The Three Musketeers
by Alexandre Dumas
Chapter 3 : The Audience
without replying, feeling his desire to don the
Musketeer's uniform vastly increased by the great difficulties
which preceded the attainment of it.
"But," continued M. de Treville, fixing upon his compatriot a
look so piercing that it might be said he wished to read the
thoughts of his heart, "on account of my old companion, your
father, as I have said, I will do something for you, young man.
Our recruits from Bearn are not generally very rich, and I have
no reason to think matters have much changed in this respect
since I left the province. I dare say you have not brought too
large a stock of money with you?"
D'Artagnan drew himself up with a proud air which plainly said,
"I ask alms of no man."
"Oh, that's very well, young man," continued M. de Treville,
"that's all very well. I know these airs; I myself came to Paris
with four crowns in my purse, and would have fought with anyone
who dared to tell me I was not in a condition to purchase the
D'Artagnan's bearing became still more imposing. Thanks to the
sale of his horse, he commenced his career with four more crowns
than M. de Treville possessed at the commencement of his.
"You ought, I say, then, to husband the means you have, however
large the sum may be; but you ought also to endeavor to perfect
yourself in the exercises becoming a gentleman. I will write a
letter today to the Director of the Royal Academy, and tomorrow
he will admit you without any expense to yourself. Do not refuse
this little service. Our best-born and richest gentlemen
sometimes solicit it without being able to obtain it. You will
learn horsemanship, swordsmanship in all its branches, and
dancing. You will make some desirable acquaintances; and from
time to time you can call upon me, just to tell me how you are getting
on, and to say whether I can be of further service to you."
D'Artagnan, stranger as he was to all the manners of a court,
could not but perceive a little coldness in this reception.
"Alas, sir," said he, "I cannot but perceive how sadly I miss the
letter of introduction which my father gave me to present to
"I certainly am surprised," replied M. de Treville, "that you
should undertake so long a journey without that necessary
passport, the sole resource of us poor Bearnese."
"I had one, sir, and, thank God, such as I could wish," cried
d'Artagnan; "but it was perfidiously stolen from me."
He then related the adventure of Meung, described the unknown
gentleman with the greatest minuteness, and all with a warmth and
truthfulness that delighted M. de Treville.
"This is all very strange," said M. de Treville, after meditating
a minute; "you mentioned my name, then, aloud?"
"Yes, sir, I certainly committed that imprudence; but why should
I have done otherwise? A name like yours must be as a buckler to
me on my way. Judge if I should not put myself under its
Flattery was at that period very current, and M. de Treville
loved incense as well as a king, or even a cardinal. He could
not refrain from a smile of visible satisfaction; but this smile
soon disappeared, and returning to the adventure of Meung, "Tell
me," continued he, "had not this gentlemen a slight scar on his
"Yes, such a one as would be made by the grazing of a ball."
"Was he not a fine-looking man?"
"Of lofty stature."
"Of complexion and brown hair?"
"Yes, yes, that is he; how is it, sir, that you are acquainted
with this man? If I ever find him again--and I will find him, I
swear, were it in hell!"
"He was waiting for a woman," continued Treville.
"He departed immediately after having conversed for a minute with
her whom he awaited."
"You know not the subject of their conversation?"
"He gave her a box, told her not to open it except in London."
"Was this woman English?"
"He called her Milady."
"It is he; it must be he!" murmured Treville. "I believed him
still at Brussels."
"Oh, sir, if you know who this man is," cried d'Artagnan, "tell
me who he is, and whence he is. I will then release you from all
your promises--even that of procuring my admission into the
Musketeers; for before everything, I wish to avenge myself."
"Beware, young man!" cried Treville. "If you see him coming on
one side of the street, pass by on the other. Do not cast
yourself against such a rock; he would break you like glass."
"That will not prevent me," replied d'Artagnan, "if ever I find
"In the meantime," said Treville, "seek him not--if I have a
right to advise you."
All at once the captain stopped, as if struck by a sudden
suspicion. This great hatred which the young traveler manifested
so loudly for this man, who--a rather improbable thing--had
stolen his father's letter from him--was there not some perfidy
concealed under this hatred? Might not this young man be sent by
his Eminence? Might he not have come for the purpose of laying a
snare for him? This pretended d'Artagnan--was he not an emissary
of the cardinal, whom the cardinal sought to introduce into
Treville's house, to place near him, to win his confidence, and
afterward to ruin him as had been done in a thousand other
instances? He fixed his eyes upon d'Artagnan even more earnestly
than before. He was moderately reassured however, by the aspect
of that countenance, full of astute intelligence and affected
humility. "I know he is a Gascon," reflected he, "but he may be
one for the cardinal as well as for me. Let us try him."
