D'Artagnan and Porthos returned on foot, as D'Artagnan had set out. When
D'Artagnan, as he entered the shop of the Pilon d'Or, announced to
Planchet that M. du Vallon would be one of the privileged travelers, and
as the plume in Porthos's hat made the wooden candles suspended over the
front jingle together, a melancholy presentiment seemed to eclipse the
delight Planchet had promised himself for the morrow. But the grocer had
a heart of gold, ever mindful of the good old times - a trait that
carries youth into old age. So Planchet, notwithstanding a sort of
internal shiver, checked as soon as experienced, received Porthos with
respect, mingled with the tenderest cordiality. Porthos, who was a
little cold and stiff in his manners at first, on account of the social
difference existing at that period between a baron and a grocer, soon
began to soften when he perceived so much good-feeling and so many kind
attentions in Planchet. He was particularly touched by the liberty which
was permitted him to plunge his great palms into the boxes of dried
fruits and preserves, into the sacks of nuts and almonds, and into the
drawers full of sweetmeats. So that, notwithstanding Planchet's pressing
invitations to go upstairs to the _entresol_, he chose as his favorite
seat, during the evening which he had to spend at Planchet's house, the
shop itself, where his fingers could always fish up whatever his nose
detected. The delicious figs from Provence, filberts from the forest,
Tours plums, were subjects of his uninterrupted attention for five
consecutive hours. His teeth, like millstones, cracked heaps of nuts,
the shells of which were scattered all over the floor, where they were
trampled by every one who went in and out of the shop; Porthos pulled
from the stalk with his lips, at one mouthful, bunches of the rich
Muscatel raisins with their beautiful bloom, half a pound of which passed
at one gulp from his mouth to his stomach. In one of the corners of the
shop, Planchet's assistants, huddled together, looked at each other
without venturing to open their lips. They did not know who Porthos was,
for they had never seen him before. The race of those Titans who had
worn the cuirasses of Hugh Capet, Philip Augustus, and Francis I. had
already begun to disappear. They could hardly help thinking he might be
the ogre of the fairy tale, who was going to turn the whole contents of
Planchet's shop into his insatiable stomach, and that, too, without in
the slightest degree displacing the barrels and chests that were in it.
Cracking, munching, chewing, nibbling, sucking, and swallowing, Porthos
occasionally said to the grocer:
"You do a very good business here, friend Planchet."
"He will very soon have none at all to do, if this sort of thing
continues," grumbled the foreman, who had Planchet's word that he should
be his successor. In the midst of his despair, he approached Porthos,
who blocked up the whole of the passage leading from the back shop to the
shop itself. He hoped that Porthos would rise and that this movement
would distract his devouring ideas.
"What do you want, my man?" asked Porthos, affably.
"I should like to pass you, monsieur, if it is not troubling you too
"Very well," said Porthos, "it does not trouble me in the least."
At the same moment he took hold of the young fellow by the waistband,
lifted him off the ground, and placed him very gently on the other side,
smiling all the while with the same affable expression. As soon as
Porthos had placed him on the ground, the lad's legs so shook under him
that he fell back upon some sacks of corks. But noticing the giant's
gentleness of manner, he ventured again, and said:
"Ah, monsieur! pray be careful."
"What about?" inquired Porthos.
"You are positively putting a fiery furnace into your body."
"How is that, my good fellow?"
"All those things are very heating to the system!"
"Raisins, nuts, and almonds."
"Yes; but if raisins, nuts, and almonds are heating - "
"There is no doubt at all of it, monsieur."
"Honey is very cooling," said Porthos, stretching out his hand toward a
small barrel of honey which was open, and he plunged the scoop with which
the wants of the customers were supplied into it, and swallowed a good
half-pound at one gulp.
"I must trouble you for some water now, my man," said Porthos.
"In a pail, monsieur?" asked the lad, simply.
"No, in a water-bottle; that will be quite enough;" and raising the
bottle to his mouth, as a trumpeter does his trumpet, he emptied the
bottle at a single draught.
Planchet was agitated in every fibre of propriety and self-esteem.
However, a worthy representative of the hospitality which prevailed in
early days, he feigned to be talking very earnestly with D'Artagnan, and
incessantly repeated: - "Ah! monsieur, what a happiness! what an honor!"
"What time shall we have supper, Planchet?" inquired Porthos, "I feel
The foreman clasped his hands together. The two others got under the
counters, fearing Porthos might have a taste for human flesh.
"We shall only take a sort of snack here," said D'Artagnan; "and when we
get to Planchet's country-seat, we will have supper."
"Ah, ah! so we are going to your country-house, Planchet," said Porthos;
"so much the better."
"You overwhelm me, monsieur le baron."
The "monsieur le baron" had a great effect upon the men, who detected a
personage of the highest quality in an appetite of that kind. This
title, too, reassured them. They had never heard that an ogre was ever
called "monsieur le baron".
"I will take a few biscuits to eat on the road," said Porthos,
carelessly; and he emptied a whole jar of aniseed biscuits into the huge
pocket of his doublet.
"My shop is saved!" exclaimed Planchet.
"Yes, as the cheese was," whispered the foreman.
"The Dutch cheese, inside which a rat had made his way, and we found only
the rind left."
Planchet looked all round his shop, and observing the different articles
which had escaped Porthos's teeth, he found the comparison somewhat
exaggerated. The foreman, who remarked what was passing in his master's
mind, said, "Take care; he is not gone yet."
"Have you any fruit here?" said Porthos, as he went upstairs to the
_entresol_, where it had just been announced that some refreshment was
"Alas!" thought the grocer, addressing a look at D'Artagnan full of
entreaty, which the latter half understood.
