The Three Musketeers HTML version
The Countess De Winter
As they rode along, the duke endeavored to draw from d'Artagnan, not all that had
happened, but what d'Artagnan himself knew. By adding all that he heard from the mouth
of the young man to his own remembrances, he was enabled to form a pretty exact idea of
a position of the seriousness of which, for the rest, the queen's letter, short but explicit,
gave him the clue. But that which astonished him most was that the cardinal, so deeply
interested in preventing this young man from setting his foot in England, had not
succeeded in arresting him on the road. It was then, upon the manifestation of this
astonishment, that d'Artagnan related to him the precaution taken, and how, thanks to the
devotion of his three friends, whom he had left scattered and bleeding on the road, he had
succeeded in coming off with a single sword thrust, which had pierced the queen's letter
and for which he had repaid M. de Wardes with such terrible coin. While he was listening
to this recital, delivered with the greatest simplicity, the duke looked from time to time at
the young man with astonishment, as if he could not comprehend how so much prudence,
courage, and devotedness could be allied with a countenance which indicated not more
than twenty years.
The horses went like the wind, and in a few minutes they were at the gates of London.
D'Artagnan imagined that on arriving in town the duke would slacken his pace, but it was
not so. He kept on his way at the same rate, heedless about upsetting those whom he met
on the road. In fact, in crossing the city two or three accidents of this kind happened; but
Buckingham did not even turn his head to see what became of those he had knocked
down. d'Artagnan followed him amid cries which strongly resembled curses.
On entering the court of his hotel, Buckingham sprang from his horse, and without
thinking what became of the animal, threw the bridle on his neck, and sprang toward the
vestibule. D'Artagnan did the same, with a little more concern, however, for the noble
creatures, whose merits he fully appreciated; but he had the satisfaction of seeing three or
four grooms run from the kitchens and the stables, and busy themselves with the steeds.
The duke walked so fast that d'Artagnan had some trouble in keeping up with him. He
passed through several apartments, of an elegance of which even the greatest nobles of
France had not even an idea, and arrived at length in a bedchamber which was at once a
miracle of taste and of richness. In the alcove of this chamber was a door concealed in the
tapestry which the duke opened with a little gold key which he wore suspended from his
neck by a chain of the same metal. With discretion d'Artagnan remained behind; but at
the moment when Buckingham crossed the threshold, he turned round, and seeing the
hesitation of the young man, "Come in!" cried he, "and if you have the good fortune to be
admitted to her Majesty's presence, tell her what you have seen."
Encouraged by this invitation, d'Artagnan followed the duke, who closed the door after
them. The two found themselves in a small chapel covered with a tapestry of Persian silk
worked with gold, and brilliantly lighted with a vast number of candles. Over a species of