DArtagnan ran home immediately, and although it was after three oclock in the morning, and he had the worst quarters of Paris to pass through, he met with no misadventure.
He found the door of his passage open, sprang up the stairs, and knocked softly, in a manner agreed upon between him and his lackey. Planchet, whom he had sent home two hours before from the City Hall, desiring him to sit up for him, came and opened the door.
Has any one brought a letter for me? asked DArtagnan eagerly.
No one has brought a letter, sir, replied Planchet; but there is one come of itself.
What do you mean by that, you stupid fellow?
I mean that when I came in, although I had the key of your apartment in my pocket and that key had never been out of my possession, I found a letter on the green table-cover in your bedroom.
And where is that letter?
I left it where I found it, sir.
In the meantime the young man darted into his chamber and was opening the letter. It was from Madame Bonacieux, and was conceived in these terms:
Warm thanks are to be offered to you, and to be transmitted to you. Be at St. Cloud this evening about ten oclock, in front of the pavilion at the corner of M. dEstréess hôtel.C.B.
While reading this letter DArtagnan felt his heart expand and close with that delicious spasm that tortures and caresses the hearts of lovers.
At seven oclock in the morning he arose and called Planchet, who, at the second summons, opened the door, his countenance not yet quite free from the anxiety of the preceding night.
Planchet, said DArtagnan, I am going out for all day, perhaps. You are, therefore, your own master till seven oclock in the evening.
He took his way toward M. de Trévilles hôtel. His visit the day before, we remember, had been very short, with little chances for confidential talk.
He found M. de Tréville in a most joyful mood. The king and queen had been charming to him at the ball. The cardinal, however, had been particularly ill-tempered; he had retired at one oclock under the pretence of being indisposed. Their Majesties did not return to the Louvre till six oclock.
Now, said M. de Tréville, lowering his voice and looking round at every corner of the apartment to see whether they were alonenow let us talk about yourself, my young friend; for it is evident that your fortunate return has something to do with the kings joy, the queens triumph, and the cardinals humiliation. You must look out for yourself.
What have I to fear, replied DArtagnan, so long as I have the good fortune to enjoy their Majesties favour?
Everything, believe me. But, by the way, resumed M. de Tréville, what has become of your three companions?
I was about to ask you if you had heard no news of them.
None whatever, sir.
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