Chapter 65: Political Rivals

  1. 64: At the Louvre
  2. Louise de la Valliere
  3. 66: Porthos Is Convinced

D’Artagnan had promised M. de Baisemeaux to return in time for dessert, and he kept his word. They had just reached the finer and more delicate class of wines and liqueurs with which the governor’s cellar had the reputation of being most admirably stocked, when the spurs of the captain resounded in the corridor, and he himself appeared at the threshold.

Athos and Aramis had played a close game; neither had been able to gain the slightest advantage over the other. They had supped, talked a good deal about the Bastille, of the last journey to Fontainebleau, of the intended fête that M. Fouquet was about to give at Vaux; they had generalized on every possible subject, and no one, excepting Baisemeaux, had alluded to private matters.

D’Artagnan arrived in the very midst of the conversation, still pale and disturbed by his interview with the King. Baisemeaux hastened to give him a chair; d’Artagnan accepted a glass of wine, and set it down empty. Athos and Aramis both remarked his emotion; as for Baisemeaux, he saw nothing more than the captain of the King’s Musketeers, to whom he endeavored to show every attention. To be near the King entitled any one to all privileges, in the eyes of M. de Baisemeaux.

But although Aramis had remarked that emotion, he had not been able to guess the cause of it. Athos alone believed that he had detected it. To him, d’Artagnan’s return, and particularly the manner in which he, usually so impassive, seemed overcome, signified, “I have just asked the King something which he has refused me.” Thoroughly convinced that his conjecture was correct, Athos smiled, rose from the table, and made a sign to d’Artagnan, as if to remind him that they had something else to do than to sup together. D’Artagnan immediately understood him, and replied by another sign. Aramis and Baisemeaux watched this silent dialogue, and looked inquiringly at each other. Athos felt that he was called upon to give an explanation of what was passing.

“The truth is, my friends,” said the Comte de la Fere, with a smile, “that you, Aramis, have been supping with a State criminal, and you, M. de Baisemeaux, with your prisoner.”

Baisemeaux uttered an exclamation of surprise and almost of delight. That worthy man took pride in his fortress. Profit aside, the more prisoners he had, the happier he was; and the higher the prisoners were in rank, the prouder he felt.

Aramis assumed an expression which he thought the situation required, and said: “Well, dear Athos, forgive me; but I almost suspected what has happened. Some prank of Raoul or La Valliere, is it not?”

“Alas!” said Baisemeaux.

“And,” continued Aramis, “you, a high and powerful nobleman as you are, forgetful that there are now only courtiers,- you have been to the King, and told him what you thought of his conduct?”

“Yes, you have guessed right.”

“So that,” said Baisemeaux, trembling at having supped so familiarly with a man who had fallen into disgrace with the King,- “so that, Monsieur the Count-”

“So that, my dear governor,” said Athos, “my friend d’Artagnan will communicate to you the contents of the paper which I perceive just peeping out of his belt, and which assuredly can be nothing else than the order for my incarceration.”

Baisemeaux held out his hand with his accustomed eagerness. D’Artagnan drew two papers from his belt, and presented one of them to the governor, who unfolded it, and then read, in a low tone of voice, looking at Athos over the paper, as he did so, and pausing from time to time: “‘Order to detain in my château of the Bastille M. le Comte de la Fere.’ Oh, Monsieur! this is indeed a very melancholy honor for me.”

“You will have a patient prisoner, Monsieur,” said Athos, in his calm, soft voice.

“A prisoner, too, who will not remain a month with you, my dear governor,” said Aramis; while Baisemeaux, still holding the order in his hand, transcribed it upon the prison registry.

“Not a day, or rather not even a night,” said d’Artagnan, displaying the second order of the King; “for now, dear M. de Baisemeaux, you will have the goodness to transcribe also this order for setting the count immediately at liberty.”

“Ah!” said Aramis, “it is a labor that you have spared me, d’Artagnan”; and he pressed the musketeer’s hand in a significant manner, and that of Athos at the same time.

“What!” said the latter, in astonishment, “the King sets me at liberty!”

“Read, my dear friend!” returned d’Artagnan.

Athos took the order and read it. “It is quite true,” he said.

“Are you sorry for it?” asked d’Artagnan.

“Oh, no, on the contrary! I wish the King no harm; and the greatest evil or misfortune that any one can wish kings is that they should commit an act of injustice. But you have had a difficult and painful task, I know. Tell me, have you not, d’Artagnan?”

“I? Not at all,” said the musketeer, laughing; “the King does everything I wish him to do.”

