Chapter 3: In Which the Reader Will Be Delighted to Find that Porthos Has Lost Nothing of His Strength.

  1. 2: A Letter from H Baisemeaux
  2. Louise de la Valliere
  3. 4: The Rat and the Cheese

D’Artagnan had, according to his usual style, calculated that every hour is worth sixty minutes, and every minute worth sixty seconds. Thanks to this perfectly exact calculation of minutes and seconds, he reached the surintendant’s door at the very moment the soldier was leaving it with his belt empty. D’Artagnan presented himself at the door, which a porter, with a profusely embroidered livery, held half-open for him. D’Artagnan would very much have liked to enter without giving his name, but this was impossible, and so he gave it. Notwithstanding this concession, which ought to have removed every difficulty in the way, at least D’Artagnan thought so, the concièrge hesitated; however, at the second repetition of the title, captain of the king’s guards, the concièrge, without quite leaving the passage clear for him, ceased to bar it completely. D’Artagnan understood that orders of the most positive character had been given. He decided, therefore, to tell a falsehood--a circumstance, moreover, which did not very seriously affect his peace of mind, when he sew that beyond the falsehood the safety of the state itself, or even purely and simply his own individual personal interest, might be at stake. He moreover added to the declarations which he had already made, that the soldier sent to M. du Vallon was his own messenger, and that the only object that letter had in view was to announce his intended arrival. From that moment, no one opposed D’Artagnan’s entrance any further, and he entered accordingly. A valet wished to accompany him, but he answered that it was useless to take that trouble on his account, inasmuch as he knew perfectly well where M. du Vallon was. There was nothing, of course, to say to a man so thoroughly and completely informed on all points, and D’Artagnan was permitted, therefore, to do as he liked. The terraces, the magnificent apartments, the gardens, were all reviewed and narrowly inspected by the musketeer. He walked for a quarter of an hour in this more than royal residence, which included as many wonders as articles of furniture, and as many servants as there were columns and doors.

“Decidedly,” he said to himself, “this mansion has no other limits than the limits of the earth. Is it probable Porthos has taken it into his head to go back to Pierrefonds without even leaving Monsieur Fouquet’s house?”

He finally reached a remote part of the château inclosed by a stone wall, which was covered with a profusion of thick plants luxuriant in blossoms as large and solid as fruit. At equal distances on the top of this wall were placed various statues, in timid or mysterious attitudes. These were vestals hidden beneath the long Greek peplum, with its thick, heavy folds, agile watchers, covered with their marble veils, and guarding the palace with their furtive glances. A statue of Hermes, with his finger on his lips; one of Iris, with extended wings; another of Night, sprinkled all over with poppies, dominated in the gardens and the outbuildings, which could be seen through the trees. All these statues threw in white relief their profiles upon the dark ground of the tall cypresses, which darted their black summits toward the sky. Around these cypresses were intwined climbing roses, whose flowering rings were fastened to every fork of every branch, and spread over the lower branches and upon the various statues showers of flowers of the richest fragrance. These enchantments seemed to the musketeer the result of the greatest efforts of the human mind. He felt in a dreamy, almost poetical frame of mind. The idea that Porthos was living in so perfect an Eden gave him a higher idea of Porthos, showing how true it is that even the very highest orders of minds are not quite exempt from the influence of surrounding circumstances. D’Artagnan found the door, and at the door a kind of spring which he detected; having touched it, the door flew open. D’Artagnan entered, closed the door behind him, and advanced into a pavilion built in a circular form, in which no other sound could be heard but cascades and the songs of birds. At the door of the pavilion he met a lackey.

“It is here, I believe,” said D’Artagnan, without hesitation, “that Monsieur le Baron du Vallon is staying?”

“Yes, monsieur,” answered the lackey.

“Have the goodness to tell him that Monsieur le Chevalier d’Artagnan, captain of the king’s musketeers, is waiting to see him.”

