Alexandre Dumas: Twenty Years After

24. The timely Arrival of D'Artagnan in Paris. (continued)

"When will you do that?"

"Immediately, I hope."

"Ah! so much the better!"

To that exclamation of Porthos's succeeded a groaning, low and profound, which seemed to come from behind a door. D'Artagnan, who had just dismounted, then saw, outlined against the wall, the enormous stomach of Mousqueton, whose down-drawn mouth emitted sounds of distress.

"And you, too, my poor Monsieur Mouston, are out of place in this poor hotel, are you not?" asked D'Artagnan, in that rallying tone which may indicate either compassion or mockery.

"He finds the cooking detestable," replied Porthos.

"Why, then, doesn't he attend to it himself, as at Chantilly?"

"Ah, monsieur, I have not here, as I had there, the ponds of monsieur le prince, where I could catch those beautiful carp, nor the forests of his highness to provide me with partridges. As for the cellar, I have searched every part and poor stuff I found."

"Monsieur Mouston," said D'Artagnan, "I should indeed condole with you had I not at this moment something very pressing to attend to."

Then taking Porthos aside:

"My dear Du Vallon," he said, "here you are in full dress most fortunately, for I am going to take you to the cardinal's."

"Gracious me! really!" exclaimed Porthos, opening his great wondering eyes.

"Yes, my friend."

"A presentation? indeed!"

"Does that alarm you?"

"No, but it agitates me."

"Oh! don't be distressed; you have to deal with a cardinal of another kind. This one will not oppress you by his dignity."

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