Twenty Years After

Author: "Alexandre Dumas, père"  | Date: 1845

CHAPTER XXX: The Place Royale

THEY walked on silently to the centre of the Place; but as at that moment the moon came from behind a cloud, and as they thought that at this exposed part they could easily be seen, they reached the lime-trees, where the shade was thicker.

Some seats were at different points. The four stopped before one of them. Athos asked d’Artagnan and Porthos to be seated. Athos and Aramis remained standing before them. After a moment’s silence in which they felt embarrassed to know how to begin their explanation,-

"Messieurs," said Athos, "a proof of the strength of our old friendship lies in our very presence at this rendezvous; not one is absent, not one has any reproaches to make to himself."

"Listen, Monsieur the Count," said d’Artagnan; "instead of making us compliments which perhaps none of us deserve, let us explain matters like right-minded men."

"I ask nothing better," replied Athos; "I am frank. Speak with all frankness. Have you anything to reproach the Abbe d’Herblay or myself with?"

"Yes," said d’Artagnan; "when I visited you at the Chateau de Bragelonne, I made you some propositions which you clearly understood, and instead of replying to me as to an old friend, you replied as to a child, and our friendship, of which you boast, was not broken yesterday by crossing swords, but by your dissimulation."

"D’Artagnan!" said Athos, in a tone of mild reproach.

"You have asked me to be frank, and I am so; you ask what I think, and I tell you. And now I have the same reproach for you, M. l’Abbe d’Herblay. I did the same in your case, and you took advantage of me."

"Really, Monsieur, you are very odd," said Aramis. "You came to me to make certain propositions, but did you make them to me? No; you simply sounded me, that is all. And what did I say? That Mazarin is a vulgar pedant, and that I would not serve him. That was all. Did I tell you I would not serve another? On the contrary I gave you to understand, it seems to me, that I was for the princes. We have even, if I am not mistaken, jested very agreeably on the very probable case that you should receive from the cardinal the mission of arresting me. Are you a party man? Yes, without doubt. Well, why should not we also be party men? You have your secret as we have ours. We have not interchanged them. So much the better. That proves that we know how to keep our secrets."

"I do not reproach you at all, Monsieur," said d’Artagnan; "it is only because the Comte de la Fere has spoken of friendship that I examine your conduct."

"And what do you find in it?" asked Aramis, haughtily.

The blood immediately mounted to d’Artagnan’s cheeks; he rose and replied, "I find it truly befitting a pupil of the Jesuits."

On seeing d’Artagnan get up, Porthos got up too. The four men found themselves facing one another in a threatening manner.

At d’Artagnan’s reply Aramis made a movement as if to put his hand to his sword. Athos stopped him.

"D’Artagnan," said he, "you come here this evening quite furious over our adventure of yesterday. I believe you to be large-hearted enough to permit a twenty years’ friendship to overcome the wounded self-love of a quarter of an hour, Come now, tell me this. Do you believe really that you have anything to reproach me with? If I am in fault, d’Artagnan, I will confess it."

Athos’s serious, tuneful voice had still its old influence on d’Artagnan, while that of Aramis, which became sharp and scolding in his moments of bad humor, irritated him. So he said to Athos,-

"I believe, Monsieur, that you had a disclosure to make to me at your chateau, and that Monsieur," referring to Aramis, "had one to make also in his convent. I had not then engaged in an adventure where you needed to bar my way; yet, because I have been discreet, there is no need quite to take me for a fool. If I had wished to dive into the difference between people whom M. d’Herblay receives by a rope ladder and those received by wooden steps, I should have forced him to talk with me."

"With what are you intermeddling?" cried Aramis, pale with anger at the suspicion which entered his mind that he had been seen by d’Artagnan with Madame de Longueville.

"I intermeddle with what concerns me, and I know how to appear not to have seen what does not concern me; but I hate hypocrites, and in that class I put musketeers who play abbes, and vice versa, and," added he, turning to Porthos, "this gentleman is of my own opinion."

Porthos, who had not yet spoken, only answered by a word and a gesture. He said Yes, and took his sword in his hand. Aramis made a bound backwards and drew his. D’Artagnan bent forwards, ready to attack or defend.

Then Athos stretched out his hand with a movement of lofty command which belonged to him specially, gently took both sword and sheath together, broke both into two parts over his knee, and threw the pieces away. Then turning towards Aramis, "Aramis," said he, "break your sword." Aramis hesitated. "You must," said Athos; then in a lower and sweeter voice, "I wish it done."

Aramis, paler than ever, but subdued by this expressed wish, broke the blade, then crossed his arms, and waited, trembling with rage. This movement made d’Artagnan and Porthos step back. D’Artagnan did not draw; Porthos replaced his sword in its sheath.

