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Louise de la Valliere

Chapter 3
In Which the Reader will be Delighted to Find that Porthos Has Lost Nothing of
His Muscularity.
D'Artagnan had, according to his usual style, calculated that every hour is worth
sixty minutes, and every minute worth sixty seconds. Thanks to this perfectly
exact calculation of minutes and seconds, he reached the superintendent's door
at the very moment the soldier was leaving it with his belt empty. D'Artagnan
presented himself at the door, which a porter with a profusely embroidered livery
held half opened for him. D'Artagnan would very much have liked to enter without
giving his name, but this was impossible, and so he gave it. Notwithstanding this
concession, which ought to have removed every difficulty in the way, at least
D'Artagnan thought so, the concierge hesitated; however, at the second
repetition of the title, captain of the king's guards, the concierge, without quite
leaving the passage clear for him, ceased to bar it completely. D'Artagnan
understood that orders of the most positive character had been given. He
decided, therefore, to tell a falsehood, - a circumstance, moreover, which did not
seriously affect his peace of mind, when he saw that beyond the falsehood the
safety of the state itself, or even purely and simply his own individual personal
interest, might be at stake. He moreover added to the declarations he had
already made, that the soldier sent to M. du Vallon was his own messenger, and
that the only object that letter had in view was to announce his intended arrival.
From that moment, no one opposed D'Artagnan's entrance any further, and he
entered accordingly. A valet wished to accompany him, but he answered that it
was useless to take that trouble on his account, inasmuch as he knew perfectly
well where M. du Vallon was. There was nothing, of course, to say to a man so
thoroughly and completely informed on all points, and D'Artagnan was permitted,
therefore, to do as he liked. The terraces, the magnificent apartments, the
gardens, were all reviewed and narrowly inspected by the musketeer. He walked
for a quarter of an hour in this more than royal residence, which included as
many wonders as articles of furniture, and as many servants as there were
columns and doors. "Decidedly," he said to himself, "this mansion has no other
limits than the pillars of the habitable world. Is it probable Porthos has taken it
into his head to go back to Pierrefonds without even leaving M. Fouquet's
house?" He finally reached a remote part of the chateau inclosed by a stone wall,
which was covered with a profusion of thick plants, luxuriant in blossoms as large
and solid as fruit. At equal distances on the top of this wall were placed various
statues in timid or mysterious attitudes. These were vestals hidden beneath the
long Greek peplum, with its thick, sinuous folds; agile nymphs, covered with their
marble veils, and guarding the palace with their fugitive glances. A statue of
Hermes, with his finger on his lips; one of Iris, with extended wings; another of
Night, sprinkled all over with poppies, dominated the gardens and outbuildings,
which could be seen through the trees. All these statues threw in white relief their
profiles upon the dark ground of the tall cypresses, which darted their somber
summits towards the sky. Around these cypresses were entwined climbing roses,
 
 
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