"Milady," faltered D'Artagnan, and fainted a second time."Ah, it's all one," said the host; "I have lost two customers,but this one remains, of whom I am pretty certain for some daysto come. There will be eleven crowns gained."
It is to be remembered that eleven crowns was just the sum thatremained in D'Artagnan's purse.
The host had reckoned upon eleven days of confinement at a crowna day, but he had reckoned without his guest. On the followingmorning at five o'clock D'Artagnan arose, and descending to thekitchen without help, asked, among other ingredients the list ofwhich has not come down to us, for some oil, some wine, and somerosemary, and with his mother's recipe in his hand composed abalsam, with which he anointed his numerous wounds, replacing hisbandages himself, and positively refusing the assistance of anydoctor, D'Artagnan walked about that same evening, and was almostcured by the morrow.
But when the time came to pay for his rosemary, this oil, and thewine, the only expense the master had incurred, as he hadpreserved a strict abstinence--while on the contrary, the yellowhorse, by the account of the hostler at least, had eaten threetimes as much as a horse of his size could reasonably supposed tohave done--D'Artagnan found nothing in his pocket but his littleold velvet purse with the eleven crowns it contained; for as tothe letter addressed to M. de Treville, it had disappeared.The young man commenced his search for the letter with thegreatest patience, turning out his pockets of all kinds over andover again, rummaging and rerummaging in his valise, and openingand reopening his purse; but when he found that he had come tothe conviction that the letter was not to be found, he flew, forthe third time, into such a rage as was near costing him a freshconsumption of wine, oil, and rosemary--for upon seeing this hot-headed youth become exasperated and threaten to destroyeverything in the establishment if his letter were not found, thehost seized a spit, his wife a broom handle, and the servants thesame sticks they had used the day before.
"My letter of recommendation!" cried D'Artagnan, "my letter ofrecommendation! or, the holy blood, I will spit you all likeortolans!"
Unfortunately, there was one circumstance which created apowerful obstacle to the accomplishment of this threat; whichwas, as we have related, that his sword had been in his firstconflict broken in two, and which he had entirely forgotten.Hence, it resulted when D'Artagnan proceeded to draw his sword inearnest, he found himself purely and simply armed with a stump ofa sword about eight or ten inches in length, which the host hadcarefully placed in the scabbard. As to the rest of the blade,the master had slyly put that on one side to make himself alarding pin.
But this deception would probably not have stopped our fieryyoung man if the host had not reflected that the reclamationwhich his guest made was perfectly just.
"But, after all," said he, lowering the point of his spit, "whereis this letter?"
"Yes, where is this letter?" cried D'Artagnan. "In the firstplace, I warn you that that letter is for Monsieur de Treville,and it must be found, he will not know how to find it."His threat completed the intimidation of the host. After theking and the cardinal, M. de Treville was the man whose name wasperhaps most frequently repeated by the military, and even bycitizens. There was, to be sure, Father Joseph, but his name wasnever pronounced but with a subdued voice, such was the terrorinspired by his Gray Eminence, as the cardinal's familiar wascalled.
Throwing down his spit, and ordering his wife to do the same withher broom handle, and the servants with their sticks, he set thefirst example of commencing an earnest search for the lostletter.
"Does the letter contain anything valuable?" demanded the host,after a few minutes of useless investigation.
"Zounds! I think it does indeed!" cried the Gascon, who reckonedupon this letter for making his way at court. "It contained myfortune!"
"Bills upon Spain?" asked the disturbed host.
"Bills upon his Majesty's private treasury," answered D'Artagnan,who, reckoning upon entering into the king's service inconsequence of this recommendation, believed he could make thissomewhat hazardous reply without telling of a falsehood."The devil!" cried the host, at his wit's end.
"But it's of no importance," continued D'Artagnan, with naturalassurance; "it's of no importance. The money is nothing; thatletter was everything. I would rather have lost a thousandpistoles than have lost it." He would not have risked more if hehad said twenty thousand; but a certain juvenile modestyrestrained him.
A ray of light all at once broke upon the mind of the host as hewas giving himself to the devil upon finding nothing."That letter is not lost!" cried he.
"What!" cried D'Artagnan.
"No, it has been stolen from you."
"Stolen? By whom?"