D’Artagnan was introduced into the salon, and had not long to remain in expectation; a well-remembered step shook the floor of the adjoining room, a door opened, or, rather flew open, and Porthos appeared and threw himself into his friend’s arms with a sort of embarrassment which did not ill become him.

“You here?” he exclaimed.

“And you?” replied D’Artagnan. “Ah, you sly fellow!”

“Yes,” said Porthos, with a somewhat embarrassed smile; “yes, you see I am staying in Monsieur Fouquet’s house, at which you are not a little surprised, I suppose?”

“Not at all. Why should you not be one of Monsieur Fouquet’s friends? Monsieur Fouquet has a very large number, particularly among clever men.”

Porthos had the modesty not to take the compliment to himself.

“Besides,” he added, “you saw me at Belle-Isle.”

“A greater reason for my believing you to be one of Monsieur Fouquet’s friends.”

“The fact is, I am acquainted with him,” said Porthos, with a certain embarrassment of manner.

“Ah, friend Porthos’” said D’Artagnan, “how treacherously you have behaved toward me!”

“In what way?” exclaimed Porthos.

“What! you complete so admirable a work as the fortifications of Belle-Isle, and you do not tell me of it?”

Porthos colored.

“Nay, more than that,” continued D’Artagnan; “you saw me out yonder; you know I am in the king’s service, and yet you could not guess that the king, jealously desirous of learning the name of the man whose abilities have wrought a work of which he has heard the most wonderful accounts--you could not guess, I say, that the king sent me to learn who this man was?”

“What! the king sent you to learn--”

“Of course; but don’t let us speak of that any more.”

“Not speak of it!” said Porthos; “on the contrary, we will speak of it; and so the king knew that we were fortifying Belle-Isle?”

“Of course; does not the king know everything?”

“But he did not know who was fortifying it?”

“No; he only suspected, from what he had been told of the nature of the works, that it was some celebrated soldier or another.”

“The devil!” said Porthos, “if I had only known that!”

“You would not have run away from Vannes as you did, perhaps?”

“No; what did you say when you couldn’t find me?”

“My dear fellow, I reflected.”

“Ah, indeed; you reflect, do you? Well, and what has that reflection led to?”

“It led me to guess the whole truth.”

“Come, then, tell me, what did you guess, after all?” said Porthos, settling himself into an armchair, and assuming the airs of a sphinx.

“I guessed, in the first place, that you were fortifying Belle-Isle.”

“There was no great difficulty in that, for you saw me at work.

“Wait a minute. I also guessed something else--that you were fortifying Belle-Isle by Monsieur Fouquet’s orders.”

“That’s true.”

“But not all. Whenever I feel myself in train for guessing, I do not stop on my road; and so I guessed that Monsieur Fouquet wished to preserve the most absolute secrecy respecting these fortifications.”

“I believe that was his intention, in fact,” said Porthos.

“Yes; but do you know why he wished to keep it secret?”

“Because it should not be known, perhaps,” said Porthos.

“That was his principal reason. But his wish was subservient to an affair of generosity--”

“In fact,” said Porthos, “I have heard it said that Monsieur Fouquet was a very generous man.”

“To an affair of generosity which he wished to exhibit toward the king.”

“Oh, oh!”

“You seem surprised at it?”

“Yes. “

“And you did not know that?”

“No. “

“Well, I know it, then.”

“You’re a wizard.”

“Not in the slightest degree.”

“How do you know it, then?”

“By a very simple means. I heard Monsieur Fouquet himself say so to the king.”

“Say what to the king?”

“That he had fortified Belle-Isle on his majesty’s account, and that he made him a present of Belle-Isle.”

“And you heard Monsieur Fouquet say that to the king?”

“In those very words. He even added: ‘Belle-Isle has been fortified by an engineer, one of my friends, a man of a great deal of merit, whom I shall ask your majesty’s permission to present to you.’

“‘What is his name?’ said the king.

“‘The Baron du Vallon,’ Monsieur Fouquet replied.

“‘Very well,’ returned his majesty; ‘you will present him to me.’”

“The king said that?”

“Upon the word of a D’Artagnan!”

