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List Of Contents | Contents of Louise de la Valliere, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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falls, did not appear to pay the least attention to the present one.
Besides, an enormous cart, laden with stones, passing from the Rue Saint-
Mederic, absorbed, in the noise of its wheels, the noise of Planchet's
tumble.  And yet Planchet fancied that, in token of tacit approval, he
saw him imperceptibly smile at the word "stupid."  This emboldened him to
say, "Are you asleep, Monsieur d'Artagnan?"

"No, Planchet, I am not _even_ asleep," replied the musketeer.

"I am in despair," said Planchet, "to hear such a word as _even_."

"Well, and why not; is it not a grammatical word, Monsieur Planchet?"

"Of course, Monsieur d'Artagnan."

"Well!"

"Well, then, the word distresses me beyond measure."

"Tell me why you are distressed, Planchet," said D'Artagnan.

"If you say that you are not _even_ asleep, it is as much as to say that
you have not even the consolation of being able to sleep; or, better
still, it is precisely the same as telling me that you are getting bored
to death."

"Planchet, you know that I am never bored."

"Except to-day, and the day before yesterday."

"Bah!"

"Monsieur d'Artagnan, it is a week since you returned here from
Fontainebleau; in other words, you have no longer your orders to issue,
or your men to review and maneuver.  You need the sound of guns, drums,
and all that din and confusion; I, who have myself carried a musket, can
easily believe that."

"Planchet," replied D'Artagnan, "I assure you I am not bored in the least
in the world."

"In that case, what are you doing, lying there, as if you were dead?"

"My dear Planchet, there was, once upon a time, at the siege of La
Rochelle, when I was there, when you were there, when we both were there,
a certain Arab, who was celebrated for the manner in which he adjusted
culverins.  He was a clever fellow, although of a very odd complexion,
which was the same color as your olives.  Well, this Arab, whenever he
had done eating or working, used to sit down to rest himself, as I am
resting myself now, and smoked I cannot tell you what sort of magical
leaves, in a large amber-mouthed tube; and if any officers, happening to
pass, reproached him for being always asleep, he used quietly to reply:
'Better to sit down than to stand up, to lie down than to sit down, to be
dead than to lie down.'  He was an acutely melancholy Arab, and I
remember him perfectly well, form the color of his skin, and the style of
his conversation.  He used to cut off the heads of Protestants with the
most singular gusto!"

"Precisely; and then used to embalm them, when they were worth the
trouble; and when he was thus engaged with his herbs and plants about
him, he looked like a basket-maker making baskets."

"You are quite right, Planchet, he did."

"Oh!  I can remember things very well, at times!"

"I have no doubt of it; but what do you think of his mode of reasoning?"

"I think it good in one sense, but very stupid in another."

"Expound your meaning, M. Planchet."

"Well, monsieur, in point of fact, then, 'better to sit down than to
stand up,' is plain enough, especially when one may be fatigued," and
Planchet smiled in a roguish way; "as for 'better to be lying down,' let
that pass, but as for the last proposition, that it is 'better to be dead
than alive,' it is, in my opinion, very absurd, my own undoubted
preference being for my bed; and if you are not of my opinion, it is
simply, as I have already had the honor of telling you, because you are
boring yourself to death."

"Planchet, do you know M. La Fontaine?"

"The chemist at the corner of the Rue Saint-Mederic?"

"No, the writer of fables."

"Oh!  _Maitre Corbeau!_"

"Exactly; well, then, I am like his hare."

"He has got a hare also, then?"

"He has all sorts of animals."

"Well, what does his hare do, then?"

"M. La Fontaine's hare thinks."

"Ah, ah!"

"Planchet, I am like that hare - I am thinking."

"You are thinking, you say?" said Planchet, uneasily.

"Yes; your house is dull enough to drive people to think; you will admit
that, I hope."

"And yet, monsieur, you have a look-out upon the street."

"Yes; and wonderfully interesting that is, of course."

"But it is no less true, monsieur, that, if you were living at the back
of the house, you would bore yourself - I mean, you would think - more
than ever."

"Upon my word, Planchet, I hardly know that."

"Still," said the grocer, "if your reflections are at all like those
which led you to restore King Charles II. - " and Planchet finished by a
little laugh which was not without its meaning.

"Ah!  Planchet, my friend," returned D'Artagnan, "you are getting
ambitious."

"Is there no other king to be restored, M. d'Artagnan - no second Monk to
be packed up, like a salted hog, in a deal box?"

"No, my dear Planchet; all the kings are seated on their respective
thrones; less comfortably so, perhaps, than I am upon this chair; but, at
all events, there they are."  And D'Artagnan sighed deeply.

"Monsieur d'Artagnan," said Planchet, "you are making me very uneasy."

