Chapter 6: Showing What Could Be Seen from Planchet’s House.

  1. 5: Planchet’s Country House
  2. Louise de la Valliere
  3. 7: Porthos, Truchen & Planchet

The next morning found the three heroes sleeping soundly. Trüchen had closed the outside blinds to keep the first rays of the sun from the heavy eyes of her guests, like a kind, good woman. It was still perfectly dark, then, beneath Porthos’ curtains and under Planchet’s canopy, when D’Artagnan, awakened by an indiscreet ray of light which made its way through the windows, jumped hastily out of bed, as if he wished to be the first at the assault. He took by assault Porthos’ room, which was next to his own. The worthy Porthos was sleeping with a noise like distant thunder; in the dim obscurity of the room his gigantic frame was prominently displayed, and his swollen fist hung down outside the bed upon the carpet. D’Artagnan awoke Porthos, who rubbed his eyes in a tolerably good humor. In the meantime, Planchet was dressing himself, and met at their bedroom doors his two guests, who were still somewhat unsteady from their previous evening’s entertainment. Although it was yet very early, the whole household was already up. The cook was mercilessly slaughtering poultry in the poultry-yard, and Celestin was gathering cherries in the garden. Porthos, brisk and lively as ever, held out his hand to Planchet, and D’Artagnan requested permission to embrace Mme. Trüchen. The latter, to show that she bore no ill-will, approached Porthos, upon whom she conferred the same favor. Porthos embraced Mme. Trüchen, heaving an enormous sigh. Planchet took both his friends by the hand.

“I am going to show you over the house,” he said; “when we arrived last evening it was as dark as an oven, and we were unable to see anything; but in broad daylight everything looks different, and you will be satisfied, I hope.”

“If we begin by the view you have,” said D’Artagnan, “that charms me beyond everything; I have always lived in royal mansions, you know, and royal personages have some very good ideas upon the selection of points of view.”

“I am a great stickler for a good view myself,” said Porthos. “At my Château de Pierrefonds, I have had four avenues laid out, at the end of each is a landscape of a different character altogether to the others.”

“You shall see my prospect,” said Planchet; and he led his two guests to a window.

“Ah!” said D’Artagnan, “this is the Rue de Lyon.”

“Yes, I have two windows on this side, a paltry, insignificant view, for there is always that bustling and noisy inn, which is a very disagreeable neighbor. I had four windows here, but I have only kept two.”

“Let us go on,” said D’Artagnan.

They entered a corridor leading to the bedrooms, and Planchet pushed open the outside blinds.

“Halloo! what is that out yonder?” said Porthos.

“The forest,” said Planchet. “It is the horizon, a thick line of green, which is yellow in the spring, green in the summer, red in the autumn, and white in the winter.”

“All very well, but it is like a curtain, which prevents one seeing a greater distance.”

“Yes,” said Planchet, “still one can see, at all events, everything between.”

“Ah, the open country,” said Porthos. “But what is that I see out there--crosses and stones?”

“Ah! that is the cemetery,” exclaimed D’Artagnan.

“Precisely,” said Planchet, “I assure you it is very curious. Hardly a day passes that some one is not buried there; for Fontainebleau is by no means an inconsiderable place. Sometimes we see young girls clothed in white carrying banners; at others, some of the town council, or rich citizens, with choristers and all the parish authorities; and then, too, we see some of the officers of the king’s household.”

“I should not like that,” said Porthos.

“There is not much amusement in it, at all events,” said D’Artagnan.

“I assure you it encourages religious thoughts,” replied Planchet.

“Oh, I don’t deny that.”

“But,” continued Planchet, “we must all die one day or another, and I once met with a maxim somewhere which I have remembered, that the thought of death is a thought that will do us all good.”

“I am far from saying the contrary,” said Porthos.

“But,” objected D’Artagnan, “the thought of green fields, flowers, rivers, blue horizons, extensive and boundless plains, is no less likely to do us good.”

“If I had any, I should be far from rejecting them,” said Planchet; “but possessing only this little cemetery, full of flowers, so moss-grown, shady, and quiet, I am contented with it, and I think of those who live in town, in the Rue des Lombards, for instance, and who have to listen to the rumbling of a couple of thousand vehicles every day, and to the trampling of a hundred and fifty thousand foot passengers.”

“But living,” said Porthos; “living, remember that.”

“That is exactly the reason,” said Planchet timidly, “why I feel it does me good to see a few dead. “

“Upon my word,” said D’Artagnan, “that fellow Planchet was born to be a poet as well as a grocer.”

“Monsieur,” said Planchet, “I am one of those good-humored sort of men whom Heaven created for the purpose of living a certain space of time, and of considering all things good which they meet with during their stay on earth.”

D’Artagnan sat down close to the window, and as there seemed to be something substantial in Planchet’s philosophy, he mused over it.

“Ah! ah!” exclaimed Porthos, “if I am not mistaken, we are going to have a representation now, for I think I heard something like chanting.”

“Yes,” said D’Artagnan, “I hear singing, too.”

“Oh, it is only a burial of a very poor description,” said Planchet disdainfully; “the officiating priest, the beadle, and one chorister boy, nothing more. You observe, messieurs, that the defunct lady or gentleman could not have been of very high rank.”

