Make your own free website on

List Of Contents | Contents of Louise de la Valliere, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

turned away, and the grave-digger having addressed a few words to them,
followed them as they moved away.  The man in the mantle bowed as they
passed him, and put a piece of gold into the grave-digger's hand.

"_Mordioux!_" murmured D'Artagnan; "it is Aramis himself."

Aramis, in fact, remained alone, on that side at least; for hardly had he
turned his head when a woman's footsteps, and the rustling of her dress,
were heard in the path close to him.  He immediately turned round, and
took off his hat with the most ceremonious respect; he led the lady under
the shelter of some walnut and lime trees, which overshadowed a
magnificent tomb.

"Ah! who would have thought it," said D'Artagnan; "the bishop of Vannes
at a rendezvous!  He is still the same Abbe Aramis as he was at Noisy-le-
Sec.  Yes," he added, after a pause; "but as it is in a cemetery, the
rendezvous is sacred."  But he almost laughed.

The conversation lasted for fully half an hour.  D'Artagnan could not see
the lady's face, for she kept her back turned towards him; but he saw
perfectly well, by the erect attitude of both the speakers, by their
gestures, by the measured and careful manner with which they glanced at
each other, either by way of attack or defense, that they must be
conversing about any other subject than of love.  At the end of the
conversation the lady rose, and bowed profoundly to Aramis.

"Oh, oh," said D'Artagnan; "this rendezvous finishes like one of a very
tender nature though.  The cavalier kneels at the beginning, the young
lady by and by gets tamed down, and then it is she who has to
supplicate.  Who is this lady?  I would give anything to ascertain."

This seemed impossible, however, for Aramis was the first to leave; the
lady carefully concealed her head and face, and then immediately
departed.  D'Artagnan could hold out no longer; he ran to the window
which looked out on the Rue de Lyon, and saw Aramis entering the inn.
The lady was proceeding in quite an opposite direction, and seemed, in
fact, to be about to rejoin an equipage, consisting of two led horses and
a carriage, which he could see standing close to the borders of the
forest.  She was walking slowly, her head bent down, absorbed in the
deepest meditation.

"_Mordioux!  Mordioux!_  I must and will learn who that woman is," said
the musketeer again; and then, without further deliberation, he set off
in pursuit of her.  As he was going along, he tried to think how he could
possibly contrive to make her raise her veil.  "She is not young," he
said, "and is a woman of high rank in society.  I ought to know that
figure and peculiar style of walk."  As he ran, the sound of his spurs
and of his boots upon the hard ground of the street made a strange
jingling noise; a fortunate circumstance in itself, which he was far
from reckoning upon.  The noise disturbed the lady; she seemed to fancy
she was being either followed or pursued, which was indeed the case, and
turned round.  D'Artagnan started as if he had received a charge of small
shot in his legs, and then turning suddenly round as if he were going
back the same way he had come, he murmured, "Madame de Chevreuse!"
D'Artagnan would not go home until he had learnt everything.  He asked
Celestin to inquire of the grave-digger whose body it was they had buried
that morning.

"A poor Franciscan mendicant friar," replied the latter, "who had not
even a dog to love him in this world, and to accompany him to his last

"If that were really the case," thought D'Artagnan, "we should not have
found Aramis present at his funeral.  The bishop of Vannes is not
precisely a dog as far as devotion goes: his scent, however, is quite as
keen, I admit."

Chapter VII:
How Porthos, Truchen, and Planchet Parted with Each Other on Friendly
Terms, Thanks to D'Artagnan.

There was good living in Planchet's house.  Porthos broke a ladder and
two cherry-trees, stripped the raspberry-bushes, and was only unable to
succeed in reaching the strawberry-beds on account, as he said, of his
belt.  Truchen, who had become quite sociable with the giant, said that
it was not the belt so much as his corporation; and Porthos, in a state
of the highest delight, embraced Truchen, who gathered him a pailful of
the strawberries, and made him eat them out of her hands.  D'Artagnan,
who arrived in the midst of these little innocent flirtations, scolded
Porthos for his indolence, and silently pitied Planchet.  Porthos
breakfasted with a very good appetite, and when he had finished, he said,
looking at Truchen, "I could make myself very happy here."  Truchen
smiled at his remark, and so did Planchet, but not without embarrassment.

D'Artagnan then addressed Porthos: "You must not let the delights of
Capua make you forget the real object of our journey to Fontainebleau."

"My presentation to the king?"

"Certainly.  I am going to take a turn in the town to get everything
ready for that.  Do not think of leaving the house, I beg."

