“Oh yes, sir,” said Planchet; “and I will go as soon as you please. Indeed, I think country air will suit us much better just now than the air of Paris. So then—”

“So then, pack up our necessaries, Planchet, and let us be off. On my part, I will go out ahead with my hands in my pockets, that nothing may be suspected. You can join me at the Hôtel des Gardes.”

D’Artagnan went out first, as had been agreed upon. Then, that he might have nothing to reproach himself with, he went for the last time to the residences of his three friends. No news had been received of them; only a letter, all perfumed, and of an elegant and delicate handwriting, had come for Aramis. D’Artagnan took charge of it. Ten minutes afterwards Planchet joined him at the stables of the Hôtel des Gardes. D’Artagnan, in order that there might be no time lost, had saddled his horse himself.

“All right,” said he to Planchet, when the latter added the portmanteau to the equipment.

As they left the Hôtel des Gardes they separated, going along the street in opposite directions, the one expecting to leave Paris by the gate of La Villette, and the other by the gate of Montmartre, with the understanding that they were to meet again beyond St. Denis. This, a strategic manœuvre, was executed with perfect punctuality, and was crowned with the most fortunate results. D’Artagnan and Planchet entered Pierrefitte together.

Our two travellers arrived at Chantilly without any accident, and alighted at the hotel of the Great St. Martin, the same they had stopped at on their first trip.

The host, on seeing a young man followed by a lackey advanced respectfully to the door.

“I was thinking,” said the host, “that it was not the first time I had had the honour of seeing you.”

“Bah! I have passed, perhaps, ten times through Chantilly, and out of the ten times I have stopped at least three or four times at your house. Why, I was here only ten or twelve days ago. I was conducting some friends, musketeers, one of whom, by-the-bye, had a dispute with a stranger, a man who, for some unknown reason, sought a quarrel with him.”

“Ah, exactly so!” said the host; “I remember it perfectly. Is it not M. Porthos that your Lordship means?”

“Yes; that is my companion’s name. Good Heavens! my dear host, has any misfortune happened to him?”

“Your honour must have observed that he could not continue his journey.”

“Why, but he promised to rejoin us, and we have seen nothing of him.”

“He has done us the honour of remaining here.”

“Well, can I see Porthos?”

“Certainly, sir. Take the stairs on your right; go up the first flight, and knock at No. I. Only warn him that it is you.”

“Warn him! Why should I do that?”

“Nobody enters his chamber except his servant.”

“What! Mousqueton is here, then?”

“Yes, sir; five days after his departure he came back in a very bad humour. It appears that he had also met with unpleasant experiences on his journey. Unfortunately he is more nimble that his master, so

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