“Oh, oh!” said Porthos. “Why have I not been presented, then?”

“Have they not spoken to you about this presentation?”

“Yes, certainly; but I am always kept waiting for it.”

“Be easy; it will be sure to come.”

“Humph! humph!” grumbled Porthos, which D’Artagnan pretended not to hear; and, changing the conversation, he said:

“You seem to be living in a very solitary place here, my dear fellow?”

“I always preferred retirement. I am of a melancholy disposition,” replied Porthos, with a sigh.

“Really, that is odd,” said D’Artagnan; “I never remarked that before.”

“It is only since I have taken to reading,” said Porthos, with a thoughtful air.

“But the labors of the mind have not affected the health of the body, I trust?”

“Not in the slightest degree.”

“Your strength is as great as ever?”

“Too great, my friend, too great.”

“Ah! I heard that, for a short time after your arrival----”

“That I could hardly move a limb, I suppose?”

“How was it?” said D’Artagnan, smiling; “and why was it you could not move?”

Porthos, perceiving that he had made a mistake, wished to correct it. “Yes, I came from Belle-Isle here upon very hard horses,” he said, “and that fatigued me.”

“I am no longer astonished, then, since I, who followed you, found seven or eight lying dead on the road.”

“I am very heavy, you know,” said Porthos.

“So that you were bruised all over.”

“My fat melted, and that made me very ill.”

“Poor Porthos! But how did Aramis act toward you under those circumstances?”

“Very well, indeed. He had me attended to by Monsieur Fouquet’s own doctor. But just imagine, at the end of a week I could not breathe any longer!”

“What do you mean?”

“The room was too small, I absorbed too much air.”


“I was told so, at least; and so I was removed into another apartment.”

“Where you were able to breathe that time, I hope.”

“Yes, more freely; but no exercise--nothing to do. The doctor pretended that I was not to stir; I, on the contrary, felt that I was stronger than ever; that was the cause of a very serious accident.”

“What accident?”

“Fancy, my dear fellow, that I revolted against the directions of that ass of a doctor, and I resolved to go out, whether it suited him or not; and, consequently, I told the valet who waited on me to bring me my clothes.”

“You were quite naked, then?”

“Oh, no! on the contrary, I had a magnificent dressing-gown to wear. The lackey obeyed; I dressed myself in my own clothes, which had become too large for me; but a strange circumstance had happened--my feet had become too large.

“Yes, I quite understand.”

“And my boots had become too small.”

“You mean your feet were still swollen.”

“Exactly; you have hit it.”

Pardieu! And is that the accident you were going to tell me about?”

“Oh, yes! I did not make the same reflection you have done. I said to myself: ‘Since my feet have entered my boots ten times, there is no reason why they should not go in an eleventh.”

“Allow me to tell you, my dear Porthos, that, on this occasion, you have failed in your logic.”

“In short, then, they placed me opposite to a part of the room which was partitioned. I tried to get my boot on; I pulled it with my hands, I pushed with all the strength of the muscles of my leg, making the most unheard-of efforts, when suddenly the two tags of my boots remained in my hands, and my foot struck out like a catapult.”

“Catapult! how learned you are in fortifications, dear Porthos.”

“My foot darted out like a catapult, and came against the partition, which it broke in. I really thought that, like Samson, I had demolished the temple. And the number of pictures, the quantity of china, vases of flowers, carpets, and window-panes which fell down was really wonderful. “


“Without reckoning that on the other side of the partition was a small table laden with porcelain--”

“Which you knocked over?”

“Which I dashed to the other side of the room,” said Porthos, laughing.

“Upon my word, it is, as you say, astonishing,” replied D’Artagnan, beginning to laugh also; whereupon Porthos laughed louder than ever.

“I broke,” said Porthos, in a voice half-choked from his increasing mirth, “more than three thousand francs’ worth of china--oh! oh! oh!”

“Good!” said D’Artagnan.

“I smashed more than four thousand francs’ worth of glass--oh! oh! oh!”


