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List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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people.  And these people, whose interests were so warmly looked after,
in order not to fail in respect for their king, quitted shops, stalls,
and _atliers_, to go and evince a little gratitude to Louis XIV.,
absolutely like invited guests, who feared to commit an impoliteness in
not repairing to the house of him who had invited them.  According to the
tenor of the sentence, which the criers read aloud and incorrectly, two
farmers of the revenues, monopolists of money, dilapidators of the royal
provisions, extortioners, and forgers, were about to undergo capital
punishment on the Place de Greve, with their names blazoned over their
heads, according to their sentence.  As to those names, the sentence made
no mention of them.  The curiosity of the Parisians was at its height,
and, as we have said, an immense crowd waited with feverish impatience
the hour fixed for the execution.  The news had already spread that the
prisoners, transferred to the Chateau of Vincennes, would be conducted
from that prison to the Place de Greve.  Consequently, the faubourg and
the Rue Saint Antoine were crowded; for the population of Paris in those
days of great executions was divided into two categories: those who came
to see the condemned pass - these were of timid and mild hearts, but
philosophically curious - and those who wished to see the condemned die -
these had hearts that hungered for sensation.  On this day M. d'Artagnan
received his last instructions from the king, and made his adieus to his
friends, the number of whom was, at the moment, reduced to Planchet,
then he traced the plan of his day, as every busy man whose moments are
counted ought to do, because he appreciates their importance.

"My departure is to be," said he, "at break of day, three o'clock in the
morning; I have then fifteen hours before me.  Take from them the six
hours of sleep which are indispensable for me - six; one hour for repasts
- seven; one hour for a farewell visit to Athos - eight; two hours for
chance circumstances - total, ten.  There are then five hours left.  One
hour to get my money, - that is, to have payment refused by M. Fouquet;
another hour to go and receive my money of M. Colbert, together with his
questions and grimaces; one hour to look over my clothes and arms, and
get my boots cleaned.  I still have two hours left.  _Mordioux!_ how rich
I am."  And so saying, D'Artagnan felt a strange joy, a joy of youth, a
perfume of those great and happy years of former times mount into his
brain and intoxicate him.  "During these two hours I will go," said the
musketeer, "and take my quarter's rent of the Image-de-Notre-Dame.  That
will be pleasant.  Three hundred and seventy-five livres!  _Mordioux!_
but that is astonishing!  If the poor man who has but one livre in his
pocket, found a livre and twelve deniers, that would be justice, that
would be excellent; but never does such a godsend fall to the lot of the
poor man.  The rich man, on the contrary, makes himself revenue with his
money, which he does not even touch.  Here are three hundred and seventy-
five livres which fall to me from heaven.  I will go then to the Image-de-
Notre-Dame, and drink a glass of Spanish wine with my tenant, which he
cannot fail to offer me.  But order must be observed, Monsieur
d'Artagnan, order must be observed!  Let us organize our time, then, and
distribute the employment of it!  Art. 1st, Athos; Art. 2d, the Image-de-
Notre-Dame; Art. 3rd, M. Fouquet; Art. 4th, M. Colbert; Art. 5th, supper;
Art. 6th, clothes, boots, horse, portmanteau; Art. 7th and last, sleep."

In consequence of this arrangement, D'Artagnan went straight to the Comte
de la Fere, to whom, modestly and ingenuously, he related a part of his
fortunate adventures.  Athos had not been without uneasiness on the
subject of D'Artagnan's visit to the king; but few words sufficed for an
explanation of that.  Athos divined that Louis had charged D'Artagnan
with some important mission, and did not even make an effort to draw the
secret from him.  He only recommended him to take care of himself, and
offered discreetly to accompany him if that were desirable.

"But, my dear friend," said D'Artagnan, " I am going nowhere."

"What! you come and bid me adieu, and are going nowhere?"

"Oh! yes, yes," replied D'Artagnan, coloring a little, "I am going to
make an acquisition."

"That is quite another thing.  Then I change my formula.  Instead of 'Do
not get yourself killed,' I will say, - 'Do not get yourself robbed.'"

"My friend, I will inform you if I set eyes on any property that pleases
me, and shall expect you will favor me with your opinion."

"Yes, yes," said Athos, too delicate to permit himself even the
consolation of a smile.  Raoul imitated the paternal reserve.  But
D'Artagnan thought it would appear too mysterious to leave his friends
under a pretense, without even telling them the route he was about to
take."

"I have chosen Le Mans," said he to Athos.  "It is a good country?"

