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List Of Contents | Contents of Louise de la Valliere, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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as the forest at Fontainebleau, monsieur le baron?" he stammered out.

"Yes; I have two, indeed, but the one at Berry is my favorite."

"Why so?" asked Planchet.

"Because I don't know where it ends; and, also, because it is full of
poachers."

"How can the poachers make the forest so agreeable to you?"

"Because they hunt my game, and I hunt them - which, in these peaceful
times, is for me a sufficiently pleasing picture of war on a small scale."

They had reached this turn of conversation, when Planchet, looking up,
perceived the houses at the commencement of Fontainebleau, the lofty
outlines of which stood out strongly against the misty visage of the
heavens; whilst, rising above the compact and irregularly formed mass of
buildings, the pointed roofs of the chateau were clearly visible, the
slates of which glistened beneath the light of the moon, like the scales
of an immense fish.  "Gentlemen," said Planchet, "I have the honor to
inform you that we have arrived at Fontainebleau."


Chapter V:
Planchet's Country-House.

The cavaliers looked up, and saw that what Planchet had announced to them
was true.  Ten minutes afterwards they were in the street called the Rue
de Lyon, on the opposite side of the hostelry of the Beau Paon.  A high
hedge of bushy elders, hawthorn, and wild hops formed an impenetrable
fence, behind which rose a white house, with a high tiled roof.  Two of
the windows, which were quite dark, looked upon the street.  Between the
two, a small door, with a porch supported by a couple of pillars, formed
the entrance to the house.  The door was gained by a step raised a little
from the ground.  Planchet got off his horse, as if he intended to knock
at the door; but, on second thoughts, he took hold of his horse by the
bridle, and led it about thirty paces further on, his two companions
following him.  He then advanced about another thirty paces, until he
arrived at the door of a cart-house, lighted by an iron grating; and,
lifting up a wooden latch, pushed open one of the folding-doors.  He
entered first, leading his horse after him by the bridle, into a small
courtyard, where an odor met them which revealed their close vicinity to
a stable.  "That smells all right," said Porthos, loudly, getting off his
horse, "and I almost begin to think I am near my own cows at Pierrefonds."

"I have only one cow," Planchet hastened to say modestly.

"And I have thirty," said Porthos; "or rather, I don't exactly know how
many I have."

When the two cavaliers had entered, Planchet fastened the door behind
them.  In the meantime, D'Artagnan, who had dismounted with his usual
agility, inhaled the fresh perfumed air with the delight a Parisian feels
at the sight of green fields and fresh foliage, plucked a piece of
honeysuckle with one hand, and of sweet-briar with the other.  Porthos
clawed hold of some peas which were twined round poles stuck into the
ground, and ate, or rather browsed upon them, shells and all: and
Planchet was busily engaged trying to wake up an old and infirm peasant,
who was fast asleep in a shed, lying on a bed of moss, and dressed in an
old stable suit of clothes.  The peasant, recognizing Planchet, called
him "the master," to the grocer's great satisfaction.  "Stable the horses
well, old fellow, and you shall have something good for yourself," said
Planchet.

"Yes, yes; fine animals they are too," said the peasant.  "Oh! they shall
have as much as they like."

"Gently, gently, my man," said D'Artagnan, "we are getting on a little
too fast.  A few oats and a good bed - nothing more."

"Some bran and water for my horse," said Porthos, "for it is very warm, I
think."

"Don't be afraid, gentlemen," replied Planchet; "Daddy Celestin is an old
gendarme, who fought at Ivry.  He knows all about horses; so come into
the house."  And he led the way along a well-sheltered walk, which
crossed a kitchen-garden, then a small paddock, and came out into a
little garden behind the house, the principal front of which, as we have
already noticed, faced the street.  As they approached, they could see,
through two open windows on the ground floor, which led into a sitting-
room, the interior of Planchet's residence.  This room, softly lighted by
a lamp placed on the table, seemed, from the end of the garden, like a
smiling image of repose, comfort, and happiness.  In every direction
where the rays of light fell, whether upon a piece of old china, or upon
an article of furniture shining from excessive neatness, or upon the
weapons hanging against the wall, the soft light was softly reflected;
and its rays seemed to linger everywhere upon something or another,
agreeable to the eye.  The lamp which lighted the room, whilst the
foliage of jasmine and climbing roses hung in masses from the window-
frames, splendidly illuminated a damask table-cloth as white as snow.
The table was laid for two persons.  Amber-colored wine sparkled in a
long cut-glass bottle; and a large jug of blue china, with a silver lid,
was filled with foaming cider.  Near the table, in a high-backed
armchair, reclined, fast asleep, a woman of about thirty years of age,
her face the very picture of health and freshness.  Upon her knees lay a
large cat, with her paws folded under her, and her eyes half-closed,
purring in that significant manner which, according to feline habits,
indicates perfect contentment.  The two friends paused before the window
in complete amazement, while Planchet, perceiving their astonishment, was
in no little degree secretly delighted at it.

