30 D'ARTAGNAN AND THE ENGLISHMAN
D'Artagnan followed Milady without being perceived by her. He saw her get into her carriage, and heard her order the coachman to drive to St. Germain.
It was useless to try to keep pace on foot with a carriage drawn by two powerful horses. D'Artagnan therefore returned to the Rue Ferou.
In the Rue de Seine he met Planchet, who had stopped before the house of a pastry cook, and was contemplating with ecstasy a cake of the most appetizing appearance.
He ordered him to go and saddle two horses in M. de Treville's stables — one for himself, d'Artagnan, and one for Planchet — and bring them to Athens's place. Once for all, Treville had placed his stable at d'Artagnan's service.
Planchet proceeded toward the Rue du Colombier, and d'Artagnan toward the Rue Ferou. Athos was at home, emptying sadly a bottle of the famous Spanish wine he had brought back with him from his journey into Picardy. He made a sign for Grimaud to bring a glass for d'Artagnan, and Grimaud obeyed as usual.
D'Artagnan related to Athos all that had passed at the church between Porthos and the procurator's wife, and how their comrade was probably by that time in a fair way to be equipped.
"As for me," replied Athos to this recital, "I am quite at my ease; it will not be women that will defray the expense of my outfit."
"Handsome, well-bred, noble lord as you are, my dear Athos, neither princesses nor queens would be secure from your amorous solicitations."
"How young this d'Artagnan is!" said Athos, shrugging his shoulders; and he made a sign to Grimaud to bring another bottle.
At that moment Planchet put his head modestly in at the half-open door, and told his master that the horses were ready.
"What horses?" asked Athos.
"Two horses that Monsieur de Treville lends me at my pleasure, and with which I am now going to take a ride to St. Germain."
"Well, and what are you going to do at St. Germain?" then demanded Athos.
Then d'Artagnan described the meeting which he had at the church, and how he had found that lady who, with the seigneur in the black cloak and with the scar near his temple, filled his mind constantly.
"That is to say, you are in love with this lady as you were with Madame Bonacieux," said Athos, shrugging his shoulders contemptuously, as if he pitied human weakness.
"I? not at all!" said d'Artagnan. "I am only curious to unravel the mystery to which she is attached. I do not know why, but I imagine that this woman, wholly unknown to me as she is, and wholly unknown to her as I am, has an influence over my life."
"Well, perhaps you are right," said Athos. "I do not know a woman that is worth the trouble of being sought for when she is once lost. Madame Bonacieux is lost; so much the worse for her if she is found."
"No, Athos, no, you are mistaken," said d'Artagnan; "I love my poor Constance more than ever, and if I knew the place in which she is, were it at the end of the world, I would go to free her from the hands of her enemies; but I am ignorant. All my researches have been useless. What is to be said? I must divert my attention!"
"Amuse yourself with Milady, my dear d'Artagnan; I wish you may with all my heart, if that will amuse you."
"Hear me, Athos," said d'Artagnan. "Instead of shutting yourself up here as if you were under arrest, get on horseback and come and take a ride with me to St. Germain."
"My dear fellow," said Athos, "I ride horses when I have any; when I have none, I go afoot."
"Well," said d'Artagnan, smiling at the misanthropy of Athos, which from any other person would have offended him, "I ride what I can get; I am not so proud as you. So AU REVOIR, dear Athos."
"AU REVOIR," said the Musketeer, making a sign to Grimaud to uncork the bottle he had just brought.
D'Artagnan and Planchet mounted, and took the road to St. Germain.
All along the road, what Athos had said respecting Mme. Bonacieux recurred to the mind of the young man. Although d'Artagnan was not of a very sentimental character, the mercer's pretty wife had made a real impression upon his heart. As he said, he was ready to go to the end of the world to seek her; but the world, being round, has many ends, so that he did not know which way to turn. Meantime, he was going to try to find out Milady. Milady had spoken to the man in the black cloak; therefore she knew him. Now, in the opinion of d'Artagnan, it was certainly the man in the black cloak who had carried off Mme. Bonacieux the second time, as he had carried her off the first. d'Artagnan then only half-lied, which is lying but little, when he said that by going in search of Milady he at the same time went in search of Constance.
Thinking of all this, and from time to time giving a touch of the spur to his horse, d'Artagnan completed his short journey, and arrived at St. Germain. He had just passed by the pavilion in which ten years later Louis XIV was born. He rode up a very quiet street, looking to the right and the left to see if he could catch any vestige of his beautiful Englishwoman, when from the ground floor of a pretty house, which, according to the fashion of the time, had no window toward the street, he saw a face peep out with which he thought he was acquainted. This person walked along the terrace, which was ornamented with flowers. Planchet recognized him first.
"Eh, monsieur!" said he, addressing d'Artagnan, "don't you remember that face which is blinking yonder?"
"No," said d'Artagnan, "and yet I am certain it is not the first time I have seen that visage."
"PARBLEU, I believe it is not," said Planchet. "Why, it is poor Lubin, the lackey of the Comte de Wardes — he whom you took such good care of a month ago at Calais, on the road to the governor's country house!"
"So it is!" said d'Artagnan; "I know him now. Do you think he would recollect you?"
"My faith, monsieur, he was in such trouble that I doubt if he can have retained a very clear recollection of me."
"Well, go and talk with the boy," said d'Artagnan, "and make out if you can from his conversation whether his master is dead."
Planchet dismounted and went straight up to Lubin, who did not at all remember him, and the two lackeys began to chat with the best understanding possible; while d'Artagnan turned the two horses into a lane, went round the house, and came back to watch the conference from behind a hedge of filberts.
At the end of an instant's observation he heard the noise of a vehicle, and saw Milady's carriage stop opposite to him. He could not be mistaken; Milady was in it. D'Artagnan leaned upon the neck of his horse, in order that he might see without being seen.
Milady put her charming blond head out at the window, and gave her orders to her maid.
The latter — a pretty girl of about twenty or twenty-two years, active and lively, the true SOUBRETTE of a great lady — jumped from the step upon which, according to the custom of the time, she was seated, and took her way toward the terrace upon which d'Artagnan had perceived Lubin.