The Three Musketeers HTML version
The King's Musketeers And The Cardinal's Guards
D'Artagnan was acquainted with nobody in Paris. He went therefore to his appointment
with Athos without a second, determined to be satisfied with those his adversary should
choose. Besides, his intention was formed to make the brave Musketeer all suitable
apologies, but without meanness or weakness, fearing that might result from this duel
which generally results from an affair of this kind, when a young and vigorous man fights
with an adversary who is wounded and weakened--if conquered, he doubles the triumph
of his antagonist; if a conqueror, he is accused of foul play and want of courage.
Now, we must have badly painted the character of our adventure seeker, or our readers
must have already perceived that d'Artagnan was not an ordinary man; therefore, while
repeating to himself that his death was inevitable, he did not make up his mind to die
quietly, as one less courageous and less restrained might have done in his place. He
reflected upon the different characters of men he had to fight with, and began to view his
situation more clearly. He hoped, by means of loyal excuses, to make a friend of Athos,
whose lordly air and austere bearing pleased him much. He flattered himself he should be
able to frighten Porthos with the adventure of the baldric, which he might, if not killed
upon the spot, relate to everybody a recital which, well managed, would cover Porthos
with ridicule. As to the astute Aramis, he did not entertain much dread of him; and
supposing he should be able to get so far, he determined to dispatch him in good style or
at least, by hitting him in the face, as Caesar recommended his soldiers do to those of
Pompey, to damage forever the beauty of which he was so proud.
In addition to this, d'Artagnan possessed that invincible stock of resolution which the
counsels of his father had implanted in his heart: "Endure nothing from anyone but the
king, the cardinal, and Monsieur de Treville." He flew, then, rather than walked, toward
the convent of the Carmes Dechausses, or rather Deschaux, as it was called at that period,
a sort of building without a window, surrounded by barren fields--an accessory to the
Preaux-Clercs, and which was generally employed as the place for the duels of men who
had no time to lose.
When d'Artagnan arrived in sight of the bare spot of ground which extended along the
foot of the monastery, Athos had been waiting about five minutes, and twelve o'clock
was striking. He was, then, as punctual as the Samaritan woman, and the most rigorous
casuist with regard to duels could have nothing to say.
Athos, who still suffered grievously from his wound, though it had been dressed anew by
M. de Treville's surgeon, was seated on a post and waiting for his adversary with hat in
hand, his feather even touching the ground.
"Monsieur," said Athos, "I have engaged two of my friends as seconds; but these two
friends are not yet come, at which I am astonished, as it is not at all their custom."