A Family Affair

Athos had invented the phrase, family affair. A family affair was not subject to the cardinal’s 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.

D’Artagnan alone had discovered nothing—he, 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 Tréville’s was delightfully gay. D’Artagnan 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.

D’Artagnan 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 Athos’s lodging, and would there end the affair.

D’Artagnan passed the day in exhibiting his musketeer’s 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 on—what they should write to milady’s 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 D’Artagnan. “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 Winter’s 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.”

D’Artagnan 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 d’Enfer. As you have several times since been kind enough to call yourself that person’s 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.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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