"You are very good, Planchet."

"I begin to suspect something."

"What is it?"

"Monsieur d'Artagnan, you are getting thin."

"Oh!" said D'Artagnan, striking his chest which sounded like an empty
cuirass, "it is impossible, Planchet."

"Ah!" said Planchet, slightly overcome; "if you were to get thin in my
house - "

"Well?"

"I should do something rash."

"What would you do?  Tell me."

"I should look out for the man who was the cause of all your anxieties."

"Ah! according to your account, I am anxious now."

"Yes, you are anxious; and you are getting thin, visibly getting thin.
_Malaga!_ if you go on getting thin, in this way, I will take my sword in
my hand, and go straight to M. d'Herblay, and have it out with him."

"What!" said M. d'Artagnan, starting in his chair; "what's that you say?
And what has M. d'Herblay's name to do with your groceries?"

"Just as you please.  Get angry if you like, or call me names, if you
prefer it; but, the deuce is in it.  _I know what I know_."

D'Artagnan had, during this second outburst of Planchet's, so placed
himself as not to lose a single look of his face; that is, he sat with
both his hands resting on both his knees, and his head stretched out
towards the grocer.  "Come, explain yourself," he said, "and tell me how
you could possibly utter such a blasphemy.  M. d'Herblay, your old
master, my friend, an ecclesiastic, a musketeer turned bishop - do you
mean to say you would raise your sword against him, Planchet?"

"I could raise my sword against my own father, when I see you in such a
state as you are now."

"M. d'Herblay, a gentleman!"

"It's all the same to me whether he's a gentleman or not.  He gives you
the blue devils, that is all I know.  And the blue devils make people get
thin.  _Malaga!_  I have no notion of M. d'Artagnan leaving my house
thinner than when he entered it."

"How does he give me the blue devils, as you call it?  Come, explain,
explain."

"You have had the nightmare during the last three nights."

"I?"

"Yes, you; and in your nightmare you called out, several times, 'Aramis,
deceitful Aramis!'"

"Ah!  I said that, did I?" murmured D'Artagnan, uneasily.

"Yes, those very words, upon my honor."

"Well, what else?  You know the saying, Planchet, 'dreams go by
contraries.'"

"Not so; for every time, during the last three days, when you went out,
you have not once failed to ask me, on your return, 'Have you seen M.
d'Herblay?' or else 'Have you received any letters for me from M.
d'Herblay?'"

"Well, it is very natural I should take an interest in my old friend,"
said D'Artagnan.

"Of course; but not to such an extent as to get thin on that account."

"Planchet, I'll get fatter; I give you my word of honor I will."

"Very well, monsieur, I accept it; for I know that when you give your
word of honor, it is sacred."

"I will not dream of Aramis any more; and I will never ask you again if
there are any letters from M. d'Herblay; but on condition that you
explain one thing to me."

"Tell me what it is, monsieur?"

"I am a great observer; and just now you made use of a very singular
oath, which is unusual for you."

"You mean _Malaga!_ I suppose?"

"Precisely."

"It is the oath I have used ever since I have been a grocer."

"Very proper, too; it is the name of a dried grape, or raisin, I believe?"

"It is my most ferocious oath; when I have once said _Malaga!_ I am a man
no longer."

"Still, I never knew you use that oath before."

"Very likely not, monsieur.  I had a present made me of it," said
Planchet; and, as he pronounced these words, he winked his eye with a
cunning expression, which thoroughly awakened D'Artagnan's attention.

"Come, come, M. Planchet."

"Why, I am not like you, monsieur," said Planchet.  "I don't pass my life
in thinking."

"You do wrong, then."

"I mean in boring myself to death.  We have but a very short time to live
- why not make the best of it?"

"You are an Epicurean philosopher, I begin to think, Planchet."

"Why not?  My hand is still as steady as ever; I can write, and can weigh
out my sugar and spices; my foot is firm; I can dance and walk about; my
stomach has its teeth still, for I eat and digest very well; my heart is
not quite hardened.  Well, monsieur?"

"Well, what, Planchet?"

"Why, you see - " said the grocer, rubbing his hands together.

D'Artagnan crossed one leg over the other, and said, "Planchet, my
friend, I am unnerved with extreme surprise; for you are revealing
yourself to me under a perfectly new light."

Planchet, flattered in the highest degree by this remark, continued to
rub his hands very hard together.  "Ah, ah," he said, "because I happen
to be only slow, you think me, perhaps, a positive fool."

"Very good, Planchet; very well reasoned."

"Follow my idea, monsieur, if you please.  I said to myself," continued
Planchet, "that, without enjoyment, there is no happiness on this earth."

"Quite true, what you say, Planchet," interrupted D'Artagnan.


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