Well, I left them on my road—Porthos at Chantilly, with a duel on his hands; Aramis at Crèvecœur, with a ball in his shoulder; and Athos at Amiens, detained by an accusation of counterfeiting.”

“See there, now!” said M. de Tréville. “And how the devil did you escape?”

“By a miracle, sir, I must acknowledge, with a sword-thrust in my breast, and by nailing Comte de Wardes, on the road to Calais, like a butterfly on a tapestry.”

“There again! De Wardes, one of the cardinal’s men, a cousin of Rochefort’s! But stop, my friend, I have an idea.”

“Speak, sir.”

“In your place, I would do one thing.”

“What, sir?”

“While his Eminence was seeking for me in Paris, I should take, without sound of drum or trumpet, the road to Picardy, and should go and make some enquiries concerning my three companions. What the devil! they richly merit that piece of attention on your part.”

“Your advice is good, sir, and to-morrow I will set out.”

“To-morrow! And why not this evening?”

“This evening, sir, I am detained in Paris by urgent business.”

“Ah, young man, young man! Some love affair. Take care, I repeat to you, take care! Women was the ruin of us all, is the ruin of us all, and will be the ruin of us all, as long as the world stands. Take my advice and set out this evening.”

“It is impossible, sir.”

“You have given your word, then?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Ah, that’s quite another thing. But promise me, if you should not happen to be killed to-night, that you will go to-morrow.”

“I promise you, sir.”

“Do you want money?”

“I still have fifty pistoles. That, I think, is as much as I shall need.”

“But your companions?”

“I don’t think they can be in need of any. We left Paris each with seventy-five pistoles in his pocket.”

“Shall I see you again before your departure?”

“I think not, sir, unless something new happens.”

“Well, a pleasant journey to you, then.”

“Thank you, sir.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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