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List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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passed his head under the dais.  He then re-entered his palace; the doors
closed slowly, and the crowd melted away, whilst chants and prayers were
still resounding abroad.  It was a magnificent day.  Earthly perfumes
were mingled with the perfumes of the air and the sea.  The city breathed
happiness, joy, and strength.  D'Artagnan felt something like the
presence of an invisible hand which had, all-powerfully, created this
strength, this joy, this happiness, and spread everywhere these perfumes.

"Oh! oh!" said he, "Porthos has got fat; but Aramis is grown taller."


Chapter LXXII:
The Grandeur of the Bishop of Vannes.

Porthos and D'Artagnan had entered the bishop's residence by a private
door, as his personal friends.  Of course, Porthos served D'Artagnan as
guide.  The worthy baron comported himself everywhere rather as if he
were at home.  Nevertheless, whether it was a tacit acknowledgement of
the sanctity of the personage of Aramis and his character, or the habit
of respecting him who imposed upon him morally, a worthy habit which had
always made Porthos a model soldier and an excellent companion; for all
these reasons, say we, Porthos preserved in the palace of His Greatness
the Bishop of Vannes a sort of reserve which D'Artagnan remarked at once,
in the attitude he took with respect to the valets and officers.  And yet
this reserve did not go so far as to prevent his asking questions.
Porthos questioned.  They learned that His Greatness had just returned to
his apartment and was preparing to appear in familiar intimacy, less
majestic than he had appeared with his flock.  After a quarter of an
hour, which D'Artagnan and Porthos passed in looking mutually at each
other with the white of their eyes, and turning their thumbs in all the
different evolutions which go from north to south, a door of the chamber
opened and His Greatness appeared, dressed in the undress, complete, of a
prelate.  Aramis carried his head high, like a man accustomed to command:
his violet robe was tucked up on one side, and his white hand was on his
hip.  He had retained the fine mustache, and the lengthened _royale_ of
the time of Louis XIII.  He exhaled, on entering, that delicate perfume
which, among elegant men and women of high fashion, never changes, and
appears to be incorporated in the person, of whom it has become the
natural emanation.  In this case only, the perfume had retained something
of the religious sublimity of incense.  It no longer intoxicated, it
penetrated; it no longer inspired desire, it inspired respect.  Aramis,
on entering the chamber, did not hesitate an instant; and without
pronouncing one word, which, whatever it might be, would have been cold
on such an occasion, he went straight up to the musketeer, so well
disguised under the costume of M. Agnan, and pressed him in his arms with
a tenderness which the most distrustful could not have suspected of
coldness or affectation.

D'Artagnan, on his part, embraced him with equal ardor.  Porthos pressed
the delicate hand of Aramis in his immense hands, and D'Artagnan remarked
that His Greatness gave him his left hand, probably from habit, seeing
that Porthos already ten times had been near injuring his fingers covered
with rings, by pounding his flesh in the vise of his fist.  Warned by the
pain, Aramis was cautious, and only presented flesh to be bruised, and
not fingers to be crushed, against the gold or the angles of diamonds.

Between two embraces, Aramis looked D'Artagnan in the face, offered him a
chair, sitting down himself in the shade, observing that the light fell
full upon the face of his interlocutor.  This maneuver, familiar to
diplomatists and women, resembles much the advantage of the guard which,
according to their skill or habit, combatants endeavor to take on the
ground at a duel.  D'Artagnan was not the dupe of this maneuver; but he
did not appear to perceive it.  He felt himself caught; but, precisely
because he was caught he felt himself on the road to discovery, and it
little imported to him, old condottiere as he was, to be beaten in
appearance, provided he drew from his pretended defeat the advantages of
victory.  Aramis began the conversation.

"Ah! dear friend! my good D'Artagnan," said he, "what an excellent
chance!"

"It is a chance, my reverend companion," said D'Artagnan, "that I will
call friendship.  I seek you, as I always have sought you, when I had any
grand enterprise to propose to you, or some hours of liberty to give you."

"Ah! indeed," said Aramis, without explosion, "you have been seeking me?"

"Eh! yes, he has been seeking you, Aramis," said Porthos, "and the proof
is that he has unharbored me at Belle-Isle.  That is amiable, is it not?"

"Ah! yes," said Aramis, "at Belle-Isle! certainly!"

"Good!" said D'Artagnan; "there is my booby Porthos, without thinking of
it, has fired the first cannon of attack."

"At Belle-Isle!" said Aramis, "in that hole, in that desert!  That is
kind, indeed!"

"And it was I who told him you were at Vannes," continued Porthos, in the
same tone.

D'Artagnan armed his mouth with a finesse almost ironical.

