his permission
to finish with others before he began with him, he called three
times, with a louder voice at each time, so that he ran through
the intervening tones between the imperative accent and the angry
accent.

"Athos! Porthos! Aramis!"

The two Musketeers with whom we have already made acquaintance,
and who answered to the last of these three names, immediately
quitted the group of which they had formed a part, and advanced
toward the cabinet, the door of which closed after them as soon
as they had entered. Their appearance, although it was not quite
at ease, excited by its carelessness, at once full of dignity and
submission, the admiration of d'Artagnan, who beheld in these two
men demigods, and in their leader an Olympian Jupiter, armed with
all his thunders.

When the two Musketeers had entered; when the door was closed
behind them; when the buzzing murmur of the antechamber, to which
the summons which had been made had doubtless furnished fresh
food, had recommenced; when M. de Treville had three or four
times paced in silence, and with a frowning brow, the whole
length of his cabinet, passing each time before Porthos and
Aramis, who were as upright and silent as if on parade--he
stopped all at once full in front of them, and covering them from
head to foot with an angry look, "Do you know what the king said
to me," cried he, "and that no longer ago then yesterday
evening--do you know, gentlemen?"

"No," replied the two Musketeers, after a moment's silence, "no,
sir, we do not."

"But I hope that you will do us the honor to tell us," added
Aramis, in his politest tone and with his most graceful bow.

"He told me that he should henceforth recruit his Musketeers from
among the Guards of Monsieur the Cardinal."

"The Guards of the cardinal! And why so?" asked Porthos, warmly.

"Because he plainly perceives that his piquette* stands in need
of being enlivened by a mixture of good wine."

*A watered liquor, made from the second pressing of the grape.

The two Musketeers reddened to the whites of their eyes.
d'Artagnan did not know where he was, and wished himself a
hundred feet underground.

"Yes, yes," continued M. de Treville, growing warmer as he spoke,
"and his majesty was right; for, upon my honor, it is true that
the Musketeers make but a miserable figure at court. The
cardinal related yesterday while playing with the king, with an
air of condolence very displeasing to me, that the day before
yesterday those DAMNED MUSKETEERS, those DAREDEVILS--he dwelt
upon those words with an ironical tone still more displeasing to
me--those BRAGGARTS, added he, glancing at me with his tiger-
cat's eye, had made a riot in the Rue Ferou in a cabaret, and
that a party of his Guards (I thought he was going to laugh in my
face) had been forced to arrest the rioters! MORBLEU! You must
know something about it. Arrest Musketeers! You were among
them--you were! Don't deny it; you were recognized, and the
cardinal named you. But it's all my fault; yes, it's all my
fault, because it is myself who selects my men. You, Aramis, why
the devil did you ask me for a uniform when you would have been
so much better in a cassock? And you, Porthos, do you only wear
such a fine golden baldric to suspend a sword of straw from it?
And Athos--I don't see Athos. Where is he?"

"Ill--very ill, say you? And of what malady?"

"It is feared that it may be the smallpox, sir," replied Porthos,
desirous of taking his turn in the conversation; "and what is
serious is that it will certainly spoil his face."

"The smallpox! That's a great story to tell me, Porthos! Sick
of the smallpox at his age! No, no; but wounded without doubt,
killed, perhaps. Ah, if I knew! S'blood! Messieurs Musketeers,
I will not have this haunting of bad places, this quarreling in
the streets, this swordplay at the crossways; and above all, I
will not have occasion given for the cardinal's Guards, who are
brave, quiet, skillful men who never put themselves in a
position to be arrested, and who, besides, never allow themselves
to be arrested, to laugh at you! I am sure of it--they would
prefer dying on the spot to being arrested or taking back a step.
To save yourselves, to scamper away, to flee--that is good for
the king's Musketeers!"

