"The Duke of — "
"Yes, monsieur," replied the citizen, giving a still fainter intonation to his voice.
"But how do you know all this?"
"How do I know it?"
"Yes, how do you know it? No half-confidence, or — you understand!"
"I know it from my wife, monsieur — from my wife herself."
"Who learns it from whom?"
"From Monsieur Laporte. Did I not tell you that she was the goddaughter of Monsieur Laporte, the confidential man of the queen? Well, Monsieur Laporte placed her near her Majesty in order that our poor queen might at least have someone in whom she could place confidence, abandoned as she is by the king, watched as she is by the cardinal, betrayed as she is by everybody."
"Ah, ah! It begins to develop itself," said d'Artagnan.
"Now, my wife came home four days ago, monsieur. One of her conditions was that she should come and see me twice a week; for, as I had the honor to tell you, my wife loves me dearly — my wife, then, came and confided to me that the queen at that very moment entertained great fears."
"Yes. The cardinal, as it appears, pursues he and persecutes her more than ever. He cannot pardon her the history of the Saraband. You know the history of the Saraband?"
"PARDIEU! Know it!" replied d'Artagnan, who knew nothing about it, but who wished to appear to know everything that was going on.
"So that now it is no longer hatred, but vengeance."
"And the queen believes — "
"Well, what does the queen believe?"
"She believes that someone has written to the Duke of Buckingham in her name."
"In the queen's name?"
"Yes, to make him come to Paris; and when once come to Paris, to draw him into some snare."
"The devil! But your wife, monsieur, what has she to do with all this?"
"Her devotion to the queen is known; and they wish either to remove her from her mistress, or to intimidate her, in order to obtain her Majesty's secrets, or to seduce her and make use of her as a spy."
"That is likely," said d'Artagnan; "but the man who has abducted her — do you know him?"
"I have told you that I believe I know him."
"I do not know that; what I do know is that he is a creature of the cardinal, his evil genius."
"But you have seen him?"
"Yes, my wife pointed him out to me one day."
"Has he anything remarkable about him by which one may recognize him?"
"Oh, certainly; he is a noble of very lofty carriage, black hair, swarthy complexion, piercing eye, white teeth, and has a scar on his temple."
"A scar on his temple!" cried d'Artagnan; "and with that, white teeth, a piercing eye, dark complexion, black hair, and haughty carriage — why, that's my man of Meung."
"He is your man, do you say?"
"Yes, yes; but that has nothing to do with it. No, I am wrong. On the contrary, that simplifies the matter greatly. If your man is mine, with one blow I shall obtain two revenges, that's all; but where to find this man?"
"I know not."
"Have you no information as to his abiding place?"
"None. One day, as I was conveying my wife back to the Louvre, he was coming out as she was going in, and she showed him to me."
"The devil! The devil!" murmured d'Artagnan; "all this is vague enough. From whom have you learned of the abduction of your wife?"
"From Monsieur Laporte."
"Did he give you any details?"
"He knew none himself."
"And you have learned nothing from any other quarter?"
"Yes, I have received — "
"I fear I am committing a great imprudence."
"You always come back to that; but I must make you see this time that it is too late to retreat."
"I do not retreat, MORDIEU!" cried the citizen, swearing in order to rouse his courage. "Besides, by the faith of Bonacieux — "
"You call yourself Bonacieux?" interrupted d'Artagnan.
"Yes, that is my name."
"You said, then, by the word of Bonacieux. Pardon me for interrupting you, but it appears to me that that name is familiar to me."
"Possibly, monsieur. I am your landlord."
"Ah, ah!" said d'Artagnan, half rising and bowing; "you are my landlord?"
"Yes, monsieur, yes. And as it is three months since you have been here, and though, distracted as you must be in your important occupations, you have forgotten to pay me my rent — as, I say, I have not tormented you a single instant, I thought you would appreciate my delicacy."
"How can it be otherwise, my dear Bonacieux?" replied d'Artagnan; "trust me, I am fully grateful for such unparalleled conduct, and if, as I told you, I can be of any service to you — "
"I believe you, monsieur, I believe you; and as I was about to say, by the word of Bonacieux, I have confidence in you."
"Finish, then, what you were about to say."
The citizen took a paper from his pocket, and presented it to d'Artagnan.
"A letter?" said the young man.
"Which I received this morning."
D'Artagnan opened it, and as the day was beginning to decline, he approached the window to read it. The citizen followed him.
"'Do not seek your wife,'" read d'Artagnan; "'she will be restored to you when there is no longer occasion for her. If you make a single step to find her you are lost.'
"That's pretty positive," continued d'Artagnan; "but after all, it is but a menace."
"Yes; but that menace terrifies me. I am not a fighting man at all, monsieur, and I am afraid of the Bastille."
"Hum!" said d'Artagnan. "I have no greater regard for the Bastille than you. If it were nothing but a sword thrust, why then — "
"I have counted upon you on this occasion, monsieur."