Chapter 7: How Porthos, Truchen and Planchet Parted with One Another on Friendly Terms, Thanks to D’Artagnan.

  1. 6: From Planchet’s House
  2. Louise de la Valliere
  3. 8: Presentation of Porthos at Court

There was good living in Planchet’s house. Porthos broke a ladder and two cherry-trees, stripped the raspberry-bushes, and was only unable to succeed in reaching the strawberry-beds on account, as he said, of his belt. Trüchen, who had got quite sociable with the giant, said that it was not the belt so much as his corporation; and Porthos, in the state of the highest delight, embraced Trüchen, who gathered him a handful of strawberries, and made him eat them out of her hand. D’Artagnan, who arrived in the midst of these little innocent flirtations, scolded Porthos for his indolence, and silently pitied Planchet. Porthos breakfasted with a very good appetite, and when he had finished he said, looking at Trüchen, “I could make myself very happy here.” Trüchen smiled at his remark, and so did Planchet, but the latter not without some embarrassment.

D’Artagnan then addressed Porthos: “You must not let the delights of Capua make you forget the real object of our journey to Fontainebleau.”

“My presentation to the king?”

“Certainly. I am going to take a turn in the town to get everything ready for that. Do not think of leaving the house, I beg.”

“Oh, no!” exclaimed Porthos.

Planchet looked at D’Artagnan nervously. “Will you be away long?” he inquired.

“No, my friend; and this very evening I will release you from two troublesome guests.”

“Oh! Monsieur d’Artagnan! can you say--”

“No, no; you are an excellent-hearted fellow, but your house is very small. Such a house, with only a couple of acres of land, would be fit for a king and make him very happy, too. But you were not born a great lord.”

“No more was Monsieur Porthos,” murmured Planchet.

“But he has become so, my good fellow; his income has been a hundred thousand francs a year for the last twenty years, and for the last fifty years has been the owner of a couple of fists and a backbone which are not to be matched throughout the whole realm of France. Porthos is a man of the very greatest consequence compared to you, and--well, I need say no more, for I know you are an intelligent fellow. “

“No, no, monsieur; explain what you mean.”

“Look at your orchard, how stripped it is, how empty your Larder, your bedstead broken, your cellar almost exhausted, look too--at Madame Trüchen--”

“Oh! my good gracious!” said Planchet.

“Madame Trüchen is an excellent person,” continued D’Artagnan, “but keep her for yourself, do you understand?” and he slapped him on the shoulder.

Planchet at this moment perceived Porthos and Trüchen sitting close together in an arbor; Trüchen, with a grace of manner peculiarly Flemish, was making a pair of earrings for Porthos out of a double cherry, while Porthos was laughing as amorously as Samson did with Delilah. Planchet pressed D’Artagnan’s hand, and ran toward the arbor. We must do Porthos the justice to say that he did not move as they approached, and, very likely, he did not think he was doing any harm. Nor indeed did Trüchen move either, which rather put Planchet out; but he, too, had been so accustomed to see fashionable people in his shop that he found no difficulty in putting a good countenance on what was disagreeable to him. Planchet seized Porthos by the arm, and proposed to go and look at the horses, but Porthos pretended that he was tired. Planchet then suggested that the Baron du Vallon should taste some noyeau of his own manufacture, which was not to be equaled anywhere; an offer which the baron immediately accepted; and, in this way, Planchet managed to engage his enemy’s attention during the whole of the day, by dint of sacrificing his cellar in preference to his amour propre. Two hours afterward D’Artagnan returned.

“Everything is arranged,” he said. “I saw his majesty at the very moment he was setting off for the chase; the king expects us this evening.”

“The king expects me!” cried Porthos, drawing himself up. It is a sad thing to have to confess, but a man’s heart is like a restless billow; for, from that very moment, Porthos ceased to look at Mme. Trüchen in that touching manner which had so softened her heart. Planchet encouraged these ambitious leanings in the best way he could. He talked over, or rather, gave exaggerated accounts of all the splendors of the last reign, its battles, sieges, and grand court ceremonies. He spoke of the luxurious display which the English made; the prizes which the three brave companions had won, and how D’Artagnan, who at the beginning had been the humblest of the three, had finished by becoming the head. He fired Porthos with a generous feeling of enthusiasm by reminding him of his early youth now passed away; he boasted as much as he could of the moral life this great lord had led, and how religiously he respected the ties of friendship; he was eloquent, and skillful in his choice of subjects. He delighted Porthos, frightened Trüchen, and made D’Artagnan think. At six o’clock the musketeer ordered the horses to be brought around, and told Porthos to get ready. He thanked Planchet for his kind hospitality, whispered a few words about a post he succeeded in obtaining for him at court, which immediately raised Planchet in Trüchen’s estimation, where the poor grocer--so good, so generous, so devoted--had become much lowered ever since the appearance and comparison with him of the two great gentlemen. Such, however, is a woman’s nature; they are anxious to possess what they have not got, and disdain it as soon as it is acquired. After having rendered this service to his friend Planchet, D’Artagnan said in a low tone of voice to Porthos: “That is a very beautiful ring you have on your finger.”

“It is worth three hundred pistoles,” said Porthos.

“Madame Trüchen will remember you better if you leave her that ring,” replied D’Artagnan, a suggestion which Porthos seemed to hesitate to adopt.

“You think it is not beautiful enough, perhaps,” said the musketeer. “I understand your feelings; a great lord as you are would not think of accepting the hospitality of an old servant without paying him most handsomely for it; but I am quite sure that Planchet is too good-hearted a fellow to remember that you have an income of a hundred thousand francs a year.”

“I have more than half a mind,” said Porthos, flattered by the remark, “to make Madame Trüchen a present of my little farm at Bracieux; it has twelve acres.”

“It is too much, my good Porthos, too much just at present. Keep it for a future occasion.” He then took the ring off Porthos’ finger, and approaching Trüchen, said to her: “Madame, Monsieur le Baron hardly knows how to entreat you, out of your regard for him, to accept this little ring. Monsieur du Vallon is one of the most generous and discreet men of my acquaintance. He wished to offer you a farm that he has at Bracieux, but I dissuaded him from it.”

“Oh!” said Trüchen, looking eagerly at the diamond.

“Monsieur le Baron!” exclaimed Planchet, quite overcome.

“My good friend,” stammered out Porthos, delighted at having been so well represented by D’Artagnan. These several exclamations uttered at the same moment, made quite a pathetic winding up of a day which might have finished in a very ridiculous manner. But D’Artagnan was there, and, on every occasion, wherever D’Artagnan had exercised any control, matters had ended only just in the way he wished and desired. There were general embracings; Trüchen, whom the baron’s munificence had restored to her proper position, very timidly, and blushing all the while, presented her forehead to the great lord with whom she had been on such very excellent terms the evening before. Planchet himself was overcome by a feeling of the deepest humility. Still, in the same generosity of disposition, Porthos would have emptied his pockets into the hands of the cook and of Celestin; but D’Artagnan stopped him.

“No,” he said, “it is now my turn.” And he gave one pistole to the woman and two to the man; and the benedictions which were showered down upon them would have rejoiced the heart of Harpagon himself, and have rendered even him prodigal of his money.

D’Artagnan made Planchet lead them to the château, and introduced Porthos into his own apartment, where he arrived safely without having been perceived by those he was afraid of meeting.

  1. 6: From Planchet’s House
  2. Louise de la Valliere
  3. 8: Presentation of Porthos at Court