List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

side of the polygon, you will trace two diagonals, which will cut the
perpendicular.  These will form the precise lines of your defense."

"The devil!" said D'Artagnan, stopping at this point of the
demonstration; "why, this is a complete system, Porthos."

"Entirely," said Porthos.  "Continue."

"No; I have read enough of it; but, since it is you, my dear Porthos, who
direct the works, what need have you of setting down your system so
formally in writing?"

"Oh! my dear friend, death!"

"How! death?"

"Why, we are all mortal, are we not?"

"That is true," said D'Artagnan; "you have a reply for everything, my
friend."  And he replaced the plan upon the stone.

But however short the time he had the plan in his hands, D'Artagnan had
been able to distinguish, under the enormous writing of Porthos, a much
more delicate hand, which reminded him of certain letters to Marie
Michon, with which he had been acquainted in his youth.  Only the India-
rubber had passed and repassed so often over this writing that it might
have escaped a less practiced eye than that of our musketeer.

"Bravo! my friend, bravo!" said D'Artagnan.

"And now you know all that you want to know, do you not?" said Porthos,
wheeling about.

"_Mordioux!_ yes, only do me one last favor, dear friend!"

"Speak, I am master here."

"Do me the pleasure to tell me the name of that gentleman who is walking

"Where, there?"

"Behind the soldiers."

"Followed by a lackey?"


"In company with a mean sort of fellow, dressed in black?"

"Yes, I mean him."

"That is M. Getard."

"And who is Getard, my friend?"

"He is the architect of the house."

"Of what house?"

"Of M. Fouquet's house."

"Ah! ah!" cried D'Artagnan, "you are of the household of M. Fouquet,
then, Porthos?"

"I! what do you mean by that?" said the topographer, blushing to the top
of his ears.

"Why, you say the house, when speaking of Belle-Isle, as if you were
speaking of the chateau of Pierrefonds."

Porthos bit his lip.  "Belle-Isle, my friend," said he, "belongs to M.
Fouquet, does it not?"

"Yes, I believe so."

"As Pierrefonds belongs to me?"

"I told you I believed so; there are no two words to _that_."

"Did you ever see a man there who is accustomed to walk about with a
ruler in his hand?"

"No; but I might have seen him there, if he really walked there."

"Well, that gentleman is M. Boulingrin."

"Who is M. Boulingrin?"

"Now we are coming to it.  If, when this gentleman is walking with a
ruler in his hand, any one should ask me, - 'who is M. Boulingrin?'  I
should reply: 'He is the architect of the house.'  Well!  M. Getard is
the Boulingrin of M. Fouquet.  But he has nothing to do with the
fortifications, which are my department alone; do you understand? mine,
absolutely mine."

"Ah! Porthos," cried D'Artagnan, letting his arms fall as a conquered man
gives up his sword; "ah! my friend, you are not only a Herculean
topographer, you are, still further, a dialectician of the first water."

"Is it not powerfully reasoned?" said Porthos: and he puffed and blew
like the conger which D'Artagnan had let slip from his hand.

"And now," said D'Artagnan, "that shabby-looking man, who accompanies M.
Getard, is he also of the household of M. Fouquet?"

"Oh! yes," said Porthos, with contempt; "it is one M. Jupenet, or
Juponet, a sort of poet."

"Who is come to establish himself here?"

"I believe so."

"I thought M. Fouquet had poets enough, yonder - Scudery, Loret,
Pelisson, La Fontaine?  If I must tell you the truth, Porthos, that poet
disgraces you."

"Eh! - my friend; but what saves us is that he is not here as a poet."

"As what, then, is he?"

"As printer.  And you make me remember, I have a word to say to the

"Say it, then."

Porthos made a sign to Jupenet, who perfectly recollected D'Artagnan, and
did not care to come nearer; which naturally produced another sign from
Porthos.  This was so imperative, he was obliged to obey.  As he
approached, "Come hither!" said Porthos.  "You only landed yesterday and
you have begun your tricks already."

"How so, monsieur le baron?" asked Jupenet, trembling.

"Your press was groaning all night, monsieur," said Porthos, "and you
prevented my sleeping, _corne de boeuf!_"

"Monsieur - " objected Jupenet, timidly.

"You have nothing yet to print: therefore you have no occasion to set
your press going.  What did you print last night?"

"Monsieur, a light poem of my own composition."

"Light! no, no, monsieur; the press groaned pitifully beneath it.  Let it
not happen again.  Do you understand?"

"Yes, monsieur."

"You promise me?"

"I do, monsieur!"

"Very well; this time I pardon you.  Adieu!"

The poet retreated as humbly as he had approached.

"Well, now we have combed that fellow's head, let us breakfast."

"Yes," replied D'Artagnan, "let us breakfast."

