it strikes me to the earth every time I rise. What can I do with Parry as my only servant, with Parry, whom Monk has already driven from his presence? No, no, no, count, we must yield to this last blow." "But what your majesty cannot do, and what Parry can no more attempt, do you not believe that I could succeed in accomplishing?" "You - you, count - you would go?" "If it please your majesty," said Athos, bowing to the king, "yes, I will go, sire." "What! you so happy here, count?" "I am never happy when I have a duty left to accomplish, and it is an imperative duty which the king your father left me to watch over your fortunes, and make a royal use of his money. So, if your majesty honors me with a sign, I will go with you." "Ah, monsieur!" said the king, forgetting all royal etiquette and throwing his arms around the neck of Athos, "you prove to me that there is a God in heaven, and that this God sometimes sends messengers to the unfortunate who groan on the earth." Athos, exceedingly moved by this burst of feeling of the young man, thanked him with profound respect, and approached the window. "Grimaud!" cried he, "bring out my horses." "What, now - immediately!" said the king. "Ah, monsieur, you are indeed a wonderful man!" "Sire," said Athos, "I know nothing more pressing than your majesty's service. Besides," added he, smiling, "it is a habit contracted long since, in the service of the queen your aunt, and of the king your father. How is it possible for me to lose it at the moment your majesty's service calls for it?" "What a man!" murmured the king. Then, after a moment's reflection, - "But no, count, I cannot expose you to such privations. I have no means of rewarding such services." "Bah!" said Athos, laughing. "Your majesty is joking; have you not a million? Ah! why am I not possessed of half such a sum! I would already have raised a regiment. But, thank God! I have still a few rolls of gold and some family diamonds left. Your majesty will, I hope, deign to share with a devoted servant." "With a friend - yes, count, but on condition that, in his turn, that friend will share with me hereafter!" "Sire!" said Athos, opening a casket, form which he drew both gold and jewels, "you see, sire, we are too rich. Fortunately, there are four of us, in the event of our meeting with thieves." Joy made the blood rush to the pale cheeks of Charles II., as he saw Athos's two horses, led by Grimaud, already booted for the journey, advance towards the porch. "Blaisois, this letter for the Vicomte de Bragelonne. For everybody else I am gone to Paris. I confide the house to you, Blaisois." Blaisois bowed, shook hands with Grimaud, and shut the gate. Chapter XVII: In which Aramis is sought, and only Bazin is found. Two hours had scarcely elapsed since the departure of the master of the house, who, in Blaisois's sight, had taken the road to Paris, when a horseman, mounted on a good pied horse, stopped before the gate, and with a sonorous "_hola!_" called the stable-boys, who, with the gardeners, had formed a circle round Blaisois, the historian-in-ordinary to the household of the chateau. This "_hola_," doubtless well known to Master Blaisois, made him turn his head and exclaim - "Monsieur d'Artagnan! run quickly, you chaps, and open the gate." A swarm of eight brisk lads flew to the gate, which was opened as if it had been made of feathers; and every one loaded him with attentions, for they knew the welcome this friend was accustomed to receive from their master; and for such remarks the eye of the valet may always be depended upon. "Ah!" said M. d'Artagnan, with an agreeable smile, balancing himself upon his stirrup to jump to the ground, "where is that dear count?" "Ah! how unfortunate you are, monsieur!" said Blaisois: "and how unfortunate will monsieur le comte, our master, think himself when he hears of your coming! As ill luck will have it, monsieur le comte left home two hours ago." D'Artagnan did not trouble himself about such trifles. "Very good!" said he. "You always speak the best French in the world; you shall give me a lesson in grammar and correct language, whilst I wait the return of your master." "That is impossible, monsieur," said Blaisois; "you would have to wait too long." "Will he not come back to-day, then?" "No, nor to-morrow, nor the day after to-morrow. Monsieur le comte has gone on a journey." "A journey!" said D'Artagnan, surprised; "that's a fable, Master Blaisois." "Monsieur, it is no more than the truth. Monsieur has done me the honor to give me the house in charge; and he added, with his voice so full of authority and kindness - that is all one to me: 'You will say I have gone to Paris.'" "Well!" cried D'Artagnan, "since he is gone towards Paris, that is all I wanted to know! you should have told me so at first, booby! He is then two hours in advance?" "Yes, monsieur." "I shall soon overtake him. Is he alone?" "No, monsieur." "Who is with him, then?" "A gentleman whom I don't know, an old man, and M. Grimaud." "Such a party cannot travel as fast as I can - I will start." "Will monsieur listen to me an instant?" said Blaisois, laying his hand gently on the reins of the horse. "Yes, if you don't favor me with fine speeches, and make haste." "Well, then, monsieur, that word Paris appears to me to be only an excuse." "Oh, oh!" said D'Artagnan, seriously, "an excuse, eh?" "Yes, monsieur: and monsieur le comte is not going to Paris, I will swear." "What makes you think so?" "This, - M. Grimaud always knows where our master is going; and he had promised me that the first time he went to Paris, he would take a little money for me to my wife." "What, have you a wife, then?" "I had one - she was of this country; but monsieur thought her a noisy scold, and I sent her to Paris; it is sometimes inconvenient, but very agreeable at others." "I understand; but go on. You do not believe the count gone to Paris?" "No, monsieur; for then M. Grimaud would have broken his word; he would have perjured himself, and that is impossible." "That is impossible," repeated D'Artagnan, quite in a study, because he was quite convinced. "Well, my brave Blaisois, many thanks to you." Blaisois bowed. "Come, you know I am not curious - I have serious business with your master. Could you not, by a little bit of a word - you who speak so well - give me to understand - one syllable only - I will guess the rest." "Upon my word, monsieur, I cannot. I am quite ignorant where monsieur le comte is gone. As to listening at doors, that is contrary to my nature; and besides, it is forbidden here." "My dear fellow," said D'Artagnan, "this is a very bad beginning for me. Never mind; you know when monsieur le comte will return, at least?" "As little, monsieur, as the place of his destination." "Come, Blaisois, come, search." "Monsieur doubts my sincerity? Ah, monsieur, that grieves me much." "The devil take his gilded tongue!" grumbled D'Artagnan. "A clown with a word would be worth a dozen of him. Adieu!" "Monsieur, I have the honor to present you my respects." "_Cuistre!_" said D'Artagnan to himself, "the fellow is unbearable." He gave another look up to the house, turned his horse's head, and set off like a man who has nothing either annoying or embarrassing in his mind. When he was at the end of the wall, and out of sight, - "Well, now, I wonder," said he, breathing quickly, "whether Athos was at home. No; all those idlers, standing with their arms crossed, would have been at work if the eye of the master was near. Athos gone on a journey? - that is incomprehensible. Bah! it is all devilish mysterious! And then - no - he is not the man I want. I want one of a cunning, patient mind. My business is at Melun, in a certain presbytery I am acquainted with. Forty-five leagues - four days and a half! Well, it is fine weather, and I am free. Never mind the distance!" And he put his horse into a trot, directing his course towards Paris. On the fourth day he alighted at Melun, as he had intended. D'Artagnan was never in the habit of asking any one on the road for any common information. For these sorts of details, unless in very serious circumstances, he confided in his perspicacity, which was so seldom at fault, in his experience of thirty years, and in a great habit of reading the physiognomies of houses, as well as those of men. At Melun, D'Artagnan immediately found the presbytery - a charming house, plastered over red brick, with vines climbing along the gutters, and a cross, in carved stone, surmounting the ridge of the roof. From the ground-floor of this house came a noise, or rather a confusion of voices, like the chirping of young birds when the brood is just hatched under the down. One of these voices was spelling the alphabet distinctly. A voice thick, yet pleasant, at the same time scolded the talkers and corrected the faults of the reader. D'Artagnan recognized that voice, and as the window of the ground-floor was open, he leant down from his horse under the branches and red fibers of the vine and cried, "Bazin, my dear Bazin! good-day to you." A short, fat man, with a flat face, a cranium ornamented with a crown of gray hairs, cut short, in imitation of a tonsure, and covered with an old black velvet cap, arose as soon as he heard D'Artagnan - we ought not to say arose, but _bounded up_. In fact, Bazin bounded up, carrying with him his little low chair, which the children tried to take away, with battles more fierce than those of the Greeks endeavoring to recover the body of Patroclus from the hands of the Trojans. Bazin did more than bound; he let fall both his alphabet and his ferule. "You!" said he; "you, Monsieur D'Artagnan?" "Yes, myself! Where is Aramis - no, M. le Chevalier d'Herblay - no, I am still mistaken - Monsieur le Vicaire-General?" "Ah, monsieur," said Bazin, with dignity, "monseigneur is at his diocese." "What did you say?" said D'Artagnan. Bazin repeated the sentence.