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List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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boat-horses!  The first are like tortoises; the second like snails; and
when a man is able to put a good horse between his knees, that horse is
better than rowers or any other means."

"You are right; you above all, Porthos, who always look magnificent on
horseback."

"Rather heavy, my friend; I was weighed the other day."

"And what do you weigh?"

"Three hundred-weight!" said Porthos, proudly.

"Bravo!"

"So that you must perceive, I am forced to choose horses whose loins are
straight and wide, otherwise I break them down in two hours."

"Yes, giant's horses you must have, must you not?"

"You are very polite, my friend," replied the engineer, with affectionate
majesty.

"As a case in point," replied D'Artagnan, "your horse seems to sweat
already."

"_Dame!_  It is hot!  Ah, ah! do you see Vannes now?"

"Yes, perfectly.  It is a handsome city, apparently."

"Charming, according to Aramis, at least; but I think it black; but black
seems to be considered handsome by artists: I am sorry for it."

"Why so, Porthos?"

"Because I have lately had my chateau of Pierrefonds, which was gray with
age, plastered white."

"Humph!" said D'Artagnan, "and white is more cheerful."

"Yes, but it is less august, as Aramis tells me.  Fortunately there are
dealers in black as well as white.  I will have Pierrefonds replastered
in black; that's all there is about it.  If gray is handsome, you
understand, my friend, black must be superb."

"_Dame!_" said D'Artagnan, "that appears logical."

"Were you never at Vannes, D'Artagnan?"

"Never."

"Then you know nothing of the city?"

"Nothing."

"Well, look!" said Porthos, raising himself in his stirrups, which made
the fore-quarters of his horse bend sadly, - "do you see that corner, in
the sun, yonder?"

"Yes, I see it plainly."

"Well, that is the cathedral."

"Which is called?"

"Saint-Pierre.  Now look again - in the faubourg on the left, do you see
another cross?"

"Perfectly well."

"That is Saint-Patern, the parish preferred by Aramis."

"Indeed!"

"Without doubt.  Saint-Patern, you see, passes for having been the first
bishop of Vannes.  It is true that Aramis pretends he was not.  But he is
so learned that that may be only a paro - a para - "

"A paradox," said D'Artagnan.

"Precisely; thank you! my tongue trips, I am so hot."

"My friend," said D'Artagnan, "continue your interesting description, I
beg.  What is that large white building with many windows?"

"Oh! that is the college of the Jesuits.  _Pardieu!_ you have an apt
hand.  Do you see, close to the college, a large house with steeples,
turrets, built in a handsome Gothic style, as that fool, M. Getard, says?"

"Yes, that is plainly to be seen.  Well?"

"Well, that is where Aramis resides."

"What! does he not reside at the episcopal palace?"

"No; that is in ruins.  The palace likewise is in the city, and Aramis
prefers the faubourgs.  That is why, as I told you, he is partial to
Saint-Patern; Saint-Patern is in the faubourg.  Besides, there are in
this faubourg a mall, a tennis-court, and a house of Dominicans.  Look,
that where the handsome steeple rises to the heavens."

"Well?"

"Next, you see the faubourg is like a separate city, it has its walls,
its towers, its ditches; the quay is upon it likewise, and the boats land
at the quay.  If our little corsair did not draw eight feet of water, we
could have come full sail up to Aramis's windows."

"Porthos, Porthos," cried D'Artagnan, "you are a well of knowledge, a
spring of ingenious and profound reflections.  Porthos, you no longer
surprise me, you confound me."

"Here we are," said Porthos, turning the conversation with his usual
modesty.

"And high time we were," thought D'Artagnan, "for Aramis's horse is
melting away like a steed of ice."

They entered almost at the same instant the faubourg; but scarcely had
they gone a hundred paces when they were surprised to find the streets
strewed with leaves and flowers.  Against the old walls of Vannes, hung
the oldest and the strangest tapestries of France.  From over balconies
fell long white sheets stuck all over with bouquets.  The streets were
deserted; it was plain the entire population was assembled on one point.
The blinds were closed, and the breeze penetrated into the houses under
the hangings, which cast long, black shades between their places of issue
and the walls.  Suddenly, at the turning of a street, chants struck the
ears of the newly arrived travelers.  A crowd in holiday garb appeared
through the vapors of incense which mounted to the heavens in blue
fleeces, and clouds of rose-leaves fluttered as high as the first
stories.  Above all heads were to be seen the cross and banners, the
sacred symbols of religion.  Then, beneath these crosses and banners, as
if protected by them, walked a whole world of young girls clothed in
white, crowned with corn-flowers.  At the two sides of the street,
inclosing the _cortege_, marched the guards of the garrison, carrying
bouquets in the barrels of their muskets and on the points of their
lances.  This was the procession.

