The Audience

M. De Tréville was at this moment in a very ill-humour, nevertheless he politely saluted the young man, who bowed to the very ground, and he smiled on receiving his compliment, the Béarnese accent of which recalled to him at the same time his youth and his country, a double remembrance which makes a man smile at all ages. But stepping almost immediately towards the antechamber, and making a sign to D’Artagnan with his hand, as if to ask his permission to finish with others before he began with him, he called three times, with a louder voice at each time, so that he went through all the tones between the imperative accent and the angry accent.

“Athos! Porthos! Aramis!”

The two musketeers with whom we have already made acquaintance, and who answered to the last two of these three names, immediately quitted the group of which they formed a part, and advanced towards the office, the door of which closed after them as soon as they had entered. Their bearing, though not entirely composed, was full of a dignified and submissive indifference, which excited the admiration of D’Artagnan, who beheld in these two men demigods, and in their leader an Olympian Jupiter, armed with all his thunders.

When the two musketeers had entered, when the door was closed behind them, when the buzzing murmur of the antechamber, to which the summons which had just been made had doubtless furnished fresh aliment, had recommenced, when M. de Tréville had three or four times paced in silence, and with a frowning brow, the whole length of his office, passing each time before Porthos and Aramis, who were as upright and silent as if on parade, he stopped all at once full in front of them, and looking at them angrily from head to foot,

“Do you know what the king said to me,” cried he, “and that no longer ago than yesterday evening—do you know, gentlemen?”

“No,” replied the two musketeers, after a moment’s silence; “no, sir, we do not.”

“But I hope that you will do us the honour to tell us,” added Aramis, in his politest tone and with the most graceful bow.“He told me that he should henceforth recruit his musketeers from among the guards of the cardinal.”

“The guards of the cardinal! And why so?” asked Porthos warmly.

“Because he plainly perceives that his piquette1

stands in need of being enlivened by a mixture of good wine.”

The two musketeers coloured up to the eyes. D’Artagnan did not know where he was, and would have liked to be a hundred feet underground.

“Yes, yes,” continued M. de Tréville, growing warmer as he spoke, “and his Majesty was right, for, upon my honour, it is true that the musketeers make but a miserable figure at court. The cardinal related yesterday, while playing with the king, with an air of condolence not very pleasing to me, that the day before yesterday those damned musketeers, those dare-devils—he dwelt upon those words with an ironical tone still more displeasing to me—those cleavers, added he, glancing at me with his tiger-cat’s eye, had been out late in the Rue Férou, in a tavern, and that a patrol of his guards (I thought he was going to laugh in my face) had been forced to arrest the rioters. Zounds! you must know something about it! Arrest musketeers! You were among them—you were! Don’t deny it; you were recognized, and the cardinal named you. But it’s all my fault; yes, it’s all my fault, because it is I myself who select my men. You, now, Aramis, why the devil did you ask me for a uniform when you were going to be so fine in a cassock? And you, Porthos, do you only wear such a fine golden baldric to suspend a sword of straw from it? And Athos—I don’t see Athos! Where is he?”

“Sir,” replied Aramis, in a sorrowful tone, “he is ill, very ill!”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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