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List Of Contents | Contents of Louise de la Valliere, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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"Well!"

"Aramis will be angry."

"With me?"

"No, with _me_."

"Bah! whether he or I present you, since you are to be presented, what
does it matter?"

"They were going to get me some clothes made."

"Your own are splendid."

"Oh! those I had ordered were far more beautiful."

"Take care: the king likes simplicity."

"In that case, I will be simple.  But what will M. Fouquet say, when he
learns that I have left?"

"Are you a prisoner, then, on parole?"

"No, not quite that.  But I promised him I would not leave without
letting him know."

"Wait a minute, we shall return to that presently.  Have you anything to
do here?"

"I, nothing: nothing of any importance, at least."

"Unless, indeed, you are Aramis's representative for something of
importance."

"By no means."

"What I tell you - pray, understand that - is out of interest for you.  I
suppose, for instance, that you are commissioned to send messages and
letters to him?"

"Ah! letters -yes.  I send certain letters to him."

"Where?"

"To Fontainebleau."

"Have you any letters, then?"

"But - "

"Nay, let me speak.  Have you any letters, I say?"

"I have just received one for him."

"Interesting?"

"I suppose so."

"You do not read them, then?"

"I am not at all curious," said Porthos, as he drew out of his pocket the
soldier's letter which Porthos had not read, but D'Artagnan had.

"Do you know what to do with it?" said D'Artagnan.

"Of course; do as I always do, send it to him."

"Not so."

"Why not?  Keep it, then?"

"Did they not tell you that this letter was important?"

"Very important."

"Well, you must take it yourself to Fontainebleau."

"To Aramis?"

"Yes."

"Very good."

"And since the king is there - "

"You will profit by that."

"I shall profit by the opportunity to present you to the king."

"Ah!  D'Artagnan, there is no one like you for expedients."

"Therefore, instead of forwarding to our friend any messages, which may
or may not be faithfully delivered, we will ourselves be the bearers of
the letter."

"I had never even thought of that, and yet it is simple enough."

"And therefore, because it is urgent, Porthos, we ought to set off at
once."

"In fact," said Porthos, "the sooner we set off the less chance there is
of Aramis's letter being delayed."

"Porthos, your reasoning is always accurate, and, in your case, logic
seems to serve as an auxiliary to the imagination."

"Do you think so?" said Porthos.

"It is the result of your hard reading," replied D'Artagnan.  "So come
along, let us be off."

"But," said Porthos, "my promise to M. Fouquet?"

"Which?"

"Not to leave Saint-Mande without telling him of it."

"Ah!  Porthos," said D'Artagnan, "how very young you still are."

"In what way?"

"You are going to Fontainebleau, are you not, where you will find M.
Fouquet?"

"Yes."

"Probably in the king's palace?"

"Yes," repeated Porthos, with an air full of majesty.

"Well, you will accost him with these words: 'M. Fouquet, I have the
honor to inform you that I have just left Saint-Mande.'"

"And," said Porthos, with the same majestic mien, "seeing me at
Fontainebleau at the king's, M. Fouquet will not be able to tell me I am
not speaking the truth."

"My dear Porthos, I was just on the point of opening my lips to make the
same remark, but you anticipate me in everything.  Oh!  Porthos, how
fortunately you are gifted!  Years have made not the slightest impression
on you."

"Not over-much, certainly."

"Then there is nothing more to say?"

"I think not."

"All your scruples are removed?"

"Quite so."

"In that case I shall carry you off with me."

"Exactly; and I will go and get my horse saddled."

"You have horses here, then?"

"I have five."

"You had them sent from Pierrefonds, I suppose?"

"No, M. Fouquet gave them to me."

"My dear Porthos, we shall not want five horses for two persons; besides,
I have already three in Paris, which would make eight, and that will be
too many."

"It would not be too many if I had some of my servants here; but, alas! I
have not got them."

"Do you regret them, then?"

"I regret Mousqueton; I miss Mousqueton."

"What a good-hearted fellow you are, Porthos," said D'Artagnan; "but the
best thing you can do is to leave your horses here, as you have left
Mousqueton out yonder."

"Why so?"

"Because, by and by, it might turn out a very good thing if M. Fouquet
had never given you anything at all."

"I don't understand you," said Porthos.

"It is not necessary you should understand."

"But yet - "

"I will explain to you later, Porthos."

"I'll wager it is some piece of policy or other."

"And of the most subtle character," returned D'Artagnan.

Porthos nodded his head at this word policy; then, after a moment's
reflection, he added, "I confess, D'Artagnan, that I am no politician."

"I know that well."

"Oh! no one knows what you told me yourself, you, the bravest of the
brave."

