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27. The four old Friends prepare to meet again.
"Well," said Porthos, seated in the courtyard of the Hotel de la Chevrette, to D'Artagnan, who, with a long and melancholy face, had returned from the Palais Royal; "did he receive you ungraciously, my dear friend?"
"I'faith, yes! a brute, that cardinal. What are you eating there, Porthos?"
"I am dipping a biscuit in a glass of Spanish wine; do the same."
"You are right. Gimblou, a glass of wine."
"Well, how has all gone off?"
"Zounds! you know there's only one way of saying things, so I went in and said, `My lord, we were not the strongest party.'
"`Yes, I know that,' he said, `but give me the particulars.'
"You know, Porthos, I could not give him the particulars without naming our friends; to name them would be to commit them to ruin, so I merely said they were fifty and we were two.
"`There was firing, nevertheless, I heard,' he said; `and your swords -- they saw the light of day, I presume?'
"`That is, the night, my lord,' I answered.
"`Ah!' cried the cardinal, `I thought you were a Gascon, my friend?'
"`I am a Gascon,' said I, `only when I succeed.' The answer pleased him and he laughed.
"`That will teach me,' he said, `to have my guards provided with better horses; for if they had been able to keep up with you and if each one of them had done as much as you and your friend, you would have kept your word and would have brought him back to me dead or alive.'"
"Well, there's nothing bad in that, it seems to me," said Porthos.
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