"Yes, I knew, but I was willing to see," replied he.

"To see what?"

"If our old friendship still held out; if, on seeing each other, our
hearts, hardened as they are by age, would still let the old cry of joy
escape, which salutes the coming of a friend."

"Well, and you must have been satisfied," said Aramis.

"So, so."

"How is that?"

"Yes, Porthos said hush! and you - "

"Well! and I?"

"And you gave me your benediction."

"What would you have, my friend?" said Aramis, smiling; "that is the most
precious thing that a poor prelate, like me, has to give."

"Indeed, my dear friend!"

"Doubtless."

"And yet they say at Paris that the bishopric of Vannes is one of the
best in France."

"Ah! you are now speaking of temporal wealth," said Aramis, with a
careless air.

"To be sure, I wish to speak of that; I hold by it, on my part."

"In that case, let me speak of it," said Aramis, with a smile.

"You own yourself to be one of the richest prelates in France?"

"My friend, since you ask me to give you an account, I will tell you that
the bishopric of Vannes is worth about twenty thousand livres a year,
neither more nor less.  It is a diocese which contains a hundred and
sixty parishes."

"That is very pretty," said D'Artagnan.

"It is superb!" said Porthos.

"And yet," resumed D'Artagnan, throwing his eyes over Aramis, "you don't
mean to bury yourself here forever?"

"Pardon me.  Only I do not admit the word _bury_."

"But it seems to me, that at this distance from Paris a man is buried, or
nearly so."

"My friend, I am getting old," said Aramis; "the noise and bustle of a
city no longer suit me.  At fifty-seven we ought to seek calm and
meditation.  I have found them here.  What is there more beautiful, and
stern at the same time, than this old Armorica.  I find here, dear
D'Artagnan, all that is opposite to what I formerly loved, and that is
what must happen at the end of life, which is opposite to the beginning.
A little of my old pleasure of former times still comes to salute me
here, now and then, without diverting me from the road of salvation.  I
am still of this world, and yet every step that I take brings me nearer
to God."

"Eloquent, wise and discreet; you are an accomplished prelate, Aramis,
and I offer you my congratulations."

"But," said Aramis smiling, "you did not come here only for the purpose
of paying me compliments.  Speak; what brings you hither?  May it be
that, in some fashion or other, you want me?"

"Thank God, no, my friend," said D'Artagnan, "it is nothing of that kind.
- I am rich and free."

"Rich!" exclaimed Aramis.

"Yes, rich for me; not for you or Porthos, understand.  I have an income
of about fifteen thousand livres."

Aramis looked at him suspiciously.  He could not believe - particularly
on seeing his friend in such humble guise - that he had made so fine a
fortune.  Then D'Artagnan, seeing that the hour of explanations was come,
related the history of his English adventures.  During the recital he
saw, ten times, the eyes of the prelate sparkle, and his slender fingers
work convulsively.  As to Porthos, it was not admiration he manifested
for D'Artagnan; it was enthusiasm, it was delirium.  When D'Artagnan had
finished, "Well!" said Aramis.

"Well!" said D'Artagnan, "you see, then, I have in England friends and
property, in France a treasure.  If your heart tells you so, I offer them
to you.  That is what I came here for."

However firm was his look, he could not this time support the look of
Aramis.  He allowed, therefore, his eye to stray upon Porthos - like the
sword which yields to too powerful a pressure, and seeks another road.

"At all events," said the bishop, "you have assumed a singular traveling
costume, old friend."

"Frightful!  I know it is.  You may understand why I would not travel as
a cavalier or a noble; since I became rich, I am miserly."

"And you say, then, you came to Belle-Isle?" said Aramis, without
transition.

"Yes," replied D'Artagnan; "I knew I should find you and Porthos there."

"Find me!" cried Aramis.  "Me! for the last year past I have not once
crossed the sea."

"Oh," said D'Artagnan, "I should never have supposed you such a
housekeeper."

"Ah, dear friend, I must tell you that I am no longer the Aramis of
former times.  Riding on horseback is unpleasant to me; the sea fatigues
me.  I am a poor, ailing priest, always complaining, always grumbling,
and inclined to the austerities which appear to accord with old age, -
preliminary parleyings with death.  I linger, my dear D'Artagnan, I
linger."

"Well, that is all the better, my friend, for we shall probably be
neighbors soon."

"Bah!" said Aramis with a degree of surprise he did not even seek to
dissemble.  "You my neighbor!"

"_Mordioux!_ yes."

"How so?"

"I am about to purchase some very profitable salt-mines, which are
situated between Piriac and Le Croisic.  Imagine, my dear friend, a clear

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