He landed without having seen anything; and learnt
from the first soldier interrogated by him, that M.
du Vallon had not yet returned from Vannes. Then,
without losing an instant, D’Artagnan ordered
his little bark to put its head towards Sarzeau.
We know that the wind changes with the different hours
of the day. The breeze had veered from the north
north-east to the south-east; the wind, then, was
almost as good for the return to Sarzeau, as it had
been for the voyage to Belle-Isle. In three hours
D’Artagnan had touched the continent; two hours
more sufficed for his ride to Vannes. In spite
of the rapidity of his passage, what D’Artagnan
endured of impatience and anger during that short
passage, the deck alone of the vessel, upon which
he stamped backwards and forwards for three hours,
could testify. He made but one bound from the
quay whereon he landed to the episcopal palace.
He thought to terrify Aramis by the promptitude of
his return; he wished to reproach him with his duplicity,
and yet with reserve; but with sufficient spirit,
nevertheless, to make him feel all the consequences
of it, and force from him a part of his secret.
He hoped, in short — thanks to that heat of
expression which is to secrets
what the charge
with the bayonet is to redoubts — to bring the
mysterious Aramis to some manifestation or other.
But he found, in the vestibule of the palace, the
valet de chambre
, who closed his passage, while
smiling upon him with a stupid air.
“Monseigneur?” cried D’Artagnan,
endeavoring to put him aside with his hand.
Moved for an instant the valet resumed his station.
“Monseigneur?” said he.
“Yes, to be sure; do you not know me, imbecile?”
“Yes; you are the Chevalier d’Artagnan.”
“Then let me pass.”
“It is of no use.”
“Why of no use?”
“Because His Greatness is not at home.”
“What! His Greatness is not at home? where
is he, then?”
“I don’t know; but perhaps he tells monsieur
“And how? where? in what fashion?”
“In this letter, which he gave me for monsieur
le chevalier.” And the valet de chambre
drew a letter form his pocket.”
“Give it me, then, you rascal,” said D’Artagnan,
snatching it from his hand. “Oh, yes,”
continued he, at the first line, “yes, I understand;”
and he read: —
“Dear Friend, — An affair of the most
urgent nature calls me to a distant parish of my diocese.
I hoped to see you again before I set out; but I
lose that hope in thinking that you are going, no doubt,
to remain two or three days at Belle-Isle, with our
dear Porthos. Amuse yourself as well as you
can; but do not attempt to hold out against him at
table. This is a counsel I might have given
even to Athos, in his most brilliant and best days.
Adieu, dear friend; believe that I regret greatly
not having better, and for a longer time, profited
by your excellent company.”