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 > >

justice.  Upon this D'Artagnan rose, and instantly set off on the search,
telling Planchet not to expect him to breakfast, and perhaps not to
dinner.  A day and a half spent in rummaging amongst certain dens of
Paris sufficed for his recruiting; and, without allowing his adventurers
to communicate with each other, he had picked up and got together, in
less than thirty hours, a charming collection of ill-looking faces,
speaking a French less pure than the English they were about to attempt.
These men were, for the most part, guards, whose merit D'Artagnan had had
an opportunity of appreciating in various encounters, whom drunkenness,
unlucky sword-thrusts, unexpected winnings at play, or the economical
reforms of Mazarin, had forced to seek shade and solitude, those two
great consolers of irritated and chafing spirits.  They bore upon their
countenances and in their vestments the traces of the heartaches they had
undergone.  Some had their visages scarred, - all had their clothes in
rags.  D'Artagnan comforted the most needy of these brotherly miseries by
a prudent distribution of the crowns of the company; then, having taken
care that these crowns should be employed in the physical improvement of
the troop, he appointed a trysting place in the north of France, between
Bergues and Saint Omer.  Six days were allowed as the utmost term, and
D'Artagnan was sufficiently acquainted with the good-will, the good-
humor, and the relative probity of these illustrious recruits, to be
certain that not one of them would fail in his appointment.  These orders
given, this rendezvous fixed, he went to bid farewell to Planchet, who
asked news of his army.  D'Artagnan did not think it proper to inform
him of the reduction he had made in his _personnel_.  He feared that the
confidence of his associate would be abated by such an avowal.  Planchet
was delighted to learn that the army was levied, and that he (Planchet)
found himself a kind of half king, who from his throne-counter kept in
pay a body of troops destined to make war against perfidious Albion, that
enemy of all true French hearts.  Planchet paid down in double louis,
twenty thousand livres to D'Artagnan, on the part of himself (Planchet),
and twenty thousand livres, still in double louis, in account with
D'Artagnan.  D'Artagnan placed each of the twenty thousand francs in a
bag, and weighing a bag in each hand, - "This money is very embarrassing,
my dear Planchet," said he.  "Do you know this weighs thirty pounds?"

"Bah! your horse will carry that like a feather."

D'Artagnan shook his head.  "Don't tell me such things, Planchet: a horse
overloaded with thirty pounds, in addition to the rider and his
portmanteau, cannot cross a river so easily - cannot leap over a wall or
ditch so lightly; and the horse failing, the horseman fails.  It is true
that you, Planchet, who have served in the infantry, may not be aware of
all that."

"Then what is to be done, monsieur?" said Planchet, greatly embarrassed.

"Listen to me," said D'Artagnan.  "I will pay my army on its return
home.  Keep my half of twenty thousand livres, which you can use during
that time."

"And my half?" said Planchet.

"I shall take that with me."

"Your confidence does me honor," said Planchet: "but supposing you should
not return?"

"That is possible, though not very probable.  Then, Planchet, in case I
should not return - give me a pen; I will make my will."  D'Artagnan took
a pen and some paper, and wrote upon a plain sheet, - "I, D'Artagnan,
possess twenty thousand livres, laid up cent per cent during thirty years
that I have been in the service of his majesty the king of France.  I
leave five thousand to Athos, five thousand to Porthos, and five thousand
to Aramis, that they may give the said sums in my name and their own to
my young friend Raoul, Vicomte de Bragelonne.  I give the remaining five
thousand to Planchet, that he may distribute the fifteen thousand with
less regret among my friends.  With which purpose I sign these presents.
- D'ARTAGNAN."

Planchet appeared very curious to know what D'Artagnan had written.

"Here," said the musketeer, "read it."

On reading the last lines the tears came into Planchet's eyes.  "You
think, then, that I would not have given the money without that?  Then I
will have none of your five thousand francs."

D'Artagnan smiled.  "Accept it, accept it, Planchet; and in that way you
will only lose fifteen thousand francs instead of twenty thousand, and
you will not be tempted to disregard the signature of your master and
friend, by losing nothing at all."