Whilst D'Artagnan and Porthos were looking on with critical glances,
which disguised an extreme impatience to get forward, a magnificent dais
approached preceded by a hundred Jesuits and a hundred Dominicans, and
escorted by two archdeacons, a treasurer, a penitent and twelve canons.
A singer with a thundering voice - a man certainly picked out from all
the voices of France, as was the drum-major of the imperial guard from
all the giants of the empire - escorted by four other chanters, who
appeared to be there only to serve him as an accompaniment, made the air
resound, and the windows of the houses vibrate.  Under the dais appeared
a pale and noble countenance with black eyes, black hair streaked with
threads of white, a delicate, compressed mouth, a prominent and angular
chin.  His head, full of graceful majesty, was covered with the episcopal
mitre, a headdress which gave it, in addition to the character of
sovereignty, that of asceticism and evangelic meditation.

"Aramis!" cried the musketeer, involuntarily, as this lofty countenance
passed before him.  The prelate started at the sound of the voice.  He
raised his large black eyes, with their long lashes, and turned them
without hesitation towards the spot whence the exclamation proceeded.  At
a glance, he saw Porthos and D'Artagnan close to him.  On his part,
D'Artagnan, thanks to the keenness of his sight, had seen all, seized
all.  The full portrait of the prelate had entered his memory, never to
leave it.  One thing had particularly struck D'Artagnan.  On perceiving
him, Aramis had colored, then he had concentrated under his eyelids the
fire of the look of the master, and the indefinable affection of the
friend.  It was evident that Aramis had asked himself this question: -
"Why is D'Artagnan with Porthos, and what does he want at Vannes?"
Aramis comprehended all that was passing in the mind of D'Artagnan, on
turning his look upon him again, and seeing that he had not lowered his
eyes.  He knew the acuteness and intelligence of his friend; he feared to
let him divine the secret of his blush and his astonishment.  He was
still the same Aramis, always having a secret to conceal.  Therefore, to
put an end to his look of an inquisitor, which it was necessary to get
rid of at all events, as, at any price, a general extinguishes a battery
which annoys him, Aramis stretched forth his beautiful white hand, upon
which sparkled the amethyst of the pastoral ring; he cut the air with
sign of the cross, and poured out his benediction upon his two friends.
Perhaps thoughtful and absent, D'Artagnan, impious in spite of himself,
might not have bent beneath this holy benediction; but Porthos saw his
distraction, and laying his friendly hand upon the back of his companion,
he crushed him down towards the earth.  D'Artagnan was forced to give
way; indeed, he was little short of being flat on the ground.  In the
meantime Aramis had passed.  D'Artagnan, like Antaeus, had only touched
the ground, and he turned towards Porthos, almost angry.  But there was
no mistaking the intention of the brave Hercules; it was a feeling of
religious propriety that had influenced him.  Besides, speech with
Porthos, instead of disguising his thought, always completed it.

"It is very polite of him," said he, "to have given his benediction to us
alone.  Decidedly, he is a holy man, and a brave man."  Less convinced
than Porthos, D'Artagnan made no reply.

"Observe my friend," continued Porthos, "he has seen us; and, instead of
continuing to walk on at the simple pace of the procession, as he did
just now, - see, what a hurry he is in; do you see how the _cortege_ is
increasing its speed?  He is eager to join us and embrace us, is that
dear Aramis."

"That is true," replied D'Artagnan, aloud. - Then to himself: - "It is
equally true he has seen me, the fox, and will have time to prepare
himself to receive me."

But the procession had passed; the road was free.  D'Artagnan and Porthos
walked straight up to the episcopal palace, which was surrounded by a
numerous crowd anxious to see the prelate return.  D'Artagnan remarked
that this crowd was composed principally of citizens and military men.
He recognized in the nature of these partisans the address of his
friend.  Aramis was not the man to seek for a useless popularity.  He
cared very little for being beloved by people who could be of no service
to him.  Women, children, and old men, that is to say, the _cortege_ of
ordinary pastors; was not the _cortege_ for him.

Ten minutes after the two friends had passed the threshold of the palace,
Aramis returned like a triumphant conqueror; the soldiers presented arms
to him as to a superior; the citizens bowed to him as to a friend and a
patron, rather than as a head of the Church.  There was something in
Aramis resembling those Roman senators who had their doors always
surrounded by clients.  At the foot of the steps, he had a conference of
half a minute with a Jesuit, who, in order to speak to him more secretly,

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