“Well, by Jove! there is your own, my dear friend,” replied D’Artagnan.

“Our wine!” exclaimed Athos in astonishment.

“Yes, the wine you sent me.”

“We sent you wine?”

“Yes; you know what I mean—the wine from the slopes of Anjou.”

“Did you send this wine, Aramis?” said Athos.

“No; and you, Porthos?”

“No; and you, Athos?


“Well, but if it was not you, it was your steward,” said D’Artagnan.

“Our steward!”

“Here is his letter,” said D’Artagnan, and he exhibited the note to his comrades.

“That is not his writing!” said Athos; “I know it. Before we left Villeroi I settled the accounts of our crowd.”

“It is a forged letter,” said Porthos. “We have not been under arrest.”

D’Artagnan rushed towards the messroom, the three musketeers and the two guards following him.

The first object that met D’Artagnan’s eyes on entering the diningroom was Brisemont stretched on the ground and rolling in horrible convulsions.

Planchet and Fourreau, pale as death, were trying to aid him; but it was plain that all assistance was useless—all the features of the dying man were distorted with the death struggle.

“Ah!” cried he, perceiving D’Artagnan—“ah! it is frightful! You pretend to pardon me, and you poison me!”

“I swear to you on the Gospel,” said D’Artagnan, throwing himself down by the dying man, “that I didn’t know the wine was poisoned, and I was going to drink of it as you did.”

“I do not believe you,” cried the soldier.

And he expired under redoubled torments.

“Oh, my friends,” said D’Artagnan, “you come once more to save my life—not only mine, but the lives of these gentlemen.—Gentlemen,” continued he, addressing the guardsmen, “I request you say nothing about this adventure. Great personages may have had a hand in what you have seen, and if talked about, the evil would only recoil on us.”

“Ah, sir,” stammered Planchet, more dead than alive—“ah, sir, what a narrow escape I have had!”

“Gentlemen,” said D’Artagnan, addressing the guardsmen, “you will easily see that such a feast can only be very melancholy after what has just taken place; so I beg you to accept my excuses, and put off the party till another day.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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