“Higher, sir, higher.”

“Of Madame d’Aiguillon?”

“Higher still.”

“Of Madame de Chevreuse?”

“Higher, much higher.”

“Of the——” D’Artagnan stopped.

“Yes, sir,” replied the terrified bourgeois, in a tone so low that he was scarcely audible.

“And with whom?”

“With whom can it be, if not with the Duke of——”

“The Duke of——”

“Yes, sir,” replied the bourgeois, giving a still lower intonation to his voice.

“But how do you know all this?”

“How do I know it?”

“Yes, how do you know it? No half-confidence, or—you understand!”

“I know it from my wife, sir—from my wife herself.”

“And she knows it, she herself, from whom?”

“From M. de la Porte. Did I not tell you that she was the god-daughter of M. de la Porte, the queen’s confidential agent? Well, M. de la Porte placed her near her Majesty, in order that our poor queen might at least have some one in whom she could place confidence, abandoned as she is by the king, watched as she is by the cardinal, betrayed as she is by everybody.”

“Ah, ah! it begins to grow clear,” said D’Artagnan.

“And the queen believes——”

“Well, what does the queen believe?”

“She believes that some one has written to the Duke of Buckingham in her name.”

“In the queen’s name?”

“Yes, to make him come to Paris; and when once in Paris, to draw him into some snare.”

“The devil! But your wife, sir, what has she to do with all this?”

“Her devotion to the queen is known, and they wish either to remove her from her mistress, or to intimidate her, in order to obtain her Majesty’s secrets, or to seduce her and make use of her as a spy.”

“That is all very probable,” said D’Artagnan; “but the man who has carried her off—do you know him?”

“I have told you that I believe I know him.”

“His name?”

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