D’Artagnan, on his part, embraced him with equal ardor. Porthos pressed the delicate hand of Aramis in his immense hands, and D’Artagnan remarked that His Greatness gave him his left hand, probably from habit, seeing that Porthos already ten times had been near injuring his fingers covered with rings, by pounding his flesh in the vise of his fist. Warned by the pain, Aramis was cautious, and only presented flesh to be bruised, and not fingers to be crushed, against the gold or the angles of diamonds.
Between two embraces, Aramis looked D’Artagnan in the face, offered him a chair, sitting down himself in the shade, observing that the light fell full upon the face of his interlocutor. This maneuver, familiar to diplomatists and women, resembles much the advantage of the guard which, according to their skill or habit, combatants endeavor to take on the ground at a duel. D’Artagnan was not the dupe of this maneuver; but he did not appear to perceive it. He felt himself caught; but, precisely because he was caught he felt himself on the road to discovery, and it little imported to him, old condottiere as he was, to be beaten in appearance, provided he drew from his pretended defeat the advantages of victory. Aramis began the conversation.
“Ah! dear friend! my good D’Artagnan,” said he, “what an excellent chance!”
“It is a chance, my reverend companion,” said D’Artagnan, “that I will call friendship. I seek you, as I always have sought you, when I had any grand enterprise to propose to you, or some hours of liberty to give you.”
“Ah! indeed,” said Aramis, without explosion, “you have been seeking me?”
“Eh! yes, he has been seeking you, Aramis,” said Porthos, “and the proof is that he has unharbored me at Belle-Isle. That is amiable, is it not?”
“Ah! yes,” said Aramis, “at Belle-Isle! certainly!”
“Good!” said D’Artagnan; “there is my booby Porthos, without thinking of it, has fired the first cannon of attack.”
“At Belle-Isle!” said Aramis, “in that hole, in that desert! That is kind, indeed!”
“And it was I who told him you were at Vannes,” continued Porthos, in the same tone.
D’Artagnan armed his mouth with a finesse almost ironical.
“Yes, I knew, but I was willing to see,” replied he.
“To see what?”
“If our old friendship still held out; if, on seeing each other, our hearts, hardened as they are by age, would still let the old cry of joy escape, which salutes the coming of a friend.”