“In that case you will not get beyond Bondy. I tell you so, by the word of De Tréville.”

“How so, sir?”

“You will be assassinated.”

“And I shall die in the performance of my duty.”

“But your mission will not be accomplished.”

“That is true,” replied D’Artagnan.

“Believe me,” continued Tréville, “in enterprises of this kind, four must set out, for one to arrive.”

“Ah, you are right, sir,” said D’Artagnan; “but you know Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, and you know whether I can make use of them.”

“Without confiding to them the secret which I did not wish to know?”

“We are sworn, once and for ever, to implicit confidence and devotion against all proof. Besides, you can tell them that you have full confidence in me, and they will not be more incredulous than you.”

“I can send to each of them leave of absence for a fortnight, that is all—Athos, whose wound still gives him inconvenience, to go to the waters of Forges; Porthos and Aramis to accompany their friend, whom they are not willing to abandon in such a painful position. Sending their leave of absence will be proof enough that I authorize their journey.”

“Thanks, sir. You are a hundred times too good!”

“Go, then, and find them instantly, and let all be done tonight. Ah! but first write your request to M. des Essarts. You perhaps had a spy at your heels, and your visit—in that case already known to the cardinal—will be thus made regular.”

D’Artagnan drew up his request, and M. de Tréville, on receiving it, assured him that before two o’clock in the morning the four furloughs should be at the respective domiciles of the travellers.

“Have the goodness to send mine to Athos’s residence,” said D’Artagnan. “I should fear some disagreeable encounter if I were to go home.”

“I will. Farewell, and a prosperous journey! By the way,” said M. de Tréville, calling him back,

D’Artagnan returned.

“Have you any money?”

D’Artagnan jingled the bag he had in his pocket.

“Enough?” asked M. de Tréville.

“Three hundred pistoles.”

“Excellent! That would carry you to the end of the world. Go, then!”

D’Artagnan bowed to M. de Tréville, who held out his hand to him. D’Artagnan pressed it with a respect mixed with gratitude. Since his first arrival at Paris he had had constant occasion to honour this excellent man, whom he had always found worthy, loyal, and great.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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