42 THE ANJOU WINE
After the most disheartening news of the king's health, a report of his convalescence began to prevail in the camp; and as he was very anxious to be in person at the siege, it was said that as soon as he could mount a horse he would set forward.
Meantime, Monsieur, who knew that from one day to the other he might expect to be removed from his command by the Duc d'Angouleme, by Bassompierre, or by Schomberg, who were all eager for his post, did but little, lost his days in wavering, and did not dare to attempt any great enterprise to drive the English from the Isle of Re, where they still besieged the citadel St. Martin and the fort of La Pree, as on their side the French were besieging La Rochelle.
D'Artagnan, as we have said, had become more tranquil, as always happens after a past danger, particularly when the danger seems to have vanished. He only felt one uneasiness, and that was at not hearing any tidings from his friends.
But one morning at the commencement of the month of November everything was explained to him by this letter, dated from Villeroy:
MM. Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, after having had an entertainment at my house and enjoying themselves very much, created such a disturbance that the provost of the castle, a rigid man, has ordered them to be confined for some days; but I accomplish the order they have given me by forwarding to you a dozen bottles of my Anjou wine, with which they are much pleased. They are desirous that you should drink to their health in their favorite wine. I have done this, and am, monsieur, with great respect,
Your very humble and obedient servant,
Godeau, Purveyor of the Musketeers
"That's all well!" cried d'Artagnan. "They think of me in their pleasures, as I thought of them in my troubles. Well, I will certainly drink to their health with all my heart, but I will not drink alone."
And d'Artagnan went among those Guardsmen with whom he had formed greater intimacy than with the others, to invite them to enjoy with him this present of delicious Anjou wine which had been sent him from Villeroy.
One of the two Guardsmen was engaged that evening, and another the next, so the meeting was fixed for the day after that.
D'Artagnan, on his return, sent the twelve bottles of wine to the refreshment room of the Guards, with strict orders that great care should be taken of it; and then, on the day appointed, as the dinner was fixed for midday d'Artagnan sent Planchet at nine in the morning to assist in preparing everything for the entertainment.
Planchet, very proud of being raised to the dignity of landlord, thought he would make all ready, like an intelligent man; and with this view called in the assistance of the lackey of one of his master's guests, named Fourreau, and the false soldier who had tried to kill d'Artagnan and who, belonging to no corps, had entered into the service of d'Artagnan, or rather of Planchet, after d'Artagnan had saved his life.
The hour of the banquet being come, the two guards arrived, took their places, and the dishes were arranged on the table. Planchet waited, towel on arm; Fourreau uncorked the bottles; and Brisemont, which was the name of the convalescent, poured the wine, which was a little shaken by its journey, carefully into decanters. Of this wine, the first bottle being a little thick at the bottom, Brisemont poured the lees into a glass, and d'Artagnan desired him to drink it, for the poor devil had not yet recovered his strength.
The guests having eaten the soup, were about to lift the first glass of wine to their lips, when all at once the cannon sounded from Fort Louis and Fort Neuf. The Guardsmen, imagining this to be caused by some unexpected attack, either of the besieged or the English, sprang to their swords. D'Artagnan, not less forward than they, did likewise, and all ran out, in order to repair to their posts.
But scarcely were they out of the room before they were made aware of the cause of this noise. Cries of "Live the king! Live the cardinal!" resounded on every side, and the drums were beaten in all directions.
In short, the king, impatient, as has been said, had come by forced marches, and had that moment arrived with all his household and a reinforcement of ten thousand troops. His Musketeers proceeded and followed him. D'Artagnan, placed in line with his company, saluted with an expressive gesture his three friends, whose eyes soon discovered him, and M. de Treville, who detected him at once.
The ceremony of reception over, the four friends were soon in one another's arms.
"Pardieu!" cried d'Artagnan, "you could not have arrived in better time; the dinner cannot have had time to get cold! Can it, gentlemen?" added the young man, turning to the two Guards, whom he introduced to his friends.
"Ah, ah!" said Porthos, "it appears we are feasting!"
"I hope," said Aramis, "there are no women at your dinner."
"Is there any drinkable wine in your tavern?" asked Athos.
"Well, pardieu! there is yours, my dear friend," replied d'Artagnan.
"Our wine!" said Athos, astonished.
"Yes, that you sent me."
"We sent you wine?"
"You know very well — the wine from the hills of Anjou."
"Yes, I know what brand you are talking about."
"The wine you prefer."
"Well, in the absence of champagne and chambertin, you must content yourselves with that."
"And so, connoisseurs in wine as we are, we have sent you some Anjou wine?" said Porthos.
"Not exactly, it is the wine that was sent by your order."
"On our account?" said the three Musketeers.
"Did you send this wine, Aramis?" said Athos.
"No; and you, Porthos?"
"No; and you, Athos?"
"If it was not you, it was your purveyor," said d'Artagnan.
"Yes, your purveyor, Godeau — the purveyor of the Musketeers."
"My faith! never mind where it comes from," said Porthos, "let us taste it, and if it is good, let us drink it."
"No," said Athos; "don't let us drink wine which comes from an unknown source."
"You are right, Athos," said d'Artagnan. "Did none of you charge your purveyor, Godeau, to send me some wine?"
"No! And yet you say he has sent you some as from us?"
"Here is his letter," said d'Artagnan, and he presented the note to his comrades.
"This is not his writing!" said Athos. "I am acquainted with it; before we left Villeroy I settled the accounts of the regiment."
"A false letter altogether," said Porthos, "we have not been disciplined."
"d'Artagnan," said Aramis, in a reproachful tone, "how could you believe that we had made a disturbance?"
D'Artagnan grew pale, and a convulsive trembling shook all his limbs.
"Thou alarmest me!" said Athos, who never used thee and thou but upon very particular occasions, "what has happened?"
"Look you, my friends!" cried d'Artagnan, "a horrible suspicion crosses my mind! Can this be another vengeance of that woman?"
It was now Athos who turned pale.