How well that dear Monsieur d'Artagnan knew the hearts of men and
grocers!  They who have pronounced Don Quixote mad because he rode out to
the conquest of an empire with nobody but Sancho his squire, and they who
have pronounced Sancho mad because he accompanied his master in his
attempt to conquer the said empire, - they certainly will have no
hesitation in extending the same judgment to D'Artagnan and Planchet.
And yet the first passed for one of the most subtle spirits among the
astute spirits of the court of France.  As to the second, he had acquired
by good right the reputation of having one of the longest heads among the
grocers of the Rue des Lombards; consequently of Paris, and consequently
of France.  Now, to consider these two men from the point of view from
which you would consider other men, and the means by the aid of which
they contemplated to restore a monarch to his throne, compared with other
means, the shallowest brains of the country where brains are most shallow
must have revolted against the presumptuous madness of the lieutenant and
the stupidity of his associate.  Fortunately, D'Artagnan was not a man to
listen to the idle talk of those around him, or to the comments that were
made on himself.  He had adopted the motto, "Act well, and let people
talk."  Planchet, on his part had adopted this, "Act and say nothing."
It resulted from this, that, according to the custom of all superior
geniuses, these two men flattered themselves, _intra pectus_, with being
in the right against all who found fault with them.

As a beginning, D'Artagnan set out in the finest of possible weather,
without a cloud in the heavens - without a cloud on his mind, joyous and
strong, calm and decided, great in his resolution, and consequently
carrying with him a tenfold dose of that potent fluid which the shocks of
mind cause to spring from the nerves, and which procure for the human
machine a force and an influence of which future ages will render,
according to all probability, a more arithmetical account than we can
possibly do at present.  He was again, as in times past, on that same
road of adventures which had led him to Boulogne, and which he was now
traveling for the fourth time.  It appeared to him that he could almost
recognize the trace of his own steps upon the road, and that of his fist
upon the doors of the hostelries; - his memory, always active and
present, brought back that youth which neither thirty years later his
great heart nor his wrist of steel would have belied.  What a rich nature
was that of this man!  He had all the passions, all the defects, all the
weaknesses, and the spirit of contradiction familiar to his understanding
changed all these imperfections into corresponding qualities.
D'Artagnan, thanks to his ever active imagination, was afraid of a
shadow, and ashamed of being afraid, he marched straight up to that
shadow, and then became extravagant in his bravery, if the danger proved
to be real.  Thus everything in him was emotion, and therefore
enjoyment.  He loved the society of others, but never became tired of his
own; and more than once, if he could have been heard when he was alone,
he might have been seen laughing at the jokes he related to himself or
the tricks his imagination created just five minutes before _ennui_ might
have been looked for.  D'Artagnan was not perhaps so gay this time as he
would have been with the prospect of finding some good friends at Calais,
instead of joining the ten scamps there; melancholy, however, did not
visit him more than once a day, and it was about five visits that he
received from that somber deity before he got sight of the sea at
Boulogne, and then these visits were indeed but short.  But when once
D'Artagnan found himself near the field of action, all other feelings but
that of confidence disappeared never to return.  From Boulogne he
followed the coast to Calais.  Calais was the place of general
rendezvous, and at Calais he had named to each of his recruits the
hostelry of "Le Grande Monarque," where living was not extravagant, where
sailors messed, and where men of the sword, with sheath of leather, be it
understood, found lodging, table, food, and all the comforts of life, for
thirty sous per diem.  D'Artagnan proposed to himself to take them by
surprise _in flagrante delicto_ of wandering life, and to judge by the
first appearance if he could count on them as trusty companions.

He arrived at Calais at half past four in the afternoon.


Chapter XXII:
D'Artagnan travels for the House of Planchet and Company.

The hostelry of "Le Grand Monarque" was situated in a little street
parallel to the port without looking out upon the port itself.  Some
lanes cut - as steps cut the two parallels of the ladder - the two great
straight lines of the port and the street.  By these lanes passengers
came suddenly from the port into the street, or from the street on to the
port.  D'Artagnan, arrived at the port, took one of these lanes, and came
out in front of the hostelry of "Le Grand Monarque."  The moment was well
chosen and might remind D'Artagnan of his start in life at the hostelry
of the "Franc-Meunier" at Meung.  Some sailors who had been playing at
dice had started a quarrel, and were threatening each other furiously.
The host, hostess, and two lads were watching with anxiety the circle of
these angry gamblers, from the midst of which war seemed ready to break
forth, bristling with knives and hatchets.  The play, nevertheless, was

< < 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