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List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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it strikes me to the earth every time I rise.  What can I do with Parry
as my only servant, with Parry, whom Monk has already driven from his
presence?  No, no, no, count, we must yield to this last blow."

"But what your majesty cannot do, and what Parry can no more attempt, do
you not believe that I could succeed in accomplishing?"

"You - you, count - you would go?"

"If it please your majesty," said Athos, bowing to the king, "yes, I will
go, sire."

"What! you so happy here, count?"

"I am never happy when I have a duty left to accomplish, and it is an
imperative duty which the king your father left me to watch over your
fortunes, and make a royal use of his money.  So, if your majesty honors
me with a sign, I will go with you."

"Ah, monsieur!" said the king, forgetting all royal etiquette and
throwing his arms around the neck of Athos, "you prove to me that there
is a God in heaven, and that this God sometimes sends messengers to the
unfortunate who groan on the earth."

Athos, exceedingly moved by this burst of feeling of the young man,
thanked him with profound respect, and approached the window.  "Grimaud!"
cried he, "bring out my horses."

"What, now - immediately!" said the king.  "Ah, monsieur, you are indeed
a wonderful man!"

"Sire," said Athos, "I know nothing more pressing than your majesty's
service.  Besides," added he, smiling, "it is a habit contracted long
since, in the service of the queen your aunt, and of the king your
father.  How is it possible for me to lose it at the moment your
majesty's service calls for it?"

"What a man!" murmured the king.

Then, after a moment's reflection, - "But no, count, I cannot expose you
to such privations.  I have no means of rewarding such services."

"Bah!" said Athos, laughing.  "Your majesty is joking; have you not a
million? Ah! why am I not possessed of half such a sum!  I would already
have raised a regiment.  But, thank God!  I have still a few rolls of
gold and some family diamonds left.  Your majesty will, I hope, deign to
share with a devoted servant."

"With a friend - yes, count, but on condition that, in his turn, that
friend will share with me hereafter!"

"Sire!" said Athos, opening a casket, form which he drew both gold and
jewels, "you see, sire, we are too rich.  Fortunately, there are four of
us, in the event of our meeting with thieves."

Joy made the blood rush to the pale cheeks of Charles II., as he saw
Athos's two horses, led by Grimaud, already booted for the journey,
advance towards the porch.

"Blaisois, this letter for the Vicomte de Bragelonne.  For everybody else
I am gone to Paris.  I confide the house to you, Blaisois."  Blaisois
bowed, shook hands with Grimaud, and shut the gate.


Chapter XVII:
In which Aramis is sought, and only Bazin is found.

Two hours had scarcely elapsed since the departure of the master of the
house, who, in Blaisois's sight, had taken the road to Paris, when a
horseman, mounted on a good pied horse, stopped before the gate, and with
a sonorous "_hola!_" called the stable-boys, who, with the gardeners, had
formed a circle round Blaisois, the historian-in-ordinary to the
household of the chateau.  This "_hola_," doubtless well known to Master
Blaisois, made him turn his head and exclaim - "Monsieur d'Artagnan! run
quickly, you chaps, and open the gate."

A swarm of eight brisk lads flew to the gate, which was opened as if it
had been made of feathers; and every one loaded him with attentions, for
they knew the welcome this friend was accustomed to receive from their
master; and for such remarks the eye of the valet may always be depended
upon.

"Ah!" said M. d'Artagnan, with an agreeable smile, balancing himself upon
his stirrup to jump to the ground, "where is that dear count?"

"Ah! how unfortunate you are, monsieur!" said Blaisois: "and how
unfortunate will monsieur le comte, our master, think himself when he
hears of your coming!  As ill luck will have it, monsieur le comte left
home two hours ago."

D'Artagnan did not trouble himself about such trifles.  "Very good!" said
he.  "You always speak the best French in the world; you shall give me a
lesson in grammar and correct language, whilst I wait the return of your
master."

"That is impossible, monsieur," said Blaisois; "you would have to wait
too long."

"Will he not come back to-day, then?"

"No, nor to-morrow, nor the day after to-morrow.  Monsieur le comte has
gone on a journey."

"A journey!" said D'Artagnan, surprised; "that's a fable, Master
Blaisois."

"Monsieur, it is no more than the truth.  Monsieur has done me the honor
to give me the house in charge; and he added, with his voice so full of
authority and kindness - that is all one to me: 'You will say I have gone
to Paris.'"

"Well!" cried D'Artagnan, "since he is gone towards Paris, that is all I
wanted to know! you should have told me so at first, booby!  He is then
two hours in advance?"

"Yes, monsieur."

"I shall soon overtake him.  Is he alone?"

"No, monsieur."

"Who is with him, then?"