“Without counting a luster, which fell on my head and was broken into a thousand pieces--oh! oh! oh!”

“Upon your head?” said D’Artagnan, holding his sides.

“On the top.”

“But your head was broken, I suppose?”

“No; since I tell you, on the contrary, my dear fellow, that it was the luster which was broken like glass, as it was, indeed.”

“Ah! the luster was glass, you say.”

“Venetian glass; a perfect curiosity, quite matchless, indeed, and weighed two hundred pounds.”

“And which fell upon your head?”

“Upon my head. Just imagine, a globe of crystal, gilded all over, the lower part beautifully incrusted, perfumes burning at the top, the jets from which flame issued when they were lighted.”

“I quite understand; but they were not lighted at the time, I suppose?”

“Happily not, or I should have been set on fire.”

“And you were only knocked down flat, instead?”

“Not at all.”

“How, not at all?”

“Why, the luster fell on my skull. It appears that we have upon the top of our heads en exceedingly thick crust.”

“Who told you that, Porthos?”

“The doctor. A sort of dome which would bear Notre Dame, at Paris.”


“Yes, it seems that our skulls are made in that manner.”

“Speak for yourself, my dear fellow, it is your own skull that is made in that manner, and not the skulls of other people. “

“Well, that may be so,” said Porthos conceitedly, “so much, however, was that the case, in my instance, that no sooner did the luster fall upon the dome which we have at the top of our head than there was a report like a cannon, the crystal was broken to pieces, and I fell, covered from head to foot.”

“With blood, poor Porthos!”

“Not at all; with perfumes, which smelled like rich creams; it was delicious, but the odor was too strong, and I felt quite giddy from it; perhaps you have experienced it sometimes yourself, D’Artagnan?”

“Yes, in inhaling the scent of the lily of the valley; so that, my poor friend, you were knocked over by the shock and overpowered by the odor?”

“Yes; but what is very remarkable, for the doctor told me he had never seen anything like it--”

“You had a bump on your head, I suppose?” interrupted D’Artagnan.

“I had five.”

“Why five?”

“I will tell you; the luster had, at its lower extremity, five gilt ornaments excessively sharp.”


“Well, these five ornaments penetrated my hair, which, as you see, I wear very thick.”

“Fortunately so.”

“And they made a mark on my skin. But just notice the singularity of it, these things seem really only to happen me. Instead of making indentations, they made bumps. The doctor could never succeed in explaining that to me satisfactorily. “

“Well, then, I will explain it to you.”

“You will do me a great service if you will,” said Porthos, winking his eyes, which, with him, was a sign of the profoundest attention.

“Since yon have been employing your brain in studies of an exalted character, in important calculations, and so on, the head has gained a certain advantage, so that your head is now too full of science.”

“Do you think so?”

“I am sure of it. The result is, that, instead of allowing any foreign matter to penetrate the interior of the head, your bony box or skull, which is already too full, avails itself of the openings which are made in it allowing this excess to escape.”

“Ah!” said Porthos, to whom this explanation appeared clearer than that of the doctor.

“The five protuberances, caused by the five ornaments of the luster, must certainly have been scientific masses brought to the surface by the force of circumstances.”

“In fact,” said Porthos, “the real truth is, that I felt far worse outside my head than inside. I will even confess that when I put my hat upon my head, clapping it on my head with that graceful energy which we gentlemen of the sword possess, if my fist was not very gently applied, I experienced the most painful sensations.”

“I quite believe you, Porthos.”

“Therefore, my friend,” said the giant, “Monsieur Fouquet decided, seeing how slightly built the house was, to give me another lodging, and so they brought me here.”

“It is the private park, I think, is it not?”


“Where the rendezvous are made; that park, indeed, which is so celebrated in some of those mysterious stories about the surintendant.”

“I don’t know; I have had no rendezvous or heard mysterious stories myself, but they have authorized me to exercise my muscles, and I take advantage of the permission by rooting up some of the trees.”

“What for?”

“To keep my hand in, and also to take some birds’ nests; I find that more convenient than climbing up the trees.”

