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List Of Contents | Contents of Louise de la Valliere, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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"At all events, if we cannot obtain pleasure - for pleasure is not so
common a thing, after all - let us, at least, get consolations of some
kind or another."

"And so you console yourself?"

"Exactly so."

"Tell me how you console yourself."

"I put on a buckler for the purpose of confronting _ennui_.  I place my
time at the direction of patience; and on the very eve of feeling I am
going to get bored, I amuse myself."

"And you don't find any difficulty in that?"

"None."

"And you found it out quite by yourself?"

"Quite so."

"It is miraculous."

"What do you say?"

"I say, that your philosophy is not to be matched in the Christian or
pagan world, in modern days or in antiquity!"

"You think so? - follow my example, then."

"It is a very tempting one."

"Do as I do."

"I could not wish for anything better; but all minds are not of the same
stamp; and it might possibly happen that if I were required to amuse
myself in the manner you do, I should bore myself horribly."

"Bah! at least try first."

"Well, tell me what you do."

"Have you observed that I leave home occasionally?"

"Yes."

"In any particular way?"

"Periodically."

"That's the very thing.  You have noticed it, then?"

"My dear Planchet, you must understand that when people see each other
every day, and one of the two absents himself, the other misses him.  Do
you not feel the want of my society when I am in the country?"

"Prodigiously; that is to say, I feel like a body without a soul."

"That being understood then, proceed."

"What are the periods when I absent myself?"

"On the fifteenth and thirtieth of every month."

"And I remain away?"

"Sometimes two, sometimes three, and sometimes four days at a time."

"Have you ever given it a thought, why I was absent?"

"To look after your debts, I suppose."

"And when I returned, how did you think I looked, as far as my face was
concerned?"

"Exceedingly self-satisfied."

"You admit, you say, that I always look satisfied.  And what have you
attributed my satisfaction to?"

"That your business was going on very well; that your purchases of rice,
prunes, raw sugar, dried apples, pears, and treacle were advantageous.
You were always very picturesque in your notions and ideas, Planchet; and
I was not in the slightest degree surprised to find you had selected
grocery as an occupation, which is of all trades the most varied, and the
very pleasantest, as far as the character is concerned; inasmuch as one
handles so many natural and perfumed productions."

"Perfectly true, monsieur; but you are very greatly mistaken."

"In what way?"

"In thinking that I heave here every fortnight, to collect my money or to
make purchases.  Ho, ho! how could you possibly have thought such a
thing?  Ho, ho, ho!"  And Planchet began to laugh in a manner that
inspired D'Artagnan with very serious misgivings as to his sanity.

"I confess," said the musketeer, "that I do not precisely catch your
meaning."

"Very true, monsieur."

"What do you mean by 'very true'?"

"It must be true, since you say it; but pray, be assured that it in no
way lessens my opinion of you."

"Ah, that is lucky."

"No; you are a man of genius; and whenever the question happens to be of
war, tactics, surprises, or good honest blows to be dealt with, why,
kings are marionettes, compared to you.  But for the consolations of the
mind, the proper care of the body, the agreeable things of like, if one
may say so - ah! monsieur, don't talk to me about men of genius; they are
nothing short of executioners."

"Good," said D'Artagnan, really fidgety with curiosity, "upon my word you
interest me in the highest degree."

"You feel already less bored than you did just now, do you not?"

"I was not bored; yet since you have been talking to me, I feel more
animated."

"Very good, then; that is not a bad beginning.  I will cure you, rely
upon that."

"There is nothing I should like better."

"Will you let me try, then?"

"Immediately, if you like."

"Very well.  Have you any horses here?"

"Yes; ten, twenty, thirty."

"Oh, there is no occasion for so many as that, two will be quite
sufficient."

"They are quite at your disposal, Planchet."

"Very good; then I shall carry you off with me."

"When?"

"To-morrow."

"Where?"

"Ah, you are asking too much."

"You will admit, however, that it is important I should know where I am
going."

"Do you like the country?"

"Only moderately, Planchet."

"In that case you like town better?"

"That is as may be."

"Very well; I am going to take you to a place, half town and half
country."

"Good."

"To a place where I am sure you will amuse yourself."

"Is it possible?"

"Yes; and more wonderful still, to a place from which you have just
returned for the purpose only, it would seem, of getting bored here."

"It is to Fontainebleau you are going, then?"

"Exactly; to Fontainebleau."

"And, in Heaven's name, what are you going to do at Fontainebleau?"

Planchet answered D'Artagnan by a wink full of sly humor.

"You have some property there, you rascal."

"Oh, a very paltry affair; a little bit of a house - nothing more."

"I understand you."

"But it is tolerable enough, after all."

"I am going to Planchet's country-seat!" exclaimed D'Artagnan.

"Whenever you like."

"Did we not fix to-morrow?"

"Let us say to-morrow, if you like; and then, besides, to-morrow is the
14th, that is to say, the day before the one when I am afraid of getting
bored; so we will look upon it as an understood thing."

"Agreed, by all means."

"You will lend me one of your horses?"

"The best I have."

"No; I prefer the gentlest of all; I never was a very good rider, as you
know, and in my grocery business I have got more awkward than ever;
besides - "

"Besides what?"

"Why," added Planchet, "I do not wish to fatigue myself."

"Why so?" D'Artagnan ventured to ask.

"Because I should lose half the pleasure I expect to enjoy," replied
Planchet.  And thereupon he rose from his sack of Indian corn, stretching
himself, and making all his bones crack, one after the other, with a sort
of harmony.

"Planchet!  Planchet!" exclaimed D'Artagnan, "I do declare that there is
no sybarite upon the face of the globe who can for a moment be compared
to you.  Oh, Planchet, it is very clear that we have never yet eaten a
ton of salt together."

"Why so, monsieur?"

"Because, even now I can scarcely say I know you," said D'Artagnan, "and
because, in point of fact, I return to the opinion which, for a moment, I
had formed of you that day at Boulogne, when you strangled, or did so as
nearly as possible, M. de Wardes's valet, Lubin; in plain language,
Planchet, that you are a man of great resources."

Planchet began to laugh with a laugh full of self-conceit; bade the
musketeer good-night, and went down to his back shop, which he used as a
bedroom.  D'Artagnan resumed his original position upon his chair, and
his brow, which had been unruffled for a moment, became more pensive than
ever.  He had already forgotten the whims and dreams of Planchet.  "Yes,"
said he, taking up again the thread of his thoughts, which had been
broken by the whimsical conversation in which we have just permitted our
readers to participate.  "Yes, yes, those three points include
everything: First, to ascertain what Baisemeaux wanted with Aramis;
secondly, to learn why Aramis does not let me hear from him; and thirdly,
to ascertain where Porthos is.  The whole mystery lies in these three
points.  Since, therefore," continued D'Artagnan, "our friends tell us
nothing, we must have recourse to our own poor intelligence.  I must do
what I can, _mordioux_, or rather _Malaga_, as Planchet would say."


Chapter II:
A Letter from M. Baisemeaux.

D'Artagnan, faithful to his plan, went the very next morning to pay a
visit to M. de Baisemeaux.  It was cleaning up or tidying day at the
Bastile; the cannons were furbished up, the staircases scraped and
cleaned; and the jailers seemed to be carefully engaged in polishing the
very keys.  As for the soldiers belonging to the garrison, they were
walking about in different courtyards, under the pretense that they were
clean enough.  The governor, Baisemeaux, received D'Artagnan with more
than ordinary politeness, but he behaved towards him with so marked a
reserve of manner, that all D'Artagnan's tact and cleverness could not
get a syllable out of him.  The more he kept himself within bounds, the
more D'Artagnan's suspicion increased.  The latter even fancied he
remarked that the governor was acting under the influence of a recent
recommendation.  Baisemeaux had not been at the Palais Royal with
D'Artagnan the same cold and impenetrable man which the latter now found
in the Baisemeaux of the Bastile.  When D'Artagnan wished to make him
talk about the urgent money matters which had brought Baisemeaux in
search of D'Artagnan, and had rendered him expansive, notwithstanding
what had passed on that evening, Baisemeaux pretended that he had some
orders to give in the prison, and left D'Artagnan so long alone waiting
for him, that our musketeer, feeling sure that he should not get another
syllable out of him, left the Bastile without waiting until Baisemeaux
returned from his inspection.  But D'Artagnan's suspicions were aroused,
and when once that was the case, D'Artagnan could not sleep or remain
quiet for a moment.  He was among men what the cat is among quadrupeds,
the emblem of anxiety and impatience, at the same moment.  A restless cat
can no more remain the same place than a silk thread wafted idly to and
fro with every breath of air.  A cat on the watch is as motionless as
death stationed at is place of observation, and neither hunger nor thirst
can draw it from its meditations.  D'Artagnan, who was burning with
impatience, suddenly threw aside the feeling, like a cloak which he felt
too heavy on his shoulders, and said to himself that that which they were
concealing from him was the very thing it was important he should know;

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