begged the servant who had put the question to him to request a moment’s audience of M. de Tréville—a request which the other, with a patronizing air, promised to convey in time and season.D’Artagnan, a little recovered from his first surprise, had now leisure to study costumes and countenances.

The centre of the most animated group was a musketeer of great height, of a haughty countenance, and dressed in a costume so peculiar as to attract general attention. He did not wear the uniform cloak—which, indeed, at that time of less liberty and greater independence was not obligatory—but a cerulean blue doublet, a little faded and worn, and over this a magnificent baldric worked in gold, which shone like water-ripples in the sun. A long cloak of crimson velvet fell in graceful folds from his shoulders, disclosing in front the splendid baldric, from which was suspended a gigantic rapier.

This musketeer had just come off guard, complained of having a cold, coughed from time to time affectedly. It was for this reason, he said to those around him, he had put on his cloak; and while he spoke with a lofty air and twirled his moustache, all admired his embroidered baldric, and D’Artagnan more than any one.

“What can you expect?” said the musketeer. “The fashion is coming in. It is a folly, I admit, but still it is the fashion. Besides, one must lay out one’s inheritance somehow.”

“Ah, Porthos!” cried one of his companions, “don’t think to palm upon us that you obtained that baldric by paternal generosity: it must have been given to you by that veiled lady with whom I met you the other Sunday, near the gate Saint-Honoré.”

“No, ’pon honour; by the faith of a gentleman, I bought it with my own money,” answered he whom they had just designated by the name of Porthos.

The wonder was increased, though the doubt continued to exist.

“Didn’t I, Aramis?” said Porthos, turning towards another musketeer.

This other musketeer formed a perfect contrast to his interrogator, who had just designated him by the name of Aramis. He was a young man, of about two or three and twenty, with an open, ingenuous countenance, dark mild eyes, and cheeks rosy and downy as an autumn peach; his delicate moustache marked a perfectly straight line upon his upper lip; he appeared to dread to lower his hands lest their veins should swell, and he pinched the tips of his ears from time to time to preserve their delicate pink transparency. Habitually he spoke little and slowly, bowed frequently, laughed without noise, showing his teeth, which were fine, and of which, as of the rest of his person, he appeared to take the greatest care. He answered the appeal of his friend by an affirmative nod of the head.

This affirmation appeared to dispel all doubts with regard to the baldric. They continued to admire it, but said no more about it; and by one of those rapid changes of thought, the conversation passed suddenly to another subject.

“M. de Tréville awaits M. D’Artagnan,” interrupted a servant, throwing open the door of the office.At this announcement, during which the door remained open, every one became mute, and amidst the general silence the young man crossed the antechamber at one end, and entered the apartment of the captain of the musketeers.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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