Porthos and Aramis trembled with rage. They could willingly have
strangled M. de Treville, if, at the bottom of all this, they had
not felt it was the great love he bore them which made him speak
thus. They stamped upon the carpet with their feet; they bit
their lips till the blood came, and grasped the hilts of their
swords with all their might. All without had heard, as we have
said, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis called, and had guessed, from M.
de Treville's tone of voice, that he was very angry about
something. Ten curious heads were glued to the tapestry and
became pale with fury; for their ears, closely applied to the
door, did not lose a syllable of what he said, while their mouths
repeated as he went on, the insulting expressions of the captain
to all the people in the antechamber. In an instant, from the
door of the cabinet to the street gate, the whole hotel was
boiling.

"Ah! The king's Musketeers are arrested by the Guards of the
cardinal, are they?" continued M. de Treville, as furious at
heart as his soldiers, but emphasizing his words and plunging
them, one by one, so to say, like so many blows of a stiletto,
into the bosoms of his auditors. "What! Six of his Eminence's
Guards arrest six of his Majesty's Musketeers! MORBLEU! My part
is taken! I will go straight to the louvre; I will give in my
resignation as captain of the king's Musketeers to take a
lieutenancy in the cardinal's Guards, and if he refuses me,
MORBLEU! I will turn abbe."

At these words, the murmur without became an explosion; nothing
was to be heard but oaths and blasphemies. The MORBLUES, the
SANG DIEUS, the MORTS TOUTS LES DIABLES, crossed one another in
the air. D'Artagnan looked for some tapestry behind which he
might hide himself, and felt an immense inclination to crawl
under the table.

"Well, my Captain," said Porthos, quite beside himself, "the
truth is that we were six against six. But we were not captured
by fair means; and before we had time to draw our swords, two of
our party were dead, and Athos, grievously wounded, was very
little better. For you know Athos. Well, Captain, he endeavored
twice to get up, and fell again twice. And we did not
surrender--no! They dragged us away by force. On the way we
escaped. As
for Athos, they believed him to be dead, and left him very quiet
on the field of battle, not thinking it worth the trouble to
carry him away. That's the whole story. What the devil,
Captain, one cannot win all one's battles! The great Pompey lost
that of Pharsalia; and Francis the First, who was, as I have
heard say, as good as other folks, nevertheless lost the Battle
of Pavia."

"And I have the honor of assuring you that I killed one of them
with his own sword," said Aramis; "for mine was broken at the
first parry. Killed him, or poniarded him, sir, as is most
agreeable to you."

"I did not know that," replied M. de Treville, in a somewhat
softened tone. "The cardinal exaggerated, as I perceive."

"But pray, sir," continued Aramis, who, seeing his captain become
appeased, ventured to risk a prayer, "do not say that Athos is
wounded. He would be in despair if that should come to the ears
of the king; and as the wound is very serious, seeing that after
crossing the shoulder it penetrates into the chest, it is to be feared--"

At this instant the tapestry was raised and a noble and handsome
head, but frightfully pale, appeared under the fringe.

"Athos!" cried the two Musketeers.

"Athos!" repeated M. de Treville himself.

"You have sent for me, sir," said Athos to M. de Treville, in a
feeble yet perfectly calm voice, "you have sent for me, as my
comrades inform me, and I have hastened to receive your orders.
I am here; what do you want with me?"

And at these words, the Musketeer, in irreproachable costume,
belted as usual, with a tolerably firm step, entered the cabinet.
M. de Treville, moved to the bottom of his heart by this proof of
courage, sprang toward him.

"I was about to say to these gentlemen," added he, "that I forbid
my Musketeers to expose their lives needlessly; for brave men are
very dear to the king, and the king knows that his Musketeers are
the bravest on the earth. Your hand, Athos!"

And without waiting for the answer of the newcomer to this proof
of affection, M. de Treville seized his right hand and pressed it
with all his might, without perceiving that Athos, whatever might
be his self-command, allowed a slight murmur of pain to escape
him, and if possible, grew paler than he was before.

The door had remained open, so strong was the excitement produced
by the arrival of Athos, whose wound, though kept as a secret,
was known to all. A burst of satisfaction hailed the last words
of the captain; and two or three heads, carried away by the
enthusiasm of the moment, appeared through the openings of the
tapestry. M. de Treville was about to reprehend this breach of
the rules of etiquette, when he felt the hand of Athos, who had
rallied all his energies to contend against pain, at length
overcome by it, fell upon the floor as if he were dead.

