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On the first Monday of the month of April, 1625, the market town
of Meung, in which the author of ROMANCE OF THE ROSE was born,
appeared to be in as perfect a state of revolution as if the
Huguenots had just made a second La Rochelle of it.  Many
citizens, seeing the women flying toward the High Street, leaving
their children crying at the open doors, hastened to don the
cuirass, and supporting their somewhat uncertain courage with a
musket or a partisan, directed their steps toward the hostelry of
the Jolly Miller, before which was gathered, increasing every
minute, a compact group, vociferous and full of curiosity.

In those times panics were common, and few days passed without
some city or other registering in its archives an event of this
kind.  There were nobles, who made war against each other; there
was the king, who made war against the cardinal; there was Spain,
which made war against the king.  Then, in addition to these
concealed or public, secret or open wars, there were robbers,
mendicants, Huguenots, wolves, and scoundrels, who made war upon
everybody.  The citizens always took up arms readily against
thieves, wolves or scoundrels, often against nobles or Huguenots,
sometimes against the king, but never against cardinal or Spain.
It resulted, then, from this habit that on the said first Monday
of April, 1625, the citizens, on hearing the clamor, and seeing
neither the red-and-yellow standard nor the livery of the Duc de
Richelieu, rushed toward the hostel of the Jolly Miller.  When
arrived there, the cause of the hubbub was apparent to all.

A young man--we can sketch his portrait at a dash.  Imagine to
yourself a Don Quixote of eighteen; a Don Quixote without his
corselet, without his coat of mail, without his cuisses; a Don
Quixote clothed in a woolen doublet, the blue color of which had
faded into a nameless shade between lees of wine and a heavenly
azure; face long and brown; high cheek bones, a sign of sagacity;
the maxillary muscles enormously developed, an infallible sign by
which a Gascon may always be detected, even without his cap--and
our young man wore a cap set off with a sort of feather; the eye
open and intelligent; the nose hooked, but finely chiseled.  Too
big for a youth, too small for a grown man, an experienced eye
might have taken him for a farmer's son upon a journey had it not
been for the long sword which, dangling from a leather baldric,
hit against the calves of its owner as he walked, and against the
rough side of his steed when he was on horseback.

For our young man had a steed which was the observed of all
observers.  It was a Bearn pony, from twelve to fourteen years
old, yellow in his hide, without a hair in his tail, but not
without windgalls on his legs, which, though going with his head
lower than his knees, rendering a martingale quite unnecessary,
contrived nevertheless to perform his eight leagues a day.
Unfortunately, the qualities of this horse were so well concealed
under his strange-colored hide and his unaccountable gait, that
at a time when everybody was a connoisseur in horseflesh, the
appearance of the aforesaid pony at Meung--which place he had
entered about a quarter of an hour before, by the gate of
Beaugency--produced an unfavorable feeling, which extended to his
rider.

And this feeling had been more painfully perceived by young
d'Artagnan--for so was the Don Quixote of this second Rosinante
named--from his not being able to conceal from himself the
ridiculous appearance that such a steed gave him, good horseman
as he was.  He had sighed deeply, therefore, when accepting the
gift of the pony from M. d'Artagnan the elder.  He was not
ignorant that such a beast was worth at least twenty livres; and
the words which had accompanied the present were above all price.

