Make your own free website on Tripod.com

List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

thigh."

"_Tu dieu!_ what a pretty sort of banker you make!" said D'Artagnan.

"For above thirteen per cent I fight," replied Planchet; "that is my
character."

"Take only twelve," said D'Artagnan, "and call the rest premium and
brokerage."

"You are right, monsieur; but to your business."

"Ah!  Planchet, it is very long and very hard to speak."

"Do speak it, nevertheless."

D'Artagnan twisted his mustache like a man embarrassed with the
confidence he is about to make and mistrustful of his confidant.

"Is it an investment?" asked Planchet.

"Why, yes."

"At good profit?"

"A capital profit, - four hundred per cent, Planchet."

Planchet gave such a blow with his fist upon the table, that the bottles
bounded as if they had been frightened.

"Good heavens! is that possible?"

"I think it will be more," replied D'Artagnan coolly; "but I like to lay
it at the lowest!"

"The devil!" said Planchet, drawing nearer.  "Why, monsieur, that is
magnificent!  Can one put much money in it?"

"Twenty thousand livres each, Planchet."

"Why, that is all you have, monsieur.  For how long a time?"

"For a month."

"And that will give us - "

"Fifty thousand livres each, profit."

"It is monstrous!  It is worth while to fight for such interest as that!"

"In fact, I believe it will be necessary to fight not a little," said
D'Artagnan, with the same tranquillity; "but this time there are two of
us, Planchet, and I shall take all the blows to myself."

"Oh! monsieur, I will not allow that."

"Planchet, you cannot be concerned in it; you would be obliged to leave
your business and your family."

"The affair is not in Paris, then."

"No."

"Abroad?"

"In England."

"A speculative country, that is true," said Planchet, - "a country that I
know well.  What sort of an affair, monsieur, without too much curiosity?"

"Planchet, it is a restoration."

"Of monuments?"

"Yes, of monuments; we shall restore Whitehall."

"That is important.  And in a month, you think?"

"I shall undertake it."

"That concerns you, monsieur, and when once you are engaged - "

"Yes, that concerns me.  I know what I am about; nevertheless, I will
freely consult with you."

"You do me great honor; but I know very little about architecture."

"Planchet, you are wrong; you are an excellent architect, quite as good
as I am, for the case in question."

"Thanks, monsieur.  But your old friends of the musketeers?"

"I have been, I confess, tempted to speak of the thing to those
gentlemen, but they are all absent from their houses.  It is vexatious,
for I know none more bold or able."

"Ah! then it appears there will be an opposition, and the enterprise will
be disputed?"

"Oh, yes, Planchet, yes."

"I burn to know the details, monsieur."

"Here they are, Planchet - close all the doors tight."

"Yes, monsieur."  And Planchet double-locked them.

"That is well; now draw near."  Planchet obeyed.

"And open the window, because the noise of the passers-by and the carts
will deafen all who might hear us."  Planchet opened the window as
desired, and the gust of tumult which filled the chamber with cries,
wheels, barkings, and steps deafened D'Artagnan himself, as he had
wished.  He then swallowed a glass of white wine, and began in these
terms: "Planchet, I have an idea."

"Ah! monsieur, I recognize you so well in that!" replied Planchet,
panting with emotion.


Chapter XX:
Of the Society which was formed in the Rue des Lombards, at the Sign of
the Pilon d'Or, to carry out M. d'Artagnan's Idea.

After a moment's silence, in which D'Artagnan appeared to be collecting,
not one idea but all his ideas, - "It cannot be, my dear Planchet," said
he, "that you have not heard of his majesty Charles I. of England?"

"Alas! yes, monsieur, since you left France in order to assist him, and
that, in spite of that assistance, he fell, and was near dragging you
down in his fall."

"Exactly so; I see you have a good memory, Planchet."

"_Peste!_ the astonishing thing would be, if I could have lost that
memory, however bad it might have been.  When one has heard Grimaud, who,
you know, is not given to talking, relate how the head of King Charles
fell, how you sailed the half of a night in a scuttled vessel, and saw
floating on the water that good M. Mordaunt with a certain gold-hafted
dagger buried in his breast, one is not very likely to forget such
things."

"And yet there are people who forget them, Planchet."

"Yes, such as have not seen them, or have not heard Grimaud relate them."

"Well, it is all the better that you recollect all that; I shall only
have to remind you of one thing, and that is that Charles I. had a son."

"Without contradicting you, monsieur, he had two," said Planchet; "for I
saw the second one in Paris, M. le Duke of York, one day, as he was going
to the Palais Royal, and I was told that he was not the eldest son of
Charles I.  As to the eldest, I have the honor of knowing him by name,
but not personally."

