A Family Affair
Athos had invented the phrase, family affair. A family affair was not subject to the cardinals investigation; a family affair concerned no one; people might employ themselves in a family affair before all the world.
Thus Athos had discovered the words, family affair.
Aramis had discovered the idea, the lackeys.
Porthos had discovered the means, the diamond.
DArtagnan alone had discovered nothinghe, ordinarily, the most inventive of the four; but it must also be said that the mere mention of milady paralysed him.
Oh no! we were mistaken; he had discovered a purchaser for his diamond.
The breakfast at M. de Trévilles was delightfully gay. DArtagnan was already in his uniform, for as he was nearly of the same size as Aramis, and as Aramis had bought two of everything, he furnished his friend with a complete outfit.
DArtagnan would have been at the height of his wishes if he had not constantly seen milady, like a dark cloud, on the horizon.
After breakfast it was agreed that they should meet again in the evening at Athoss lodging, and would there end the affair.
DArtagnan passed the day in exhibiting his musketeers uniform in every street of the camp.
In the evening, at the appointed hour, the four friends met. There remained only three things to be decided onwhat they should write to miladys brother; what they should write to the clever person at Tours; and which should be the lackeys to carry the letters.
Draw up this note for us, Aramis, said DArtagnan. But be concise.
I ask nothing better, said Aramis, with that ingenuous self-confidence which every poet has; but let me know what I am about. I have heard, in one way and another, that Lord Winters sister-in-law was vile. It was even proved to me when I overheard her conversation with the cardinal.
Worse than vile, ye gods! said Athos.
But, continued Aramis, the details escape me.
DArtagnan told him all he needed to know about milady.
Aramis accordingly took the pen, reflected for a few moments, wrote eight or ten lines in a charming little feminine hand, and then, in a soft, slow voice, as if each word had been scrupulously weighed, he read the following:
Milord.The person who writes these lines had the honour of crossing swords with you in a little yard near the Rue dEnfer. As you have several times since been kind enough to call yourself that persons friend, he thinks it his duty to respond to your friendship by sending you important information. Twice you have almost been the victim of a near relative whom you believe to be your heir, because you do not know that before she contracted a marriage in England she was already married in France. But the third time, which is this, you may succumb. Your relative left Rochelle for England during the night. Be on the watch for her arrival, for she has great and terrible projects. If you absolutely insist on knowing what she is capable of, read her past history upon her left shoulder.
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