Instead of returning directly home, D’Artagnan alighted at M. de Tréville’s door and quickly ran upstairs. This time he was determined to relate all that had passed.

M. de Tréville listened to the young man’s account with a seriousness which proved that he saw something else in all this adventure than a love affair; and when D’Artagnan had finished.

“Hum!” said he; “all this smacks of his Eminence a league off.”

“But what is to be done?” said D’Artagnan.

“Nothing, absolutely nothing at present, but to leave Paris, as I told you, as soon as possible. I will see the queen; I will relate to her the details of this poor woman’s disappearance, of which she is, no doubt, ignorant. These details will guide her on her part, and on your return I shall perhaps have some good news to tell you. Count on me.”

D’Artagnan knew that, although a Gascon, M. de Tréville was not in the habit of making promises, and that when by chance he did promise, he generally more than kept his word. He bowed to him, then, full of gratitude for the past and for the future; and the worthy captain, who, on his side, felt a lively interest in this young man who was so brave and resolute, pressed his hand affectionately, while wishing him a pleasant journey.

Determined instantly to put M. de Tréville’s advice into practice, D’Artagnan rode toward the Rue des Fossoyeurs, in order to super-intend the packing of his portmanteau. On approaching the house he perceived M. Bonacieux, in morning costume, standing at his door.

“Well, young man,” said he, “we appear to pass rather gay nights! Seven o’clock in the morning! Hang it! you seem to reverse ordinary customs, and come home at the hour when other people are going out.”

“No one can reproach you for anything of the kind, M. Bonacieux,” said the young man; “you are a model for sober people.”

Bonacieux grinned a ghastly smile.

“Ah, ha!” said Bonacieux, “you are a jocular companion. But where the devil were you gadding last night, my young master? It does not appear to be very clean in the crossroads.”

D’Artagnan glanced down at his boots, all covered with mud, but that same glance fell upon the mercer’s shoes and stockings. It might have been said they had been dipped in the same mudhole. Both were stained with splashes of the very same appearance.

Then a sudden thought crossed D’Artagnan’s mind. That little, short, stout, elderly man, that sort of lackey, dressed in dark clothes, treated without consideration by the men wearing swords who composed the escort, was Bonacieux himself! The husband had participated in the abduction of his wife!

“Ah, ha! but you are joking, my worthy man,” said D’Artagnan. “It appears to me that if my boots want sponging, your stockings and shoes stand in equal need of brushing. May you not have been philandering a little also, M. Bonacieux? Oh, the devil! that’s unpardonable in a man of your age, and who, besides, has such a pretty young wife as yours is!”

“O Lord, no!” said Bonacieux.

D’Artagnan left the mercer and at the top of the stairs he found Planchet.

“Are you not as anxious to get news of Grimaud, Mousqueton, and Bazin as I am to know what has become of Athos, Porthos, and Aramis?” said D’Artagnan.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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