“You are as pastoral as Tyrcis, my dear Porthos.”

“Yes, I like the small eggs; I like them very much better than larger ones. You have no idea how delicate an omelet is if made of four or five hundred eggs of linnets, chaffinches, starlings, blackbirds, and thrushes.”

“But five hundred eggs is perfectly monstrous!”

“A salad-bowl will hold them easily enough,” said Porthos.

D’Artagnan looked at Porthos admiringly for a full five minutes, as if he had seen him for the first time, while Porthos spread himself out joyously and proudly. They remained in this state several minutes, Porthos smiling, and D’Artagnan looking at him. D’Artagnan was evidently trying to give the conversation a new turn. “Do you amuse yourself much here, Porthos?” he asked at last, very likely after he had found out what he was searching for.

“Not always.”

“I can imagine that; but when you get thoroughly bored, by and by, what do you intend to do?”

“Oh! I shall not be here for any length of time. Aramis is waiting until the last bump on my head disappears, in order to present me to the king, who I am told cannot endure the sight of a bump.”

“Aramis is still in Paris, then?”


“Whereabouts is he, then?”

“At Fontainebleau.”


“With Monsieur Fouquet.”

“Very good. But do you happen to know one thing?”

“No, tell it me, and then I shall know.”

“Well, then, I think that Aramis is forgetting you.”

“Do you really think so?”

“Yes; for at Fontainebleau yonder, you must know, they are laughing, dancing, banqueting, and drawing the corks of Monsieur de Mazarin’s wine in fine style. Are you aware that they have a ballet every evening?”

“The deuce they have.”

“I assure you that dear Aramis is forgetting you.”

“Well, that is not at all unlikely, and I have myself thought so sometimes.”

“Unless he is playing you a trick, the sly fellow!”


“You know that Aramis is as sly as a fox.”

“Yes; but to play me a trick--”

“Listen: in the first place, he puts you under a sort of sequestration.”

“He sequestrates me! Do you mean to say I am sequestrated?”

“I think so.”

“I wish you would have the goodness to prove that to me.”

“Nothing easier. Do you ever go out?”

“Do you ever ride on horseback?”


“Are your friends allowed to come and see you?”

“Never. “

“Very well, then; never to go out, never to ride on horseback, never to be allowed to see your friends, that is called being sequestrated.”

“But why should Aramis sequestrate me?” inquired Porthos.

“Come,” said D’Artagnan, “be frank, Porthos.”

“As gold.”

“It was Aramis who drew the plan of the fortifications at Belle-Isle, was it not?”

Porthos colored as he said, “Yes; but that was all he did.”

“Exactly, and my own opinion is that it was no very great affair after all.”

“That is mine, too.”

“Very good; I am delighted we are of the same opinion.”

“He never even came to Belle-Isle,” said Porthos.

“There now, you see.”

“It was I who went to Vannes, as you may have seen.”

“Say, rather, as I did see. Well, that is precisely the state of my case, my dear Porthos. Aramis, who only drew the plans, wishes to pass himself off as the engineer, while you, who, stone by stone, built the wall, the citadel, and the bastions, he wishes to reduce to the rank of a mere builder.”

“By builder, you mean mason, perhaps?”

“Mason; the very word.”

“Plasterer, in fact?”


“A laborer?”


“Oh! oh! my dear Aramis, you seem to think you are only twenty-five years of age still.”

“Yes, and that is not all, for he believes you are fifty.”

“I should have amazingly liked to have seen him at work.”

“Yes, indeed.”

“A fellow who has got the gout?”


“Who has lost three of his teeth?”


“While I--look at mine.” And Porthos, opening his large mouth very wide, displayed two rows of teeth rather less white than snow, but as even, hard, and sound as ivory.

“You can hardly believe, Porthos,” said D’Artagnan, “what a fancy the king has for good teeth. Yours decide me; I will present you to the king myself.”


“Why not? Do you think I have less credit at court than Aramis?”

“Oh, no!”

