During all this time nothing new happened in the camp at Rochelle. Only the king, who was much bored as usual, but perhaps a little more so in the camp than elsewhere, resolved to go incognito and spend the festival of St. Louis at St. Germain, and asked the cardinal to order him an escort of twenty musketeers only. The cardinal, who was sometimes affected by the kings unrest, granted this leave of absence with great pleasure to his royal lieutenant, who promised to return about the 15th of September.
M. de Tréville, on being informed by his Eminence, packed his portmanteau, and as, without knowing the cause, he knew the great desire and even imperative need that his friends had of returning to Paris, he fixed on them, of course, to form part of the escort.
The four young men heard the news a quarter of an hour after M. de Tréville, for they were the first to whom he communicated it. Then DArtagnan appreciated the favour the cardinal had conferred on him by transferring him at last to the musketeers, for had it not been for that circumstance, he would have been forced to remain in the camp while his companions left it.
His impatience to return toward Paris, of course, had for its cause the danger which Madame Bonacieux would run of meeting at the convent of Béthune with milady, her mortal enemy. Aramis, therefore, as we have said, had written immediately to Marie Michon, the seamstress at Tours, who had such fine acquaintances, to obtain from the queen permission for Madame Bonacieux to leave the convent, and to retire either into Lorraine or Belgium. They had not long to wait for an answer, and eight or ten days later Aramis received the following letter:
My dear Cousin,Here is my sisters permission to withdraw our little servant from the convent of Béthune, the air of which you think does not agree with her. My sister sends you her permission with great pleasure, for she is very fond of the little girl, to whom she intends to be more serviceable hereafter.I salute you,
In this letter was enclosed an order conceived in these terms:
The superior of the convent of Béthune will place in the hands of the person who shall present this note to her the novice who entered the convent on my recommendation and under my patronage.
At the Louvre, August 10th, 1628.
Their joy was great. They sent their lackeys on in advance with the baggage, and set out on the morning of the 16th.
The cardinal accompanied his Majesty from Surgères to Mauze, and there the king and his minister took leave of each other with great demonstrations of friendship.
At length the escort passed through Paris on the 23rd, in the night. The king thanked M. de Tréville, and permitted him to give out furloughs of four days, on condition that not one of those so favoured should appear in any public place, under penalty of the Bastille.
The first four furloughs granted, as may be imagined, were to our friends. Moreover, Athos obtained of M. de Tréville six days instead of four, and got these six days lengthened by two nights more, for they set out on the 24th at five oclock in the evening, and as a further kindness, M. de Tréville post-dated the furlough to the morning of the 25th.
On the evening of the 25th, as they were entering Arras, and as DArtagnan was dismounting at the tavern of the Golden Harrow to drink a glass of wine, a horseman came out of the post-yard, where he had just had a relay, starting off at a gallop, with a fresh horse, on the road to Paris. At the moment he
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