"A gentleman whom I don't know, an old man, and M. Grimaud."

"Such a party cannot travel as fast as I can - I will start."

"Will monsieur listen to me an instant?" said Blaisois, laying his hand
gently on the reins of the horse.

"Yes, if you don't favor me with fine speeches, and make haste."

"Well, then, monsieur, that word Paris appears to me to be only an
excuse."

"Oh, oh!" said D'Artagnan, seriously, "an excuse, eh?"

"Yes, monsieur: and monsieur le comte is not going to Paris, I will
swear."

"What makes you think so?"

"This, - M. Grimaud always knows where our master is going; and he had
promised me that the first time he went to Paris, he would take a little
money for me to my wife."

"What, have you a wife, then?"

"I had one - she was of this country; but monsieur thought her a noisy
scold, and I sent her to Paris; it is sometimes inconvenient, but very
agreeable at others."

"I understand; but go on.  You do not believe the count gone to Paris?"

"No, monsieur; for then M. Grimaud would have broken his word; he would
have perjured himself, and that is impossible."

"That is impossible," repeated D'Artagnan, quite in a study, because he
was quite convinced.  "Well, my brave Blaisois, many thanks to you."

Blaisois bowed.

"Come, you know I am not curious - I have serious business with your
master.  Could you not, by a little bit of a word - you who speak so
well - give me to understand - one syllable only - I will guess the
rest."

"Upon my word, monsieur, I cannot.  I am quite ignorant where monsieur le
comte is gone.  As to listening at doors, that is contrary to my nature;
and besides, it is forbidden here."

"My dear fellow," said D'Artagnan, "this is a very bad beginning for me.
Never mind; you know when monsieur le comte will return, at least?"

"As little, monsieur, as the place of his destination."

"Come, Blaisois, come, search."

"Monsieur doubts my sincerity?  Ah, monsieur, that grieves me much."

"The devil take his gilded tongue!" grumbled D'Artagnan.  "A clown with a
word would be worth a dozen of him.  Adieu!"

"Monsieur, I have the honor to present you my respects."

"_Cuistre!_" said D'Artagnan to himself, "the fellow is unbearable."  He
gave another look up to the house, turned his horse's head, and set off
like a man who has nothing either annoying or embarrassing in his mind.
When he was at the end of the wall, and out of sight, - "Well, now, I
wonder," said he, breathing quickly, "whether Athos was at home.  No; all
those idlers, standing with their arms crossed, would have been at work
if the eye of the master was near.  Athos gone on a journey? - that is
incomprehensible.  Bah! it is all devilish mysterious!  And then - no -
he is not the man I want.  I want one of a cunning, patient mind.  My
business is at Melun, in a certain presbytery I am acquainted with.
Forty-five leagues - four days and a half!  Well, it is fine weather, and
I am free.  Never mind the distance!"

And he put his horse into a trot, directing his course towards Paris.  On
the fourth day he alighted at Melun, as he had intended.

D'Artagnan was never in the habit of asking any one on the road for any
common information.  For these sorts of details, unless in very serious
circumstances, he confided in his perspicacity, which was so seldom at
fault, in his experience of thirty years, and in a great habit of reading
the physiognomies of houses, as well as those of men.  At Melun,
D'Artagnan immediately found the presbytery - a charming house, plastered
over red brick, with vines climbing along the gutters, and a cross, in
carved stone, surmounting the ridge of the roof.  From the ground-floor
of this house came a noise, or rather a confusion of voices, like the
chirping of young birds when the brood is just hatched under the down.
One of these voices was spelling the alphabet distinctly.  A voice thick,
yet pleasant, at the same time scolded the talkers and corrected the
faults of the reader.  D'Artagnan recognized that voice, and as the
window of the ground-floor was open, he leant down from his horse under
the branches and red fibers of the vine and cried, "Bazin, my dear Bazin!
good-day to you."

A short, fat man, with a flat face, a cranium ornamented with a crown of
gray hairs, cut short, in imitation of a tonsure, and covered with an old
black velvet cap, arose as soon as he heard D'Artagnan - we ought not to
say arose, but _bounded up_.  In fact, Bazin bounded up, carrying with
him his little low chair, which the children tried to take away, with
battles more fierce than those of the Greeks endeavoring to recover the
body of Patroclus from the hands of the Trojans.  Bazin did more than
bound; he let fall both his alphabet and his ferule.  "You!" said he;
"you, Monsieur D'Artagnan?"

"Yes, myself!  Where is Aramis - no, M. le Chevalier d'Herblay - no, I am
still mistaken - Monsieur le Vicaire-General?"

"Ah, monsieur," said Bazin, with dignity, "monseigneur is at his diocese."

"What did you say?" said D'Artagnan.  Bazin repeated the sentence.

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