List Of Contents | Contents of Ten Years Later, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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Now this matter is settled, therefore, it remains for me to ask, with the
greatest humility, your forgiveness for this shameless action, as most
certainly I should have asked it of your father, if he were still alive,
and if I had met him after my return to France, subsequent to the death
of King Charles I."

"That is too much, M. d'Artagnan," exclaimed many voices, with animation.

"No, gentlemen," said the captain.  "And now, M. de Wardes, I hope all is
finished between us, and that you will have no further occasion to speak
ill of me again.  Do you consider it completely settled?"

De Wardes bowed, and muttered to himself inarticulately.

"I trust also," said D'Artagnan, approaching the young man closely, "that
you will no longer speak ill of any one, as it seems you have the
unfortunate habit of doing; for a man so puritanically conscientious as
you are, who can reproach an old soldier for a youthful freak five-and-
thirty years after it happened, will allow me to ask whether you, who
advocate such excessive purity of conscience, will undertake on your side
to do nothing contrary either to conscience or the principle of honor.
And now, listen attentively to what I am going to say, M. de Wardes, in
conclusion.  Take care that no tale, with which your name may be
associated, reaches my ear."

"Monsieur," said De Wardes, "it is useless threatening to no purpose."

"I have not yet finished, M. de Wardes, and you must listen to me still
further."  The circle of listeners, full of eager curiosity, drew
closer.  "You spoke just now of the honor of a woman, and of the honor of
your father.  We were glad to hear you speak in that manner; for it is
pleasing to think that such a sentiment of delicacy and rectitude, and
which did not exist, it seems, in _our_ minds, lives in our children; and
it is delightful, too, to see a young man, at an age when men from habit
become the destroyers of the honor of women, respect and defend it."

De Wardes bit his lip and clenched his hands, evidently much disturbed to
learn how this discourse, the commencement of which was announced in so
threatening a manner, would terminate.

"How did it happen, then, that you allowed yourself to say to M. de
Bragelonne that he did not know who his mother was?"

Raoul's eyes flashed, as, darting forward, he exclaimed, - "Chevalier,
this is a personal affair of my own!"  At which exclamation, a smile,
full of malice, passed across De Wardes's face.

D'Artagnan put Raoul aside, saying, - "Do not interrupt me, young man."
And looking at De Wardes in an authoritative manner, he continued: - "I
am now dealing with a matter which cannot be settled by means of the
sword.  I discuss it before men of honor, all of whom have more than once
had their swords in their hands in affairs of honor.  I selected them
expressly.  These gentlemen well know that every secret for which men
fight ceases to be a secret.  I again put my question to M. de Wardes.
What was the subject of conversation when you offended this young man, in
offending his father and mother at the same time?"

"It seems to me," returned De Wardes, "that liberty of speech is allowed,
when it is supported by every means which a man of courage has at his

"Tell me what the means are by which a man of courage can sustain a
slanderous expression."

"The sword."

"You fail, not only in logic, in your argument, but in religion and
honor.  You expose the lives of many others, without referring to your
own, which seems to be full of hazard.  Besides, fashions pass away,
monsieur, and the fashion of duelling has passed away, without referring
in any way to the edicts of his majesty which forbid it.  Therefore, in
order to be consistent with your own chivalrous notions, you will at once
apologize to M. de Bragelonne; you will tell him how much you regret
having spoken so lightly, and that the nobility and purity of his race
are inscribed, not in his heart alone, but still more in every action of
his life.  You will do and say this, M. de Wardes, as I, an old officer,
did and said just now to your boy's moustache."

"And if I refuse?" inquired De Wardes.

"In that case the result will be - "

"That which you think you will prevent," said De Wardes, laughing; "the
result will be that your conciliatory address will end in a violation of
the king's prohibition."

"Not so," said the captain, "you are quite mistaken."

"What will be the result, then?"

"The result will be that I shall go to the king, with whom I am on
tolerably good terms, to whom I have been happy enough to render certain
services, dating from a period when you were not born, and who, at my
request, has just sent me an order in blank for M. Baisemeaux de
Montlezun, governor of the Bastile; and I shall say to the king: 'Sire, a
man has in a most cowardly way insulted M. de Bragelonne by insulting his
mother; I have written this man's name upon the _lettre de cachet_ which
your majesty has been kind enough to give me, so that M. de Wardes is in
the Bastile for three years."  And D'Artagnan, drawing the order signed
by the king from his pocket, held it towards De Wardes.

