Chapter 66: In Which Porthos Is Convinced Without Having Understood Anything

  1. 65: Political Rivals
  2. Louise de la Valliere
  3. 67: M de Baisemeaux’s “Society”

The worthy Porthos, faithful to all the laws of ancient chivalry, had determined to wait for M. de Saint-Aignan until sunset; and as De Saint-Aignan did not come, as Raoul had forgotten to communicate with his second, and as he found that waiting so long was very wearisome, Porthos had desired one of the gate-keepers to fetch him a few bottles of good wine and a good joint of meat,- so that he at least might have the diversion of enjoying from time to time a glass of wine and a mouthful of something to eat. He had just finished when Raoul arrived escorted by Grimaud, both of them riding at full speed. When Porthos saw the two cavaliers riding at such a pace along the road, he did not for a moment doubt but that they were the men he was expecting; and he rose from the grass upon which he had been indolently reclining, and began to stretch his legs and arms, saying, “See what it is to have good habits! The fellow has come, after all. If I had gone away, he would have found no one here, and would have taken an advantage from that.” He then threw himself into a martial attitude, and drew himself up to the full height of his gigantic stature. But instead of De Saint-Aignan, he saw only Raoul, who with the most despairing gestures accosted him by crying out, “Pray forgive me, my dear friend! I am most wretched.”

“Raoul!” cried Porthos, surprised.

“You have been angry with me?” said Raoul, embracing Porthos.

“I? What for?”

“For having forgotten you. But, you see, I have lost my head.”

“Ah, bah!”

“If you only knew, my friend!”

“You have killed him?”

“Whom?”

“De Saint-Aignan.”

“Alas! we are far from De Saint-Aignan.”

“What is the matter, then?”

“The matter is that M. le Comte de la Fere has been arrested.”

Porthos gave a start that would have thrown down a wall. “Arrested!” he cried out; “by whom?”

“By d’Artagnan.”

“It is impossible,” said Porthos.

“It is nevertheless true,” replied Raoul.

Porthos turned towards Grimaud, as if he needed a second confirmation of the intelligence. Grimaud nodded his head. “And where have they taken him?”

“Probably to the Bastille.”

“What makes you think that?”

“As we came along we questioned some persons who saw the carriage pass, and others who saw it enter the Bastille.”

“Oh, oh!” muttered Porthos; and he moved forward two steps.

“What do you intend to do?” inquired Raoul.

“I? Nothing; only, I will not have Athos remain at the Bastille.”

“Do you know,” said Raoul, advancing nearer to Porthos, “that the arrest was made by order of the King?”

Porthos looked at the young man as if to say, “What does that matter to me?” This dumb language seemed so eloquent of meaning to Raoul that he did not ask another question. He mounted his horse again; and Porthos, assisted by Grimaud, did the same.

“Let us arrange our plan of action,” said Raoul.

“Yes,” returned Porthos; “that is the best thing we can do.”

Raoul sighed deeply, and then paused suddenly.

“What is the matter?” asked Porthos; “are you faint?”

“No; powerless. Can we three pretend to go and take the Bastille?”

“Well, if d’Artagnan were only here,” replied Porthos, “I don’t know about that.”

Raoul was struck with admiration at the sight of that confidence, heroic in its simplicity. These were the celebrated men who by three or four attacked armies and assaulted castles, who had terrified death itself, and who survived the wrecks of an age, and were still stronger than the most robust among the young. “Monsieur,” said he to Porthos, “you have just given me an idea; we absolutely must see M. d’Artagnan.”

“Undoubtedly.”

“He ought by this time to have returned home, after having taken my father to the Bastille. Let us go to his house.”

“First inquire at the Bastille,” said Grimaud, who was in the habit of speaking little, but to the purpose.

Accordingly they hastened towards the fortress, when one of those chances which Heaven bestows on men of strong will caused Grimaud suddenly to perceive the carriage which was entering by the great gate of the drawbridge. This was at the moment when d’Artagnan was, as we have seen, returning from his visit to the King. In vain Raoul urged on his horse to overtake the carriage and see whom it contained. The horses had already gained the other side of the great gate, which again closed, while one of the sentries struck the nose of Raoul’s horse with his musket. Raoul turned about, only too happy to find that he had ascertained something respecting the carriage which had contained his father.

“We have him,” said Grimaud.

“If we wait a little, it is certain that he will leave; don’t you think so, my friend?”

“Unless, indeed, d’Artagnan also be a prisoner,” replied Porthos, “in which case everything is lost.”

Raoul returned no answer, for any hypothesis was admissible. He instructed Grimaud to lead the horses to the little Rue Jean-Beausire, so as to give rise to less suspicion, and himself with his piercing gaze watched for the exit either of d’Artagnan or the carriage. It was a fortunate plan; for twenty minutes had not elapsed before the gate reopened and the carriage reappeared. A dazzling of the eyes prevented Raoul from distinguishing what figures occupied the interior. Grimaud averred that he had seen two persons, and that one of them was his master. Porthos kept looking at Raoul and Grimaud by turns, in the hope of understanding their idea.

“It is clear,” said Grimaud, “that if the count is in the carriage, either he is set at liberty or they are taking him to another prison.”

“We shall soon see that by the road he takes,” answered Porthos.

“If he is set at liberty,” said Grimaud, “they will conduct him home.”

“True,” rejoined Porthos.

“The carriage does not take that way,” cried Raoul; and indeed the horses were just disappearing down the Faubourg St. Antoine.

“Let us hasten,” said Porthos; “we will attack the carriage on the road, and tell Athos to flee.”

“Rebellion,” murmured Raoul.

Raoul, le Vicomte de Bragellone

Porthos darted a second glance at Raoul, quite worthy of the first. Raoul replied only by spurring the flanks of his steed. In a few moments the three cavaliers had overtaken the carriage, and followed it so closely that their horses’ breath moistened the back of it. D’Artagnan, whose senses were ever on the alert, heard the trot of the horses at the moment when Raoul was telling Porthos to pass the chariot so as to see who was the person accompanying Athos. Porthos complied, but could not see anything, for the blinds were lowered. Rage and impatience were gaining mastery over Raoul. He had just noticed the mystery preserved by Athos’s companion, and determined on proceeding to extremities. On his part d’Artagnan had clearly recognized Porthos, and Raoul also, from under the blinds, and had communicated to the count the result of his observation. They were desirous only of seeing whether Raoul and Porthos would push the affair to the uttermost. And this they speedily did. Raoul, presenting his pistol, threw himself on the leader, commanding the coachman to stop. Porthos seized the coachman and dragged him from his seat. Grimaud already had hold of the carriage door. Raoul threw open his arms, exclaiming, “Monsieur the Count! Monsieur the Count!”

“Ah! is it you, Raoul?” said Athos, intoxicated with joy.

“Not bad, indeed!” added d’Artagnan, with a burst of laughter; and they both embraced the young man and Porthos, who had captured them.

“My brave Porthos, best of friends!” cried Athos, “it is still the same with you.

“He is still only twenty,” said d’Artagnan. “Bravo, Porthos!”

“Confound it!” answered Porthos, slightly confused, “we thought that you were arrested.”

“While,” rejoined Athos, “I was, in fact, only taking a drive in M. d’Artagnan’s carriage.”

“But we followed you from the Bastille,” returned Raoul, with a tone of suspicion and reproach.

“Where we had been to take supper with our good friend M. Baisemeaux. You recollect Baisemeaux, Porthos?”

“Very well, indeed.”

“And there we saw Aramis.”

“In the Bastille?”

“At supper.”

“Ah!” said Porthos, again breathing freely.

“He gave us a thousand messages for you.”

“Thanks.”

“And where is Monsieur the Count going?” asked Grimaud, already recompensed by a smile from his master.

“We are going home to Blois.”

“How is that,- at once?”

“Yes; right forward.”

“Without any luggage?”

“Oh! Raoul would have been instructed to forward me mine, or to bring it with him on his return, if he returns.”

“If nothing detains him longer in Paris,” said d’Artagnan, with a glance firm and cutting as steel, and as painful (for it reopened the poor young fellow’s wounds), “he will do well to follow you, Athos.”

“There is nothing to keep me any longer in Paris,” said Raoul.

“Then we will go immediately,” replied Athos.

“And M. d’Artagnan?”

“Oh! as for me, I was only accompanying Athos as far as the barrier, and I return with Porthos.”

“Very good,” said the latter.

“Come, my son,” added the count, gently passing his arm round Raoul’s neck to draw him into the carriage, and again embracing him. “Grimaud,” continued the count, “you will return quietly to Paris with your horse and M. du Vallon’s, for Raoul and I will mount here and give up the carriage to these two gentlemen to return to Paris in; and then, as soon as you arrive, you will take my clothes and letters, and forward the whole to me at home.”

“But,” observed Raoul, who was anxious to make the count converse, “when you return to Paris, there will not be a single thing there for you,- which will be very inconvenient.”

“I think it will be a very long time, Raoul, ere I return to Paris. The last sojourn we have made there has not been of a nature to encourage me to repeat it.”

Raoul hung his head, and said not a word more. Athos descended from the carriage, and mounted the horse which had brought Porthos, and which seemed no little pleased at the exchange. Then they embraced, clasped one another’s hands, and interchanged a thousand pledges of eternal friendship. Porthos promised to spend a month with Athos at the first opportunity. D’Artagnan engaged to take advantage of his first leave of absence; and then, having embraced Raoul for the last time, “To you, my boy,” said he, “I will write.” Coming from d’Artagnan, who he knew wrote but very seldom, these words expressed everything. Raoul was moved even to tears. He tore himself away from the musketeer, and departed.

D’Artagnan rejoined Porthos in the carriage. “Well,” said he, “my dear friend, what a day we have had!”

“Indeed, yes,” answered Porthos.

“You must be quite worn out?”

“Not quite; however, I shall retire early to rest, so as to be ready tomorrow.”

“And wherefore?”

“Why, to complete what I have begun.”

“You make me shudder, my friend; you seem to me quite angry. What the devil have you begun which is not finished?”

“Listen! Raoul has not fought; it is necessary that I should fight.”

“With whom?- with the King?”

“How!” exclaimed Porthos, astounded, “with the King?”

“Yes, I say, you great baby! with the King.”

“I assure you it is with M. de Saint-Aignan.”

“Look now, this is what I mean: you draw your sword against the King in fighting with this gentleman.”

“Ah!” said Porthos, staring; “are you sure of it?”

“Indeed, I am.”

“How shall we arrange it, then?”

“We must try and make a good supper, Porthos. The captain of the Musketeers keeps a tolerable table. There you will see the handsome De Saint-Aignan, and will drink his health.”

“I!” cried Porthos, horrified.

“What!” said d’Artagnan, “you refuse to drink the King’s health?”

“But, body alive! I am not talking to you about the King at all; I am speaking of M. de Saint-Aignan.”

“But since I repeat that it is the same thing-”

“Ah, well, well!” said Porthos, overcome.

“You understand, don’t you?”

“No,” said Porthos; “but no matter.”

“Yes, it is all the same,” replied d’Artagnan; “let us go to supper, Porthos.”

  1. 65: Political Rivals
  2. Louise de la Valliere
  3. 67: M de Baisemeaux’s “Society”