Raoul did not meet with D’Artagnan the next day, as he had hoped. He only met with Planchet, whose joy was great at seeing the young man again, and who contrived to pay him two or three little soldierly compliments, savoring very little of the grocer’s shop. But as Raoul was returning the next day from Vincennes at the head of fifty dragoons confided to him by Monsieur le Prince, he perceived, in La Place Baudoyer, a man with his nose in the air, examining a house as we examine a horse we have a fancy to buy. This man, dressed in a citizen costume buttoned up like a military pourpoint, a very small hat on his head, but a long shagreen-mounted sword by his side, turned his head as soon as he heard the steps of the horses, and left off looking at the house to look at the dragoons. It was simply M. d’Artagnan; D’Artagnan on foot; D’Artagnan with his hands behind him, passing a little review upon the dragoons, after having reviewed the buildings. Not a man, not a tag, not a horse’s hoof escaped his inspection. Raoul rode at the side of his troop; D’Artagnan perceived him the last. “Eh!” said he, “Eh! Mordioux!”
“I was not mistaken!” cried Raoul, turning his horse towards him.
“Mistaken — no! Good-day to you,” replied the ex-musketeer; whilst Raoul eagerly pressed the hand of his old friend. “Take care, Raoul,” said D’Artagnan, “the second horse of the fifth rank will lose a shoe before he gets to the Pont Marie; he has only two nails left in his off fore-foot.”
“Wait a minute, I will come back,” said Raoul.
“Can you quit your detachment?”
“The cornet is there to take my place.”
“Then you will come and dine with me?”
“Most willingly, Monsieur d’Artagnan.”
“Be quick, then; leave your horse, or make them give me one.”
“I prefer coming back on foot with you.”
Raoul hastened to give notice to the cornet, who took his post; he then dismounted, gave his horse to one of the dragoons, and with great delight seized the arm of M. d’Artagnan, who had watched him during all these little evolutions with the satisfaction of a connoisseur.
“What, do you come from Vincennes?” said he.
“Yes, monsieur le chevalier.”
“And the cardinal?”
“Is very ill; it is even reported he is dead.”
“Are you on good terms with M. Fouquet?” asked D’Artagnan, with a disdainful movement of the shoulders, proving that the death of Mazarin did not affect him beyond measure.
“With M. Fouquet?” said Raoul; “I do not know him.”
“So much the worse! so much the worse! for a new king always seeks to get good men in his employment.”
“Oh! the king means no harm,” replied the young man.
“I say nothing about the crown,” cried D’Artagnan; “I am speaking of the king — the king, that is M. Fouquet, if the cardinal is dead. You must contrive to stand well with M. Fouquet, if you do not wish to molder away all your life as I have moldered. It is true you have, fortunately, other protectors.”