“Yes; but listen to this clause, my dear Planchet, and if you do not find if equitable in every respect when it is written, well, we can scratch it out again: — ’Nevertheless, as M. d’Artagnan brings to the association, besides his capital of twenty thousand livres, his time, his idea, his industry, and his skin, — things which he appreciates strongly, particularly the last, — M. d’Artagnan will keep, of the three hundred thousand livres, two hundred thousand livres for himself, which will make his share two-thirds.”
“Very well,” said Planchet.
“Is it just?” asked D’Artagnan.
“Perfectly just, monsieur.”
“And you will be contented with a hundred thousand livres?”
“Peste! I think so. A hundred thousand for twenty thousand!”
“And in a month, understand.”
“How, in a month?”
“Yes, I only ask one month.”
“Monsieur,” said Planchet, generously, “I give you six weeks.”
“Thank you,” replied the musketeer, politely; after which the two partners reperused their deed.
“That is perfect, monsieur,” said Planchet; “and the late M. Coquenard, the first husband of Madame la Baronne du Vallon, could not have done it better.”
“Do you find it so? Let us sign it then.” And both affixed their signatures.
“In this fashion,” said D’Artagnan, “I shall be under obligations to no one.”
“But I shall be under obligations to you,” said Planchet.
“No; for whatever store I set by it, Planchet, I may lose my skin yonder, and you will lose all. A propos — peste! — that makes me think of the principal, an indispensable clause. I shall write it: — ’In case of M. d’Artagnan dying in this enterprise, liquidation will be considered made, and the Sieur Planchet will give quittance from that moment to the shade of Messire d’Artagnan for the twenty thousand livres paid by him into the hands of the said company.’”
This last clause made Planchet knit his brows a little, but when he saw the brilliant eye, the muscular hand, the supple and strong back of his associate, he regained his courage, and, without regret, he at once added another stroke to his signature. D’Artagnan did the same. Thus was drawn the first known company contract; perhaps such things have been abused a little since, both in form and principle.
“Now,” said Planchet, pouring out the last glass of Anjou wine for D’Artagnan, — “now go to sleep, my dear master.”
“No,” replied D’Artagnan; “for the most difficult part now remains to be done, and I will think over that difficult part.”
“Bah!” said Planchet; “I have such great confidence in you, M. d’Artagnan, that I would not give my hundred thousand livres for ninety thousand livres down.”
“And devil take me if I don’t think you are right!” Upon which D’Artagnan took a candle and went up to his bedroom.