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List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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Chapter LXXIII:
In which Porthos begins to be sorry for having come with D'Artagnan.

Scarcely had D'Artagnan extinguished his taper, when Aramis, who had
watched through his curtains the last glimmer of light in his friend's
apartment, traversed the corridor on tiptoe, and went to Porthos's room.
The giant who had been in bed nearly an hour and a half, lay grandly
stretched out on the down bed.  He was in that happy calm of the first
sleep, which, with Porthos, resisted the noise of bells or the report of
cannon: his head swam in that soft oscillation which reminds us of the
soothing movement of a ship.  In a moment Porthos would have begun to
dream.  The door of the chamber opened softly under the delicate pressure
of the hand of Aramis.  The bishop approached the sleeper.  A thick
carpet deadened his steps, besides which Porthos snored in a manner to
drown all noise.  He laid one hand on his shoulder - "Rouse," said he,
"wake up, my dear Porthos."  The voice of Aramis was soft and kind, but
it conveyed more than a notice, - it conveyed an order.  His hand was
light, but it indicated danger.  Porthos heard the voice and felt the
hand of Aramis, even in the depth of sleep.  He started up.  "Who goes
there?" cried he, in his giant's voice.

"Hush! hush!  It is I," said Aramis.

"You, my friend?  And what the devil do you wake me for?"

"To tell you that you must set off directly."

"Set off?"

"Yes."

"Where for?"

"For Paris."

Porthos bounded up in his bed, and then sank back down again, fixing his
great eyes in agitation upon Aramis.

"For Paris?"

"Yes."

"A hundred leagues?" said he.

"A hundred and four," replied the bishop.

"Oh! _mon Dieu!_" sighed Porthos, lying down again, like children who
contend with their _bonne_ to gain an hour or two more sleep.

"Thirty hours' riding," said Aramis, firmly.  "You know there are good
relays."

Porthos pushed out one leg, allowing a groan to escape him.

"Come, come! my friend," insisted the prelate with a sort of impatience.

Porthos drew the other leg out of the bed.  "And is it absolutely
necessary that I should go, at once?"

"Urgently necessary."

Porthos got upon his feet, and began to shake both walls and floors with
his steps of a marble statue.

"Hush! hush! for the love of Heaven, my dear Porthos!" said Aramis, "you
will wake somebody."

"Ah! that's true," replied Porthos, in a voice of thunder, "I forgot
that; but be satisfied, I am on guard."  And so saying, he let fall a
belt loaded with his sword and pistols, and a purse, from which the
crowns escaped with a vibrating and prolonged noise.  This noise made the
blood of Aramis boil, whilst it drew from Porthos a formidable burst of
laughter.  "How droll that is!" said he, in the same voice.

"Not so loud, Porthos, not so loud."

"True, true!" and he lowered his voice a half-note.

"I was going to say," continued Porthos, "that it is droll that we are
never so slow as when we are in a hurry, and never make so much noise as
when we wish to be silent."

"Yes, that is true; but let us give the proverb the lie, Porthos; let us
make haste, and hold our tongue."

"You see I am doing my best," said Porthos, putting on his _haut de
chausses_.

"Very well."

"This is something in haste?"

"It is more than that, it is serious, Porthos."

"Oh, oh!"

"D'Artagnan has questioned you, has he not?"

"Questioned me?"

"Yes, at Belle-Isle?"

"Not the least in the world."

"Are you sure of that, Porthos?"

"_Parbleu!_"

"It is impossible.  Recollect yourself."
"He asked me what I was doing, and I told him - studying topography.  I
would have made use of another word which you employed one day."

"'Castrametation'?"

"Yes, that's it; but I never could recollect it."

"All the better.  What more did he ask you?"

"Who M. Getard was."

"Next?"

"Who M. Jupenet was."

"He did not happen to see our plan of fortifications, did he?"

"Yes."

"The devil he did!"

"But don't be alarmed, I had rubbed out your writing with India-rubber.
It was impossible for him to suppose you had given me any advice in those
works."

"Ay; but our friend has phenomenally keen eyes."

"What are you afraid of?"

"I fear that everything is discovered, Porthos; the matter is, then, to
prevent a great misfortune.  I have given orders to my people to close
all the gates and doors.  D'Artagnan will not be able to get out before
daybreak.  Your horse is ready saddled; you will gain the first relay; by
five o'clock in the morning you will have traversed fifteen leagues.
Come!"

