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Chapter 7

Chapter VII:
How Porthos, Truchen, and Planchet Parted with Each Other on Friendly
Terms, Thanks to D'Artagnan.

There was good living in Planchet's house. Porthos broke a ladder and
two cherry-trees, stripped the raspberry-bushes, and was only unable to
succeed in reaching the strawberry-beds on account, as he said, of his
belt. Truchen, who had become quite sociable with the giant, said that
it was not the belt so much as his corporation; and Porthos, in a state
of the highest delight, embraced Truchen, who gathered him a pailful of
the strawberries, and made him eat them out of her hands. D'Artagnan,
who arrived in the midst of these little innocent flirtations, scolded
Porthos for his indolence, and silently pitied Planchet. Porthos
breakfasted with a very good appetite, and when he had finished, he said,
looking at Truchen, "I could make myself very happy here." Truchen
smiled at his remark, and so did Planchet, but not without embarrassment.

D'Artagnan then addressed Porthos: "You must not let the delights of
Capua make you forget the real object of our journey to Fontainebleau."

"My presentation to the king?"

"Certainly. I am going to take a turn in the town to get everything
ready for that. Do not think of leaving the house, I beg."

"Oh, no!" exclaimed Porthos.

Planchet looked at D'Artagnan nervously.

"Will you be away long?" he inquired.

"No, my friend; and this very evening I will release you from two
troublesome guests."

"Oh! Monsieur d'Artagnan! can you say - "

"No, no; you are a noble-hearted fellow, but your house is very small.
Such a house, with half a dozen acres of land, would be fit for a king,
and make him very happy, too. But you were not born a great lord."

"No more was M. Porthos," murmured Planchet.

"But he has become so, my good fellow; his income has been a hundred
thousand francs a year for the last twenty years, and for the last fifty
years Porthos has been the owner of a couple of fists and a backbone,
which are not to be matched throughout the whole realm of France.
Porthos is a man of the very greatest consequence compared to you, and...
well, I need say no more, for I know you are an intelligent fellow."

"No, no, monsieur, explain what you mean."

"Look at your orchard, how stripped it is, how empty your larder, your
bedstead broken, your cellar almost exhausted, look too… at Madame
Truchen - "

"Oh! my goodness gracious!" said Planchet.

"Madame Truchen is an excellent person," continued D'Artagnan, "but keep
her for yourself, do you understand?" and he slapped him on the shoulder.

Planchet at this moment perceived Porthos and Truchen sitting close
together in an arbor; Truchen, with a grace of manner peculiarly Flemish,
was making a pair of earrings for Porthos out of a double cherry, while
Porthos was laughing as amorously as Samson in the company of Delilah.
Planchet pressed D'Artagnan's hand, and ran towards the arbor. We must
do Porthos the justice to say that he did not move as they approached,
and, very likely, he did not think he was doing any harm. Nor indeed did
Truchen move either, which rather put Planchet out; but he, too, had been
so accustomed to see fashionable folk in his shop, that he found no
difficulty in putting a good countenance on what seemed disagreeable or
rude. Planchet seized Porthos by the arm, and proposed to go and look at
the horses, but Porthos pretended he was tired. Planchet then suggested
that the Baron du Vallon should taste some noyeau of his own manufacture,
which was not to be equaled anywhere; an offer the baron immediately
accepted; and, in this way, Planchet managed to engage his enemy's
attention during the whole of the day, by dint of sacrificing his cellar,
in preference to his _amour propre_. Two hours afterwards D'Artagnan
returned.

"Everything is arranged," he said; "I saw his majesty at the very moment
he was setting off for the chase; the king expects us this evening."

"The king expects _me!_" cried Porthos, drawing himself up. It is a sad
thing to have to confess, but a man's heart is like an ocean billow; for,
from that very moment Porthos ceased to look at Madame Truchen in that
touching manner which had so softened her heart. Planchet encouraged
these ambitious leanings as best as he could. He talked over, or rather
gave exaggerated accounts of all the splendors of the last reign, its
battles, sieges, and grand court ceremonies. He spoke of the luxurious
display which the English made; the prizes the three brave companions
carried off; and how D'Artagnan, who at the beginning had been the
humblest of the four, finished by becoming the leader. He fired Porthos
with a generous feeling of enthusiasm by reminding him of his early youth
now passed away; he boasted as much as he could of the moral life this
great lord had led, and how religiously he respected the ties of
friendship; he was eloquent, and skillful in his choice of subjects. He
tickled Porthos, frightened Truchen, and made D'Artagnan think. At six
o'clock, the musketeer ordered the horses to be brought round, and told
Porthos to get ready. He thanked Planchet for his kind hospitality,
whispered a few words about a post he might succeed in obtaining for him
at court, which immediately raised Planchet in Truchen's estimation,
where the poor grocer - so good, so generous, so devoted - had become
much lowered ever since the appearance and comparison with him of the two
great gentlemen. Such, however, is a woman's nature; they are anxious to
possess what they have not got, and disdain it as soon as it is
acquired. After having rendered this service to his friend Planchet,
D'Artagnan said in a low tone of voice to Porthos: "That is a very
beautiful ring you have on your finger."

"It is worth three hundred pistoles," said Porthos.

"Madame Truchen will remember you better if you leave her that ring,"
replied D'Artagnan, a suggestion which Porthos seemed to hesitate to
adopt.

"You think it is not beautiful enough, perhaps," said the musketeer. "I
understand your feelings; a great lord such as you would not think of
accepting the hospitality of an old servant without paying him most
handsomely for it: but I am sure that Planchet is too good-hearted a
fellow to remember that you have an income of a hundred thousand francs a
year."

"I have more than half a mind," said Porthos, flattered by the remark,
"to make Madame Truchen a present of my little farm at Bracieux; it has
twelve acres."

"It is too much, my good Porthos, too much just at present... Keep it
for a future occasion." He then took the ring off Porthos's finger, and
approaching Truchen, said to her: - "Madame, monsieur le baron hardly
knows how to entreat you, out of your regard for him, to accept this
little ring. M. du Vallon is one of the most generous and discreet men
of my acquaintance. He wished to offer you a farm that he has at
Bracieux, but I dissuaded him from it."

"Oh!" said Truchen, looking eagerly at the diamond.

"Monsieur le baron!" exclaimed Planchet, quite overcome.

"My good friend," stammered out Porthos, delighted at having been so well
represented by D'Artagnan. These several exclamations, uttered at the
same moment, made quite a pathetic winding-up of a day which might have
finished in a very ridiculous manner. But D'Artagnan was there, and, on
every occasion, wheresoever D'Artagnan exercised any control, matters
ended only just in the very way he wished and willed. There were general
embracings; Truchen, whom the baron's munificence had restored to her
proper position, very timidly, and blushing all the while, presented her
forehead to the great lord with whom she had been on such very pretty
terms the evening before. Planchet himself was overcome by a feeling of
genuine humility. Still, in the same generosity of disposition, Porthos
would have emptied his pockets into the hands of the cook and of
Celestin; but D'Artagnan stopped him.

"No," he said, "it is now my turn." And he gave one pistole to the woman
and two to the man; and the benedictions which were showered down upon
them would have rejoiced the heart of Harpagon himself, and have rendered
even him a prodigal.

D'Artagnan made Planchet lead them to the chateau, and introduced Porthos
into his own apartment, where he arrived safely without having been
perceived by those he was afraid of meeting.

Alexandre Dumas pere