“D’Artagnan, my friend,” cried Athos, “you are very rude towards that eagle race called the Bourbons.”
“Eh! and I have forgotten the best instance of all — the other grandson of the Bernais, Louis XIV., my ex-master. Well, I hope he is miserly enough, he who would not lend a million to his brother Charles! Good! I see you are beginning to be angry. Here we are, by good luck, close to my house, or rather that of my friend, M. Monk.”
“My dear D’Artagnan, you do not make me angry, you make me sad; it is cruel, in fact, to see a man of your deserts out of the position his services ought to have acquired; it appears to me, my dear friend, that your name is as radiant as the greatest names in war and diplomacy. Tell me if the Luynes, the Ballegardes, and the Bassompierres have merited, as we have, fortunes and honors? You are right, my friend, a hundred times right.”
D’Artagnan sighed, and preceded his friend under the porch of he mansion Monk inhabited, at the extremity of the city. “Permit me,” said he, “to leave my purse at home; for if in the crowd those clever pickpockets of London, who are much boasted of, even in Paris, were to steal from me the remainder of my poor crowns, I should not be able to return to France. Now, content I left France, and wild with joy I should return to it, seeing that all my prejudices of former days against England have returned, accompanied by many others.”
Athos made no reply.
“So, then, my dear friend, one second, and I will follow you,” said D’Artagnan. “I know you are in a hurry to go yonder to receive your reward, but, believe me, I am not less eager to partake of your joy, although from a distance. Wait for me.” And D’Artagnan was already passing through the vestibule, when a man, half servant, half soldier, who filled in Monk’s establishment the double function of porter and guard, stopped our musketeer, saying to him in English:
“I beg your pardon, my Lord d’Artagnan!”
“Well,” replied the latter: “what is it? Is the general going to dismiss me? I only needed to be expelled by him.”
These words, spoken in French, made no impression upon the person to whom they were addressed, and who himself only spoke an English mixed with the rudest Scots. But Athos was grieved at them, for he began to think D’Artagnan was not wrong.
The Englishman showed D’Artagnan a letter: “From the general,” said he.
“Aye! that’s it, my dismissal!” replied the Gascon. “Must I read it, Athos?”
“You must be deceived,” said Athos, “or I know no more honest people in the world but you and myself.”
D’Artagnan shrugged his shoulders and unsealed the letter, while the impassible Englishman held for him a large lantern, by the light of which he was enabled to read it.
“Well, what is the matter?” said Athos, seeing the countenance of the reader change.