The Three Musketeers – Day 69 of 227

“For the cause which today takes us to England.”

“And what is this cause?” demanded Aramis.

“Oh, you’ll know it someday, Aramis; but at present I must imitate the discretion of ‘the doctor’s niece.'”

Aramis smiled, as he remembered the tale he had told his friends on a certain evening. “Well, then, since she has left Paris, and you are sure of it, d’Artagnan, nothing prevents me, and I am ready to follow you. You say we are going—”

“To see Athos now, and if you will come thither, I beg you to make haste, for we have lost much time already. A propos, inform Bazin.”

“Will Bazin go with us?” asked Aramis.

“Perhaps so. At all events, it is best that he should follow us to Athos’s.”

Aramis called Bazin, and, after having ordered him to join them at Athos’s residence, said “Let us go then,” at the same time taking his cloak, sword, and three pistols, opening uselessly two or three drawers to see if he could not find stray coin. When well assured this search was superfluous, he followed d’Artagnan, wondering to himself how this young Guardsman should know so well who the lady was to whom he had given hospitality, and that he should know better than himself what had become of her.

Only as they went out Aramis placed his hand upon the arm of d’Artagnan, and looking at him earnestly, “You have not spoken of this lady?” said he.

“To nobody in the world.”

“Not even to Athos or Porthos?”

“I have not breathed a syllable to them.”

“Good enough!”

Tranquil on this important point, Aramis continued his way with d’Artagnan, and both soon arrived at Athos’s dwelling. They found him holding his leave of absence in one hand, and M. de Treville’s note in the other.

“Can you explain to me what signify this leave of absence and this letter, which I have just received?” said the astonished Athos.

My dear Athos,

I wish, as your health absolutely requires it, that you should rest for a fortnight. Go, then, and take the waters of Forges, or any that may be more agreeable to you, and recuperate yourself as quickly as possible.

Yours affectionate,

de Treville

“Well, this leave of absence and that letter mean that you must follow me, Athos.”

“To the waters of Forges?”

“There or elsewhere.”

“In the king’s service?”

“Either the king’s or the queen’s. Are we not their Majesties’ servants?”

At that moment Porthos entered. “Pardieu!” said he, “here is a strange thing! Since when, I wonder, in the Musketeers, did they grant men leave of absence without their asking for it?”

“Since,” said d’Artagnan, “they have friends who ask it for them.”

“Ah, ah!” said Porthos, “it appears there’s something fresh here.”

“Yes, we are going—” said Aramis.

“To what country?” demanded Porthos.

“My faith! I don’t know much about it,” said Athos. “Ask d’Artagnan.”

“To London, gentlemen,” said d’Artagnan.

“To London!” cried Porthos; “and what the devil are we going to do in London?”

“That is what I am not at liberty to tell you, gentlemen; you must trust to me.”

“But in order to go to London,” added Porthos, “money is needed, and I have none.”

“Nor I,” said Aramis.

“Nor I,” said Athos.

“I have,” replied d’Artagnan, pulling out his treasure from his pocket, and placing it on the table. “There are in this bag three hundred pistoles. Let each take seventy-five; that is enough to take us to London and back. Besides, make yourselves easy; we shall not all arrive at London.”

“Why so?”

“Because, in all probability, some one of us will be left on the road.”

“Is this, then, a campaign upon which we are now entering?”

“One of a most dangerous kind, I give you notice.”

“Ah! But if we do risk being killed,” said Porthos, “at least I should like to know what for.”

“You would be all the wiser,” said Athos.

“And yet,” said Aramis, “I am somewhat of Porthos’s opinion.”

“Is the king accustomed to give you such reasons? No. He says to you jauntily, ‘Gentlemen, there is fighting going on in Gascony or in Flanders; go and fight,’ and you go there. Why? You need give yourselves no more uneasiness about this.”

“d’Artagnan is right,” said Athos; “here are our three leaves of absence which came from Monsieur de Treville, and here are three hundred pistoles which came from I don’t know where. So let us go and get killed where we are told to go. Is life worth the trouble of so many questions? D’Artagnan, I am ready to follow you.”

“And I also,” said Porthos.

“And I also,” said Aramis. “And, indeed, I am not sorry to quit Paris; I had need of distraction.”

“Well, you will have distractions enough, gentlemen, be assured,” said d’Artagnan.

“And, now, when are we to go?” asked Athos.

“Immediately,” replied d’Artagnan; “we have not a minute to lose.”

“Hello, Grimaud! Planchet! Mousqueton! Bazin!” cried the four young men, calling their lackeys, “clean my boots, and fetch the horses from the hotel.”

Each Musketeer was accustomed to leave at the general hotel, as at a barrack, his own horse and that of his lackey. Planchet, Grimaud, Mousqueton, and Bazin set off at full speed.

“Now let us lay down the plan of campaign,” said Porthos. “Where do we go first?”

“To Calais,” said d’Artagnan; “that is the most direct line to London.”

“Well,” said Porthos, “this is my advice—”


“Four men traveling together would be suspected. D’Artagnan will give each of us his instructions. I will go by the way of Boulogne to clear the way; Athos will set out two hours after, by that of Amiens; Aramis will follow us by that of Noyon; as to d’Artagnan, he will go by what route he thinks is best, in Planchet’s clothes, while Planchet will follow us like d’Artagnan, in the uniform of the Guards.”

“Gentlemen,” said Athos, “my opinion is that it is not proper to allow lackeys to have anything to do in such an affair. A secret may, by chance, be betrayed by gentlemen; but it is almost always sold by lackeys.”

“Porthos’s plan appears to me to be impracticable,” said d’Artagnan, “inasmuch as I am myself ignorant of what instructions I can give you. I am the bearer of a letter, that is all. I have not, and I cannot make three copies of that letter, because it is sealed. We must, then, as it appears to me, travel in company. This letter is here, in this pocket,” and he pointed to the pocket which contained the letter. “If I should be killed, one of you must take it, and continue the route; if he be killed, it will be another’s turn, and so on—provided a single one arrives, that is all that is required.”

“Bravo, d’Artagnan, your opinion is mine,” cried Athos, “Besides, we must be consistent; I am going to take the waters, you will accompany me. Instead of taking the waters of Forges, I go and take sea waters; I am free to do so. If anyone wishes to stop us, I will show Monsieur de Treville’s letter, and you will show your leaves of absence. If we are attacked, we will defend ourselves; if we are tried, we will stoutly maintain that we were only anxious to dip ourselves a certain number of times in the sea. They would have an easy bargain of four isolated men; whereas four men together make a troop. We will arm our four lackeys with pistols and musketoons; if they send an army out against us, we will give battle, and the survivor, as d’Artagnan says, will carry the letter.”

“Well said,” cried Aramis; “you don’t often speak, Athos, but when you do speak, it is like St. John of the Golden Mouth. I agree to Athos’s plan. And you, Porthos?”

“I agree to it, too,” said Porthos, “if d’Artagnan approves of it. D’Artagnan, being the bearer of the letter, is naturally the head of the enterprise; let him decide, and we will execute.”

“Well,” said d’Artagnan, “I decide that we should adopt Athos’s plan, and that we set off in half an hour.”

“Agreed!” shouted the three Musketeers in chorus.

Each one, stretching out his hand to the bag, took his seventy-five pistoles, and made his preparations to set out at the time appointed.

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