The Vicomte De Bragelonne eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 556 pages of information about The Vicomte De Bragelonne.

Chapter XXI:  In which D’Artagnan prepares to travel for the Firm of Planchet & Company.

D’Artagnan reflected to such good purpose during the night that his plan was settled by morning.  “This is it,” said he, sitting up in bed, supporting his elbow on his knee, and his chin in his hand; — “this is it.  I shall seek out forty steady, firm men, recruited among people a little compromised, but having habits of discipline.  I shall promise them five hundred livres for a month if they return; nothing if they do not return, or half for their kindred.  As to food and lodging, that concerns the English, who have cattle in their pastures, bacon in their bacon-racks, fowls in their poultry-yards, and corn in their barns.  I will present myself to General Monk with my little body of troops.  He will receive me.  I shall win his confidence, and take advantage of it, as soon as possible.”

But without going further, D’Artagnan shook his head and interrupted himself.  “No,” said he; “I should not dare to relate this to Athos; the way is therefore not honorable.  I must use violence,” continued he, — “very certainly I must, but without compromising my loyalty.  With forty men I will traverse the country as a partisan.  But if I fall in with, not forty thousand English, as Planchet said, but purely and simply with four hundred, I shall be beaten.  Supposing that among my forty warriors there should be found at least ten stupid ones — ten who will allow themselves to be killed one after the other, from mere folly?  No; it is, in fact, impossible to find forty men to be depended upon — they do not exist.  I must learn how to be contented with thirty.  With ten men less I should have the right of avoiding any armed encounter, on account of the small number of my people; and if the encounter should take place, my chance is better with thirty men than forty.  Besides, I should save five thousand francs; that is to say, the eighth of my capital; that is worth the trial.  This being so, I should have thirty men.  I shall divide them into three bands, — we will spread ourselves about over the country, with an injunction to reunite at a given moment; in this fashion, ten by ten, we should excite no suspicion — we should pass unperceived.  Yes, yes, thirty — that is a magic number.  There are three tens — three, that divine number!  And then, truly, a company of thirty men, when all together, will look rather imposing.  Ah! stupid wretch that I am!” continued D’Artagnan, “I want thirty horses.  That is ruinous.  Where the devil was my head when I forgot the horses?  We cannot, however, think of striking such a blow without horses.  Well, so be it, that sacrifice must be made; we can get the horses in the country — they are not bad, besides.  But I forgot — peste! Three bands — that necessitates three leaders; there is the difficulty.  Of the three commanders I have already one — that is

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The Vicomte De Bragelonne from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.