“Formerly, monsieur,” said Planchet, with a smile full of bonhomie, “it was I who drank your wine; now you do me the honor to drink mine.”
“And, thank God, friend Planchet, I shall drink it for a long time to come, I hope; for at present I am free.”
“Free? You have a leave of absence, monsieur?”
“You are leaving the service?” said Planchet, stupefied.
“Yes, I am resting.”
“And the king?” cried Planchet, who could not suppose it possible that the king could do without the services of such a man as D’Artagnan.
“The king will try his fortune elsewhere. But we have supped well, you are disposed to enjoy yourself; you invite me to confide in you. Open your ears, then.”
“They are open.” And Planchet, with a laugh more frank than cunning, opened a bottle of white wine.
“Leave me my reason, at least.”
“Oh, as to you losing your head — you, monsieur!”
“Now my head is my own, and I mean to take better care of it than ever. In the first place we shall talk business. How fares our money-box?”
“Wonderfully well, monsieur. The twenty thousand livres I had of you are still employed in my trade, in which they bring me nine per cent. I give you seven, so I gain two by you.”
“And you are still satisfied?”
“Delighted. Have you brought me any more?”
“Better than that. But do you want any?”
“Oh! not at all. Every one is willing to trust me now. I am extending my business.”
“That was your intention.”
“I play the banker a little. I buy goods of my needy brethren; I lend money to those who are not ready for their payments.”
“Oh! monsieur, in the course of the last week I have had two meetings on the boulevards, on account of the word you have just pronounced.”
“You shall see: it concerned a loan. The borrower gives me in pledge some raw sugars, on condition that I should sell if repayment were not made within a fixed period. I lend a thousand livres. He does not pay me, and I sell the sugars for thirteen hundred livres. He learns this and claims a hundred crowns. Ma foi! I refused, pretending that I could not sell them for more than nine hundred livres. He accused me of usury. I begged him to repeat that word to me behind the boulevards. He was an old guard, and he came: and I passed your sword through his left thigh.”
“Tu dieu! what a pretty sort of banker you make!” said D’Artagnan.
“For above thirteen per cent I fight,” replied Planchet; “that is my character.”
“Take only twelve,” said D’Artagnan, “and call the rest premium and brokerage.”
“You are right, monsieur; but to your business.”
“Ah! Planchet, it is very long and very hard to speak.”