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Twenty Years After

Two Angelic Faces
The road was long, but the horses upon which D'Artagnan and Planchet rode had been
refreshed in the well supplied stables of the Lord of Bracieux; the master and servant
rode side by side, conversing as they went, for D'Artagnan had by degrees thrown off the
master and Planchet had entirely ceased to assume the manners of a servant. He had been
raised by circumstances to the rank of a confidant to his master. It was many years since
D'Artagnan had opened his heart to any one; it happened, however, that these two men,
on meeting again, assimilated perfectly. Planchet was in truth no vulgar companion in
these new adventures; he was a man of uncommonly sound sense. Without courting
danger he never shrank from an encounter; in short, he had been a soldier and arms
ennoble a man; it was, therefore, on the footing of friends that D'Artagnan and Planchet
arrived in the neighborhood of Blois.
Going along, D'Artagnan, shaking his head, said:
"I know that my going to Athos is useless and absurd; but still I owe this courtesy to my
old friend, a man who had in him material for the most noble and generous of
characters."
"Oh, Monsieur Athos was a noble gentleman," said Planchet, "was he not? Scattering
money round about him as Heaven sprinkles rain. Do you remember, sir, that duel with
the Englishman in the inclosure des Carmes? Ah! how lofty, how magnificent Monsieur
Athos was that day, when he said to his adversary: `You have insisted on knowing my
name, sir; so much the worse for you, since I shall be obliged to kill you.' I was near him,
those were his exact words, when he stabbed his foe as he said he would, and his
adversary fell without saying, `Oh!' 'Tis a noble gentleman -- Monsieur Athos."
"Yes, true as Gospel," said D'Artagnan; "but one single fault has swallowed up all these
fine qualities."
"I remember well," said Planchet, "he was fond of drinking -- in truth, he drank, but not
as other men drink. One seemed, as he raised the wine to his lips, to hear him say, `Come,
juice of the grape, and chase away my sorrows.' And how he used to break the stem of a
glass or the neck of a bottle! There was no one like him for that."
"And now," replied D'Artagnan, "behold the sad spectacle that awaits us. This noble
gentleman with his lofty glance, this handsome cavalier, so brilliant in feats of arms that
every one was surprised that he held in his hand a sword only instead of a baton of
command! Alas! we shall find him changed into a broken down old man, with garnet
nose and eyes that slobber; we shall find him extended on some lawn, whence he will
look at us with a languid eye and peradventure will not recognize us. God knows,
Planchet, that I should fly from a sight so sad if I did not wish to show my respect for the
illustrious shadow of what was once the Comte de la Fere, whom we loved so much."
 
 
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