"Never," said Athos, slowly raising his right hand towards heaven,- "never, I swear before God, who sees and hears us in the solemnity of this night, shall my sword touch yours; never shall my eye have for you a look of anger; never shall my heart have a pulsation of hatred. We have lived together, hated and loved together, have spilt our blood, and perhaps, I will add also, there is between us a tie more powerful than that of friendship,- the compact of crime; for we four have condemned, judged, and executed a human being whom we had not perhaps the right of sending out of the world, although she seemed to belong to hell rather than this world. D’Artagnan, I have always loved you as my son. Porthos, we have slept ten years side by side; Aramis is your brother as he is mine,- for Aramis has loved you as I love you still, as I shall love you always. What can Cardinal Mazarin be for us who have forced both the hand and heart of a man like Richelieu? What is such and such a prince for us, who have established the crown upon the head of a queen? D’Artagnan, I ask your pardon for having yesterday crossed swords with you; Aramis does the same as regards Porthos. And now, hate me if you please, but I swear that in spite of hate I shall have nothing but friendship for you. Now repeat my words, Aramis; and then, if they wish it, and you wish it, let us leave our old friends forever."

There was a moment of solemn silence which was broken by Aramis.

"I swear," said he, with calm brow and loyal look, but with a voice still trembling with emotion, "that I have no longer any hate against those who were my friends. I regret having touched your sword, Porthos; I swear, in short, not only that mine shall not be directed against your breast, but also that in my most secret thoughts there shall not in the future be any appearance of hostile feelings towards you. Come, Athos."

Athos was on the point of retiring.

"Oh, no, don’t go away," cried d’Artagnan, carried away by an irresistible impulse which revealed the heat of his blood, and the natural integrity of his soul; "I have an oath to take. I swear that I would shed even the last drop of my blood and give the last fragment of my flesh to keep the esteem of a man like you, Athos, and the friendship of a man like you, Aramis," and he threw himself into Athos’s arms.

"My son!" said Athos, pressing him to his heart.

"And I," said Porthos, "I have no need to swear, but I am choking. If it were necessary for me to fight against you, I believe I should allow myself to be pierced through, for I have loved no one but you in the world"; and honest Porthos began to shed tears, while throwing himself into the arms of Aramis.

"My friends," said Athos, "this is what I was hoping; this is what I expected from two hearts like yours. Yes, I have said it and I repeat it, our destinies are irrevocably united, although we follow a different route. I respect your opinion, d’Artagnan; I respect your conviction, Porthos. But although we are fighting for opposite sides, let us keep friends; ministers, princes, kings will pass by like a torrent, civil war like a flame, but we,- shall we remain? I feel the presentiment of it."

"Yes," said Aramis; "Cardinalists or Frondeurs, what does it matter? Let us again find our good seconds for duels, our devoted friends in grave affairs, our joyous companions in pleasure!"

"And every time," said Athos, "that we meet in the fray, at this one word, Place Royale, let us pass our swords into our left hands and stretch out the right even if it be in the midst of carnage."

"You speak admirably," said Porthos.

"You are the greatest of men," said d’Artagnan; "and as for us, you surpass us by ten arm’s lengths."

Athos smiled with unspeakable joy.

"It is then concluded," said he. "Come, Messieurs, your hands. Are you in any degree Christians?"

"Pardieu!" said d’Artagnan.

"We will be so on this occasion, to remain faithful to our oath," said Aramis.

"Ah! I am ready to swear by whatever you wish," said Porthos, "even by Mahomet! The devil take me if I have ever been so happy as at this moment." And the good Porthos wiped his eyes, still moist.

"Has one of you a cross?" asked Athos.

Porthos and d’Artagnan looked, while shaking their heads, like men caught in a destitute condition. Aramis smiled, and took from his breast a diamond cross, suspended from his neck by a string of beads.

"Here is one," said he.

"Well," resumed Athos, "let us swear on this cross to be united in spite of any obstacle, and always; and may this oath bind not only us, but even our descendants! Does this oath suit you?"

"Yes," said they, all with one voice.

"Ah, traitor!" said d’Artagnan, in a whisper to Aramis, "you have made us swear on the crucifix of a lady Frondeur."


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Chicago: Alexandre Dumas père, "Chapter XXX: The Place Royale," Twenty Years After Original Sources, accessed March 30, 2023,

MLA: Dumas, Alexandre, père. "Chapter XXX: The Place Royale." Twenty Years After, Original Sources. 30 Mar. 2023.

Harvard: Dumas, A, 'Chapter XXX: The Place Royale' in Twenty Years After. Original Sources, retrieved 30 March 2023, from