The Lover and the Husband

“Ah, madame,” said D’Artagnan, as he entered by the door which the young woman had opened for him, “allow me to tell you that you have a sorry husband there.”

“Then you overheard our conversation?” asked Madame Bonacieux eagerly, and looking at D’Artagnan with much uneasiness.

“The whole of it.”

“But, my God! how could you do that?”

“By a method known to myself, and by which I likewise overheard the more animated conversation which you had with the cardinal’s bailiffs.”

“And what did you understand by what we said?”

“A thousand things. In the first place, that, fortunately, your husband is a simpleton and a fool. In the next place, that you are in trouble, of which I am very glad, as it gives me an opportunity of placing myself at your service; and God knows I am ready to throw myself into the fire for you. And that the queen wants a brave, intelligent, devoted man to make a journey to London for her. I have, at least, two of the three qualities you stand in need of, and here I am.”

Madame Bonacieux made no reply, but her heart beat with joy, and a secret hope shone in her eyes.

“And what pledge can you give me,” asked she, “if I consent to confide this message to you?”

“My love for you. Speak! command! What must I do?”

“But this secret is not mine, and I cannot reveal it in this manner.”

“Why, you were going to confide it to M. Bonacieux,” said D’Artagnan in vexation.

“As we confide a letter to the hollow of a tree, to the wing of a pigeon, or the collar of a dog.”

“And yet—you see plainly that I love you.”

“You say so.”

“I am an honourable man.”

“I believe so.”

“I am brave.”

“Oh, I am sure of that.”

“Then put me to the proof.”

“Listen,” said she; “I yield to your protestations, I submit to your assurances. But I swear to you, before God who hears us, that if you betray me, and my enemies pardon me, I will kill myself while accusing you of my death.”

“And I—I swear to you before God, madame,” said D’Artagnan, “that if I am taken while accomplishing the orders you give me, I will die sooner than do anything or say anything that may compromise any one.”

Then the young woman confided to him the terrible secret, a part of which had already been revealed to him, by chance, in front of the Samaritaine.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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