woman, or rather this apparition—for the carriage passed with the rapidity of a vision— was Madame Bonacieux.

By an involuntary movement, and in spite of the injunction given, D’Artagnan started his horse to a gallop, and in a few strides overtook the carriage. But the window was hermetically shut; the vision had disappeared.

D’Artagnan then remembered the injunction contained in the anonymous note: “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.”

He stopped, therefore, trembling, not for himself, but for the poor woman who had evidently exposed herself to great danger by appointing this rendezvous.

The carriage pursued its way, still going at a full pace, till it dashed into Paris and disappeared.

D’Artagnan remained fixed to the spot, astounded, and not knowing what to think. If it was Madame Bonacieux, and if she was returning to Paris, why this fugitive interview? why this simple exchange of a glance? why this last kiss? If, on the other side, it was not she, which was still quite possible—for the little light that remained rendered a mistake easy—if it was not she, might it not be the beginning of some machination against him with the bait of this woman with whom it was known he was in love?

Half-past seven struck. The carriage was twenty minutes behind the time appointed. D’Artagnan remembered that he had a visit to pay.

He reached the Rue St. Honoré, and in the Place du Palais-Cardinal, he entered boldly at the front gate.

He entered the antechamber and placed his letter in the hands of the user on duty, who showed him into the waiting-room and passed on into the interior of the palace.

The usher returned and made a sign to D’Artagnan to follow him. He passed along a corridor, crossed a large drawing-room, entered a library, and found himself in the presence of a man seated at a desk and writing.

The usher introduced him and retired without speaking a word. D’Artagnan remained standing and examined this man.

D’Artagnan at first believed that he had to do with some judge examining his papers, but he perceived that the man at the desk was writing, or rather correcting, lines of unequal length by scanning the words on his fingers. He saw that he was in presence of a poet. In an instant the poet closed his manuscript, on the cover of which was written Mirame, a Tragedy in Five Acts, and raised his head.

D’Artagnan recognized the cardinal.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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