On landing, Porthos inquired if his horses were waiting and soon perceived them at the crossing of the road that winds round Sarzeau, and which, without passing through that little city, leads towards Vannes. These horses were two in number, one for M. de Vallon, and one for his equerry; for Porthos had an equerry since Mouston was only able to use a carriage as a means of locomotion. D’Artagnan expected that Porthos would propose to send forward his equerry upon one horse to bring back another, and he — D’Artagnan — had made up his mind to oppose this proposition. But nothing D’Artagnan had expected happened. Porthos simply told the equerry to dismount and await his return at Sarzeau, whilst D’Artagnan would ride his horse; which was arranged.
“Eh! but you are quite a man of precaution, my dear Porthos,” said D’Artagnan to his friend, when he found himself in the saddle, upon the equerry’s horse.
“Yes; but this is a kindness on the part of Aramis. I have not my stud here, and Aramis has placed his stables at my disposal.”
“Good horses for bishop’s horses, mordioux!” said D’Artagnan. “It is true, Aramis is a bishop of a peculiar kind.”
“He is a holy man!” replied Porthos, in a tone almost nasal, and with his eyes raised towards heaven.
“Then he is much changed,” said D’Artagnan; “you and I have known him passably profane.”
“Grace has touched him,” said Porthos.
“Bravo,” said D’Artagnan, “that redoubles my desire to see my dear old friend.” And he spurred his horse, which sprang off into a more rapid pace.
“Peste!” said Porthos, “if we go on at this rate, we shall only take one hour instead of two.”
“To go how far, do you say, Porthos?”
“Four leagues and a half.”
“That will be a good pace.”
“I could have embarked you on the canal, but the devil take rowers and boat-horses! The first are like tortoises; the second like snails; and when a man is able to put a good horse between his knees, that horse is better than rowers or any other means.”
“You are right; you above all, Porthos, who always look magnificent on horseback.”
“Rather heavy, my friend; I was weighed the other day.”
“And what do you weigh?”
“Three hundred-weight!” said Porthos, proudly.
“So that you must perceive, I am forced to choose horses whose loins are straight and wide, otherwise I break them down in two hours.”
“Yes, giant’s horses you must have, must you not?”
“You are very polite, my friend,” replied the engineer, with affectionate majesty.
“As a case in point,” replied D’Artagnan, “your horse seems to sweat already.”
“Dame! It is hot! Ah, ah! do you see Vannes now?”
“Yes, perfectly. It is a handsome city, apparently.”
“Charming, according to Aramis, at least; but I think it black; but black seems to be considered handsome by artists: I am sorry for it.”