"A surgeon!" cried M. de Treville, "mine! The king's! The best! A
surgeon! Or, s'blood, my brave Athos will die!"

At the cries of M. de Treville, the whole assemblage rushed into
the cabinet, he not thinking to shut the door against anyone, and
all crowded round the wounded man. But all this eager attention
might have been useless if the doctor so loudly called for
had not chanced to be in the hotel. He pushed through the crowd,
approached Athos, still insensible, and as all this noise and
commotion inconvenienced him greatly, he required, as the first
and most urgent thing, that the Musketeer should be carried into
an adjoining chamber. Immediately M. de Treville opened and
pointed the way to Porthos and Aramis, who bore their comrade in
their arms. Behind this group walked the surgeon; and behind the
surgeon the door closed.

The cabinet of M. de Treville, generally held so sacred, became
in an instant the annex of the antechamber. Everyone spoke,
harangued, and vociferated, swearing, cursing, and consigning the
cardinal and his Guards to all the devils.

An instant after, Porthos and Aramis re-entered, the surgeon and
M. de Treville alone remaining with the wounded.

At length, M. de Treville himself returned. The injured man had
recovered his senses. The surgeon declared that the situation of
the Musketeer had nothing in it to render his friends uneasy, his
weakness having been purely and simply caused by loss of blood.

Then M. de Treville made a sign with his hand, and all retired
except d'Artagnan, who did not forget that he had an audience,
and with the tenacity of a Gascon remained in his place.

When all had gone out and the door was closed, M. de Treville, on
turning round, found himself alone with the young man. The event
which had occurred had in some degree broken the thread of his
ideas. He inquired what was the will of his persevering visitor.
d'Artagnan then repeated his name, and in an instant recovering
all his remembrances of the present and the past, M. de Treville
grasped the situation.

"Pardon me," said he, smiling, "pardon me my dear compatriot, but
I had wholly forgotten you. But what help is there for it! A
captain is nothing but a father of a family, charged with even a
greater responsibility than the father of an ordinary family.
Soldiers are big children; but as I maintain that the orders of
the king, and more particularly the orders of the cardinal,
should be executed--"

D'Artagnan could not restrain a smile. By this smile M. de
Treville judged that he had not to deal with a fool, and changing
the conversation, came straight to the point.

"I respected your father very much," said he. "What can I do for
the son? Tell me quickly; my time is not my own."

"Monsieur," said d'Artagnan, "on quitting Tarbes and coming
hither, it was my intention to request of you, in remembrance of
the friendship which you have not forgotten, the uniform of a
Musketeer; but after all that I have seen during the last two
hours, I comprehend that such a favor is enormous, and tremble
lest I should not merit it."

"It is indeed a favor, young man," replied M. de Treville, "but
it may not be so far beyond your hopes as you believe, or rather
as you appear to believe. But his majesty's decision is always
necessary; and I inform you with regret that no one becomes a
Musketeer without the preliminary ordeal of several campaigns,
certain brilliant actions, or a service of two years in some
other regiment less favored than ours."

D'Artagnan bowed without replying, feeling his desire to don the
Musketeer's uniform vastly increased by the great difficulties
which preceded the attainment of it.

"But," continued M. de Treville, fixing upon his compatriot a
look so piercing that it might be said he wished to read the
thoughts of his heart, "on account of my old companion, your
father, as I have said, I will do something for you, young man.
Our recruits from Bearn are not generally very rich, and I have
no reason to think matters have much changed in this respect
since I left the province. I dare say you have not brought too
large a stock of money with you?"

D'Artagnan drew himself up with a proud air which plainly said,
"I ask alms of no man."

"Oh, that's very well, young man," continued M. de Treville,
"that's all very well. I know these airs; I myself came to Paris
with four crowns in my purse, and would have fought with anyone
who dared to tell me I was not in a condition to purchase the
Louvre."

