[The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas]@TWC D-Link book
The Three Musketeers


As Athos and Porthos had foreseen, at the expiration of a half hour, d'Artagnan returned.

He had again missed his man, who had disappeared as if by enchantment.

D'Artagnan had run, sword in hand, through all the neighboring streets, but had found nobody resembling the man he sought for.

Then he came back to the point where, perhaps, he ought to have begun, and that was to knock at the door against which the stranger had leaned; but this proved useless--for though he knocked ten or twelve times in succession, no one answered, and some of the neighbors, who put their noses out of their windows or were brought to their doors by the noise, had assured him that that house, all the openings of which were tightly closed, had not been inhabited for six months.
While d'Artagnan was running through the streets and knocking at doors, Aramis had joined his companions; so that on returning home d'Artagnan found the reunion complete.
"Well!" cried the three Musketeers all together, on seeing d'Artagnan enter with his brow covered with perspiration and his countenance upset with anger.
"Well!" cried he, throwing his sword upon the bed, "this man must be the devil in person; he has disappeared like a phantom, like a shade, like a specter." "Do you believe in apparitions ?" asked Athos of Porthos.
"I never believe in anything I have not seen, and as I never have seen apparitions, I don't believe in them." "The Bible," said Aramis, "make our belief in them a law; the ghost of Samuel appeared to Saul, and it is an article of faith that I should be very sorry to see any doubt thrown upon, Porthos." "At all events, man or devil, body or shadow, illusion or reality, this man is born for my damnation; for his flight has caused us to miss a glorious affair, gentlemen--an affair by which there were a hundred pistoles, and perhaps more, to be gained." "How is that ?" cried Porthos and Aramis in a breath.
As to Athos, faithful to his system of reticence, he contented himself with interrogating d'Artagnan by a look.
"Planchet," said d'Artagnan to his domestic, who just then insinuated his head through the half-open door in order to catch some fragments of the conversation, "go down to my landlord, Monsieur Bonacieux, and ask him to send me half a dozen bottles of Beaugency wine; I prefer that." "Ah, ah! You have credit with your landlord, then ?" asked Porthos.
"Yes," replied d'Artagnan, "from this very day; and mind, if the wine is bad, we will send him to find better." "We must use, and not abuse," said Aramis, sententiously.
"I always said that d'Artagnan had the longest head of the four," said Athos, who, having uttered his opinion, to which d'Artagnan replied with a bow, immediately resumed his accustomed silence.
"But come, what is this about ?" asked Porthos.
"Yes," said Aramis, "impart it to us, my dear friend, unless the honor of any lady be hazarded by this confidence; in that case you would do better to keep it to yourself." "Be satisfied," replied d'Artagnan; "the honor of no one will have cause to complain of what I have to tell." He then related to his friends, word for word, all that had passed between him and his host, and how the man who had abducted the wife of his worthy landlord was the same with whom he had had the difference at the hostelry of the Jolly Miller.
"Your affair is not bad," said Athos, after having tasted like a connoisseur and indicated by a nod of his head that he thought the wine good; "and one may draw fifty or sixty pistoles from this good man.

Then there only remains to ascertain whether these fifty or sixty pistoles are worth the risk of four heads." "But observe," cried d'Artagnan, "that there is a woman in the affair--a woman carried off, a woman who is doubtless threatened, tortured perhaps, and all because she is faithful to her mistress." "Beware, d'Artagnan, beware," said Aramis.

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