"Excellent, my friend," replied the count, without making him observe
that Le Mans was in the same directions as La Touraine, and that by
waiting two days, at most, he might travel with a friend.  But
D'Artagnan, more embarrassed than the count, dug, at every explanation,
deeper into the mud, into which he sank by degrees.  "I shall set out to-
morrow at daybreak," said he at last.  "Till that time, will you come
with me, Raoul?"

"Yes, monsieur le chevalier," said the young man, "if monsieur le comte
does not want me."

"No, Raoul; I am to have an audience to-day of Monsieur, the king's
brother; that is all I have to do."

Raoul asked Grimaud for his sword, which the old man brought him
immediately.  "Now then," added D'Artagnan, opening his arms to Athos,
"adieu, my dear friend!"  Athos held him in a long embrace, and the
musketeer, who knew his discretion so well, murmured in his ear - "An
affair of state," to which Athos only replied by a pressure of the hand,
still more significant.  They then separated.  Raoul took the arm of his
old friend, who led him along the Rue Saint-Honore.  "I an conducting you
to the abode of the god Plutus," said D'Artagnan to the young man;
"prepare yourself.  The whole day you will witness the piling up of
crowns.  Heavens! how I am changed!"

"Oh! what numbers of people there are in the street!" said Raoul.

"Is there a procession to-day?" asked D'Artagnan of a passer-by.

"Monsieur, it is a hanging," replied the man.

"What! a hanging at the Greve?" said D'Artagnan.

"Yes, monsieur."

"The devil take the rogue who gets himself hung the day I want to go and
take my rent!" cried D'Artagnan.  "Raoul, did you ever see anybody hung?"

"Never, monsieur - thank God!"

"Oh! how young that sounds!  If you were on guard in the trenches, as I
was, and a spy!  But, pardon me, Raoul, I am doting - you are quite
right, it is a hideous sight to see a person hung!  At what hour do they
hang them, monsieur, if you please?"

"Monsieur," replied the stranger respectfully, delighted at joining
conversation with two men of the sword, "it will take place at about
three o'clock."

"Aha! it is now only half-past one; let us step out, we shall be there in
time to touch my three hundred and seventy-five livres, and get away
before the arrival of the malefactor."

"Malefactors, monsieur," continued the _bourgeois_; "there are two of
them."

"Monsieur, I return to you many thanks," said D'Artagnan, who as he grew
older, had become polite to a degree.  Drawing Raoul along, he directed
his course rapidly in the direction of La Greve.  Without that great
experience musketeers have of a crowd, to which were joined an
irresistible strength of wrist, and an uncommon suppleness of shoulders,
our two travelers would not have arrived at their place of destination.
They followed the line of the Quai, which they had gained on quitting the
Rue Saint-Honore, where they left Athos.  D'Artagnan went first; his
elbow, his wrist, his shoulder formed three wedges which he knew how to
insinuate with skill into the groups, to make them split and separate
like firewood.  He made use sometimes of the hilt of his sword as an
additional help: introducing it between ribs that were too rebellious,
making it take the part of a lever or crowbar, to separate husband from
wife, uncle from nephew, and brother from brother.  And all that was done
so naturally, and with such gracious smiles, that people must have had
ribs of bronze not to cry thank you when the wrist made its play, or
hearts of diamond not to be enchanted when such a bland smile enlivened
the lips of the musketeer.  Raoul, following his friend, cajoled the
women who admired his beauty, pushed back the men who felt the rigidity
of his muscles, and both opened, thanks to these maneuvers, the compact
and muddy tide of the populace.  They arrived in sight of the two
gibbets, from which Raoul turned away his eyes in disgust.  As for
D'Artagnan, he did not even see them; his house with its gabled roof, its
windows crowded with the curious, attracted and even absorbed all the
attention he was capable of.  He distinguished in the Place and around
the houses a good number of musketeers on leave, who, some with women,
others with friends, awaited the crowning ceremony.  What rejoiced him
above all was to see that his tenant, the _cabaretier_, was so busy he
hardly knew which way to turn.  Three lads could not supply the
drinkers.  They filled the shop, the chambers, and the court, even.
D'Artagnan called Raoul's attention to this concourse, adding: "The
fellow will have no excuse for not paying his rent.  Look at those
drinkers, Raoul, one would say they were jolly companions.  _Mordioux!_
why, there is no room anywhere!"  D'Artagnan, however, contrived to catch
hold of the master by the corner of his apron, and to make himself known
to him.

"Ah, monsieur le chevalier," said the _cabaretier_, half distracted, "one
minute if you please.  I have here a hundred mad devils turning my cellar
upside down."

"The cellar, if you like, but not the money-box."

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