"My son," said the old Gascon gentleman, in that pure Bearn
PATOIS of which Henry IV could never rid himself, "this horse was
born in the house of your father about thirteen years ago, and
has remained in it ever since, which ought to make you love it.
Never sell it; allow it to die tranquilly and honorably of old
age, and if you make a campaign with it, take as much care of it
as you would of an old servant.  At court, provided you have ever
the honor to go there," continued M. d'Artagnan the elder, "--an
honor to which, remember, your ancient nobility gives you the
right--sustain worthily your name of gentleman, which has been
worthily borne by your ancestors for five hundred years, both for
your own sake and the sake of those who belong to you.  By the
latter I mean your relatives and friends.  Endure nothing from
anyone except Monsieur the Cardinal and the king.  It is by his
courage, please observe, by his courage alone, that a gentleman
can make his way nowadays.  Whoever hesitates for a second
perhaps allows the bait to escape which during that exact second
fortune held out to him.  You are young.  You ought to be brave
for two reasons:  the first is that you are a Gascon, and the
second is that you are my son.  Never fear quarrels, but seek
adventures.  I have taught you how to handle a sword; you have
thews of iron, a wrist of steel.  Fight on all occasions.  Fight
the more for duels being forbidden, since consequently there is
twice as much courage in fighting.  I have nothing to give you,
my son, but fifteen crowns, my horse, and the counsels you have
just heard.  Your mother will add to them a recipe for a certain
balsam, which she had from a Bohemian and which has the
miraculous virtue of curing all wounds that do not reach the
heart.  Take advantage of all, and live happily and long.  I have
but one word to add, and that is to propose an example to you--
not mine, for I myself have never appeared at court, and have
only taken part in religious wars as a volunteer; I speak of
Monsieur de Treville, who was formerly my neighbor, and who had
the honor to be, as a child, the play-fellow of our king, Louis
XIII, whom God preserve!  Sometimes their play degenerated into
battles, and in these battles the king was not always the
stronger.  The blows which he received increased greatly his
esteem and friendship for Monsieur de Treville.  Afterward,
Monsieur de Treville fought with others: in his first journey to
Paris, five times; from the death of the late king till the young
one came of age, without reckoning wars and sieges, seven times;
and from that date up to the present day, a hundred times,
perhaps!  So that in spite of edicts, ordinances, and decrees,
there he is, captain of the Musketeers; that is to say, chief of
a legion of Caesars, whom the king holds in great esteem and whom
the cardinal dreads--he who dreads nothing, as it is said.  Still
further, Monsieur de Treville gains ten thousand crowns a year;
he is therefore a great noble.  He began as you begin.  Go to him
with this letter, and make him your model in order that you may
do as he has done."

Upon which M. d'Artagnan the elder girded his own sword round his
son, kissed him tenderly on both cheeks, and gave him his
benediction.

On leaving the paternal chamber, the young man found his mother,
who was waiting for him with the famous recipe of which the
counsels we have just repeated would necessitate frequent
employment.  The adieux were on this side longer and more tender
than they had been on the other--not that M. d'Artagnan did not
love his son, who was his only offspring, but M. d'Artagnan was a
man, and he would have considered it unworthy of a man to give
way to his feelings; whereas Mme. d'Artagnan was a woman, and
still more, a mother.  She wept abundantly; and--let us speak it
to the praise of M. d'Artagnan the younger--notwithstanding the
efforts he made to remain firm, as a future Musketeer ought,
nature prevailed, and he shed many tears, of which he succeeded
with great difficulty in concealing the half.

The same day the young man set forward on his journey, furnished
with the three paternal gifts, which consisted, as we have said,
of fifteen crowns, the horse, and the letter for M. de Treville--
the counsels being thrown into the bargain.

With such a VADE MECUM d'Artagnan was morally and physically an
exact copy of the hero of Cervantes, to whom we so happily
compared him when our duty of an historian placed us under the
necessity of sketching his portrait.  Don Quixote took windmills
for giants, and sheep for armies; d'Artagnan took every smile for
an insult, and every look as a provocation--whence it resulted
that from Tarbes to Meung his fist was constantly doubled, or his
hand on the hilt of his sword; and yet the fist did not descend
upon any jaw, nor did the sword issue from its scabbard.  It was
not that the sight of the wretched pony did not excite numerous
smiles on the countenances of passers-by; but as against the side
of this pony rattled a sword of respectable length, and as over
this sword gleamed an eye rather ferocious than haughty, these
passers-by repressed their hilarity, or if hilarity prevailed
over prudence, they endeavored to laugh only on one side, like
the masks of the ancients.  D'Artagnan, then, remained majestic
and intact in his susceptibility, till he came to this unlucky
city of Meung.

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