At four oclock the four friends were all assembled in Athoss apartments. Their anxiety about their outfits had all disappeared, and each face preserved now only the expression of its own secret anxieties, for behind all present happiness is concealed a fear for the future.
Suddenly Planchet entered, bringing two letters for DArtagnan.
The one was a little note neatly folded, with a pretty seal in green wax, on which was impressed a dove bearing a green branch.
The other was a large square epistle, resplendent with the terrible arms of his Eminence the cardinal- duke.
At the sight of the little letter DArtagnans heart bounded, for he thought he recognized the writing; and though he had seen it but once, the memory of it remained at the bottom of his heart.
He therefore seized the little letter and opened it eagerly.
On Thursday next, at seven oclock in the evening, said the letter, be on the road to Chaillot. Look carefully into the carriages that pass; but if you value your own life, or the life of those who love you, do not speak a word, do not make a motion which may lead any one to believe that you recognize her who exposes herself to everything for the sake of seeing you for an instant only.
Thats a snare, said Athos; dont go, DArtagnan.
And yet, replied DArtagnan, I think I recognize the writing.
But your second letter, said Athosyou forget that. It appears to me, however, the seal shows it well deserves to be opened. For my part, I declare, DArtagnan, I think it of much more consequence than the little piece of waste paper you have so slyly slipped into your bosom.
DArtagnan grew red.
Well, said the young man, let us see, gentlemen, what his Eminence wants of me. And DArtagnan unsealed the letter and read,
M. DArtagnan, of the kings guards, company Des Essarts, is expected at the Palais-Cardinal this evening at eight oclock.
La Houdenière, Captain of the Guards.
The devil! said Athos; heres a rendezvous much more serious than the other.
I will go to the second after attending the first, said DArtagnan. One is for seven oclock, and the other for eight; there will be time for both.
At this moment the clock of La Samaritaine struck six, and a short gallop brought DArtagnan to the Chaillot road. The day was beginning to decline, carriages were passing and repassing. DArtagnan darted a scrutinizing glance into every carriage that appeared, but saw no face with which he was acquainted.
At length, after waiting a quarter of an hour, and just as it was quite twilight, a carriage appeared, coming at full speed, on the road to Sèvres. A presentiment instantly told DArtagnan that this carriage contained the person who had appointed the rendezvous. The young man was himself astonished to feel his heart beating so violently. Almost instantly a woman put her head out at the window, with two fingers placed on her mouth, either to enjoin silence or to send him a kiss. DArtagnan uttered a slight cry of joy. This
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