They found him up, less pale than when d'Artagnan left him after his first visit, and seated at a table on which, though he was alone, was spread enough for four persons. This dinner consisted of meats nicely dressed, choice wines, and superb fruit.
"Ah, PARDIEU!" said he, rising, "you come in the nick of time, gentlemen. I was just beginning the soup, and you will dine with me."
"Oh, oh!" said d'Artagnan, "Mousqueton has not caught these bottles with his lasso. Besides, here is a piquant FRICANDEAU and a fillet of beef."
"I am recruiting myself," said Porthos, "I am recruiting myself. Nothing weakens a man more than these devilish strains. Did you ever suffer from a strain, Athos?"
"Never! Though I remember, in our affair of the Rue Ferou, I received a sword wound which at the end of fifteen or eighteen days produced the same effect."
"But this dinner was not intended for you alone, Porthos?" said Aramis.
"No," said Porthos, "I expected some gentlemen of the neighborhood, who have just sent me word they could not come. You will take their places and I shall not lose by the exchange. HOLA, Mousqueton, seats, and order double the bottles!"
"Do you know what we are eating here?" said Athos, at the end of ten minutes.
"PARDIEU!" replied d'Artagnan, "for my part, I am eating veal garnished with shrimps and vegetables."
"And I some lamb chops," said Porthos.
"And I a plain chicken," said Aramis.
"You are all mistaken, gentlemen," answered Athos, gravely; "you are eating horse."
"Eating what?" said d'Artagnan.
"Horse!" said Aramis, with a grimace of disgust.
Porthos alone made no reply.
"Yes, horse. Are we not eating a horse, Porthos? And perhaps his saddle, therewith."
"No, gentlemen, I have kept the harness," said Porthos.
"My faith," said Aramis, "we are all alike. One would think