"Only," said Porthos, "I beg you to observe, my friend, that we only have
two hours for our repast."

"What would you have?  We will try to make two hours suffice.  But why
have you only two hours?"

"Because it is high tide at one o'clock, and, with the tide, I am going
to Vannes.  But, as I shall return to-morrow, my dear friend, you can
stay here; you shall be master; I have a good cook and a good cellar."

"No," interrupted D'Artagnan, "better than that."


"You are going to Vannes, you say?"

"To a certainty."

"To see Aramis?"


"Well!  I came from Paris on purpose to see Aramis."

"That's true."

"I will go with you then."

"Do; that's the thing."

"Only, I ought to have seen Aramis first, and you after.  But man
proposes, and God disposes.  I have begun with you, and will finish with

"Very well!"

"And in how many hours can you go from here to Vannes?"

"Oh! _pardieu!_ in six hours.  Three hours by sea to Sarzeau, three hours
by road from Sarzeau to Vannes."

"How convenient that is!  Being so near to the bishopric; do you often go
to Vannes?"

"Yes; once a week.  But, stop till I get my plan."

Porthos picked up his plan, folded it carefully, and engulfed it in his
large pocket.

"Good!" said D'Artagnan aside; "I think I now know the real engineer who
is fortifying Belle-Isle."

Two hours after, at high tide, Porthos and D'Artagnan set out for Sarzeau.

Chapter LXXI:
A Procession at Vannes.

The passage from Belle-Isle to Sarzeau was made rapidly enough, thanks to
one of those little corsairs of which D'Artagnan had been told during his
voyage, and which, shaped for fast sailing and destined for the chase,
were sheltered at that time in the roadstead of Locmaria, where one of
them, with a quarter of its war-crew, performed duty between Belle-Isle
and the continent.  D'Artagnan had an opportunity of convincing himself
that Porthos, though engineer and topographer, was not deeply versed in
affairs of state.  His perfect ignorance, with any other, might have
passed for well-informed dissimulation.  But D'Artagnan knew too well all
the folds and refolds of his Porthos, not to find a secret if there were
one there; like those regular, minute old bachelors, who know how to
find, with their eyes shut, each book on the shelves of their library and
each piece of linen in their wardrobe.  So if he had found nothing, our
cunning D'Artagnan, in rolling and unrolling his Porthos, it was because,
in truth, there was nothing to be found.

"Be it so," said D'Artagnan; "I shall get to know more at Vannes in half
an hour than Porthos has discovered at Belle-Isle in two months.  Only,
in order that I may know something, it is important that Porthos should
not make use of the only stratagem I leave at his disposal.  He must not
warn Aramis of my arrival."  All the care of the musketeer was then, for
the moment, confined to the watching of Porthos.  And let us hasten to
say, Porthos did not deserve all this mistrust.  Porthos thought of no
evil.  Perhaps, on first seeing him, D'Artagnan had inspired him with a
little suspicion; but almost immediately D'Artagnan had reconquered in
that good and brave heart the place he had always occupied, and not the
least cloud darkened the large eye of Porthos, fixed from time to time
with tenderness on his friend.

On landing, Porthos inquired if his horses were waiting and soon
perceived them at the crossing of the road that winds round Sarzeau, and
which, without passing through that little city, leads towards Vannes.
These horses were two in number, one for M. de Vallon, and one for his
equerry; for Porthos had an equerry since Mouston was only able to use a
carriage as a means of locomotion.  D'Artagnan expected that Porthos
would propose to send forward his equerry upon one horse to bring back
another, and he - D'Artagnan - had made up his mind to oppose this
proposition.  But nothing D'Artagnan had expected happened.  Porthos
simply told the equerry to dismount and await his return at Sarzeau,
whilst D'Artagnan would ride his horse; which was arranged.

"Eh! but you are quite a man of precaution, my dear Porthos," said
D'Artagnan to his friend, when he found himself in the saddle, upon the
equerry's horse.

"Yes; but this is a kindness on the part of Aramis.  I have not my stud
here, and Aramis has placed his stables at my disposal."

"Good horses for bishop's horses, _mordioux!_" said D'Artagnan.  "It is
true, Aramis is a bishop of a peculiar kind."

"He is a holy man!" replied Porthos, in a tone almost nasal, and with his
eyes raised towards heaven.

"Then he is much changed," said D'Artagnan; "you and I have known him
passably profane."

"Grace has touched him," said Porthos.

"Bravo," said D'Artagnan, "that redoubles my desire to see my dear old
friend."  And he spurred his horse, which sprang off into a more rapid

"_Peste!_" said Porthos, "if we go on at this rate, we shall only take
one hour instead of two."

"To go how far, do you say, Porthos?"

"Four leagues and a half."

"That will be a good pace."

"I could have embarked you on the canal, but the devil take rowers and

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: