fear of irritating the madman, and rendering him furious, - "an army! – how many?" "Of forty men," said D'Artagnan. "Forty against forty thousand! that is not enough. I know very well that you, M. d'Artagnan, alone, are equal to a thousand men; but where are we to find thirty-nine men equal to you? Or, if we could find them, who would furnish you with money to pay them?" "Not bad, Planchet. Ah, the devil! you play the courtier." "No, monsieur, I speak what I think, and that is exactly why I say that, in the first pitched battle you fight with your forty men, I am very much afraid - " "Therefore I shall fight no pitched battles, my dear Planchet," said the Gascon, laughing. "We have very fine examples in antiquity of skillful retreats and marches, which consisted in avoiding the enemy instead of attacking them. You should know that, Planchet, you who commanded the Parisians the day on which they ought to have fought against the musketeers, and who so well calculated marches and countermarches, that you never left the Palais Royal." Planchet could not help laughing. "It is plain," replied he, "that if your forty men conceal themselves, and are not unskillful, they may hope not to be beaten: but you propose obtaining some result, do you not?" "No doubt. This, then, in my opinion, is the plan to be proceeded upon in order quickly to replace his majesty Charles II. on his throne." "Good!" said Planchet, increasing his attention; "let us see your plan. But in the first place it seems to me we are forgetting something." "What is that?" "We have set aside the nation, which prefers singing merry songs to psalms, and the army, which we will not fight; but the parliament remains, and that seldom sings." "Nor does it fight. How is it, Planchet, that an intelligent man like yourself should take any heed of a set of brawlers who call themselves Rumps and Barebones? The parliament does not trouble me at all, Planchet." "As soon as it ceases to trouble you, monsieur, let us pass on." "Yes, and arrive at the result. You remember Cromwell, Planchet?" "I have heard a great deal of talk about him. "He was a rough soldier." "And a terrible eater, moreover." "What do you mean by that?" "Why, at one gulp he swallowed all England." "Well, Planchet, the evening before the day on which he swallowed England, if any one had swallowed M. Cromwell?" "Oh, monsieur, it is one of the axioms of mathematics that the container must be greater than the contained." "Very well! That is our affair, Planchet." "But M. Cromwell is dead, and his container is now the tomb." "My dear Planchet, I see with pleasure that you have not only become a mathematician, but a philosopher." "Monsieur, in my grocery business I use much printed paper, and that instructs me." "Bravo! You know then, in that case - for you have not learnt mathematics and philosophy without a little history - that after this Cromwell so great, there came one who was very little." "Yes; he was named Richard, and he as done as you have, M. d'Artagnan – he has tendered his resignation." "Very well said - very well! After the great man who is dead, after the little one who tendered his resignation, there came a third. This one is named Monk; he is an able general, considering he has never fought a battle; he is a skillful diplomatist, considering that he never speaks in public, and that having to say 'good-day' to a man, he meditates twelve hours, and ends by saying 'good night;' which makes people exclaim '_miracle!_' seeing that it falls out correctly." "That is rather strong," said Planchet; "but I know another political man who resembles him very much." "M. Mazarin you mean?" "Himself." "You are right, Planchet; only M. Mazarin does not aspire to the throne of France; and that changes everything. Do you see? Well, this M. Monk, who has England ready-roasted in his plate, and who is already opening his mouth to swallow it - this M. Monk, who says to the people of Charles II., and to Charles II. himself, '_Nescio vos_' - " "I don't understand English," said Planchet. "Yes, but I understand it," said D'Artagnan. "'_Nescio vos_' means 'I do not know you.' This M. Monk, the most important man in England, when he shall have swallowed it - " "Well?" asked Planchet. "Well, my friend, I shall go over yonder, and with my forty men I shall carry him off, pack him up, and bring him into France, where two modes of proceeding present themselves to my dazzled eyes." "Oh! and to mine too," cried Planchet, transported with enthusiasm. "We will put him in a cage and show him for money." "Well, Planchet, that is a third plan, of which I had not thought." "Do you think it a good one?" "Yes, certainly, but I think mine better." "Let us see yours, then." "In the first place, I shall set a ransom on him." "Of how much?" "_Peste!