“Bah！ I have passed， perhaps， ten times through Chantilly， and out of the ten times I have stopped at least three or four times at your house. Why， I was here only ten or twelve days ago. I was conducting some friends， musketeers， one of whom， by-the-bye， had a dispute with a stranger， a man who， for some unknown reason， sought a quarrel with him.”
“Ah， exactly so！” said the host； “I remember it perfectly. Is it not M. Porthos that your Lordship means？”
“Yes； that is my companion’s name. Good Heavens！ my dear host， has any misfortune happened to him？”
“Your honour must have observed that he could not continue his journey.”
“Why， but he promised to rejoin us， and we have seen nothing of him.”
“He has done us the honour of remaining here.”
“Well， can I see Porthos？”
“Certainly， sir. Take the stairs on your right； go up the first flight， and knock at No. I. Only warn him that it is you.”
“Warn him！ Why should I do that？”
“Nobody enters his chamber except his servant.”
“What！ Mousqueton is here， then？”
“Yes， sir； five days after his departure he came back in a very bad humour. It appears that he had also met with unpleasant experiences on his journey. Unfortunately he is more nimble that his master， so that for his master’s sake he turns everything upside down； and as he thinks we might refuse what he asks for， he takes all he wants without asking at all.”
“And what took place？”
“Oh， the affair was not long， I assure you. They placed themselves on guard. The stranger made a feint and a lunge， and that so rapidly that when M. de Porthos came to parry he had already three inches of steel in his breast. He fell on his back. The stranger immediately placed the point of his sword on his throat； and M. Porthos， finding himself at the mercy of his adversary， confessed himself conquered. Whereupon the stranger asked his name， and learning that it was Porthos， and not D’Artagnan， assisted him to rise， brought him back to the hotel， mounted his horse， and disappeared.”
“Very well. Now I know all that I wished to know. Porthos’s room is， you say， on the first story， No. I？”
Saying these words， D’Artagnan went upstairs. At the top of the stairs， on the most conspicuous door of the corridor， was traced in black ink a gigantic “No. I.” D’Artagnan knocked， and upon being told from inside to enter， went into the chamber.
Porthos was in bed， and was playing a game of lansquenet with Mousqueton， to keep his hand in， while a spit loaded with patridges was turning before the fire， and at each side of a large chimney-piece， over two chafing-dishes， were boiling two stewpans， from which exhaled a double odour of rabbit and garlic stews， very grateful to the olfactory nerves. In addition to this， he perceived that the top of a wardrobe and the marble of a stand were covered with empty bottles.
At the sight of his friend Porthos uttered a loud cry of joy； and Mousqueton， rising respectfully， yielded his place to him， and went to give an eye to the two stewpans， over which he appeared to have especial care.
“Ah， zounds！ is that you？” said Porthos to D’Artagnan. “Welcome！ Excuse my not coming to meet you. But，” added he， looking at D’Artagnan with a certain degree of uneasiness， “you know what has happened to me？”
“Has the landlord told you nothing， then？”
“I asked after you， and came straight up.”
Porthos seemed to breathe more freely.
“And what， then， has happened to you， my dear Porthos？” continued D’Artagnan.
“Why， on making a thrust at my adversary， whom I had already hit three times， and with whom I meant to finish by a fourth， my foot slipped on a stone， and I sprained my knee.”
“Honour bright！ Luckily for the rascal， for I should have left him dead on the spot， I assure you.”
“And what became of him？”
“Oh， I don’t know. He had enough， and set off without wanting any more. But you， my dear D’Artagnan， what has happened to you？”
“So that this sprain，” continued D’Artagnan， “my dear Porthos， keeps you here in bed？”
“Really that’s all！ I shall be about again， however， in a few days.”
While Porthos and Mousqueton were breakfasting with the appetites of convalescents， and with that brotherly cordiality which unites men in misfortune， D’Artagnan related how Aramis had been wounded， and was obliged to stop at Crèvec？ur； how he had left Athos fighting at Amiens with four men， who accused him of being a counterfeiter； and how he， D’Artagnan， had been forced to pass over the Comte de Wardes’s body in order to reach England.
But there D’Artagnan’s disclosure ended.
At that moment Planchet entered. He informed his master that the horses were sufficiently refreshed， and that it would be possible to sleep at Clermont.
As D’Artagnan was tolerably reassured with regard to Porthos， and as he was anxious to obtain news of his two other friends， he held out his hand to the sick man， and told him he was going to resume his route in order to prosecute his researches. However， as he reckoned upon returning by the same road， if， in seven or eight days， Porthos were still at the hotel of the Great St. Martin， he would call for him on his way.
Porthos replied that， according to all probability， his sprain would not permit him to depart during that time.
D’Artagnan， after having again recommended Porthos to the care of Mousqueton， and paid his reckoning to the landlord， resumed his route with Planchet.