A Court Intrigue

Meanwhile the forty pistoles of King Louis XIII, like all other things in this world, after having had a beginning, had had an end, and after this end our four companions began to be somewhat embarrassed. At first Athos supported the association for a time with his own means. Porthos succeeded him, and thanks to one of those disappearances to which people were accustomed, he was able to provide for the wants of all for a fortnight more. At last it became Aramis’s turn, who performed it with a good grace, and who succeeded in procuring a few pistoles, as he said, by selling his theological books.

Then they, as usual, had recourse to M. de Tréville, who made some advances on their pay; but these advances could not go far with three musketeers who were already much in arrears, and a guardsman who as yet had no pay at all.

At length, when they found they were likely to be quite in want, they got together, by a final effort, eight or ten pistoles, with which Porthos went to the gaming-table. Unfortunately luck ran against him. He lost all, together with twenty-five pistoles for which he pledged his word.Then the embarrassment became distress. The hungry friends, followed by their lackeys, were seen haunting the quays and guard-rooms, picking up among their friends abroad all the dinners they could meet with; for, according to the advice of Aramis, it was prudent to sow repasts right and left in prosperity in order to reap a few in time of need.

D’Artagnan was racking his brain to find a direction with which, as with Archimedes’ lever, he had no doubt that they should succeed in moving the world, when some one tapped gently at his door.

A man was introduced, of rather simple mien, who had the appearance of a tradesman.

D’Artagnan dismissed Planchet, and requested his visitor to be seated.

“I have heard M. d’Artagnan spoken of as a very brave young man,” said the bourgeois; “and this reputation, which he justly enjoys, has determined me to confide a secret to him.”

“Speak, sir, speak,” said D’Artagnan, who instinctively scented something advantageous.

The bourgeois made a fresh pause, and continued,

“I have a wife who is seamstress to the queen, sir, and who is not deficient in either good conduct or beauty. I was induced to marry her about three years ago, although she had but very little dowry, because M. de la Porte, the queen’s cloak-bearer, is her godfather, and befriends her——”

“Well, sir?” asked D’Artagnan.

“Well,” resumed the bourgeois—“well, sir, my wife was carried off yesterday morning, as she was coming out of her workroom.”

“And by whom was your wife carried off?”

“I do not know whether I ought to tell you what I suspect——”

“Sir, I beg you to observe that I ask you absolutely nothing. It is you who have come to me. It is you who have told me that you had a secret to confide to me. Act, then, as you think proper; there is still time to retreat.”

“No, sir, no; you appear to be an honest young man, and I will place confidence in you. I believe, then, that it is not on account of any intrigues of her own that my wife has been carried off, but that it has been done on account of the amours of a much greater lady than she is.”

“Ah, ah! can it be on account of the amours of Madame de Bois-Tracy?” said D’Artagnan, wishing to have the air, in the eyes of the bourgeois, of being up in court affairs.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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