Twenty Years After
Monsieur Porthos du Vallon de Bracieux de Pierrefonds
Thanks to what Aramis had told him, D'Artagnan, who knew already that Porthos called
himself Du Vallon, was now aware that he styled himself, from his estate, De Bracieux;
and that he was, on account of this estate, engaged in a lawsuit with the Bishop of Noyon.
It was, then, in the neighborhood of Noyon that he must seek that estate. His itinerary
was promptly determined: he would go to Dammartin, from which place two roads
diverge, one toward Soissons, the other toward Compiegne; there he would inquire
concerning the Bracieux estate and go to the right or to the left according to the
Planchet, who was still a little concerned for his safety after his recent escapade, declared
that he would follow D'Artagnan even to the end of the world, either by the road to the
right or by that to the left; only he begged his former master to set out in the evening, for
greater security to himself. D'Artagnan suggested that he should send word to his wife, so
that she might not be anxious about him, but Planchet replied with much sagacity that he
was very sure his wife would not die of anxiety through not knowing where he was,
while he, Planchet, remembering her incontinence of tongue, would die of anxiety if she
This reasoning seemed to D'Artagnan so satisfactory that he no further insisted; and about
eight o'clock in the evening, the time when the vapors of night begin to thicken in the
streets, he left the Hotel de la Chevrette, and followed by Planchet set forth from the
capital by way of the Saint Denis gate.
At midnight the two travelers were at Dammartin, but it was then too late to make
inquiries -- the host of the Cygne de la Croix had gone to bed.
The next morning D'Artagnan summoned the host, one of those sly Normans who say
neither yes nor no and fear to commit themselves by giving a direct answer. D'Artagnan,
however, gathered from his equivocal replies that the road to the right was the one he
ought to take, and on that uncertain information he resumed his journey. At nine in the
morning he reached Nanteuil and stopped for breakfast. His host here was a good fellow
from Picardy, who gave him all the information he needed. The Bracieux estate was a
few leagues from Villars-Cotterets.
D'Artagnan was acquainted with Villars-Cotterets having gone thither with the court on
several occasions; for at that time Villars-Cotterets was a royal residence. He therefore
shaped his course toward that place and dismounted at the Dauphin d'Or. There he
ascertained that the Bracieux estate was four leagues distant, but that Porthos was not at
Bracieux. Porthos had, in fact, been involved in a dispute with the Bishop of Noyon in
regard to the Pierrefonds property, which adjoined his own, and weary at length of a legal
controversy which was beyond his comprehension, he put an end to it by purchasing
Pierrefonds and added that name to his others. He now called himself Du Vallon de
Bracieux de Pierrefonds, and resided on his new estate.