The Three Musketeers – Day 22 of 227

“Yes, Treville, yes,” said the king, in a melancholy tone; “and it is very sad, believe me, to see thus two parties in France, two heads to royalty. But all this will come to an end, Treville, will come to an end. You say, then, that the Guardsmen sought a quarrel with the Musketeers?”

“I say that it is probable that things have fallen out so, but I will not swear to it, sire. You know how difficult it is to discover the truth; and unless a man be endowed with that admirable instinct which causes Louis XIII to be named the Just—”

“You are right, Treville; but they were not alone, your Musketeers. They had a youth with them?”

“Yes, sire, and one wounded man; so that three of the king’s Musketeers—one of whom was wounded—and a youth not only maintained their ground against five of the most terrible of the cardinal’s Guardsmen, but absolutely brought four of them to earth.”

“Why, this is a victory!” cried the king, all radiant, “a complete victory!”

“Yes, sire; as complete as that of the Bridge of Ce.”

“Four men, one of them wounded, and a youth, say you?”

“One hardly a young man; but who, however, behaved himself so admirably on this occasion that I will take the liberty of recommending him to your Majesty.”

“How does he call himself?”

“d’Artagnan, sire; he is the son of one of my oldest friends—the son of a man who served under the king your father, of glorious memory, in the civil war.”

“And you say this young man behaved himself well? Tell me how, Treville—you know how I delight in accounts of war and fighting.”

And Louis XIII twisted his mustache proudly, placing his hand upon his hip.

“Sire,” resumed Treville, “as I told you, Monsieur d’Artagnan is little more than a boy; and as he has not the honor of being a Musketeer, he was dressed as a citizen. The Guards of the cardinal, perceiving his youth and that he did not belong to the corps, invited him to retire before they attacked.”

“So you may plainly see, Treville,” interrupted the king, “it was they who attacked?”

“That is true, sire; there can be no more doubt on that head. They called upon him then to retire; but he answered that he was a Musketeer at heart, entirely devoted to your Majesty, and that therefore he would remain with Messieurs the Musketeers.”

“Brave young man!” murmured the king.

“Well, he did remain with them; and your Majesty has in him so firm a champion that it was he who gave Jussac the terrible sword thrust which has made the cardinal so angry.”

“He who wounded Jussac!” cried the king, “he, a boy! Treville, that’s impossible!”

“It is as I have the honor to relate it to your Majesty.”

“Jussac, one of the first swordsmen in the kingdom?”

“Well, sire, for once he found his master.”

“I will see this young man, Treville—I will see him; and if anything can be done—well, we will make it our business.”

“When will your Majesty deign to receive him?”

“Tomorrow, at midday, Treville.”

“Shall I bring him alone?”

“No, bring me all four together. I wish to thank them all at once. Devoted men are so rare, Treville, by the back staircase. It is useless to let the cardinal know.”

“Yes, sire.”

“You understand, Treville—an edict is still an edict, it is forbidden to fight, after all.”

“But this encounter, sire, is quite out of the ordinary conditions of a duel. It is a brawl; and the proof is that there were five of the cardinal’s Guardsmen against my three Musketeers and Monsieur d’Artagnan.”

“That is true,” said the king; “but never mind, Treville, come still by the back staircase.”

Treville smiled; but as it was indeed something to have prevailed upon this child to rebel against his master, he saluted the king respectfully, and with this agreement, took leave of him.

That evening the three Musketeers were informed of the honor accorded them. As they had long been acquainted with the king, they were not much excited; but d’Artagnan, with his Gascon imagination, saw in it his future fortune, and passed the night in golden dreams. By eight o’clock in the morning he was at the apartment of Athos.

D’Artagnan found the Musketeer dressed and ready to go out. As the hour to wait upon the king was not till twelve, he had made a party with Porthos and Aramis to play a game at tennis in a tennis court situated near the stables of the Luxembourg. Athos invited d’Artagnan to follow them; and although ignorant of the game, which he had never played, he accepted, not knowing what to do with his time from nine o’clock in the morning, as it then scarcely was, till twelve.

The two Musketeers were already there, and were playing together. Athos, who was very expert in all bodily exercises, passed with d’Artagnan to the opposite side and challenged them; but at the first effort he made, although he played with his left hand, he found that his wound was yet too recent to allow of such exertion. D’Artagnan remained, therefore, alone; and as he declared he was too ignorant of the game to play it regularly they only continued giving balls to one another without counting. But one of these balls, launched by Porthos’ herculean hand, passed so close to d’Artagnan’s face that he thought that if, instead of passing near, it had hit him, his audience would have been probably lost, as it would have been impossible for him to present himself before the king. Now, as upon this audience, in his Gascon imagination, depended his future life, he saluted Aramis and Porthos politely, declaring that he would not resume the game until he should be prepared to play with them on more equal terms, and went and took his place near the cord and in the gallery.

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