A little while ago I watched the first few episodes of the BBC series “The Three Musketeers”. It was so awful that I immediately relistened to the audiobook read by Simon Vance to cleanse my palate. While listening to Vance’s masterful performance, there were many moments throughout the novel where I delighted in the clever writing, or found myself covered with goosebumps.
Here is a collection of my favourite quotes, which naturally contain spoilers. I highly recommend reading/listening to it yourself!
“Athos, who continued to suffer severely from his wound, although it had again been dressed by Monsieur de Treville’s surgeon, had seated himself on a large stone where he awaited his adversary with that air of calmness and dignity which never forsook him. As d’Artagnan approached, he arose and politely advanced some steps to meet him, whilst d’Artagnan on his part went towards his antagonist, bowing until his plume touched the ground.”
“‘And, now that you are all arrived gentlemen, permit me to offer my apologies.’ A frown passed over the brow of Athos. A haughty smile glided over the lips of Porthos. And a negative sign was the reply of Aramis. ‘You do not rightly understand me gentlemen,’ said d’Artagnan, elevating his head on which a sunbeam played, gilding its fine and manly lines. ‘I wish to apologise because it is improbable that I shall be able to pay my debt to all three. For Monsieur Athos has the right to kill me first, which greatly decreases the value of your bill, Monsieur Porthos, whilst it renders yours, Monsieur Aramis, of scarcely the slightest value. Therefore gentlemen, on that account alone, I again repeat my offer of apology. And now, upon your guard!’ And with most gallant and fearless mien, he drew his sword.”
“‘It is very hot’, said Athos drawing his sword, ‘and yet I cannot take off my doublet for just now I perceived that my wound bled. And I fear to distress this gentleman by showing him blood which he has not drawn from me himself.’
‘True sir,’ replied d’Artagnan, ‘but I assure you that whether drawn by myself or by any other person, I shall always see with regret the blood of so brave a gentleman. I will therefore follow your example and fight in my doublet.’
‘Come!’ said Porthos. ‘A truce to these compliments! Remember that we also await our turn!’
‘Speak for yourself only, Porthos, when you choose to be so rude,’ interposed Aramis. ‘As for me, I consider the courtesies which have passed between these gentlemen as worthy of men of the highest honour.’
‘When you please, sir,’ said Athos, placing himself en guard.
‘I was at your service,’ said d’Artagnan, crossing his sword.
“‘She loves me still! Come my friend, let me embrace you! My happiness suffocates me!’ And the two friends began dancing around the folios of the venerable Saint Chrisostem, treading gallantly on the leaves of the thesis which had fallen to the ground. At this moment, Bazant enterred with the spinach and the omelette. ‘Fly wretch!’ cried Aramis, throwing his skullcap at Bazant’s head. ‘Return whence you came!'”
“‘It is a long time since we have had a crow to pluck with the Cardinal’s guards, and Monsieur de Treville must think us dead.'”
“‘You have once before crossed my path. I thought that I had crushed you madame, but either I deceived myself, or hell has given you new life.'”
“He arose is his turn and put his hand to his belt from which he drew a pistol, which he cocked… Athos slowly raised the pistol, stretched forth his arm until the weapon almost touched the lady’s forehead, and then in a voice the more terrible as it had all the intense calmness of an inflexible resolution, ‘Madame,’ said he, ‘you must immediately give me the paper which the Cardinal wrote just now, or on my soul I will blow out your brains.'”
“…Seeing that they continued to march towards the bastion, he plucked his master by the skirt of his coat.
‘Where are we going?’ he enquired by a sign. Athos pointed to the bastion. ‘But,’ said the silent Grimaud, still in the same dialect, ‘We shall leave our skins there!’ Athos raised his eyes and his fingers towards heaven. Grimaud set down his basket on the ground and seated himself upon it shaking his head. Athos took a pistol from his belt, looked at the priming, cocked it, and levelled it at Grimaud’s ear. Grimaud found himself raised up upon his legs as if by the force of a spring. Athos then beckoned to him to take up the basket and to march in front. Grimaud obeyed, so that all the poor fellow had gained by this momentary pantomime was that he had been transformed from the rear guard to the advanced guard.”
“‘Then,’ said d’Artagnan, letting his arm fall in a desponding manner, ‘it is useless to struggle longer. I may as well blow out my brains at once and have done with it!’
‘That is the last folly to be perpetrated,’ said Athos, ‘seeing that it is the only one which will admit of no remedy.'”
“‘But when you had her in your power,’ said Porthos, ‘why did you not drown, strangle, or hang her? It is only the dead who never return.’
‘Do you think so Porthos?’ replied Athos, with a dark smile which d’Artagnan alone could understand.”
“This time there was a small band advancing, composed of twenty, or five and twenty men, no longer pioneers but soldiers of the garrison.
‘Suppose we now return to the camp,’ said Porthos. ‘It seems to me the match is not equal!’
‘Impossible, for three reasons,’ answered Athos. ‘The first is that we have not finished our breakfast. The second because we have still some important affairs to talk about. And the third, it wants yet ten minutes before the hour is elapsed.'”
“‘But!’ said Porthos, ‘I fancy that I in my turn have also got an idea!’
‘Silence for Monsieur Porthos’ idea!’ cried Aramis.
‘…The lady does not know me. I will get near her without exciting her alarm and, when I have found the beauty, I will strangle her.’
‘Ah!’ said Athos. ‘I am really somewhat disposed to adopt Monsieur Porthos’ idea.'”
“The four friends followed behind him and had taken about a dozen steps when –
‘Ah, what the plagues are we about gentlemen?!’ exclaimed Athos.
‘Have you forgotten anything?’ enquired Aramis.
‘The flag! Zounds, we must not leave a flag in the hands of the enemy, even though it be a napkin!’ And Athos rushed back into the bastion, mounted the platform and took down the flag… The bullets whistled around him, yet he stood unharmed. Athos waved his standard and bowed towards the camp as he turned his back on the town… They heard the whole camp exclaiming,
‘Come down! Come down!'”
“‘Life is a large chaplet of little miseries, which the philosopher shakes with a laugh. Be philosophers like me gentlemen!'”
“‘No violence! Violence is a proof of weakness! Besides, I have never succeeded by that means. Perhaps if I used my strength against women, I might chance to find them more feeble than myself, and consequently might vanquish them. But it is against men that I struggle, and I am only a woman to them. Let me struggle like a woman. My strength is in my weakness.'”
“At this moment a horse neighed. Her Ladyship raised her head, saw the pale face of Athos, staring through the window, and screamed aloud. Perceiving that he had been seen, Athos pushed the window with his hand and knee. It gave way. The panes were broken and Athos, like a spectre of vengeance, leaped into the room.”
“Athos stretched out his hands towards her.
‘Anne de Breuil,’ said he. ‘Countess de la Fare. Lady de Winter. Your crimes have wearied men on earth, and God in heaven. If you know any prayer, repeat it, for you are condemned and are about to die.’
“‘He is deciding by what kind of punishment I am to die,’ said the Gascon to himself. ‘Well faith, he shall see how a gentleman can die.'”