Aramis then assisted Porthos to dress, piece by piece, with as much
celerity as the most skillful _valet de chambre_ could have done.
Porthos, half stupefied, let him do as he liked, and confounded himself
in excuses.  When he was ready, Aramis took him by the hand, and led him,
making him place his foot with precaution on every step of the stairs,
preventing him running against door-frames, turning him this way and
that, as if Aramis had been the giant and Porthos the dwarf.  Soul set
fire to and animated matter.  A horse was waiting, ready saddled, in the
courtyard.  Porthos mounted.  Then Aramis himself took the horse by the
bridle, and led him over some dung spread in the yard, with the evident
intention of suppressing noise.  He, at the same time, held tight the
horse's nose, to prevent him neighing.  When arrived at the outward gate,
drawing Porthos towards him, who was going off without even asking him
what for: "Now, friend Porthos, now; without drawing bridle, till you get
to Paris," whispered he in his ears; "eat on horseback, drink on
horseback, but lose not a minute."

"That's enough; I will not stop."

"This letter to M. Fouquet; cost what it may, he must have it to-morrow
before mid-day."

"He shall."

"And do not forget _one_ thing, my friend."

"What is that?"

"That you are riding out on a hunt for your _brevet_ of _duc_ and peer."

"Oh! oh!" said Porthos, with his eyes sparkling; "I will do it in twenty-
four hours, in that case."

"Try."

"Then let go the bridle - and forward, Goliath!"

Aramis did let go, not the bridle, but the horse's nose.  Porthos
released his hand, clapped spurs to his horse, which set off at a
gallop.  As long as he could distinguish Porthos through the darkness,
Aramis followed him with his eyes: when he was completely out of sight,
he re-entered the yard.  Nothing had stirred in D'Artagnan's apartment.
The _valet_ placed on watch at the door had neither seen any light, nor
heard any noise.  Aramis closed his door carefully, sent the lackey to
bed, and quickly sought his own.  D'Artagnan really suspected nothing,
therefore thought he had gained everything, when he awoke in the morning,
about half-past four.  He ran to the window in his shirt.  The window
looked out upon the court.  Day was dawning.  The court was deserted; the
fowls, even, had not left their roosts.  Not a servant appeared.  Every
door was closed.

"Good! all is still," said D'Artagnan to himself.  "Never mind: I am up
first in the house.  Let us dress; that will be so much done."  And
D'Artagnan dressed himself.  But, this time, he endeavored not to give to
the costume of M. Agnan that _bourgeoise_ and almost ecclesiastical
rigidity he had affected before; he managed, by drawing his belt tighter,
by buttoning his clothes in a different fashion, and by putting on his
hat a little on one side, to restore to his person a little of that
military character, the absence of which had surprised Aramis.  This
being done, he made free, or affected to make free with his host, and
entered his chamber without ceremony.  Aramis was asleep or feigned to be
so.  A large book lay open upon his night-desk, a wax-light was still
burning in its silver sconce.  This was more than enough to prove to
D'Artagnan the quiescence of the prelate's night, and the good intentions
of his waking.  The musketeer did to the bishop precisely as the bishop
had done to Porthos - he tapped him on the shoulder.  Evidently Aramis
pretended to sleep; for, instead of waking suddenly, he who slept so
lightly required a repetition of the summons.

"Ah! ah! is that you?" said he, stretching his arms.  "What an agreeable
surprise!  _Ma foi!_  Sleep had made me forget I had the happiness to
possess you.  What o'clock is it?"

"I do not know," said D'Artagnan, a little embarrassed.  "Early, I
believe.  But, you know, that devil of a habit of waking with the day,
sticks to me still."

"Do you wish that we should go out so soon?" asked Aramis.  "It appears
to me to be very early."

"Just as you like."

"I thought we had agreed not to get on horseback before eight."

"Possibly; but I had so great a wish to see you, that I said to myself,
the sooner the better."

"And my seven hours' sleep!" said Aramis: "Take care; I had reckoned upon
them, and what I lose of them I must make up."

"But it seems to me that, formerly, you were less of a sleeper than that,
dear friend; your blood was alive, and you were never to be found in bed."

"And it is exactly on account of what you tell me, that I am so fond of
being there now."

"Then you confess, that it is not for the sake of sleeping, that you have
put me off till eight o'clock."

"I have been afraid you would laugh at me, if I told you the truth."

"Tell me, notwithstanding."

"Well, from six to eight, I am accustomed to perform my devotions."

"Your devotions?"

"Yes."

"I did not believe a bishop's exercises were so severe."

"A bishop, my friend, must sacrifice more to appearance than a simple
cleric."

"_Mordioux!_  Aramis, that is a word which reconciles me with your
greatness.  To appearances!  That is a musketeer's word, in good truth!
_Vivent les apparences_, Aramis!"

"Instead of felicitating me upon it, pardon me, D'Artagnan.  It is a very
mundane word which I had allowed to escape me."

"Must I leave you, then?"

"I want time to collect my thoughts, my friend, and for my usual prayers."

"Well, I leave you to them; but on account of that poor pagan,

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