We will spare our readers the prosaic incidents of D’Artagnan’s journey, which terminated on the morning of the third day within sight of Pierrefonds. D’Artagnan came by the way of Nanteuil-le-Haudouin and Crepy. At a distance he perceived the Castle of Louis of Orleans, which, having become part of the crown domain, was kept by an old concierge. This was one of those marvelous manors of the middle ages, with walls twenty feet in thickness, and a hundred in height.
D’Artagnan rode slowly past its walls, measured its towers with his eye and descended into the valley. From afar he looked down upon the chateau of Porthos, situated on the shores of a small lake, and contiguous to a magnificent forest. It was the same place we have already had the honor of describing to our readers; we shall therefore satisfy ourselves with naming it. The first thing D’Artagnan perceived after the fine trees, the May sun gilding the sides of the green hills, the long rows of feather-topped trees which stretched out towards Compiegne, was a large rolling box, pushed forward by two servants and dragged by two others. In this box there was an enormous green-and-gold thing, which went along the smiling glades of the park, thus dragged and pushed. This thing, at a distance, could not be distinguished, and signified absolutely nothing; nearer, it was a hogshead muffled in gold-bound green cloth; when close, it was a man, or rather a poussa, the inferior extremity of whom, spreading over the interior of the box, entirely filled it; when still closer, the man was Mousqueton — Mousqueton, with gray hair and a face as red as Punchinello’s.
“Pardieu!” cried D’Artagnan; “why, that’s my dear Monsieur Mousqueton!”
“Ah!” cried the fat man — “ah! what happiness! what joy! There’s M. d’Artagnan. Stop, you rascals!” These last words were addressed to the lackeys who pushed and dragged him. The box stopped, and the four lackeys, with a precision quite military, took off their laced hats and ranged themselves behind it.
“Oh, Monsieur d’Artagnan!” said Mousqueton, “why can I not embrace your knees? But I have become impotent, as you see.”
“Dame! my dear Mousqueton, it is age.”
“No, monsieur, it is not age; it is infirmities — troubles.”
“Troubles! you, Mousqueton?” said D’Artagnan, making the tour of the box; “are you out of your mind, my dear friend? Thank God! you are as hearty as a three-hundred-year-old oak.”
“Ah! but my legs, monsieur, my legs!” groaned the faithful servant.
“What’s the matter with your legs?”
“Oh, they will no longer bear me!”
“Ah, the ungrateful things! And yet you feed them well, Mousqueton, apparently.”
“Alas, yes! They can reproach me with nothing in that respect,” said Mousqueton, with a sigh; “I have always done what I could for my poor body; I am not selfish.” And Mousqueton sighed afresh.