"Only grazed a little," replied d'Artagnan; "my fingers were caught between two stones — that of the wall and that of my ring — and the skin was broken."
"That comes of wearing diamonds, my master," said Athos, disdainfully.
"Ah, to be sure," cried Porthos, "there is a diamond. Why the devil, then, do we plague ourselves about money, when there is a diamond?"
"Stop a bit!" said Aramis.
"Well thought of, Porthos; this time you have an idea."
"Undoubtedly," said Porthos, drawing himself up at Athos's compliment; "as there is a diamond, let us sell it."
"But," said d'Artagnan, "it is the queen's diamond."
"The stronger reason why it should be sold," replied Athos. The queen saving Monsieur de Buckingham, her lover; nothing more just. The queen saving us, her friends; nothing more moral. Let us sell the diamond. What says Monsieur the Abbe? I don't ask Porthos; his opinion has been given."
"Why, I think," said Aramis, blushing as usual, "that his ring not coming from a mistress, and consequently not being a love token, d'Artagnan may sell it."
"My dear Aramis, you speak like theology personified. Your advice, then, is — "
"To sell the diamond," replied Aramis.
"Well, then," said d'Artagnan, gaily, "let us sell the diamond, and say no more about it."
The fusillade continued; but the four friends were out of reach, and the Rochellais only fired to appease their consciences.
"My faith, it was time that idea came into Porthos's head. Here we are at the camp; therefore, gentlemen, not a word more of this affair. We are observed; they are coming to meet us. We shall be carried in triumph."
In fact, as we have said, the whole camp was in motion. More than two thousand persons had assisted, as at a spectacle, in this fortunate but wild undertaking of the four friends — an undertaking of which they were far from suspecting the real motive. Nothing was heard but cries of "Live the Musketeers! Live the Guards!" M. de Busigny was the first to come and shake Athos by the hand, and acknowledge that the wager was lost. The dragoon and the Swiss followed him, and all their comrades followed the dragoon and the Swiss. There was nothing but felicitations, pressures of the hand, and embraces; there was no end to the inextinguishable laughter at the Rochellais. The tumult at length became so great that the cardinal fancied there must be some riot, and sent La Houdiniere, his captain of the Guards, to inquire what was going on.
The affair was described to the messenger with all the effervescence of enthusiasm.
"Well?" asked the cardinal, on seeing La Houdiniere return.
"Well, monseigneur," replied the latter, "three Musketeers and a Guardsman laid a wager with Monsieur de Busigny that they would go and breakfast in the bastion St. Gervais; and while breakfasting they held it for two hours against the enemy, and have killed I don't know how many Rochellais."
"Did you inquire the names of those three Musketeers?"
"What are their names?"
"Messieurs Athos, Porthos, and Aramis."
"Still my three brave fellows!" murmured the cardinal. "And the Guardsman?"
"Still my young scapegrace. Positively, these four men must be on my side."
The same evening the cardinal spoke to M. de Treville of the exploit of the morning, which was the talk of the whole camp. M. de Treville, who had received the account of the adventure from the mouths of the heroes of it, related it in all its details to his Eminence, not forgetting the episode of the napkin.
"That's well, Monsieur de Treville," said the cardinal; "pray let that napkin be sent to me. I will have three fleur-de-lis embroidered on it in gold, and will give it to your company as a standard."
"Monseigneur," said M. de Treville, "that will be unjust to the Guardsmen. Monsieur d'Artagnan is not with me; he serves under Monsieur Dessessart."
"Well, then, take him," said the cardinal; "when four men are so much attached to one another, it is only fair that they should serve in the same company."
That same evening M. de Treville announced this good news to the three Musketeers and d'Artagnan, inviting all four to breakfast with him next morning.
D'Artagnan was beside himself with joy. We know that the dream of his life had been to become a Musketeer. The three friends were likewise greatly delighted.
"My faith," said d'Artagnan to Athos, "you had a triumphant idea! As you said, we have acquired glory, and were enabled to carry on a conversation of the highest importance."
"Which we can resume now without anybody suspecting us, for, with the help of God, we shall henceforth pass for cardinalists."
That evening d'Artagnan went to present his respects to M. Dessessart, and inform him of his promotion.
M. Dessessart, who esteemed d'Artagnan, made him offers of help, as this change would entail expenses for equipment.
D'Artagnan refused; but thinking the opportunity a good one, he begged him to have the diamond he put into his hand valued, as he wished to turn it into money.
The next day, M. Dessessart's valet came to d'Artagnan's lodging, and gave him a bag containing seven thousand livres.
This was the price of the queen's diamond.