On the first Monday of the month of April, 1625, the market town\x0d of Meung, in which the author of ROMANCE OF THE ROSE was born,\x0d appeared to be in as perfect a state of revolution as if the\x0d Huguenots had just made a second La Rochelle of it. Many\x0d citizens, seeing the women flying toward the High Street, leaving\x0d their children crying at the open doors, hastened to don the\x0d cuirass, and supporting their somewhat uncertain courage with a\x0d musket or a partisan, directed their steps toward the hostelry of\x0d the Jolly Miller, before which was gathered, increasing every\x0d minute, a compact group, vociferous and full of curiosity.\x0d \x0d In those times panics were common, and few days passed without\x0d some city or other registering in its archives an event of this\x0d kind. There were nobles, who made war against each other; there\x0d was the king, who made war against the cardinal; there was Spain,\x0d which made war against the king. Then, in addition to these\x0d concealed or public, secret or open wars, there were robbers,\x0d mendicants, Huguenots, wolves, and scoundrels, who made war upon\x0d everybody. The citizens always took up arms readily against\x0d thieves, wolves or scoundrels, often against nobles or Huguenots,\x0d sometimes against the king, but never against cardinal or Spain.\x0d It resulted, then, from this habit that on the said first Monday\x0d of April, 1625, the citizens, on hearing the clamor, and seeing\x0d neither the red-and-yellow standard nor the livery of the Duc de\x0d Richelieu, rushed toward the hostel of the Jolly Miller. When\x0d arrived there, the cause of the hubbub was apparent to all.\x0d \x0d A young man--we can sketch his portrait at a dash. Imagine to\x0d yourself a Don Quixote of eighteen; a Don Quixote without his\x0d corselet, without his coat of mail, without his cuisses; a Don\x0d Quixote clothed in a woolen doublet, the blue color of which had\x0d faded into a nameless shade between lees of wine and a heavenly\x0d azure; face long and brown; high cheek bones, a sign of sagacity;\x0d the maxillary muscles enormously developed, an infallible sign by\x0d which a Gascon may always be detected, even without his cap--and\x0d our young man wore a cap set off with a sort of feather; the eye\x0d open and intelligent; the nose hooked, but finely chiseled. Too\x0d big for a youth, too small for a grown man, an experienced eye\x0d might have taken him for a farmer's son upon a journey had it not\x0d been for the long sword which, dangling from a leather baldric,\x0d hit against the calves of its owner as he walked, and against the\x0d rough side of his steed when he was on horseback.\x0d \x0d For our young man had a steed which was the observed of all\x0d observers. It was a Bearn pony, from twelve to fourteen years\x0d old, yellow in his hide, without a hair in his tail, but not\x0d without windgalls on his legs, which, though going with his head\x0d lower than his knees, rendering a martingale quite unnecessary,\x0d contrived nevertheless to perform his eight leagues a day.\x0d Unfortunately, the qualities of this horse were so well concealed\x0d under his strange-colored hide and his unaccountable gait, that\x0d at a time when everybody was a connoisseur in horseflesh, the\x0d appearance of the aforesaid pony at Meung--which place he had\x0d entered about a quarter of an hour before, by the gate of\x0d Beaugency--produced an unfavorable feeling, which extended to his\x0d rider.\x0d \x0d And this feeling had been more painfully perceived by young\x0d d'Artagnan--for so was the Don Quixote of this second Rosinante\x0d named--from his not being able to conceal from himself the\x0d ridiculous appearance that such a steed gave him, good horseman\x0d as he was. He had sighed deeply, therefore, when accepting the\x0d gift of the pony from M. d'Artagnan the elder. He was not\x0d ignorant that such a beast was worth at least twenty livres; and\x0d the words which had accompanied the present were above all price.\x0d \x0d "My son," said the old Gascon gentleman, in that pure Bearn\x0d PATOIS of which Henry IV could never rid himself, "this horse was\x0d born in the house of your father about thirteen years ago, and\x0d has remained in it ever since, which ought to make you love it.