Twenty Years After HTML version

D'Artagnan in his Fortieth Year
Years have elapsed, many events have happened, alas! since, in our romance of "The
Three Musketeers," we took leave of D'Artagnan at No. 12 Rue des Fossoyeurs.
D'Artagnan had not failed in his career, but circumstances had been adverse to him. So
long as he was surrounded by his friends he retained his youth and the poetry of his
character. He was one of those fine, ingenuous natures which assimilate themselves
easily to the dispositions of others. Athos imparted to him his greatness of soul, Porthos
his enthusiasm, Aramis his elegance. Had D'Artagnan continued his intimacy with these
three men he would have become a superior character. Athos was the first to leave him,
in order that he might retire to a little property he had inherited near Blois; Porthos, the
second, to marry an attorney's wife; and lastly, Aramis, the third, to take orders and
become an abbe. From that day D'Artagnan felt lonely and powerless, without courage to
pursue a career in which he could only distinguish himself on condition that each of his
three companions should endow him with one of the gifts each had received from
Notwithstanding his commission in the musketeers, D'Artagnan felt completely solitary.
For a time the delightful remembrance of Madame Bonancieux left on his character a
certain poetic tinge, perishable indeed; for like all other recollections in this world, these
impressions were, by degrees, effaced. A garrison life is fatal even to the most
aristocratic organization; and imperceptibly, D'Artagnan, always in the camp, always on
horseback, always in garrison, became (I know not how in the present age one would
express it) a typical trooper. His early refinement of character was not only not lost, it
grew even greater than ever; but it was now applied to the little, instead of to the great
things of life -- to the martial condition of the soldier -- comprised under the head of a
good lodging, a rich table, a congenial hostess. These important advantages D'Artagnan
found to his own taste in the Rue Tiquetonne at the sign of the Roe.
From the time D'Artagnan took quarters in that hotel, the mistress of the house, a pretty
and fresh looking Flemish woman, twenty-five or twenty-six years old, had been
singularly interested in him; and after certain love passages, much obstructed by an
inconvenient husband to whom a dozen times D'Artagnan had made a pretence of passing
a sword through his body, that husband had disappeared one fine morning, after furtively
selling certain choice lots of wine, carrying away with him money and jewels. He was
thought to be dead; his wife, especially, who cherished the pleasing idea that she was a
widow, stoutly maintained that death had taken him. Therefore, after the connection had
continued three years, carefully fostered by D'Artagnan, who found his bed and his
mistress more agreeable every year, each doing credit to the other, the mistress conceived
the extraordinary desire of becoming a wife and proposed to D'Artagnan that he should
marry her.
"Ah, fie!" D'Artagnan replied. "Bigamy, my dear! Come now, you don't really wish it?"
"But he is dead; I am sure of it."