The King's Musketeers and the Cardinal's Guards

When D’Artagnan arrived in sight of the bare spot of ground which stretched out at the base of the monastery, Athos had been waiting about five minutes, and twelve o’clock was striking. He was, then, as punctual as the Samaritan woman, and the most rigorous casuist on duels could have nothing to say.

Athos, who still suffered grievously from his wound, though it had been freshly dressed by M. de Tréville’s surgeon, was seated on a stone, awaiting his adversary with that placid countenance and that noble air which never forsook him. At sight of D’Artagnan he arose and politely came a few steps to meet him. The latter, on his part, saluted his adversary with hat in hand, and his feather even touching the ground.

“Sir,” said Athos, “I have engaged two of my friends as seconds, but these two friends have not yet come. I am astonished at their delay, as it is not at all their custom to be behindhand. We will wait for these gentlemen, if you please; I have plenty of time, and it will be more correct. Ah! here is one of them, I think.”

In fact, at the end of the Rue Vaugirard the gigantic form of Porthos began to loom.

“What!” cried D’Artagnan, “is your first second M. Porthos?”

“Yes. Does that displease you?”

“Oh, not at all.”

“And here comes the other.”

D’Artagnan turned in the direction pointed to by Athos, and perceived Aramis.

“What!” cried he, with an accent of greater astonishment than before, “is your second witness M. Aramis?”

“Doubtless he is. Are you not aware that we are never seen one without the others, and that we are called in the musketeers and the guards, at court and in the city, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, or the Three Inseparables? And yet, as you come from Dax or Pau——”

“From Tarbes,” said D’Artagnan.

“It is probable you are ignorant of this circumstance,” said Athos.

“Pon my word,” replied D’Artagnan, “you are well named, gentlemen; and my adventure, if it should make any noise, will prove at least that your union is not founded upon contrasts.”

In the meantime Porthos had come up, waved his hand to Athos, and then turning towards D’Artagnan, stopped astonished.

Permit us to say in passing that he had changed his baldric and laid aside his cloak.

“Ah, ah!” said he, “what does this mean?”

“This is the gentleman I am going to fight with,” said Athos, pointing to D’Artagnan with his hand, and saluting him with the same gesture.

“Why, it is with him I am also going to fight,” said Porthos.

“But not before one o’clock,” replied D’Artagnan.

“Well, and I also am going to fight with that gentleman,” said Aramis, coming up in his turn.

“But not till two o’clock,” said D’Artagnan, with the same calmness.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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