"That is exactly the point, Planchet, we must come to: it is to this
eldest son, formerly called the Prince of Wales, and who is now styled
Charles II., king of England."

"A king without a kingdom, monsieur," replied Planchet, sententiously.

"Yes, Planchet, and you may add an unfortunate prince, more unfortunate
than the poorest man of the people lost in the worst quarter of Paris."

Planchet made a gesture full of that sort of compassion which we grant to
strangers with whom we think we can never possibly find ourselves in
contact.  Besides, he did not see in this politico-sentimental operation
any sign of the commercial idea of M. d'Artagnan, and it was in this idea
that D'Artagnan, who was, from habit, pretty well acquainted with men and
things, had principally interested Planchet.

"I am come to our business.  This young Prince of Wales, a king without
a kingdom, as you have so well said, Planchet, has interested me.  I,
D'Artagnan, have seen him begging assistance of Mazarin, who is a miser,
and the aid of Louis, who is a child, and it appeared to me, who am
acquainted with such things, that in the intelligent eye of the fallen
king, in the nobility of his whole person, a nobility apparent above all
his miseries, I could discern the stuff of a man and the heart of a king."

Planchet tacitly approved of all this; but it did not at all, in his eyes
at least, throw any light upon D'Artagnan's idea.  The latter continued:
"This, then, is the reasoning which I made with myself.  Listen
attentively, Planchet, for we are coming to the conclusion."

"I am listening."

"Kings are not so thickly sown upon the earth, that people can find them
whenever they want them.  Now, this king without a kingdom is, in my
opinion, a grain of seed which will blossom in some season or other,
provided a skillful, discreet, and vigorous hand sow it duly and truly,
selecting soil, sky, and time."

Planchet still approved by a nod of his head, which showed that he did
not perfectly comprehend all that was said.

"'Poor little seed of a king,' said I to myself, and really I was
affected, Planchet, which leads me to think I am entering upon a foolish
business.  And that is why I wished to consult you, my friend."

Planchet colored with pleasure and pride.

"'Poor little seed of a king!  I will pick you up and cast you into good
ground.'"

"Good God!" said Planchet, looking earnestly at his old master, as if in
doubt as to the state of his reason.

"Well, what is it?" said D'Artagnan; "who hurts you?"

"Me! nothing, monsieur."

"You said, 'Good God!'"

"Did I?"

"I am sure you did.  Can you already understand?"

"I confess, M. d'Artagnan, that I am afraid - "

"To understand?"

"Yes."

"To understand that I wish to replace upon his throne this King Charles
II., who has no throne?  Is that it?"

Planchet made a prodigious bound in his chair.  "Ah, ah!" said he, in
evident terror, "that is what you call a restoration!"

"Yes, Planchet; is it not the proper term for it?"

"Oh, no doubt, no doubt!  But have you reflected seriously?"

"Upon what?"

"Upon what is going on yonder."

"Where?"

"In England."

"And what is that?  Let us see, Planchet."

"In the first place, monsieur, I ask you pardon for meddling in these
things, which have nothing to do with my trade; but since it is an affair
that you propose to me - for you are proposing an affair, are you not? - "

"A superb one, Planchet."

"But as it is business you propose to me, I have the right to discuss it."

"Discuss it, Planchet; out of discussion is born light."

"Well, then, since I have monsieur's permission, I will tell him that
there is yonder, in the first place, the parliament."

"Well, next?"

"And then the army."

"Good!  Do you see anything else?"

"Why, then the nation."

"Is that all?"

"The nation which consented to the overthrow and death of the late king,
the father of this one, and which will not be willing to belie its acts."

"Planchet," said D'Artagnan, "you argue like a cheese!  The nation - the
nation is tired of these gentlemen who give themselves such barbarous
names, and who sing songs to it.  Chanting for chanting, my dear
Planchet; I have remarked that nations prefer singing a merry chant to
the plain chant.  Remember the Fronde; what did they sing in those
times?  Well, those were good times."

"Not too good, not too good!  I was near being hung in those times."

"Well, but you were not."

"No."

"And you laid the foundations of your fortune in the midst of all those
songs?"

"That is true."

"Then you have nothing to say against them."

"Well, I return, then, to the army and parliament."

"I say that I borrow twenty thousand livres of M. Planchet, and that I
put twenty thousand livres of my own to it; and with these forty thousand
livres I raise an army."

Planchet clasped his hands; he saw that D'Artagnan was in earnest, and,
in good truth, he believed his master had lost his senses.

"An army! - ah, monsieur," said he, with his most agreeable smile, for

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >



Other sites:

db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com