As soon as they had finished eating they set off. It was late when the
three riders, who had left Paris about six in the evening, arrived at
Fontainebleau. The journey passed very agreeably. Porthos took a fancy
to Planchet's society, because the latter was very respectful in his
manners, and seemed delighted to talk to him about his meadows, his
woods, and his rabbit-warrens. Porthos had all the taste and pride of a
landed proprietor. When D'Artagnan saw his two companions in earnest
conversation, he took the opposite side of the road, and letting his
bridle drop upon his horse's neck, separated himself from the whole
world, as he had done from Porthos and from Planchet. The moon shone
softly through the foliage of the forest. The breezes of the open
country rose deliciously perfumed to the horse's nostrils, and they
snorted and pranced along delightedly. Porthos and Planchet began to
talk about hay-crops. Planchet admitted to Porthos that in the advanced
years of his life, he had certainly neglected agricultural pursuits for
commerce, but that his childhood had been passed in Picardy in the
beautiful meadows where the grass grew as high as the knees, and where he
had played under the green apple-trees covered with red-cheeked fruit; he
went on to say, that he had solemnly promised himself that as soon as he
should have made his fortune, he would return to nature, and end his
days, as he had begun them, as near as he possibly could to the earth
itself, where all men must sleep at last.
"Eh, eh!" said Porthos; "in that case, my dear Monsieur Planchet, your
retirement is not far distant."
"Why, you seem to be in the way of making your fortune very soon."
"Well, we are getting on pretty well, I must admit," replied Planchet.
"Come, tell me what is the extent of your ambition, and what is the
amount you intend to retire upon?"
"There is one circumstance, monsieur," said Planchet, without answering
the question, "which occasions me a good deal of anxiety."
"What is it?" inquired Porthos, looking all round him as if in search of
the circumstance that annoyed Planchet, and desirous of freeing him from
"Why, formerly," said the grocer, "you used to call me Planchet quite
short, and you would have spoken to me then in a much more familiar
manner than you do now."
"Certainly, certainly, I should have said so formerly," replied the good-
natured Porthos, with an embarrassment full of delicacy; "but formerly - "
"Formerly I was M. d'Artagnan's lackey; is not that what you mean?"
"Well if I am not quite his lackey, I am as much as ever I was his
devoted servant; and more than that, since that time - "
"Since that time, I have had the honor of being in partnership with him."
"Oh, oh!" said Porthos. "What, has D'Artagnan gone into the grocery
"No, no," said D'Artagnan, whom these words had drawn out of his reverie,
and who entered into the conversation with that readiness and rapidity
which distinguished every operation of his mind and body. "It was not
D'Artagnan who entered into the grocery business, but Planchet who
entered into a political affair with me."
"Yes," said Planchet, with mingled pride and satisfaction, "we transacted
a little business which brought me in a hundred thousand francs and M.
d'Artagnan two hundred thousand."
"Oh, oh!" said Porthos, with admiration.
"So that, monsieur le baron," continued the grocer, "I again beg you to
be kind enough to call me Planchet, as you used to do; and to speak to me
as familiarly as in old times. You cannot possibly imagine the pleasure
it would give me."
"If that be the case, my dear Planchet, I will do so, certainly," replied
Porthos. And as he was quite close to Planchet, he raised his hand, as
if to strike him on the shoulder, in token of friendly cordiality; but a
fortunate movement of the horse made him miss his aim, so that his hand
fell on the crupper of Planchet's horse, instead; which made the animal's
legs almost give way.
D'Artagnan burst out laughing, as he said, "Take care, Planchet; for if
Porthos begins to like you so much, he will caress you, and if he
caresses you he will knock you as flat as a pancake. Porthos is still
as strong as every, you know."
"Oh," said Planchet, "Mousqueton is not dead, and yet monsieur le baron
is very fond of him."
"Certainly," said Porthos, with a sigh which made all the three horses
rear; "and I was only saying, this very morning, to D'Artagnan, how much
I regretted him. But tell me, Planchet?"
"Thank you, monsieur le baron, thank you."
"Good lad, good lad! How many acres of park have you got?"
"Yes; we will reckon up the meadows presently, and the woods afterwards."
"At your chateau."
"Oh, monsieur le baron, I have neither chateau, nor park, nor meadows,
"What have you got, then?" inquired Porthos, "and why do you call it a
"I did not call it a country-seat, monsieur le baron," replied Planchet,
somewhat humiliated, "but a country-box."
"Ah, ah! I understand. You are modest."
"No, monsieur le baron, I speak the plain truth. I have rooms for a
couple of friends, that's all."
"But in that case, whereabouts do your friends walk?"
"In the first place, they can walk about the king's forest, which is very
"Yes, I know the forest is very fine," said Porthos; "nearly as beautiful
as my forest at Berry."
Planchet opened his eyes very wide. "Have you a forest of the same kind
as the forest at Fontainebleau, monsieur le baron?" he stammered out.
"Yes; I have two, indeed, but the one at Berry is my favorite."
"Why so?" asked Planchet.
"Because I don't know where it ends; and, also, because it is full of
"How can the poachers make the forest so agreeable to you?"
"Because they hunt my game, and I hunt them - which, in these peaceful
times, is for me a sufficiently pleasing picture of war on a small scale."
They had reached this turn of conversation, when Planchet, looking up,
perceived the houses at the commencement of Fontainebleau, the lofty
outlines of which stood out strongly against the misty visage of the
heavens; whilst, rising above the compact and irregularly formed mass of
buildings, the pointed roofs of the chateau were clearly visible, the
slates of which glistened beneath the light of the moon, like the scales
of an immense fish. "Gentlemen," said Planchet, "I have the honor to
inform you that we have arrived at Fontainebleau."
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