Athos made him a sign to go to d'Artagnan's residence, and bring back some clothes. Grimaud replied by another sign that he understood perfectly, and set off.
"All this will not advance your outfit," said Athos; "for if I am not mistaken, you have left the best of your apparel with Milady, and she will certainly not have the politeness to return it to you. Fortunately, you have the sapphire."
"The jewel is yours, my dear Athos! Did you not tell me it was a family jewel?"
"Yes, my grandfather gave two thousand crowns for it, as he once told me. It formed part of the nuptial present he made his wife, and it is magnificent. My mother gave it to me, and I, fool as I was, instead of keeping the ring as a holy relic, gave it to this wretch."
"Then, my friend, take back this ring, to which I see you attach much value."
"I take back the ring, after it has passed through the hands of that infamous creature? Never; that ring is defiled, d'Artagnan."
"Sell it, then."
"Sell a jewel which came from my mother! I vow I should consider it a profanation."
"Pledge it, then; you can borrow at least a thousand crowns on it. With that sum you can extricate yourself from your present difficulties; and when you are full of money again, you can redeem it, and take it back cleansed from its ancient stains, as it will have passed through the hands of usurers."
"You are a capital companion, d'Artagnan," said be; "your never-failing cheerfulness raises poor souls in affliction. Well, let us pledge the ring, but upon one condition."
"That there shall be five hundred crowns for you, and five hundred crowns for me."
"Don't dream it, Athos. I don't need the quarter of such a sum — I who am still only in the Guards — and by selling my saddles, I shall procure it. What do I want? A horse for Planchet, that's all. Besides, you forget that I have a ring likewise."
"To which you attach more value, it seems, than I do to mine; at least, I have thought so."
"Yes, for in any extreme circumstance it might not only extricate us from some great embarrassment, but even a great danger. It is not only a valuable diamond, but it is an enchanted talisman."
"I don't at all understand you, but I believe all you say to be true. Let us return to my ring, or rather to yours. You shall take half the sum that will be advanced upon it, or I will throw it into the Seine; and I doubt, as was the case with Polycrates, whether any fish will be sufficiently complaisant to bring it back to us."
"Well, I will take it, then," said d'Artagnan.
At this moment Grimaud returned, accompanied by Planchet; the latter, anxious about his master and curious to know what had happened to him, had taken advantage of the opportunity and brought the garments himself.
d'Artagnan dressed himself, and Athos did the same. When the two were ready to go out, the latter made Grimaud the sign of a man taking aim, and the lackey immediately took down his musketoon, and prepared to follow his master.
They arrived without accident at the Rue des Fossoyeurs. Bonacieux was standing at the door, and looked at d'Artagnan hatefully.
"Make haste, dear lodger," said he; "there is a very pretty girl waiting for you upstairs; and you know women don't like to be kept waiting."
"That's Kitty!" said d'Artagnan to himself, and darted into the passage.
Sure enough! Upon the landing leading to the chamber, and crouching against the door, he found the poor girl, all in a tremble. As soon as she perceived him, she cried, "You have promised your protection; you have promised to save me from her anger. Remember, it is you who have ruined me!"
"Yes, yes, to be sure, Kitty," said d'Artagnan; "be at ease, my girl. But what happened after my departure?"
"How can I tell!" said Kitty. "The lackeys were brought by the cries she made. She was mad with passion. There exist no imprecations she did not pour out against you. Then I thought she would remember it was through my chamber you had penetrated hers, and that then she would suppose I was your accomplice; so I took what little money I had and the best of my things, and I got away.
"Poor dear girl! But what can I do with you? I am going away the day after tomorrow."
"Do what you please, Monsieur Chevalier. Help me out of Paris; help me out of France!"
"I cannot take you, however, to the siege of La Rochelle," aid d'Artagnan.
"No; but you can place me in one of the provinces with some lady of your acquaintance — in your own country, for instance."
"My dear little love! In my country the ladies do without chambermaids. But stop! I can manage your business for you. Planchet, go and find Aramis. Request him to come here directly. We have something very important to say to him."
"I understand," said Athos; "but why not Porthos? I should have thought that his duchess — "
"Oh, Porthos's duchess is dressed by her husband's clerks," said d'Artagnan, laughing. "Besides, Kitty would not like to live in the Rue aux Ours. Isn't it so, Kitty?"
"I do not care where I live," said Kitty, "provided I am well concealed, and nobody knows where I am."
"Meanwhile, Kitty, when we are about to separate, and you are no longer jealous of me — "
"Monsieur Chevalier, far off or near," said Kitty, "I shall always love you."
"Where the devil will constancy niche itself next?" murmured Athos.
"And I, also," said d'Artagnan, "I also. I shall always love you; be sure of that. But now answer me. I attach great importance to the question I am about to put to you. Did you never hear talk of a young woman who was carried off one night?"
"There, now! Oh, Monsieur Chevalier, do you love that woman still?"
"No, no; it is one of my friends who loves her — Monsieur Athos, this gentleman here."
"I?" cried Athos, with an accent like that of a man who perceives he is about to tread upon an adder.
"You, to be sure!" said d'Artagnan, pressing Athos's hand. "You know the interest we both take in this poor little Madame Bonacieux. Besides, Kitty will tell nothing; will you, Kitty? You understand, my dear girl," continued d'Artagnan, "she is the wife of that frightful baboon you saw at the door as you came in."
"Oh, my God! You remind me of my fright! If he should have known me again!"
"How? know you again? Did you ever see that man before?"
"He came twice to Milady's."
"That's it. About what time?"
"Why, about fifteen or eighteen days ago."
"And yesterday evening he came again."
"Yes, just before you came."