"About half an hour ago, while you were at Monsieur de Treville's."
"Who has been here? Come, speak."
"Monsieur de Cavois."
"Monsieur de Cavois?"
"The captain of the cardinal's Guards?"
"Did he come to arrest me?"
"I have no doubt that he did, monsieur, for all his wheedling manner."
"Was he so sweet, then?"
"Indeed, he was all honey, monsieur."
"He came, he said, on the part of his Eminence, who wished you well, and to beg you to follow him to the Palais-Royal." [*]
*It was called the Palais-Cardinal before Richelieu gave it to the King.
"What did you answer him?"
"That the thing was impossible, seeing that you were not at home, as he could see."
"Well, what did he say then?"
"That you must not fail to call upon him in the course of the day; and then he added in a low voice, 'Tell your master that his Eminence is very well disposed toward him, and that his fortune perhaps depends upon this interview.'"
"The snare is rather MALADROIT for the cardinal," replied the young man, smiling.
"Oh, I saw the snare, and I answered you would be quite in despair on your return.
"'Where has he gone?' asked Monsieur de Cavois.
"'To Troyes, in Champagne,' I answered.
"'And when did he set out?'
"Planchet, my friend," interrupted d'Artagnan, "you are really a precious fellow."
"You will understand, monsieur, I thought there would be still time, if you wish, to see Monsieur de Cavois to contradict me by saying you were not yet gone. The falsehood would then lie at my door, and as I am not a gentleman, I may be allowed to lie."
"Be of good heart, Planchet, you shall preserve your reputation as a veracious man. In a quarter of an hour we set off."
"That's the advice I was about to give Monsieur; and where are we going, may I ask, without being too curious?"
"PARDIEU! In the opposite direction to that which you said I was gone. Besides, are you not as anxious to learn news of Grimaud, Mousqueton, and Bazin as I am to know what has become of Athos, Porthos, and Aramis?"
"Yes, monsieur," said Planchet, "and I will go as soon as you please. Indeed, I think provincial air will suit us much better just now than the air of Paris. So then — "
"So then, pack up our luggage, Planchet, and let us be off. On my part, I will go out with my hands in my pockets, that nothing may be suspected. You may join me at the Hotel des Gardes. By the way, Planchet, I think you are right with respect to our host, and that he is decidedly a frightfully low wretch."
"Ah, monsieur, you may take my word when I tell you anything. I am a physiognomist, I assure you."
D'Artagnan went out first, as had been agreed upon. Then, in order that he might have nothing to reproach himself with, he directed his steps, for the last time, toward the residences of his three friends. No news had been received of them; only a letter, all perfumed and of an elegant writing in small characters, had come for Aramis. D'Artagnan took charge of it. Ten minutes afterward Planchet joined him at the stables of the Hotel des Gardes. D'Artagnan, in order that there might be no time lost, had saddled his horse himself.
"That's well," said he to Planchet, when the latter added the portmanteau to the equipment. "Now saddle the other three horses."
"Do you think, then, monsieur, that we shall travel faster with two horses apiece?" said Planchet, with his shrewd air.
"No, Monsieur Jester," replied d'Artagnan; "but with our four horses we may bring back our three friends, if we should have the good fortune to find them living."
"Which is a great chance," replied Planchet, "but we must not despair of the mercy of God."
"Amen!" said d'Artagnan, getting into his saddle.
As they went from the Hotel des Gardes, they separated, leaving the street at opposite ends, one having to quit Paris by the Barriere de la Villette and the other by the Barriere Montmartre, to meet again beyond St. Denis — a strategic maneuver which, having been executed with equal punctuality, was crowned with the most fortunate results. D'Artagnan and Planchet entered Pierrefitte together.
Planchet was more courageous, it must be admitted, by day than by night. His natural prudence, however, never forsook him for a single instant. He had forgotten not one of the incidents of the first journey, and he looked upon everybody he met on the road as an enemy. It followed that his hat was forever in his hand, which procured him some severe reprimands from d'Artagnan, who feared that his excess of politeness would lead people to think he was the lackey of a man of no consequence.
Nevertheless, whether the passengers were really touched by the urbanity of Planchet or whether this time nobody was posted on the young man's road, our two travelers arrived at Chantilly without any accident, and alighted at the tavern of Great St. Martin, the same at which they had stopped on their first journey.
The host, on seeing a young man followed by a lackey with two extra horses, advanced respectfully to the door. Now, as they had already traveled eleven leagues, d'Artagnan thought it time to stop, whether Porthos were or were not in the inn. Perhaps it would not be prudent to ask at once what had become of the Musketeer. The result of these reflections was that d'Artagnan, without asking information of any kind, alighted, commended the horses to the care of his lackey, entered a small room destined to receive those who wished to be alone, and desired the host to bring him a bottle of his best wine and as good a breakfast as possible — a desire which further corroborated the high opinion the innkeeper had formed of the traveler at first sight.
D'Artagnan was therefore served with miraculous celerity. The regiment of the Guards was recruited among the first gentlemen of the kingdom; and d'Artagnan, followed by a lackey, and traveling with four magnificent horses, despite the simplicity of his uniform, could not fail to make a sensation. The host desired himself to serve him; which d'Artagnan perceiving, ordered two glasses to be brought, and commenced the following conversation.