Ten Years Later
Baisemeaux de Montlezun.
After the austere lesson administered to De Wardes, Athos and D'Artagnan together
descended the staircase which led to the courtyard of the Palais Royal. "You perceive,"
said Athos to D'Artagnan, "that Raoul cannot, sooner or later, avoid a duel with De
Wardes, for De Wardes is as brave as he is vicious and wicked."
"I know such fellows well," replied D'Artagnan; "I had an affair with the father. I assure
you that, although at that time I had good muscles and a sort of brute courage - I assure
you that the father did me some mischief. But you should have seen how I fought it out
with him. Ah, Athos, such encounters never take place in these times! I had a hand
which could never remain at rest, a hand like quicksilver, - you knew its quality, for you
have seen me at work. My sword was no longer than a piece of steel; it was a serpent
that assumed every form and every length, seeking where it might thrust its head; in
other words, where it might fix its bite. I advanced half a dozen paces, then three, and
then, body to body, I pressed my antagonist closely, then I darted back again ten paces.
No human power could resist that ferocious ardor. Well, De Wardes the father, with the
bravery of his race, with his dogged courage, occupied a good deal of my time; and my
fingers, at the end of the engagement, were, I well remember, tired enough."
"It is, then, as I said," resumed Athos, "the son will always be looking out for Raoul, and
will end by meeting him; and Raoul can easily be found when he is sought for."
"Agreed; but Raoul calculates well; he bears no grudge against De Wardes, - he has
said so; he will wait until he is provoked, and in that case his position is a good one. The
king will not be able to get out of temper about the matter; besides we shall know how to
pacify his majesty. But why so full of these fears and anxieties? You don't easily get
"I will tell you what makes me anxious; Raoul is to see the king to- morrow, when his
majesty will inform him of his wishes respecting a certain marriage. Raoul, loving as he
does, will get out of temper, and once in an angry mood, if he were to meet De Wardes,
the shell would explode."
"We will prevent the explosion."
"Not I," said Athos, "for I must return to Blois. All this gilded elegance of the court, all
these intrigues, sicken me. I am no longer a young man who can make terms with the
meanness of the day. I have read in the Great Book many things too beautiful and too
comprehensive to longer take any interest in the trifling phrases which these men
whisper among themselves when they wish to deceive others. In one word, I am weary