D'Artagnan's bearing became still more imposing. Thanks to the
sale of his horse, he commenced his career with four more crowns
than M. de Treville possessed at the commencement of his.

"You ought, I say, then, to husband the means you have, however
large the sum may be; but you ought also to endeavor to perfect
yourself in the exercises becoming a gentleman. I will write a
letter today to the Director of the Royal Academy, and tomorrow
he will admit you without any expense to yourself. Do not refuse
this little service. Our best-born and richest gentlemen
sometimes solicit it without being able to obtain it. You will
learn horsemanship, swordsmanship in all its branches, and
dancing. You will make some desirable acquaintances; and from
time to time you can call upon me, just to tell me how you are getting
on, and to say whether I can be of further service to you."

D'Artagnan, stranger as he was to all the manners of a court,
could not but perceive a little coldness in this reception.

"Alas, sir," said he, "I cannot but perceive how sadly I miss the
letter of introduction which my father gave me to present to
you."

"I certainly am surprised," replied M. de Treville, "that you
should undertake so long a journey without that necessary
passport, the sole resource of us poor Bearnese."

"I had one, sir, and, thank God, such as I could wish," cried
d'Artagnan; "but it was perfidiously stolen from me."

He then related the adventure of Meung, described the unknown
gentleman with the greatest minuteness, and all with a warmth and
truthfulness that delighted M. de Treville.

"This is all very strange," said M. de Treville, after meditating
a minute; "you mentioned my name, then, aloud?"

"Yes, sir, I certainly committed that imprudence; but why should
I have done otherwise? A name like yours must be as a buckler to
me on my way. Judge if I should not put myself under its
protection."

Flattery was at that period very current, and M. de Treville
loved incense as well as a king, or even a cardinal. He could
not refrain from a smile of visible satisfaction; but this smile
soon disappeared, and returning to the adventure of Meung, "Tell
me," continued he, "had not this gentlemen a slight scar on his
cheek?"

"Yes, such a one as would be made by the grazing of a ball."

"Was he not a fine-looking man?"

"Yes."

"Of lofty stature."

"Yes."

"Of complexion and brown hair?"

"Yes, yes, that is he; how is it, sir, that you are acquainted
with this man? If I ever find him again--and I will find him, I
swear, were it in hell!"

"He was waiting for a woman," continued Treville.

"He departed immediately after having conversed for a minute with
her whom he awaited."

"You know not the subject of their conversation?"

"He gave her a box, told her not to open it except in London."

"Was this woman English?"

"He called her Milady."

"It is he; it must be he!" murmured Treville. "I believed him
still at Brussels."

"Oh, sir, if you know who this man is," cried d'Artagnan, "tell
me who he is, and whence he is. I will then release you from all
your promises--even that of procuring my admission into the
Musketeers; for before everything, I wish to avenge myself."

"Beware, young man!" cried Treville. "If you see him coming on
one side of the street, pass by on the other. Do not cast
yourself against such a rock; he would break you like glass."

"That will not prevent me," replied d'Artagnan, "if ever I find
him."

"In the meantime," said Treville, "seek him not--if I have a
right to advise you."

All at once the captain stopped, as if struck by a sudden
suspicion. This great hatred which the young traveler manifested
so loudly for this man, who--a rather improbable thing--had
stolen his father's letter from him--was there not some perfidy
concealed under this hatred? Might not this young man be sent by
his Eminence? Might he not have come for the purpose of laying a
snare for him? This pretended d'Artagnan--was he not an emissary
of the cardinal, whom the cardinal sought to introduce into
Treville's house, to place near him, to win his confidence, and
afterward to ruin him as had been done in a thousand other
instances? He fixed his eyes upon d'Artagnan even more earnestly
than before. He was moderately reassured however, by the aspect
of that countenance, full of astute intelligence and affected
humility. "I know he is a Gascon," reflected he, "but he may be
one for the cardinal as well as for me. Let us try him."

