“I only hold to the king and the pope.”
“Dame! listen then,” said D’Artagnan, in the most natural tone imaginable. “I said that because everybody here swears by M. Fouquet. The plain is M. Fouquet’s; the salt-mines I am about to buy are M. Fouquet’s; the island in which Porthos studies topography is M. Fouquet’s; the garrison is M. Fouquet’s; the galleys are M. Fouquet’s. I confess, then, that nothing would have surprised me in your enfeoffment, or rather in that of your diocese, to M. Fouquet. He is a different master from the king, that is all; but quite as powerful as Louis.”
“Thank God! I am not vassal to anybody; I belong to nobody, and am entirely my own master,” replied Aramis, who, during this conversation, followed with his eye every gesture of D’Artagnan, every glance of Porthos. But D’Artagnan was impassible and Porthos motionless; the thrusts aimed so skillfully were parried by an able adversary; not one hit the mark. Nevertheless, both began to feel the fatigue of such a contest, and the announcement of supper was well received by everybody. Supper changed the course of conversation. Besides, they felt that, upon their guard as each one had been, they could neither of them boast of having the advantage. Porthos had understood nothing of what had been meant. He had held himself motionless, because Aramis had made him a sign not to stir. Supper, for him, was nothing but supper; but that was quite enough for Porthos. The supper, then, went off very well. D’Artagnan was in high spirits. Aramis exceeded himself in kind affability. Porthos ate like old Pelops. Their talk was of war, finance, the arts, and love. Aramis played astonishment at every word of politics D’Artagnan risked. This long series of surprises increased the mistrust of D’Artagnan, as the eternal indifference of D’Artagnan provoked the suspicions of Aramis. At length D’Artagnan, designedly, uttered the name of Colbert: he had reserved that stroke for the last.
“Who is this Colbert?” asked the bishop.
“Oh! come,” said D’Artagnan to himself, “that is too strong! We must be careful, mordioux! we must be careful.”
And he then gave Aramis all the information respecting M. Colbert he could desire. The supper, or rather, the conversation, was prolonged till one o’clock in the morning between D’Artagnan and Aramis. At ten o’clock precisely, Porthos had fallen asleep in his chair and snored like an organ. At midnight he woke up and they sent him to bed. “Hum!” said he, “I was near falling asleep; but that was all very interesting you were talking about.”
At one o’clock Aramis conducted D’Artagnan to the chamber destined for him, which was the best in the episcopal residence. Two servants were placed at his command. “To-morrow, at eight o’clock,” said he, taking leave of D’Artagnan, “we will take, if agreeable to you, a ride on horseback with Porthos.”