List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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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.

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