“Do you think that I have the slightest pretension upon the fortifications at Belle-Isle?”

“Certainly not.”

“It is your own interest alone which would induce me to do it.”

“I don’t doubt it in the least.”

“Well, I am the intimate friend of the king; and a proof of that is, that whenever there is anything disagreeable to tell him, it is I who have to do it.”

“But, dear D’Artagnan, if you present me--”


“Aramis will be angry.”

“With me?”

“No, with me.”

“Bah! whether he or I present you, since you are to be presented, what does it matter?”

“They were going to get me some clothes made.”

“Your own are splendid.”

“Oh! those I had ordered were far more beautiful.”

“Take care; the king likes simplicity.”

“In that case, I will be simple. But what will Monsieur Fouquet say when he learns that I have left?”

“Are you a prisoner, then, on parole?”

“No, not quite that. But I promised him I would not leave without letting him know.”

“Wait a minute; we shall return to that presently. Have you anything to do here?”

“I, nothing; nothing of any importance, at least.”

“Unless, indeed, you are Aramis’ representative for something of importance.”

“By no means.”

“What I tell you--pray understand that--is out of interest for you. I suppose, for instance, that you are commissioned to send messages and letters to him?”

“Ah! letters--yes. I send certain letters to him.”


“To Fontainebleau.”

“Have you any letters, then?”


“Nay, let me speak. Have you any letters, I say?”

“I have just received one for him.”


“I suppose so.”

“You do not read them, then?”

“I am not at all curious,” said Porthos, as he drew out of his pocket the soldier’s letter which Porthos had not read, but which D’Artagnan had.

“Do you know what to do with it?” said D’Artagnan.

“Of course; do as I always do, send it to him.”

“Not so.”

“Why not? Keep it, then?”

“Did they not tell you that this letter was very important?”

“Very important.”

“Well, you must take it yourself to Fontainebleau.”

“To Aramis?”


“Very good.”

“And since the king is there--”

“You will profit by that.”

“I shall profit by the opportunity to present you to the king.”

“Ah! D’Artagnan, there is no one like you to find expedients.”

“Therefore, instead of forwarding to our friend any messages, which may or may not be faithfully delivered, we will ourselves be the bearers of the letter.”

“I had never even thought of that, and yet it is simple enough.”

“And, therefore, because it is urgent, Porthos, we ought to set off at once.”

“In fact,” said Porthos, “the sooner we set off the less chance there is of Aramis’ letter meeting with any delay.”

“Porthos, your reasoning is always very accurate, and, in your case, logic seems to serve as an auxiliary to the imagination.”

“Do you think so?” said Porthos.

“It is the result of your hard reading,” replied D’Artagnan. “So come along, let us be off.”

“But,” said Porthos, “my promise to Monsieur Fouquet?”

“Not to leave St. Mandé without telling him of it.”

“Ah, Porthos!” said D’Artagnan, “how very young you are!”

“In what way?”

“You are going to Fontainebleau, are you not, where you will find Monsieur Fouquet?”


“Probably in the king’s palace?”

“Yes,” repeated Porthos, with an air full of majesty.

“Well, you will accost him with these words: ‘Monsieur Fouquet, I have the honor to inform you that I have just left St. Mandé.’”

“And,” said Porthos, with the same majestic mien, “seeing me at Fontainebleau at the king’s, Monsieur Fouquet will not be able to tell me I am not speaking the truth.”

“My dear Porthos, I was just on the point of opening my lips to make the same remark, but you anticipate me in everything. Oh! Porthos, how fortunately you are gifted; age has not made any impression on you.”

“Not overmuch, certainly.”

“Then there is nothing more to say?”

“I think not.”

“All your scruples are removed?”

“Quite so.”

“In that case I shall carry you off with me.”

“Exactly; and I shall go and get my horse saddled.”

“You have horses here, then?”

“I have five.”

“You had them sent from Pierrefonds, I suppose?”

“No, Monsieur Fouquet gave them to me.”