"My friend," said he, slowly, "I wish, as the son of an ancient
friend--for I consider this story of the lost letter perfectly
true--I wish, I say, in order to repair the coldness you may have
remarked in my reception of you, to discover to you the secrets
of our policy. The king and the cardinal are the best of
friends; their apparent bickerings are only feints to deceive
fools. I am not willing that a compatriot, a handsome cavalier,
a brave youth, quite fit to make his way, should become the dupe
of all these artifices and fall into the snare after the example
of so many others who have been ruined by it. Be assured that I
am devoted to both these all-powerful masters, and that my
earnest endeavors have no other aim than the service of the king,
and also the cardinal--one of the most illustrious geniuses that
France has ever produced.
"Now, young man, regulate your conduct accordingly; and if you
entertain, whether from your family, your relations, or even from
your instincts, any of these enmities which we see constantly
breaking out against the cardinal, bid me adieu and let us
separate. I will aid you in many ways, but without attaching you
to my person. I hope that my frankness at least will make you my
friend; for you are the only young man to whom I have hitherto
spoken as I have done to you."
Treville said to himself: "If the cardinal has set this young
fox upon me, he will certainly not have failed--he, who knows how
bitterly I execrate him--to tell his spy that the best means of
making his court to me is to rail at him. Therefore, in spite of
all my protestations, if it be as I suspect, my cunning gossip
will assure me that he holds his Eminence in horror."
It, however, proved otherwise. D'Artagnan answered, with the
greatest simplicity: "I came to Paris with exactly such
intentions. My father advised me to stoop to nobody but the
king, the cardinal, and yourself--whom he considered the first
three personages in France."
D'Artagnan added M. de Treville to the others, as may be
perceived; but he thought this addition would do no harm.
"I have the greatest veneration for the cardinal," continued he,
"and the most profound respect for his actions. So much the
better for me, sir, if you speak to me, as you say, with
frankness--for then you will do me the honor to esteem the
resemblance of our opinions; but if you have entertained any
doubt, as naturally you may, I feel that I am ruining myself by
speaking the truth. But I still trust you will not esteem me the
less for it, and that is my object beyond all others."
M. de Treville was surprised to the greatest degree. So much
penetration, so much frankness, created admiration, but did not
entirely remove his suspicions. The more this young man was
superior to others, the more he was to be dreaded if he meant to
deceive him; "You are an honest youth; but at the present moment
I can only do for you that which I just now offered. My hotel
will be always open to you. Hereafter, being able to ask for me
at all hours, and consequently to take advantage of all
opportunities, you will probably obtain that which you desire."
"That is to say," replied d'Artagnan, "that you will wait until I
have proved myself worthy of it. Well, be assured," added he,
with the familiarity of a Gascon, "you shall not wait long." And
he bowed in order to retire, and as if he considered the future
in his own hands.
"But wait a minute," said M. de Treville, stopping him. "I
promised you a letter for the director of the Academy. Are you
too proud to accept it, young gentleman?"
"No, sir," said d'Artagnan; "and I will guard it so carefully
that I will be sworn it shall arrive at its address, and woe be
to him who shall attempt to take it from me!"
M. de Treville smiled at this flourish; and leaving his young man
compatriot in the embrasure of the window, where they had talked
together, he seated himself at a table in order to write the
promised letter of recommendation. While he was doing this,
d'Artagnan, having no better employment, amused himself with
beating a march upon the window and with looking at the
Musketeers, who went away, one after another, following them with
his eyes until they disappeared.
M. de Treville, after having written the letter, sealed it, and
rising, approached the young man in order to give it to him. But
at the very moment when d'Artagnan stretched out his hand to
receive it, M. de Treville was highly astonished to see his
protege make a sudden spring, become crimson with passion, and
rush from the cabinet crying, "S'blood, he shall not escape me
"And who?" asked M. de Treville.
"He, my thief!" replied d'Artagnan. "Ah, the traitor!" and he
"The devil take the madman!" murmured M. de Treville, "unless,"
added he, "this is a cunning mode of escaping, seeing that he had
failed in his purpose!"