"Ah!  Planchet, you rascal," said D'Artagnan, "I now understand your
absences."

"Oh, oh! there is some white linen!" said Porthos, in his turn, in a
voice of thunder.  At the sound of this gigantic voice, the cat took
flight, the housekeeper woke up with a start, and Planchet, assuming a
gracious air, introduced his two companions into the room, where the
table was already laid.

"Permit me, my dear," he said, "to present to you Monsieur le Chevalier
d'Artagnan, my patron."  D'Artagnan took the lady's hand in his in the
most courteous manner, and with precisely the same chivalrous air as he
would have taken Madame's.

"Monsieur le Baron du Vallon de Bracieux de Pierrefonds," added
Planchet.  Porthos bowed with a reverence which Anne of Austria would
have approved of.

It was then Planchet's turn, and he unhesitatingly embraced the lady in
question, not, however, until he had made a sign as if requesting
D'Artagnan's and Porthos's permission, a permission as a matter of course
frankly conceded.  D'Artagnan complimented Planchet, and said, "You are
indeed a man who knows how to make life agreeable."

"Life, monsieur," said Planchet, laughing, "is capital which a man ought
to invest as sensibly as he possibly can."

"And you get very good interest for yours," said Porthos, with a burst of
laughter like a peal of thunder.

Planchet turned to his housekeeper.  "You have before you," he said to
her, "the two gentlemen who influenced the greatest, gayest, grandest
portion of my life.  I have spoken to you about them both very
frequently."

"And about two others as well," said the lady, with a very decided
Flemish accent.

"Madame is Dutch?" inquired D'Artagnan.  Porthos curled his mustache, a
circumstance which was not lost upon D'Artagnan, who noticed everything.

"I am from Antwerp," said the lady.

"And her name is Madame Getcher," said Planchet.

"You should not call her madame," said D'Artagnan.

"Why not?" asked Planchet.

"Because it would make her seem older every time you call her so."

"Well, I call her Truchen."

"And a very pretty name too," said Porthos.

"Truchen," said Planchet, "came to me from Flanders with her virtue and
two thousand florins.  She ran away from a brute of a husband who was in
the habit of beating her.  Being myself a Picard born, I was always very
fond of the Artesian women, and it is only a step from Artois to
Flanders; she came crying bitterly to her godfather, my predecessor in
the Rue des Lombards; she placed her two thousand florins in my
establishment, which I have turned to very good account, and which have
brought her in ten thousand."

"Bravo, Planchet."

"She is free and well off; she has a cow, a maid servant and old Celestin
at her orders; she mends my linen, knits my winter stockings; she only
sees me every fortnight, and seems to make herself in all things
tolerably happy.

"And indeed, gentlemen, I _am_ very happy and comfortable," said Truchen,
with perfect ingenuousness.

Porthos began to curl the other side of his mustache.  "The deuce,"
thought D'Artagnan, "can Porthos have any intentions in that quarter?"

In the meantime Truchen had set her cook to work, had laid the table for
two more, and covered it with every possible delicacy that could convert
a light supper into a substantial meal, a meal into a regular feast.
Fresh butter, salt beef, anchovies, tunny, a shopful of Planchet's
commodities, fowls, vegetables, salad, fish from the pond and the river,
game from the forest - all the produce, in fact, of the province.
Moreover, Planchet returned from the cellar, laden with ten bottles of
wine, the glass of which could hardly be seen for the thick coating of
dust which covered them.  Porthos's heart began to expand as he said, "I
am hungry," and he sat himself beside Madame Truchen, whom he looked at
in the most killing manner.  D'Artagnan seated himself on the other side
of her, while Planchet, discreetly and full of delight, took his seat
opposite.

"Do not trouble yourselves," he said, "if Truchen should leave the table
now and then during supper; for she will have to look after your bedrooms."

In fact, the housekeeper made her escape quite frequently, and they could
hear, on the first floor above them, the creaking of the wooden bedsteads
and the rolling of the castors on the floor.  While this was going on,
the three men, Porthos especially, ate and drank gloriously, - it was
wonderful to see them.  The ten full bottles were ten empty one by the
time Truchen returned with the cheese.  D'Artagnan still preserved his

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