D’Artagnan easily controlled himself: and yet, on this occasion, he could not help evincing a joy which the reader will perhaps comprehend, if he deigns to have some indulgence for a man who, since his birth, had never seen so many pieces and rolls of pieces juxta-placed in an order truly agreeable to the eye. The treasurer placed all the rolls in bags, and closed each bag with a stamp sealed with the arms of England, a favor which treasurers do not grant to everybody. Then, impassible, and just as polite as he ought to be towards a man honored with the friendship of the king, he said to D’Artagnan:
“Take away your money, sir.” Your money! These words made a thousand chords vibrate in the heart of D’Artagnan, which he had never felt before. He had the bags packed in a small cart, and returned home meditating deeply. A man who possessed three hundred thousand livres can no longer expect to wear a smooth brow; a wrinkle for every hundred thousand livres is not too much.
D’Artagnan shut himself up, ate no dinner, closed his door to everybody, and, with a lighted lamp, and a loaded pistol on the table, he watched all night, ruminating upon the means of preventing these lovely crowns, which from the coffers of the king had passed into his coffers, from passing from his coffers into the pockets of any thief whatever. The best means discovered by the Gascon was to inclose his treasure, for the present, under locks so solid that no wrist could break them, and so complicated that no master-key could open them. D’Artagnan remembered that the English are masters in mechanics and conservative industry; and he determined to go in the morning in search of a mechanic who would sell him a strong box. He did not go far; Master Will Jobson, dwelling in Piccadilly, listened to his propositions, comprehended his wishes, and promised to make him a safety lock that should relieve him from all future fear.
“I will give you,” said he, “a piece of mechanism entirely new. At the first serious attempt upon your lock, an invisible plate will open of itself and vomit forth a pretty copper bullet the weight of a mark — which will knock down the intruder, and not with a loud report. What do you think of it?”
“I think it very ingenuous,” cried D’Artagnan; “the little copper bullet pleases me mightily. So now, sir mechanic, the terms?”
“A fortnight for the execution, and fifteen hundred livres payable on delivery,” replied the artisan.
D’Artagnan’s brow darkened. A fortnight was delay enough to allow the thieves of London time to remove all occasion for the strong box. As to the fifteen hundred livres — that would be paying too dear for what a little vigilance would procure him for nothing.
“I will think of it,” said he; “thank you, sir.” And he returned home at full speed; nobody had yet touched his treasure. That same day Athos paid a visit to his friend and found him so thoughtful that he could not help expressing his surprise.