Aramis looked fixedly at d’Artagnan, and saw that he was not speaking the truth. But Baisemeaux had eyes for nothing but d’Artagnan, so great was his admiration for a man who could make the King do all he wished.

“And does the King exile Athos?” inquired Aramis.

“No, not precisely. The King did not explain himself upon that subject,” replied d’Artagnan; “but I think the count could not do better, unless indeed he wishes particularly to thank the King-”

“No, indeed,” replied Athos, smiling.

“Well, then, I think,” resumed d’Artagnan, “that the count cannot do better than to retire to his own château. However, my dear Athos, you have only to speak, to tell me what you want. If any particular place of residence is more agreeable to you than another, I can obtain it for you.”

“No, thank you,” said Athos; “nothing can be more agreeable to me, my dear friend, than to return to the solitude beneath my noble trees on the banks of the Loire. If Heaven be the overruling physician of the evils of the mind, Nature is a sovereign remedy. And so, Monsieur,” continued Athos, turning again towards Baisemeaux, “I am now free, I suppose?”

“Yes, Monsieur the Count, I think so,- at least, I hope so,” said the governor, turning over and over the two papers in question; “unless, however, M. d’Artagnan has a third order to give me.”

“No, my dear M. Baisemeaux, no,” said the musketeer; “the second is quite enough. We can stop there.”

“Ah! Monsieur the Count,” said Baisemeaux, addressing Athos, “you do not know what you are losing. I should have placed you at thirty livres, like the generals- what am I saying?- I mean at fifty livres, like the princes; and you would have supped every evening as you have supped to-night.”

“Allow me, Monsieur,” said Athos, “to prefer my mediocrity”; and then, turning to d’Artagnan, he said, “Let us go, my friend.”

“Let us go,” said d’Artagnan.

“Shall I have the happiness of having you as my companion?”

“To the city gate only,” replied d’Artagnan; “after which I will tell you what I told the King: ‘I am on duty.’”

“And you, dear Aramis,” said Athos, smiling; “will you accompany me? La Fere is on the road to Vannes.”

“Thank you, my dear friend,” said Aramis; “but I have an appointment in Paris this evening, and I cannot leave without very serious interests suffering by my absence.”

“In that case,” said Athos, “I must say adieu, and take my leave of you. My dear M. de Baisemeaux, I have to thank you exceedingly for your good will, and particularly for the specimen you have given me of the Bastille fare”; and having embraced Aramis, and shaken hands with M. de Baisemeaux, and having received their wishes for an agreeable journey from them both, Athos set off with d’Artagnan.

While the dénouement of the scene of the Palais-Royal was taking place at the Bastille, let us relate what was going on at the lodgings of Athos and of Bragelonne. Grimaud, as we have seen, had accompanied his master to Paris; and, as we have said, he was present when Athos went out. He had seen d’Artagnan gnaw the corners of his mustache; he had seen his master get into the carriage; he had narrowly examined both their countenances, and he had known them both for a sufficiently long period to read and understand, through the mask of their impassiveness, that serious events were taking place. As soon as Athos had gone, he began to reflect; then he remembered the strange manner in which Athos had taken leave of him, the embarrassment- imperceptible to any one but himself- of his master,- that man of clear ideas and straightforward will. He knew that Athos had taken nothing with him but the clothes he had on him at the time; and yet he thought he saw that Athos had not left for an hour merely, or even for a day: a long absence was signified by the manner in which he pronounced the word “Adieu.” All these circumstances recurred to his mind, with all his feelings of deep affection for Athos, with that horror of emptiness and solitude which invariably besets the minds of those who love; and all these, combined, rendered poor Grimaud very melancholy and particularly very apprehensive. Without being able to account to himself for what he did after his master’s departure, he wandered about the apartment, seeking as it were for some traces of him, like a faithful dog, who is not exactly uneasy about his absent master, but at least is restless. Only, as to the instinct of the animal Grimaud joined the reason of a man, he had at the same time restlessness and anxiety. Not having found any indication which could serve as a guide, and having neither seen nor discovered anything which could satisfy his doubts, Grimaud began to imagine what could have happened. Now, the imagination is the resource, or rather the punishment, of good and affectionate hearts. In fact, never does a good heart represent its absent friend to itself as being happy or cheerful. Never does the pigeon who travels inspire anything but terror to the pigeon who remains at home.

