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List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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Then, at the present, I am very well with a king, and with a king who has
the appearance of determining to reign.  May God keep him in that
illustrious road!  For, if he is resolved to reign, he will want me; and
if he wants me, he will give me what he has promised me - warmth and
light; so that I march, comparatively, now, as I marched formerly, - from
nothing to everything.  Only the nothing of to-day is the all of former
days; there has only this little change taken place in my life.  And now
let us see! let us take the part of the heart, as I just now was speaking
of it.  But in truth, I only spoke of it from memory."  And the Gascon
applied his hand to his breast, as if he were actually seeking the place
where his heart was.

"Ah! wretch!" murmured he, smiling with bitterness.  "Ah! poor mortal
species!  You hoped, for an instant, that you had not a heart, and now
you find you have one - bad courtier as thou art, - and even one of the
most seditious.  You have a heart which speaks to you in favor of M.
Fouquet.  And what is M. Fouquet, when the king is in question? - A
conspirator, a real conspirator, who did not even give himself the
trouble to conceal his being a conspirator; therefore, what a weapon
would you not have against him, if his good grace, and his intelligence
had not made a scabbard for that weapon.  An armed revolt! - for, in
fact, M. Fouquet has been guilty of an armed revolt.  Thus, while the
king vaguely suspects M. Fouquet of rebellion, I know it - I could prove
that M. Fouquet had caused the shedding of the blood of his majesty's
subjects.  Now, then, let us see.  Knowing all that, and holding my
tongue, what further would this heart wish in return for a kind action of
M. Fouquet's, for an advance of fifteen thousand livres, for a diamond
worth a thousand pistoles, for a smile in which there was as much
bitterness as kindness? - I save his life."

"Now, then, I hope," continued the musketeer, "that this imbecile of a
heart is going to preserve silence, and so be fairly quits with M.
Fouquet.  Now, then, the king becomes my sun, and as my heart is quits
with M. Fouquet, let him beware who places himself between me and my
sun!  Forward, for his majesty Louis XIV.! - Forward !"

These reflections were the only impediments which were able to retard the
progress of D'Artagnan.  These reflections once made, he increased the
speed of his horse.  But, however perfect his horse Zephyr might be, it
could not hold out at such a pace forever.  The day after his departure
from Paris, his mount was left at Chartres, at the house of an old friend
D'Artagnan had met with in an _hotelier_ of that city.  From that moment
the musketeer travelled on post-horses.  Thanks to this mode of
locomotion, he traversed the space separating Chartres from
Chateaubriand.  In the last of these two cities, far enough from the
coast to prevent any one guessing that D'Artagnan wished to reach the sea
- far enough from Paris to prevent all suspicion of his being a messenger
from Louis XIV., whom D'Artagnan had called his sun, without suspecting
that he who was only at present a rather poor star in the heaven of
royalty, would, one day, make that star his emblem; the messenger of
Louis XIV., we say, quitted his post and purchased a _bidet_ of the
meanest appearance, - one of those animals which an officer of the
cavalry would never choose, for fear of being disgraced.  Excepting the
color, this new acquisition recalled to the mind of D'Artagnan the famous
orange-colored horse, with which, or rather upon which, he had made his
first appearance in the world.  Truth to say, from the moment he crossed
this new steed, it was no longer D'Artagnan who was travelling, - it was
a good man clothed in an iron-gray _justaucorps_, brown _haut-de-
chausses_, holding the medium between a priest and a layman; that which
brought him nearest to the churchman was, that D'Artagnan had placed on
his head a _calotte_ of threadbare velvet, and over the _calotte_, a
large black hat; no more sword, a stick hung by a cord to his wrist, but
to which, he promised himself, as an unexpected auxiliary, to join, upon
occasion, a good dagger, ten inches long, concealed under his cloak.  The
_bidet_ purchased at Chateaubriand completed the metamorphosis; it was
called, or rather D'Artagnan called if, Furet (ferret).

"If I have changed Zephyr into Furet," said D'Artagnan, "I must make some
diminutive or other of my own name.  So, instead of D'Artagnan, I will be
Agnan, short; that is a concession which I naturally owe to my gray coat,
my round hat, and my rusty _calotte_."

Monsieur d'Artagnan traveled, then, pretty easily upon Furet, who ambled
like a true butter-woman's pad, and who, with his amble, managed
cheerfully about twelve leagues a day, upon four spindle-shanks, of which
the practiced eye of D'Artagnan had appreciated the strength and safety
beneath the thick mass of hair which covered them.  Jogging along, the
traveler took notes, studied the country, which he traversed reserved and
silent, ever seeking the most plausible pretext for reaching Belle-Ile-
en-Mer, and for seeing everything without arousing suspicion.  In this
manner, he was enabled to convince himself of the importance the event
assumed in proportion as he drew near to it.  In this remote country, in
this ancient duchy of Bretagne, which was not France at that period, and
is not so even now, the people knew nothing of the king of France.  They
not only did not know him, but were unwilling to know him.  One face - a
single one - floated visibly for them upon the political current.  Their
ancient dukes no longer ruled them; government was a void - nothing
more.  In place of the sovereign duke, the seigneurs of parishes reigned
without control; and, above these seigneurs, God, who has never been
forgotten in Bretagne.  Among these suzerains of chateaux and belfries,
the most powerful, the richest, the most popular, was M. Fouquet,
seigneur of Belle-Isle.  Even in the country, even within sight of that
mysterious isle, legends and traditions consecrate its wonders.  Every
one might not penetrate it: the isle, of an extent of six leagues in
length, and six in breadth, was a seignorial property, which the people
had for a long time respected, covered as it was with the name of Retz,
so redoubtable in the country.  Shortly after the erection of this
seignory into a marquistate, Belle-Isle passed to M. Fouquet.  The
celebrity of the isle did not date from yesterday; its name, or rather
its qualification, is traced back to the remotest antiquity.  The
ancients called it Kalonese, from two Greek words, signifying beautiful
isle.  Thus, at a distance of eighteen hundred years, it had borne, in
another idiom, the same name it still bears.  There was, then, something
in itself in this property of M. Fouquet's, besides its position of six
leagues off the coast of France; a position which makes it a sovereign in
its maritime solitude, like a majestic ship which disdains roads, and
proudly casts anchor in mid-ocean.

D'Artagnan learnt all this without appearing the least in the world
astonished.  He also learnt the best way to get intelligence was to go to
La Roche-Bernard, a tolerably important city at the mouth of the
Vilaine.  Perhaps there he could embark; if not, crossing the salt
marshes, he would repair to Guerande or Le Croisic, to wait for an
opportunity to cross over to Belle-Isle.  He had discovered, besides,
since his departure from Chateaubriand, that nothing would be impossible
for Furet under the impulsion of M. Agnan, and nothing to M. Agnan
through the initiative of Furet.  He prepared, then, to sup off a teal
and a _torteau_, in a hotel of La Roche-Bernard, and ordered to be
brought from the cellar, to wash down these two Breton dishes, some
cider, which, the moment it touched his lips, he perceived to be more
Breton still.


Chapter LXVII:
How D'Artagnan became Acquainted with a Poet, who had turned Printer for
the Sake of Printing his own Verses.

Before taking his place at table, D'Artagnan acquired, as was his custom,
all the information he could; but it is an axiom of curiosity, that every
man who wishes to question well and fruitfully ought in the first place
to lay himself open to questions.  D'Artagnan sought, then, with his
usual skill, a promising questioner in the hostelry of La Roche-Bernard.
At the moment, there were in the house, on the first story, two travelers
either preparing for supper, or at supper itself.  D'Artagnan had seen
their nags in the stable, and their equipages in the _salle_.  One
traveled with a lackey, undoubtedly a person of consideration; - two
Perche mares, sleek, sound beasts, were suitable means of locomotion.
The other, a little fellow, a traveler of meagre appearance, wearing a
dusty surtout, dirty linen, and boots more worn by the pavement than the
stirrup, had come from Nantes with a cart drawn by a horse so like Furet
in color, that D'Artagnan might have gone a hundred miles without finding
a better match.  This cart contained divers large packets wrapped in
pieces of old stuff.

"That traveler yonder," said D'Artagnan to himself, "is the man for my
money.  He will do, he suits me; I ought to do for him and suit him; M.
Agnan, with the gray doublet and the rusty _calotte_, is not unworthy of
supping with the gentleman of the old boots and still older horse."

This said, D'Artagnan called the host, and desired him to send his teal,
_tourteau_, and cider up to the chamber of the gentleman of modest
exterior.  He himself climbed, a plate in his hand, the wooden staircase
which led to the chamber, and began to knock at the door.

"Come in!" said the unknown.  D'Artagnan entered, with a simper on his
lips, his plate under his arm, his hat in one hand, his candle in the
other.

"Excuse me, monsieur," said he, "I am as you are, a traveler; I know no
one in the hotel, and I have the bad habit of losing my spirits when I
eat alone; so that my repast appears a bad one to me, and does not
nourish me.  Your face, which I saw just now, when you came down to have

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