“No; no one seems to be following the coffin.”

“Yes,” said Porthos; “I see a man.”

“You are right; a man wrapped up in a cloak,” said D’Artagnan.

“It’s not worth looking at,” said Planchet.

“I find it interesting,” said D’Artagnan, leaning on the window.

“Come, come, you are beginning to take a fancy to the place already,” said Planchet delightedly; “it is exactly my own case. I was so melancholy at first that I could do nothing but make the sign of the cross all day, and the chants were like nails being driven into my head; but now, the chants lull me to sleep, and no bird I have ever seen or heard can sing better than those which are to be met with in this cemetery.”

“Well,” said Porthos, “this is beginning to get a little dull for me, and I prefer going downstairs.”

Planchet with one bound was beside his guest, to whom he offered his hand to lead him into the garden.

“What!” said Porthos to D’Artagnan, as he turned round, “are you going to remain here?”

“Yes; I shall join you presently.”

“Well, Monsieur d’Artagnan is right, after all,” said Planchet; “are they beginning to bury yet?”

“Not yet.”

“Ah! yes, the grave-digger is waiting until the cords are fastened round the bier. But, see, a woman has just entered the cemetery at the other end.”

“Yes, yes, my dear Planchet,” said D’Artagnan quickly, “leave me, leave me. I feel I am beginning already to be much comforted by my meditations, so do not interrupt me.”

Planchet left, and D’Artagnan remained, devouring with his eager gaze from behind the half-closed blinds what was taking place just before him. The two bearers of the corpse had unfastened the straps by which they had carried the litter, and were letting their burden glide gently into the open grave. At a few paces distant, the man with the cloak wrapped round him, the only spectator of this melancholy scene, was leaning with his back against a large cypress-tree, and kept his face and person entirely concealed from the grave-diggers and the priests; the corpse was buried in five minutes. The grave having been filled up, the priests turned away, and the grave-digger having addressed a few words to them, followed them as they moved away. The man in the mantle bowed as they passed him, and put a piece of money into the grave-digger’s hand.

Mordioux!” murmured D’Artagnan; “why, that man is Aramis himself.”

Aramis, in fact, remained alone, on that side at least; for hardly had he turned his head than a woman’s footsteps and the rustling of her dress were heard in the path close to him. He immediately turned round, and took off his hat with the most ceremonious respect; he led the lady under the shelter of some walnut and lime-trees which overshadowed a magnificent tomb.

“Ah! who would have thought it,” said D’Artagnan; “the Bishop of Vannes at a rendezvous! He is still the same Abbé Aramis as he was at Noisy le Sec. Yes,” he added, after a pause; “but as it is in a cemetery, the rendezvous is sacred.”

And he began to laugh.

The conversation lasted for fully half an hour. D’Artagnan could not see the lady’s face, for she kept her back toward him; but he saw perfectly well, by the erect attitude of both the speakers, by their gestures, by the measured and careful manner with which they glanced at each other, either by way of attack or defense, that they must be conversing about any other subject than that of love. At the end of the conversation the lady rose and bowed most profoundly to Aramis.

“Oh! oh!” said D’Artagnan; “this rendezvous finishes like one of a very tender nature, though. The cavalier kneels at the beginning, the young lady by and by gets tamed down, and then it is she who has to supplicate. Who is this girl? I would give anything to ascertain.”

This seemed impossible, however, for Aramis was the first to leave; the lady carefully concealed her head and face, and then immediately separated. D’Artagnan could hold out no longer; he ran to the window which looked out on the Rue de Lyon, and saw Aramis just entering the inn. The lady was proceeding in quite an opposite direction, and seemed, in fact, to be about to rejoin an equipage, consisting of two led horses and a carriage, which he could see standing close to the borders of the forest. She was walking slowly, her head bent down, absorbed in the deepest meditation.

Mordioux! mordioux! I must and will learn who that woman is,” said the musketeer again; and then, without further deliberation, he set off in pursuit of her. As he was passing along, he tried to think how he could possibly contrive to make her raise her veil. “She is not young,” he said, “and is a woman of high rank in society. I ought to know that figure and peculiar style of walk.” As he ran, the sound of his spurs and of his boots upon the hard ground of the street made a strange, jingling noise; a fortunate circumstance in itself, which he was far from reckoning upon. The noise disturbed the lady; she seemed to fancy she was being either followed or pursued, which was indeed the case, and turned round. D’Artagnan started as if he had received a charge of small shot in his legs, and then turning round as if he were going back the same way he had come, he murmured, “Madame de Chevreuse!” D’Artagnan would not go home until he had learned everything. He asked Celestin to inquire of the grave-digger whose body it was they had buried that morning.

“A poor Franciscan mendicant friar,” replied the latter, “who had not even a dog to love him in this world, and to accompany him to his last resting-place.”

“If that were really the case,” thought D’Artagnan, “we should not have found Aramis present at his funeral. The Bishop of Vannes is not precisely a dog as far as devotion goes; his scent, however, is quite as keen, I admit.”

  1. 5: Planchet’s Country House
  2. Louise de la Valliere
  3. 7: Porthos, Truchen & Planchet