Remarking that the young man was not quite convinced, and received the
warning as an idle threat, he shrugged his shoulders and walked leisurely
towards the table, upon which lay a writing-case and a pen, the length of
which would have terrified the topographical Porthos.  De Wardes then saw
that nothing could well be more seriously intended than the threat in
question, for the Bastile, even at that period, was already held in
dread.  He advanced a step towards Raoul, and, in an almost
unintelligible voice, said, - "I offer my apologies in the terms which M.
d'Artagnan just now dictated, and which I am forced to make to you."

"One moment, monsieur," said the musketeer, with the greatest
tranquillity, "you mistake the terms of the apology.  I did not say, 'and
which I am forced to make'; I said, 'and which my conscience induces me
to make.'  This latter expression, believe me, is better than the former;
and it will be far preferable, since it will be the most truthful
expression of your own sentiments."

"I subscribe to it," said De Wardes; "but submit, gentlemen, that a
thrust of the sword through the body, as was the custom formerly, was far
better than tyranny like this."

"No, monsieur," replied Buckingham; "for the sword-thrust, when received,
was no indication that a particular person was right or wrong; it only
showed that he was more or less skillful in the use of the weapon."

"Monsieur!" exclaimed De Wardes.

"There, now," interrupted D'Artagnan, "you are going to say something
very rude, and I am rendering a service by stopping you in time."

"Is that all, monsieur?" inquired De Wardes.

"Absolutely everything," replied D'Artagnan; "and these gentlemen, as
well as myself, are quite satisfied with you."

"Believe me, monsieur, that your reconciliations are not successful."

"In what way?"

"Because, as we are now about to separate, I would wager that M. de
Bragelonne and myself are greater enemies than ever."

"You are deceived, monsieur, as far as I am concerned," returned Raoul;
"for I do not retain the slightest animosity in my heart against you."

This last blow overwhelmed De Wardes.  He cast his eyes around him like a
man bewildered.  D'Artagnan saluted most courteously the gentlemen who
had been present at the explanation; and every one, on leaving the room,
shook hands with him; but not one hand was held out towards De Wardes.
"Oh!" exclaimed the young man, "can I not find some one on whom to wreak
my vengeance?"

"You can, monsieur, for I am here," whispered a voice full of menace in
his ear.

De Wardes turned round, and saw the Duke of Buckingham, who, having
probably remained behind with that intention, had just approached him.
"You, monsieur?" exclaimed De Wardes.

"Yes, I!  I am no subject of the king of France; I am not going to remain
on the territory, since I am about setting off for England.  I have
accumulated in my heart such a mass of despair and rage, that I, too,
like yourself, need to revenge myself upon some one.  I approve M.
d'Artagnan's principles profoundly, but I am not bound to apply them to
you.  I am an Englishman, and, in my turn, I propose to you what you
proposed to others to no purpose.  Since you, therefore, are so terribly
incensed, take me as a remedy.  In thirty-four hours' time I shall be at
Calais.  Come with me; the journey will appear shorter if together, than
if alone.  We will fight, when we get there, upon the sands which are
covered by the rising tide, and which form part of the French territory
during six hours of the day, but belong to the territory of Heaven during
the other six."

"I accept willingly," said De Wardes.

"I assure you," said the duke, "that if you kill me, you will be
rendering me an infinite service."

"I will do my utmost to make myself agreeable to you, duke," said De

"It is agreed, then, that I carry you off with me?"

"I shall be at your commands.  I needed some real danger and some mortal
risk to run, to tranquilize me."

"In that case, I think you have met with what you are looking for.
Farewell, M. de Wardes; to-morrow morning, my valet will tell you the
exact hour of our departure; we can travel together like two excellent
friends.  I generally travel as fast as I can.  Adieu."

Buckingham saluted De Wardes, and returned towards the king's apartments;
De Wardes, irritated beyond measure, left the Palais Royal, and hurried
through the streets homeward to the house where he lodged.

Chapter XXI:
Baisemeaux de Montlezun.

After the austere lesson administered to De Wardes, Athos and D'Artagnan
together descended the staircase which led to the courtyard of the Palais
Royal.  "You perceive," said Athos to D'Artagnan, "that Raoul cannot,
sooner or later, avoid a duel with De Wardes, for De Wardes is as brave
as he is vicious and wicked."

"I know such fellows well," replied D'Artagnan; "I had an affair with the

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