"Oh, no!" exclaimed Porthos.

Planchet looked at D'Artagnan nervously.

"Will you be away long?" he inquired.

"No, my friend; and this very evening I will release you from two
troublesome guests."

"Oh!  Monsieur d'Artagnan! can you say - "

"No, no; you are a noble-hearted fellow, but your house is very small.
Such a house, with half a dozen acres of land, would be fit for a king,
and make him very happy, too.  But you were not born a great lord."

"No more was M. Porthos," murmured Planchet.

"But he has become so, my good fellow; his income has been a hundred
thousand francs a year for the last twenty years, and for the last fifty
years Porthos has been the owner of a couple of fists and a backbone,
which are not to be matched throughout the whole realm of France.
Porthos is a man of the very greatest consequence compared to you, and...
well, I need say no more, for I know you are an intelligent fellow."

"No, no, monsieur, explain what you mean."

"Look at your orchard, how stripped it is, how empty your larder, your
bedstead broken, your cellar almost exhausted, look too… at Madame
Truchen - "

"Oh! my goodness gracious!" said Planchet.

"Madame Truchen is an excellent person," continued D'Artagnan, "but keep
her for yourself, do you understand?" and he slapped him on the shoulder.

Planchet at this moment perceived Porthos and Truchen sitting close
together in an arbor; Truchen, with a grace of manner peculiarly Flemish,
was making a pair of earrings for Porthos out of a double cherry, while
Porthos was laughing as amorously as Samson in the company of Delilah.
Planchet pressed D'Artagnan's hand, and ran towards the arbor.  We must
do Porthos the justice to say that he did not move as they approached,
and, very likely, he did not think he was doing any harm.  Nor indeed did
Truchen move either, which rather put Planchet out; but he, too, had been
so accustomed to see fashionable folk in his shop, that he found no
difficulty in putting a good countenance on what seemed disagreeable or
rude.  Planchet seized Porthos by the arm, and proposed to go and look at
the horses, but Porthos pretended he was tired.  Planchet then suggested
that the Baron du Vallon should taste some noyeau of his own manufacture,
which was not to be equaled anywhere; an offer the baron immediately
accepted; and, in this way, Planchet managed to engage his enemy's
attention during the whole of the day, by dint of sacrificing his cellar,
in preference to his _amour propre_.  Two hours afterwards D'Artagnan

"Everything is arranged," he said; "I saw his majesty at the very moment
he was setting off for the chase; the king expects us this evening."

"The king expects _me!_" cried Porthos, drawing himself up.  It is a sad
thing to have to confess, but a man's heart is like an ocean billow; for,
from that very moment Porthos ceased to look at Madame Truchen in that
touching manner which had so softened her heart.  Planchet encouraged
these ambitious leanings as best as he could.  He talked over, or rather
gave exaggerated accounts of all the splendors of the last reign, its
battles, sieges, and grand court ceremonies.  He spoke of the luxurious
display which the English made; the prizes the three brave companions
carried off; and how D'Artagnan, who at the beginning had been the
humblest of the four, finished by becoming the leader.  He fired Porthos
with a generous feeling of enthusiasm by reminding him of his early youth
now passed away; he boasted as much as he could of the moral life this
great lord had led, and how religiously he respected the ties of
friendship; he was eloquent, and skillful in his choice of subjects.  He
tickled Porthos, frightened Truchen, and made D'Artagnan think.  At six
o'clock, the musketeer ordered the horses to be brought round, and told
Porthos to get ready.  He thanked Planchet for his kind hospitality,
whispered a few words about a post he might succeed in obtaining for him
at court, which immediately raised Planchet in Truchen's estimation,
where the poor grocer - so good, so generous, so devoted - had become
much lowered ever since the appearance and comparison with him of the two
great gentlemen.  Such, however, is a woman's nature; they are anxious to
possess what they have not got, and disdain it as soon as it is
acquired.  After having rendered this service to his friend Planchet,
D'Artagnan said in a low tone of voice to Porthos: "That is a very
beautiful ring you have on your finger."

"It is worth three hundred pistoles," said Porthos.

"Madame Truchen will remember you better if you leave her that ring,"
replied D'Artagnan, a suggestion which Porthos seemed to hesitate to

"You think it is not beautiful enough, perhaps," said the musketeer.  "I
understand your feelings; a great lord such as you would not think of
accepting the hospitality of an old servant without paying him most
handsomely for it: but I am sure that Planchet is too good-hearted a
fellow to remember that you have an income of a hundred thousand francs a

"I have more than half a mind," said Porthos, flattered by the remark,

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: