The Three Musketeers – Day 43 of 227

“Yes, it is I,” said d’Artagnan, “it is I, whom God has sent to watch over you.”

“Was it with that intention you followed me?” asked the young woman, with a coquettish smile, whose somewhat bantering character resumed its influence, and with whom all fear had disappeared from the moment in which she recognized a friend in one she had taken for an enemy.

“No,” said d’Artagnan; “no, I confess it. It was chance that threw me in your way; I saw a woman knocking at the window of one of my friends.”

“One of your friends?” interrupted Mme. Bonacieux.

“Without doubt; Aramis is one of my best friends.”

“Aramis! Who is he?”

“Come, come, you won’t tell me you don’t know Aramis?”

“This is the first time I ever heard his name pronounced.”

“It is the first time, then, that you ever went to that house?”


“And you did not know that it was inhabited by a young man?”


“By a Musketeer?”

“No, indeed!”

“It was not he, then, you came to seek?”

“Not the least in the world. Besides, you must have seen that the person to whom I spoke was a woman.”

“That is true; but this woman is a friend of Aramis—”

“I know nothing of that.”

“—since she lodges with him.”

“That does not concern me.”

“But who is she?”

“Oh, that is not my secret.”

“My dear Madame Bonacieux, you are charming; but at the same time you are one of the most mysterious women.”

“Do I lose by that?”

“No; you are, on the contrary, adorable.”

“Give me your arm, then.”

“Most willingly. And now?”

“Now escort me.”


“Where I am going.”

“But where are you going?”

“You will see, because you will leave me at the door.”

“Shall I wait for you?”

“That will be useless.”

“You will return alone, then?”

“Perhaps yes, perhaps no.”

“But will the person who shall accompany you afterward be a man or a woman?”

“I don’t know yet.”

“But I will know it!”

“How so?”

“I will wait until you come out.”

“In that case, adieu.”

“Why so?”

“I do not want you.”

“But you have claimed—”

“The aid of a gentleman, not the watchfulness of a spy.”

“The word is rather hard.”

“How are they called who follow others in spite of them?”

“They are indiscreet.”

“The word is too mild.”

“Well, madame, I perceive I must do as you wish.”

“Why did you deprive yourself of the merit of doing so at once?”

“Is there no merit in repentance?”

“And do you really repent?”

“I know nothing about it myself. But what I know is that I promise to do all you wish if you allow me to accompany you where you are going.”

“And you will leave me then?”


“Without waiting for my coming out again?”


“Word of honor?”

“By the faith of a gentleman. Take my arm, and let us go.”

D’Artagnan offered his arm to Mme. Bonacieux, who willingly took it, half laughing, half trembling, and both gained the top of Rue de la Harpe. Arriving there, the young woman seemed to hesitate, as she had before done in the Rue Vaugirard. She seemed, however, by certain signs, to recognize a door, and approaching that door, “And now, monsieur,” said she, “it is here I have business; a thousand thanks for your honorable company, which has saved me from all the dangers to which, alone I was exposed. But the moment is come to keep your word; I have reached my destination.”

“And you will have nothing to fear on your return?”

“I shall have nothing to fear but robbers.”

“And that is nothing?”

“What could they take from me? I have not a penny about me.”

“You forget that beautiful handkerchief with the coat of arms.”


“That which I found at your feet, and replaced in your pocket.”

“Hold your tongue, imprudent man! Do you wish to destroy me?”

“You see very plainly that there is still danger for you, since a single word makes you tremble; and you confess that if that word were heard you would be ruined. Come, come, madame!” cried d’Artagnan, seizing her hands, and surveying her with an ardent glance, “come, be more generous. Confide in me. Have you not read in my eyes that there is nothing but devotion and sympathy in my heart?”

“Yes,” replied Mme. Bonacieux; “therefore, ask my own secrets, and I will reveal them to you; but those of others—that is quite another thing.”

“Very well,” said d’Artagnan, “I shall discover them; as these secrets may have an influence over your life, these secrets must become mine.”