"What did I tell you, Porthos?"

"That every man has his day.  You told me so, and I have experienced it
myself.  There are certain days when one feels less pleasure than others
in exposing one's self to a bullet or a sword-thrust."

"Exactly my own idea."

"And mine, too, although I can hardly believe in blows or thrusts that
kill outright."

"The deuce! and yet you have killed a few in your time."

"Yes; but I have never been killed."

"Your reason is a very good one."

"Therefore, I do not believe I shall ever die from a thrust of a sword or
a gun-shot."

"In that case, then, you are afraid of nothing.  Ah! water, perhaps?"

"Oh!  I swim like an otter."

"Of a quartan fever, then?"

"I have never had one yet, and I don't believe I ever shall; but there is
one thing I will admit," and Porthos dropped his voice.

"What is that?" asked D'Artagnan, adopting the same tone of voice as
Porthos.

"I must confess," repeated Porthos, "that I am horribly afraid of
politics."

"Ah, bah!" exclaimed D'Artagnan.

"Upon my word, it's true," said Porthos, in a stentorian voice.  "I have
seen his eminence Monsieur le Cardinal de Richelieu, and his eminence
Monsieur le Cardinal de Mazarin; the one was a red politician, the other
a black politician; I never felt very much more satisfied with the one
than with the other; the first struck off the heads of M. de Marillac, M.
de Thou, M. de Cinq-Mars, M. Chalais, M. de Bouteville, and M. de
Montmorency; the second got a whole crowd of Frondeurs cut in pieces, and
we belonged to them."

"On the contrary, we did not belong to them," said D'Artagnan.

"Oh! indeed, yes; for if I unsheathed my sword for the cardinal, I struck
it for the king."

"My good Porthos!"

"Well, I have done.  My dread of politics is such, that if there is any
question of politics in the matter, I should greatly prefer to return to
Pierrefonds."

"You would be quite right, if that were the case.  But with me, my dear
Porthos, no politics at all, that is quite clear.  You have labored hard
in fortifying Belle-Isle; the king wished to know the name of the clever
engineer under whose directions the works were carried out; you are
modest, as all men of true genius are; perhaps Aramis wishes to put you
under a bushel.  But I happen to seize hold of you; I make it known who
you are; I produce you; the king rewards you; and that is the only policy
I have to do with."

"And the only one I will have to do with either," said Porthos, holding
out his hand to D'Artagnan.

But D'Artagnan knew Porthos's grasp; he knew that, once imprisoned within
the baron's five fingers, no hand ever left it without being half-
crushed.  He therefore held out, not his hand, but his fist, and Porthos
did not even perceive the difference.  The servants talked a little with
each other in an undertone, and whispered a few words, which D'Artagnan
understood, but which he took very good care not to let Porthos
understand.  "Our friend," he said to himself, "was really and truly
Aramis's prisoner.  Let us now see what the result will be of the
liberation of the captive."


Chapter IV:
The Rat and the Cheese.

D'Artagnan and Porthos returned on foot, as D'Artagnan had set out.  When
D'Artagnan, as he entered the shop of the Pilon d'Or, announced to
Planchet that M. du Vallon would be one of the privileged travelers, and
as the plume in Porthos's hat made the wooden candles suspended over the
front jingle together, a melancholy presentiment seemed to eclipse the
delight Planchet had promised himself for the morrow.  But the grocer had
a heart of gold, ever mindful of the good old times - a trait that
carries youth into old age.  So Planchet, notwithstanding a sort of
internal shiver, checked as soon as experienced, received Porthos with
respect, mingled with the tenderest cordiality.  Porthos, who was a
little cold and stiff in his manners at first, on account of the social
difference existing at that period between a baron and a grocer, soon
began to soften when he perceived so much good-feeling and so many kind
attentions in Planchet.  He was particularly touched by the liberty which
was permitted him to plunge his great palms into the boxes of dried
fruits and preserves, into the sacks of nuts and almonds, and into the
drawers full of sweetmeats.  So that, notwithstanding Planchet's pressing
invitations to go upstairs to the _entresol_, he chose as his favorite
seat, during the evening which he had to spend at Planchet's house, the
shop itself, where his fingers could always fish up whatever his nose
detected.  The delicious figs from Provence, filberts from the forest,
Tours plums, were subjects of his uninterrupted attention for five
consecutive hours.  His teeth, like millstones, cracked heaps of nuts,
the shells of which were scattered all over the floor, where they were
trampled by every one who went in and out of the shop; Porthos pulled
from the stalk with his lips, at one mouthful, bunches of the rich
Muscatel raisins with their beautiful bloom, half a pound of which passed
at one gulp from his mouth to his stomach.  In one of the corners of the

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