“My dear Porthos we shall not want five horses for two persons; besides, I have already three in Paris, which will make eight, and that will be too many.”

“It would not be too many if I had some of my servants here; but, alas! I have not got them.”

“Do you regret them then?”

“I regret Mousqueton; I need Mousqueton.”

“What a good-hearted fellow you are, Porthos,” said D’Artagnan; “but the best thing you can do is to leave your horses here, as you have left Mousqueton out yonder.”

“Why so?”

“Because, by and by, it might turn out a very good thing if Monsieur Fouquet had never given you anything at all.”

“I don’t understand you,” said Porthos.

“It is not necessary you should understand.”

“But yet--”

“I will explain to you later, Porthos.”

“I’ll wager it is some piece of policy or other.”

“And of the most subtle character,” returned D’Artagnan.

Porthos bent his head at this word policy; then, after a moment’s reflection, he added, “I confess, D’Artagnan, that I am no politician.”

“I know that well.”

“Oh! no one knows what you told me yourself, you, the bravest of the brave.”

“What did I tell you, Porthos?”

“That every man has his day. You told me so, and I have experienced it myself. There are certain days when one feels less pleasure than others in exposing one’s self to a bullet or a sword-thrust.”

“Exactly my own idea.”

“And mine, too, although I can hardly believe in blows or thrusts which kill outright.”

“The deuce! and yet you have killed a few in your time.”

“Yes; but I have never been killed.”

“Your reason is a very good one.”

“Therefore, I do not believe I shall ever die from a thrust of a sword or a gunshot.”

“In that case, then, you are afraid of nothing. Ah! water perhaps?”

“Oh! I swim like an otter.”

“Of a quartan fever, then?”

“I never had one yet, and I don’t believe I ever shall; but there is one thing I will admit,” and Porthos dropped his voice.

“What is that?” asked D’Artagnan, adopting the same tone of voice as Porthos.

“I must confess,” repeated Porthos, “that I am horribly afraid of political matters.”

“Ah! bah!” exclaimed D’Artagnan.

“Upon my word, it’s true,” said Porthos, in a stentorian voice. “I have seen His Eminence Monsieur le Cardinal de Richelieu, and His Eminence Monsieur le Cardinal de Mazarin; the one was a red politician, the other a black politician; I have never felt very much more satisfied with the one than with the other; the first struck off the heads of Monsieur de Marillac, Monsieur de Thou, Monsieur do Cinq-Mars, Monsieur Chalais, Monsieur de Boutteville, and Monsieur de Montmorency; the second got a whole crowd of Frondeurs cut in pieces, and we belonged to them.”

“On the contrary, we did not belong to them,” said D’Artagnan.

“Oh! indeed, yes; for, if I unsheathed my sword for the cardinal, I struck for the king.”

“Dear Porthos!”

“Well, I have done. My dread of politics is such that if there is any question of politics in the matter, I should far sooner prefer to return to Pierrefonds.”

“You would be quite right, if that were the case. But with me, dear Porthos, no politics at all, that is quite clear. You have labored hard in fortifying Belle-Isle; the king wished to know the name of the clever engineer under whose directions the works were carried on; you are modest, as all men of true genius are; perhaps Aramis wishes to put you under a bushel. But I happen to seize hold of you; I make it known who you are; I produce you; the king rewards you; and that is the only policy I have to do with.”

“And the only one I will have to do with, either,” said Porthos, holding out his hand to D’Artagnan.

But D’Artagnan knew Porthos’ grasp; he knew that once imprisoned within the baron’s five fingers, no hand ever left it without being half-crushed. He therefore held out, not his hand, but his fist, and Porthos did not even perceive the difference. The servants talked a little with each other in an undertone, and whispered a few words, which D’Artagnan understood, but which he took very good care not to let Porthos understand. “Our friend,” he said to himself, “was really and truly Aramis’ prisoner. Let us now see what the result will be of the liberation of the captive.”

  1. 2: A Letter from H Baisemeaux
  2. Louise de la Valliere
  3. 4: The Rat and the Cheese