“Beware of what you do!” cried the young woman, in a manner so serious as to make d’Artagnan start in spite of himself. “Oh, meddle in nothing which concerns me. Do not seek to assist me in that which I am accomplishing. This I ask of you in the name of the interest with which I inspire you, in the name of the service you have rendered me and which I never shall forget while I have life. Rather, place faith in what I tell you. Have no more concern about me; I exist no longer for you, any more than if you had never seen me.”

“Must Aramis do as much as I, madame?” said d’Artagnan, deeply piqued.

“This is the second or third time, monsieur, that you have repeated that name, and yet I have told you that I do not know him.”

“You do not know the man at whose shutter you have just knocked? Indeed, madame, you believe me too credulous!”

“Confess that it is for the sake of making me talk that you invent this story and create this personage.”

“I invent nothing, madame; I create nothing. I only speak that exact truth.”

“And you say that one of your friends lives in that house?”

“I say so, and I repeat it for the third time; that house is one inhabited by my friend, and that friend is Aramis.”

“All this will be cleared up at a later period,” murmured the young woman; “no, monsieur, be silent.”

“If you could see my heart,” said d’Artagnan, “you would there read so much curiosity that you would pity me and so much love that you would instantly satisfy my curiosity. We have nothing to fear from those who love us.”

“You speak very suddenly of love, monsieur,” said the young woman, shaking her head.

“That is because love has come suddenly upon me, and for the first time; and because I am only twenty.”

The young woman looked at him furtively.

“Listen; I am already upon the scent,” resumed d’Artagnan. “About three months ago I was near having a duel with Aramis concerning a handkerchief resembling the one you showed to the woman in his house—for a handkerchief marked in the same manner, I am sure.”

“Monsieur,” said the young woman, “you weary me very much, I assure you, with your questions.”

“But you, madame, prudent as you are, think, if you were to be arrested with that handkerchief, and that handkerchief were to be seized, would you not be compromised?”

“In what way? The initials are only mine—C. B., Constance Bonacieux.”

“Or Camille de Bois-Tracy.”

“Silence, monsieur! Once again, silence! Ah, since the dangers I incur on my own account cannot stop you, think of those you may yourself run!”


“Yes; there is peril of imprisonment, risk of life in knowing me.”

“Then I will not leave you.”

“Monsieur!” said the young woman, supplicating him and clasping her hands together, “monsieur, in the name of heaven, by the honor of a soldier, by the courtesy of a gentleman, depart! There, there midnight sounds! That is the hour when I am expected.”

“Madame,” said the young man, bowing; “I can refuse nothing asked of me thus. Be content; I will depart.”

“But you will not follow me; you will not watch me?”

“I will return home instantly.”

“Ah, I was quite sure you were a good and brave young man,” said Mme. Bonacieux, holding out her hand to him, and placing the other upon the knocker of a little door almost hidden in the wall.

D’Artagnan seized the hand held out to him, and kissed it ardently.

“Ah! I wish I had never seen you!” cried d’Artagnan, with that ingenuous roughness which women often prefer to the affectations of politeness, because it betrays the depths of the thought and proves that feeling prevails over reason.

“Well!” resumed Mme. Bonacieux, in a voice almost caressing, and pressing the hand of d’Artagnan, who had not relinquished hers, “well: I will not say as much as you do; what is lost for today may not be lost forever. Who knows, when I shall be at liberty, that I may not satisfy your curiosity?”

“And will you make the same promise to my love?” cried d’Artagnan, beside himself with joy.

“Oh, as to that, I do not engage myself. That depends upon the sentiments with which you may inspire me.”

“Then today, madame—”

“Oh, today, I am no further than gratitude.”

“Ah! You are too charming,” said d’Artagnan, sorrowfully; “and you abuse my love.”

“No, I use your generosity, that’s all. But be of good cheer; with certain people, everything comes round.”

“Oh, you render me the happiest of men! Do not forget this evening—do not forget that promise.”

“Be satisfied. In the proper time and place I will remember everything. Now then, go, go, in the name of heaven! I was expected at sharp midnight, and I am late.”

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