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"Yes," said he, "yes, that would flatter me very much; but I should not have time enough to enjoy the distinction. During our expedition to Bethune the husband of my d.u.c.h.ess died; so, my dear, the coffer of the defunct holding out its arms to me, I shall marry the widow. Look here!
I was trying on my wedding suit. Keep the lieutenancy, my dear, keep it."
The young man then entered the apartment of Aramis. He found him kneeling before a PRIEDIEU with his head leaning on an open prayer book.
He described to him his interview with the cardinal, and said, for the third time drawing his commission from his pocket, "You, our friend, our intelligence, our invisible protector, accept this commission. You have merited it more than any of us by your wisdom and your counsels, always followed by such happy results."
"Alas, dear friend!" said Aramis, "our late adventures have disgusted me with military life. This time my determination is irrevocably taken.
After the siege I shall enter the house of the Lazarists. Keep the commission, d'Artagnan; the profession of arms suits you. You will be a brave and adventurous captain."
D'Artagnan, his eye moist with grat.i.tude though beaming with joy, went back to Athos, whom he found still at table contemplating the charms of his last gla.s.s of Malaga by the light of his lamp.
"Well," said he, "they likewise have refused me."
"That, dear friend, is because n.o.body is more worthy than yourself."
He took a quill, wrote the name of d'Artagnan in the commission, and returned it to him.
"I shall then have no more friends," said the young man. "Alas! nothing but bitter recollections."
And he let his head sink upon his hands, while two large tears rolled down his cheeks.
"You are young," replied Athos; "and your bitter recollections have time to change themselves into sweet remembrances."
La Roch.e.l.le, deprived of the a.s.sistance of the English fleet and of the diversion promised by Buckingham, surrendered after a siege of a year.
On the twenty-eighth of October, 1628, the capitulation was signed.
The king made his entrance into Paris on the twenty-third of December of the same year. He was received in triumph, as if he came from conquering an enemy and not Frenchmen. He entered by the Faubourg St. Jacques, under verdant arches.
D'Artagnan took possession of his command. Porthos left the service, and in the course of the following year married Mme. Coquenard; the coffer so much coveted contained eight hundred thousand livres.
Mousqueton had a magnificent livery, and enjoyed the satisfaction of which he had been ambitious all his life--that of standing behind a gilded carriage.
Aramis, after a journey into Lorraine, disappeared all at once, and ceased to write to his friends; they learned at a later period through Mme. de Chevreuse, who told it to two or three of her intimates, that, yielding to his vocation, he had retired into a convent--only into which, n.o.body knew.
Bazin became a lay brother.
Athos remained a Musketeer under the command of d'Artagnan till the year 1633, at which period, after a journey he made to Touraine, he also quit the service, under the pretext of having inherited a small property in Roussillon.
Grimaud followed Athos.
D'Artagnan fought three times with Rochefort, and wounded him three times.
"I shall probably kill you the fourth," said he to him, holding out his hand to a.s.sist him to rise.
"It is much better both for you and for me to stop where we are,"
answered the wounded man. "CORBLEU--I am more your friend than you think--for after our very first encounter, I could by saying a word to the cardinal have had your throat cut!"
They this time embraced heartily, and without retaining any malice.
Planchet obtained from Rochefort the rank of sergeant in the Piedmont regiment.
M Bonacieux lived on very quietly, wholly ignorant of what had become of his wife, and caring very little about it. One day he had the imprudence to recall himself to the memory of the cardinal. The cardinal had him informed that he would provide for him so that he should never want for anything in future. In fact, M. Bonacieux, having left his house at seven o'clock in the evening to go to the Louvre, never appeared again in the Rue des Fossoyeurs; the opinion of those who seemed to be best informed was that he was fed and lodged in some royal castle, at the expense of his generous Eminence.