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The Three Musketeers
Alexandre Dumas père
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The Three Presents Of D'artagnan The Elder
On the first Monday of the month of April, 1625, the market town of Meung, in which
the author of ROMANCE OF THE ROSE was born, appeared to be in as perfect a state
of revolution as if the Huguenots had just made a second La Rochelle of it. Many
citizens, seeing the women flying toward the High Street, leaving their children crying at
the open doors, hastened to don the cuirass, and supporting their somewhat uncertain
courage with a musket or a partisan, directed their steps toward the hostelry of the Jolly
Miller, before which was gathered, increasing every minute, a compact group, vociferous
and full of curiosity.
In those times panics were common, and few days passed without some city or other
registering in its archives an event of this kind. There were nobles, who made war against
each other; there was the king, who made war against the cardinal; there was Spain,
which made war against the king. Then, in addition to these concealed or public, secret or
open wars, there were robbers, mendicants, Huguenots, wolves, and scoundrels, who
made war upon everybody. The citizens always took up arms readily against thieves,
wolves or scoundrels, often against nobles or Huguenots, sometimes against the king, but
never against cardinal or Spain. It resulted, then, from this habit that on the said first
Monday of April, 1625, the citizens, on hearing the clamor, and seeing neither the red-
and-yellow standard nor the livery of the Duc de Richelieu, rushed toward the hostel of
the Jolly Miller. When arrived there, the cause of the hubbub was apparent to all.
A young man--we can sketch his portrait at a dash. Imagine to yourself a Don Quixote of
eighteen; a Don Quixote without his corselet, without his coat of mail, without his
cuisses; a Don Quixote clothed in a wooden doublet, the blue color of which had faded
into a nameless shade between lees of wine and a heavenly azure; face long and brown;
high cheek bones, a sign of sagacity; the maxillary muscles enormously developed, an
infallible sign by which a Gascon may always be detected, even without his cap--and our
young man wore a cap set off with a sort of feather; the eye open and intelligent; the nose
hooked, but finely chiseled. Too big for a youth, too small for a grown man, an
experienced eye might have taken him for a farmer's son upon a journey had it not been
for the long sword which, dangling from a leather baldric, hit against the calves of its
owner as he walked, and against the rough side of his steed when he was on horseback.
For our young man had a steed which was the observed of all observers. It was a Bearn
pony, from twelve to fourteen years old, yellow in his hide, without a hair in his tail, but
not without windgalls on his legs, which, though going with his head lower than his
knees, rendering a martingale quite unnecessary, contrived nevertheless to perform his
eight leagues a day. Unfortunately, the qualities of this horse were so well concealed
under his strange-colored hide and his unaccountable gait, that at a time when everybody
was a connoisseur in horseflesh, the appearance of the aforesaid pony at Meung--which
place he had entered about a quarter of an hour before, by the gate of Beaugency--
produced an unfavorable feeling, which extended to his rider.