_ a fellow like that must be well worth a hundred thousand crowns." "Yes, yes!" "You see, then - in the first place, a ransom of a hundred thousand crowns." "Or else - " "Or else, what is much better, I deliver him up to King Charles, who, having no longer either a general or an army to fear, nor a diplomatist to trick him, will restore himself, and when once restored, will pay down to me the hundred thousand crowns in question. That is the idea I have formed; what do you say to it, Planchet?" "Magnificent, monsieur!" cried Planchet, trembling with emotion. "How did you conceive that idea?" "It came to me one morning on the banks of the Loire, whilst our beloved king, Louis XIV., was pretending to weep upon the hand of Mademoiselle de Mancini." "Monsieur, I declare the idea is sublime. But - " "Ah! is there a _but?_" "Permit me! But this is a little like the skin of that fine bear - you know - that they were about to sell, but which it was necessary to take from the back of the living bear. Now, to take M. Monk, there will be a bit of a scuffle, I should think." "No doubt; but as I shall raise an army to - " "Yes, yes - I understand, _parbleu!_ - a _coup-de-main_. Yes, then, monsieur, you will triumph, for no one equals you in such sorts of encounters." "I certainly am lucky in them," said D'Artagnan, with a proud simplicity. "You know that if for this affair I had my dear Athos, my brave Porthos, and my cunning Aramis, the business would be settled; but they are all lost, as it appears, and nobody knows where to find them. I will do it, then, alone. Now, do you find the business good, and the investment advantageous?" "Too much so - too much so." "How can that be?" "Because fine things never reach the expected point." "This is infallible, Planchet, and the proof is that I undertake it. It will be for you a tolerably pretty gain, and for me a very interesting stroke. It will be said, 'Such was the old age of M. d'Artagnan,' and I shall hold a place in tales and even in history itself, Planchet. I am greedy of honor." "Monsieur," cried Planchet, "when I think that it is here, in my home, in the midst of my sugar, my prunes, and my cinnamon, that this gigantic project is ripened, my shop seems a palace to me." "Beware, beware, Planchet! If the least report of this escapes, there is the Bastile for both of us. Beware, my friend, for this is a plot we are hatching. M. Monk is the ally of M. Mazarin - beware!" "Monsieur, when a man has had the honor to belong to you, he knows nothing of fear; and when he has had the advantage of being bound up in interests with you, he holds his tongue." "Very well; that is more your affair than mine, seeing that in a week I shall be in England." "Depart, monsieur, depart - the sooner the better." "Is the money, then, ready?" "It will be to-morrow; to-morrow you shall receive it from my own hands. Will you have gold or silver?" "Gold; that is most convenient. But how are we going to arrange this? Let us see." "Oh, good Lord! in the simplest way possible. You shall give me a receipt, that is all." "No, no," said D'Artagnan, warmly; "we must preserve order in all things." "That is likewise my opinion; but with you, M. d'Artagnan - " "And if I should die yonder - if I should be killed by a musket-ball - if I should burst from drinking beer?" "Monsieur, I beg you to believe that in that case I should be so much afflicted at your death, that I should not think about the money." "Thank you, Planchet; but no matter. We shall, like two lawyers' clerks, draw up together an agreement, a sort of act, which may be called a deed of company." "Willingly, monsieur." "I know it is difficult to draw such a thing up, but we can try." "Let us try, then." And Planchet went in search of pens, ink, and paper. D'Artagnan took the pen and wrote: - "Between Messire d'Artagnan, ex-lieutenant of the king's musketeers, at present residing in the Rue Tiquetonne, Hotel de la Chevrette; and the Sieur Planchet, grocer, residing in the Rue des Lombards, at the sign of the Pilon d'Or, it has been agreed as follows: - A company, with a capital of forty thousand livres, and formed for the purpose of carrying out an idea conceived by M. d'Artagnan, and the said Planchet approving of it in all points, will place twenty thousand livres in the hands of M. d'Artagnan. He will require neither repayment nor interest before the return of M. d'Artagnan from a journey he is about to take into England. On his part, M. d'Artagnan undertakes it to find twenty thousand livres, which he will join to the twenty thousand already laid down by the Sieur Planchet. He will employ the said sum of forty thousand livres according to his judgment in an undertaking which is described below. On the day when M. d'Artagnan shall have re-established, by whatever means, his majesty King Charles II. upon the throne of England, he will pay into the hands of M. Planchet the sum of - " "The sum of a hundred and fifty thousand livres," said Planchet, innocently, perceiving that D'Artagnan hesitated.
db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com