Chapter 8: The Presentation of Porthos at Court.

  1. 7: Porthos, Truchen & Planchet
  2. Louise de la Valliere
  3. 9: Explanations

At seven o’clock the same evening the king gave an audience to an ambassador from the United Provinces in the grand reception-room. The audience lasted a quarter of an hour. His majesty afterward received those who had been recently presented, together with a few ladies, who paid their respects the first. In one corner of the salon, concealed behind a column, Porthos and D’Artagnan were conversing together, waiting until their turn arrived.

“Have you heard the news?” inquired the musketeer of his friend.


“Well, look then.” Porthos raised himself on tiptoe, and saw M. Fouquet, in full court dress, leading Aramis toward the king.

“Aramis,” said Porthos.

“Presented to the king by Monsieur Fouquet.”

“Ah!” ejaculated Porthos.

“For having fortified Belle-Isle,” continued D’Artagnan.

“And I?”

“You--oh! you, as I have already had the honor of telling you, are the good-natured, kind-hearted Porthos; and so they begged you to take care of St. Mandé a little.”

“Ah!” repeated Porthos.

“But, very happily, I was there,” said D’Artagnan, “and presently it will be my turn.”

At this moment Fouquet addressed the king. “Sire,” he said, “I have a favor to solicit of your majesty. Monsieur d’Herblay is not ambitious, but he knows he can be of some service to you. Your majesty needs a representative at Rome, who should be able to exercise a powerful influence there; may I request a cardinal’s hat for Monsieur d’Herblay?”

The king started. “I do not often solicit anything of your majesty,” said Fouquet.

“That is a reason, certainly,” replied the king, who always expressed any hesitation he might have in that manner, and to which remark there was nothing to say in reply.

Fouquet and Aramis looked at each other. The king resumed: “Monsieur d’Herblay can serve us equally well in France; an archbishopric, for instance.”

“Sire,” objected Fouquet, with a grace of manner peculiarly his own, “your majesty overwhelms Monsieur d’Herblay; the archbishopric may, in your majesty’s extreme kindness, be conferred in addition to the hat; the one does not exclude the other.”

The king admired the readiness which he displayed, and smiled, saying: “D’Artagnan himself could not have answered better.” He had no sooner pronounced the name than D’Artagnan appeared.

“Did your majesty call me?” he said.

Aramis and Fouquet drew back a step, as if they were about to retire.

“Will your majesty allow me,” said D’Artagnan quickly, as he led forward Porthos, “to present to your majesty Monsieur le Baron du Vallon, one of the bravest gentlemen of France?”

As soon as Aramis saw Porthos he turned as pale as death, while Fouquet clinched his hands under his ruffles. D’Artagnan smiled at both of them, while Porthos bowed, visibly overcome before the royal presence.

“Porthos here?” murmured Fouquet in Aramis’ ear

“Hush! there is some treachery at work,” said the latter.

“Sire,” said D’Artagnan, “it is more than six years ago that I ought to have presented Monsieur du Vallon to your majesty; but certain men resemble stars, they move not unless their friends accompany them. The Pleiades are never disunited, and that is the reason I have selected, for the person of presenting him to you, the very moment when you see Monsieur d’Herblay by his side.”

Aramis almost lost countenance. He looked at D’Artagnan with a proud, haughty air, as though willing to accept the defiance which the latter seemed to throw down.

“Ah! these gentlemen are good friends, then?” said the king.

“Excellent friends, sire; the one can answer for the other. Ask Monsieur de Vannes how in what manner Belle-Isle was fortified?” Fouquet moved back a step.

“Belle-Isle,” said Aramis coldly, “has been fortified by that gentleman;” and he indicated Porthos with his hand, who bowed a second time. Louis could not withhold his admiration, though at the same time his suspicions were aroused.

“Yes,” said D’Artagnan, “but ask Monsieur le Baron whose assistance he had in carrying the works out?”

“Aramis’,” said Porthos frankly; and he pointed to the bishop.

“What the deuce does all this mean,” thought the bishop, “and what sort of a termination are we to expect to this comedy?”

“What!” exclaimed the king, “is the cardinal’s, I mean the bishop’s, name Aramis?”

“A nom de guerre,” said D’Artagnan.

“A name of friendship,” said Aramis.

“A truce to modesty,” exclaimed D’Artagnan; “beneath the priest’s robe, sire, is concealed the most brilliant officer, a gentleman of the most unparalleled intrepidity, and the wisest theologian in your kingdom.”

Louis raised his head. “And an engineer, also, it appears,” he said, admiring Aramis’ calm, imperturbable self-possession.

“An engineer for a particular purpose, sire,” said the latter.

“My companion in the musketeers, sire,” said D’Artagnan, with great warmth of manner, “the man who has more than a hundred times aided your father’s ministers by his advice--Monsieur d’Herblay, in a word, who, with Monsieur du Vallon, myself, and Monsieur le Comte de la Fere, who is known to your majesty, formed that quadrille which was a good deal talked about during the late king’s reign, and during your majesty’s minority.”

“And who has fortified Belle-Isle?” the king repeated, in a significant tone.

Aramis advanced, and said: “In order to serve the son as I have served the father.”

D’Artagnan looked at Aramis most narrowly while he uttered these words, which displayed so much true respect, so much warm devotion, such entire frankness and sincerity, that even he, D’Artagnan, the eternal doubter, he, the almost infallible in his judgment, was deceived by it. “A man who lies cannot speak in such a tone as that,” he said.

Louis was overcome by it. “In that case,” he said to Fouquet, who anxiously awaited the result of this proof, “the cardinal’s hat is promised. Monsieur d’Herblay, I pledge you my honor that the first promotion shall be yours. Thank Monsieur Fouquet for it.” Colbert overheard these words; they stung him to the quick, and he left the salon abruptly. “And, you, Monsieur du Vallon,” said the king, “what have you to ask? I am pleased to have it in my power to acknowledge the services of those who were faithful to my father.”

“Sire--” began Porthos, but he was unable to proceed with what he was going to say.

“Sire,” exclaimed D’Artagnan, “this worthy gentleman is overpowered by your majesty’s presence, he who has so valiantly sustained the looks and the fire of a thousand foes. But, knowing what his thoughts are, I--who am more accustomed to gaze upon the sun--can translate his thoughts; he needs nothing, his sole desire is to have the happiness of gazing upon your majesty for a quarter of an hour. “

“You shall sup with me this evening,” said the king, saluting Porthos with a gracious smile.

Porthos became crimson from delight and from pride. The king dismissed him, and D’Artagnan pushed him into the adjoining apartment, after he had embraced him warmly.

“Sit next to me at table,” said Porthos in his ear.

“Yes, my friend.”

“Aramis is annoyed with me, I think.”

“Aramis has never liked you so much as he does now. Fancy, it was I who was the means of his getting the cardinal’s hat.”

“Of course,” said Porthos. “By the bye, does the king like his guests to eat much at his table.”

“It is a compliment to himself if you do,” said D’Artagnan, “for he possesses a royal appetite.”

  1. 7: Porthos, Truchen & Planchet
  2. Louise de la Valliere
  3. 9: Explanations