Grimaud soon passed from anxiety to terror; he carefully went over, in his own mind, everything that had taken place,- d’Artagnan’s letter to Athos, the letter which had seemed to distress Athos so much; then Raoul’s coming to Athos, upon which Athos had asked for his orders and his court dress; then his interview with the King, at the end of which Athos had returned home so gloomy; then the explanation between the father and the son, at the termination of which Athos had embraced Raoul with such sadness of expression, while Raoul himself went away sorrowfully; and finally, d’Artagnan’s arrival, biting his mustache, and his leaving again in the carriage, accompanied by the Comte de la Fere. All this composed a drama in five acts, very plain, especially so to an analyst as skilful as Grimaud.

In the first place Grimaud resorted to grand measures: he searched in his master’s coat for M. d’Artagnan’s letter; he found the letter still there, and this is what it contained:

My Dear Friend: Raoul has been to ask me for some particulars about the conduct of Mademoiselle de la Valliere during our young friend’s residence in London. I am a poor captain of Musketeers, whose ears are battered every day by the scandal of the barracks and the bedchamber. If I had told Raoul all I believe I know, the poor fellow would have died from it; but I am in the King’s service, and cannot speak of the King’s affairs. If your heart tells you to do it, set off at once; the matter concerns you more than myself, and almost as much as Raoul.”

Grimaud tore, not a handful, but a finger-and-thumbful of hair out of his head; he would have torn out more if his hair had been more abundant.

“Yes,” he said, “that is the key of the whole enigma. The young girl has been playing her pranks. What people say about her and the King is true, then. Our young master has been deceived; he ought to know it. Monsieur the Count has been to see the King, and has given him a piece of his mind; and then the King sent M. d’Artagnan to arrange the affair. Ah, my God!” continued Grimaud, “Monsieur the Count, I now remember, returned without his sword.”

This discovery made the perspiration break out all over poor Grimaud’s face. He did not waste any more time in useless conjecture, but clapped his hat on his head and started for Raoul’s lodgings.

Raoul, after Louise had left him, had mastered his grief, if not his affection; and compelled to look forward on that perilous road on which madness and rebellion were hurrying him, he had seen, from the very first glance, his father exposed to the royal obstinacy, since Athos had immediately exposed himself to that obstinacy. In this moment, when sympathy gave him insight, the unhappy young man recalled the mysterious signs which Athos had made, and the unexpected visit of d’Artagnan. The probable result of the conflict between a sovereign and a subject revealed itself to his terrified vision. As d’Artagnan was on duty, that is, fixed to his post, he certainly had not come to pay Athos a visit merely for the pleasure of seeing him. He must have come to say something to him. This something, in a crisis so serious, was either a misfortune or a danger. Raoul shuddered at his selfishness in having forgotten his father for his love,- in having occupied himself with dreams or the fascinations of despair at a time when it was perhaps necessary to repel an imminent attack directed against Athos. The idea nearly drove him wild; he buckled on his sword and ran towards his father’s lodgings. On his way thither he encountered Grimaud, who having set off from the opposite direction was running with equal eagerness in search of the truth. The two men embraced each other warmly; they were both at the same point of the parabola described by their imagination.

“Grimaud!” exclaimed Raoul.

“M. Raoul!” cried Grimaud.

“Is the count well?”

“Have you seen him?”

“No; where is he?”

“I am trying to find out.”

“And M. d’Artagnan?”

“Went out with him.”


“Ten minutes after you had left.”

“In what way did they go out?”

“In a carriage.”

“Where did they go?”

“I have no idea at all.”

“Did my father take any money with him?”


“Or his sword?”



“M. Raoul!”

“I have an idea that M. d’Artagnan came to-”

“Arrest Monsieur the Count, do you not think, Monsieur?”

“Yes, Grimaud.”

“I could have sworn it.”

“What road did they take?”

“The way leading towards the quays.”

“To the Bastille, then?”

“Ah, my God! yes.”

“Quick, quick! let us run.”

“Yes, let us run.”

“But whither?” said Raoul, overwhelmed.

“We will go to M. d’Artagnan’s first; we may perhaps learn something there.”

“No; if he has kept it from me at my father’s, he will do the same everywhere. Let us go to- Oh, good Heavens! why, I must be mad to-day, Grimaud.”

“Why so?”

“I have forgotten M. du Vallon-”

“M. Porthos?”

“Who is waiting for and expecting me still! Alas! I have told you correctly, I am mad!”

“Where is he, then?”

“At the Minimes of Vincennes.”

“Thank goodness, that is in the direction of the Bastille. I will run and saddle the horses, and we will go at once,” said Grimaud.

“Do, my friend, do!”

  1. 64: At the Louvre
  2. Louise de la Valliere
  3. 66: Porthos Is Convinced