"My friend," said he, slowly, "I wish, as the son of an ancient
friend--for I consider this story of the lost letter perfectly
true--I wish, I say, in order to repair the coldness you may have
remarked in my reception of you, to discover to you the secrets
of our policy. The king and the cardinal are the best of
friends; their apparent bickerings are only feints to deceive
fools. I am not willing that a compatriot, a handsome cavalier,
a brave youth, quite fit to make his way, should become the dupe
of all these artifices and fall into the snare after the example
of so many others who have been ruined by it. Be assured that I
am devoted to both these all-powerful masters, and that my
earnest endeavors have no other aim than the service of the king,
and also the cardinal--one of the most illustrious geniuses that
France has ever produced.

"Now, young man, regulate your conduct accordingly; and if you
entertain, whether from your family, your relations, or even from
your instincts, any of these enmities which we see constantly
breaking out against the cardinal, bid me adieu and let us
separate. I will aid you in many ways, but without attaching you
to my person. I hope that my frankness at least will make you my
friend; for you are the only young man to whom I have hitherto
spoken as I have done to you."

Treville said to himself: "If the cardinal has set this young
fox upon me, he will certainly not have failed--he, who knows how
bitterly I execrate him--to tell his spy that the best means of
making his court to me is to rail at him. Therefore, in spite of
all my protestations, if it be as I suspect, my cunning gossip
will assure me that he holds his Eminence in horror."

It, however, proved otherwise. D'Artagnan answered, with the
greatest simplicity: "I came to Paris with exactly such
intentions. My father advised me to stoop to nobody but the
king, the cardinal, and yourself--whom he considered the first
three personages in France."

D'Artagnan added M. de Treville to the others, as may be
perceived; but he thought this addition would do no harm.

"I have the greatest veneration for the cardinal," continued he,
"and the most profound respect for his actions. So much the
better for me, sir, if you speak to me, as you say, with
frankness--for then you will do me the honor to esteem the
resemblance of our opinions; but if you have entertained any
doubt, as naturally you may, I feel that I am ruining myself by
speaking the truth. But I still trust you will not esteem me the
less for it, and that is my object beyond all others."

M. de Treville was surprised to the greatest degree. So much
penetration, so much frankness, created admiration, but did not
entirely remove his suspicions. The more this young man was
superior to others, the more he was to be dreaded if he meant to
deceive him; "You are an honest youth; but at the present moment
I can only do for you that which I just now offered. My hotel
will be always open to you. Hereafter, being able to ask for me
at all hours, and consequently to take advantage of all
opportunities, you will probably obtain that which you desire."

"That is to say," replied d'Artagnan, "that you will wait until I
have proved myself worthy of it. Well, be assured," added he,
with the familiarity of a Gascon, "you shall not wait long." And
he bowed in order to retire, and as if he considered the future
in his own hands.

"But wait a minute," said M. de Treville, stopping him. "I
promised you a letter for the director of the Academy. Are you
too proud to accept it, young gentleman?"

"No, sir," said d'Artagnan; "and I will guard it so carefully
that I will be sworn it shall arrive at its address, and woe be
to him who shall attempt to take it from me!"

M. de Treville smiled at this flourish; and leaving his young man
compatriot in the embrasure of the window, where they had talked
together, he seated himself at a table in order to write the
promised letter of recommendation. While he was doing this,
d'Artagnan, having no better employment, amused himself with
beating a march upon the window and with looking at the
Musketeers, who went away, one after another, following them with
his eyes until they disappeared.

M. de Treville, after having written the letter, sealed it, and
rising, approached the young man in order to give it to him. But
at the very moment when d'Artagnan stretched out his hand to
receive it, M. de Treville was highly astonished to see his
protege make a sudden spring, become crimson with passion, and
rush from the cabinet crying, "S'blood, he shall not escape me
this time!"

"And who?" asked M. de Treville.

"He, my thief!" replied d'Artagnan. "Ah, the traitor!" and he
disappeared.

"The devil take the madman!" murmured M. de Treville, "unless,"
added he, "this is a cunning mode of escaping, seeing that he had
failed in his purpose!"





The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
Category:
General Fiction

Romance Literatures
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