\x0d Never sell it; allow it to die tranquilly and honorably of old\x0d age, and if you make a campaign with it, take as much care of it\x0d as you would of an old servant. At court, provided you have ever\x0d the honor to go there," continued M. d'Artagnan the elder, "--an\x0d honor to which, remember, your ancient nobility gives you the\x0d right--sustain worthily your name of gentleman, which has been\x0d worthily borne by your ancestors for five hundred years, both for\x0d your own sake and the sake of those who belong to you. By the\x0d latter I mean your relatives and friends. Endure nothing from\x0d anyone except Monsieur the Cardinal and the king. It is by his\x0d courage, please observe, by his courage alone, that a gentleman\x0d can make his way nowadays. Whoever hesitates for a second\x0d perhaps allows the bait to escape which during that exact second\x0d fortune held out to him. You are young. You ought to be brave\x0d for two reasons: the first is that you are a Gascon, and the\x0d second is that you are my son. Never fear quarrels, but seek\x0d adventures. I have taught you how to handle a sword; you have\x0d thews of iron, a wrist of steel. Fight on all occasions. Fight\x0d the more for duels being forbidden, since consequently there is\x0d twice as much courage in fighting. I have nothing to give you,\x0d my son, but fifteen crowns, my horse, and the counsels you have\x0d just heard. Your mother will add to them a recipe for a certain\x0d balsam, which she had from a Bohemian and which has the\x0d miraculous virtue of curing all wounds that do not reach the\x0d heart. Take advantage of all, and live happily and long. I have\x0d but one word to add, and that is to propose an example to you--\x0d not mine, for I myself have never appeared at court, and have\x0d only taken part in religious wars as a volunteer; I speak of\x0d Monsieur de Treville, who was formerly my neighbor, and who had\x0d the honor to be, as a child, the play-fellow of our king, Louis\x0d XIII, whom God preserve! Sometimes their play degenerated into\x0d battles, and in these battles the king was not always the\x0d stronger. The blows which he received increased greatly his\x0d esteem and friendship for Monsieur de Treville. Afterward,\x0d Monsieur de Treville fought with others: in his first journey to\x0d Paris, five times; from the death of the late king till the young\x0d one came of age, without reckoning wars and sieges, seven times;\x0d and from that date up to the present day, a hundred times,\x0d perhaps! So that in spite of edicts, ordinances, and decrees,\x0d there he is, captain of the Musketeers; that is to say, chief of\x0d a legion of Caesars, whom the king holds in great esteem and whom\x0d the cardinal dreads--he who dreads nothing, as it is said. Still\x0d further, Monsieur de Treville gains ten thousand crowns a year;\x0d he is therefore a great noble. He began as you begin. Go to him\x0d with this letter, and make him your model in order that you may\x0d do as he has done."\x0d \x0d Upon which M. d'Artagnan the elder girded his own sword round his\x0d son, kissed him tenderly on both cheeks, and gave him his\x0d benediction.\x0d \x0d On leaving the paternal chamber, the young man found his mother,\x0d who was waiting for him with the famous recipe of which the\x0d counsels we have just repeated would necessitate frequent\x0d employment. The adieux were on this side longer and more tender\x0d than they had been on the other--not that M. d'Artagnan did not\x0d love his son, who was his only offspring, but M. d'Artagnan was a\x0d man, and he would have considered it unworthy of a man to give\x0d way to his feelings; whereas Mme. d'Artagnan was a woman, and\x0d still more, a mother. She wept abundantly; and--let us speak it\x0d to the praise of M. d'Artagnan the younger--notwithstanding the\x0d efforts he made to remain firm, as a future Musketeer ought,\x0d nature prevailed, and he shed many tears, of which he succeeded\x0d with great difficulty in concealing the half.\x0d \x0d The same day the young man set forward on his journey, furnished\x0d with the three paternal gifts, which consisted, as we have said,\x0d of fifteen crowns, the horse, and the letter for M. de Treville--\x0d the counsels being thrown into the bargain.\x0d \x0d With such a VADE MECUM d'Artagnan was morally and physically an\x0d exact copy of the hero of Cervantes, to whom we so happily\x0d compared him when our duty of an historian placed us under the\x0d necessity of sketching his portrait. Don Quixote took windmills\x0d for giants, and sheep for armies; d'Artagnan took every smile for\x0d an insult, and every look as a provocation--whence it resulted\x0d that from Tarbes to Meung his fist was constantly doubled, or his\x0d hand on the hilt of his sword; and yet the fist did not descend\x0d upon any jaw, nor did the sword issue from its scabbard. It was\x0d not that the sight of the wretched pony did not excite numerous\x0d smiles on the countenances of passers-by; but as against the side\x0d of this pony rattled a sword of respectable length, and as over\x0d this sword gleamed an eye rather ferocious than haughty, these\x0d passers-by repressed their hilarity, or if hilarity prevailed\x0d over prudence, they endeavored to laugh only on one side, like\x0d the masks of the ancients. D'Artagnan, then, remained majestic\x0d and intact in his susceptibility, till he came to this unlucky\x0d city of Meung.
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