Amazing Kids! Magazine

All for One

By Ryan Traynor, Assistant Editor

 

The cold wind whipped against his cheeks, making them sting in the night air. D’Artagnan and his three friends gripped the reins on their horses as they charged through the forest in the early morning fog. The steady rhythm of the hooves on the frozen ground was comforting to him and he found himself thinking about what led him to this journey.

Although a nobleman by birth, D’Artagnan was raised by his mother after his father died, in very meager conditions. As a youth, he worked in his French village with an eye towards something bigger. Finally, in 1625, at the age of 18, with a knapsack on his back and very little money in his pocket, he made his way to Paris with the hopes of joining the Musketeers of the Guard. The Musketeers were sworn to defend the crown with life and limb, and he was up for the job. His only thing of value was the letter of introduction from the parish priest that would gain him a spot on the honored Musketeer force.

Along the way, he decided to rest at an inn, a decision which would change his course forever. Guiding his horse towards the inn, he slapped the reins along the hitching post and turned to trudge into the entryway.

“Maybe you should put that nag to rest, boy,” an older man nearby chided as he walked over and slapped the horse on its rump, causing it to whinny and rear.

D’Artagnan should have ignored his comment, but the man’s friends chuckled, making his nerves fray like a flag out in the wind for years. The heat rose to his face and he found himself challenging the man to a duel. The next half hour flew by in a blur as he found himself beaten unconscious and his prized sword, with which he intended to show the Musketeers his skill, had been broken. More than his pride had been taken that night. His letter of introduction to the Commander of the Musketeers had been stolen. This difficult experience had taught him to use planning and cunning, rather that quick temper and revenge to solve his problems. As he brushed off his clothes, he swore to hold these lessons close to his heart and never let them go.

From the inn, D’Artagnan continued to his Paris destination. He requested an audience with the Commander of the Musketeers and was escorted into a large hall that had gold carvings on the walls and a long red carpet. His long walk to the Commander allowed him to survey his surroundings. There off to the side was a wide window overlooking the main city courtyard. Off to the side of the Commander were three uniformed musketeers, moving from a close conference with the Commander.

“Commander, I would like permission to enter your command with the Musketeers,” D’Artagnan began when he arrived at the foot of the Commander. “I do not have my introductory paperwork because…”

“We do not accept any new applications without appropriate introductions. Return when you have the materials,” the Commander interrupted.

“But my letter of introduction was…”

As D’Artagnan began his explanation, his gaze was drawn to the window. There, out the window was the older man who had stolen his letter and caused all his problems. He let his temper overtake sense at this moment.  Without explanation, D’Artagnan darted from the room to chase after him.

Arriving in the courtyard, the only things remaining were the peddlers and horse-drawn rolling carts. He stood there, fists at the ready, looking awkward in the late afternoon light as he appeared ready to battle ghosts. The three companions to the Commander jogged into the courtyard, viewing him standing aghast as the dust from the rolling wagons circled around him.

“How dare you disrespect the Commander!” one of the Musketeers shouted at him. “En Guard!”

Preparing himself for a long battle with three skilled swordsmen, he clinked his sword with a quick push against one of their blades and the first battle began. Within seconds guards appeared and began to arrest them for illegal dueling. The four men defended their honor by clashing swords with the guards. As they worked together as a well-oiled machine to defeat the guards, the four comrades realized that they were meant to fight together, not against each other. Looking around at the defeated guards on the ground they all smiled at one another and exited as a group back up to the Commander’s hall.

The Commander of the Musketeers, rather than being upset by their duel, was impressed by D’Artagnan’s effectiveness with the sword as he conquered one of his most skilled guards.

“D’Artagnan. I heard about your achievements against some of my best guards. You’ll have to earn a spot on the Musketeers. Until then, however, I am willing to offer you a spot on the lower guard. “

Although D’Artagnan was disappointed that he had not achieved the higher role of a Musketeer, he was happy to be in service as a guard instead of staining the dirt by the end of a sword. Exiting the Commander’s room, D’Artagnan found that he was followed by the three Musketeers. They introduced themselves and became fast friends.

The four friends since that time handled many battles together and saw many people switch allegiances based upon greed. They survived on honor and their loyalties and together have righted many wrongs. Loyal servants to the crown, they have crossed swords with street criminals and traitors, and, like at this moment, faced the Cardinal’s Guards. They had information on a treasonous scheme against the queen and they must have the courage to relay the information, even while they were being set up as villains against the realm.

The sound of approaching horses jolted D’Artagnan out of his reverie. On his speeding horse, the four comrades were “one for all and all for one” as they attempted to elude the guards once again. Their horses began to wheeze from exhaustion and D’Artagnan yelled over the pounding hooves for the four to stop.

“Let’s face our executioner,” D’Artagnan commanded as he slid off the back of his horse.

As the guards arrived, the four of them stood, swords crossed together in a star. They flung them up in the air in a salute and then pointed to the ground announcing their surrender.

Several hours later the four friends were brought before the Cardinal for questioning. D’Artagnan began convincing him of their innocence, including the details of the plot against the queen.

After relating all the details, D’Artagnan watched in horror as the Cardinal waived for a guard. Expecting an armed escort out, instead the Cardinal was presented with a piece of paper and a writing instrument. He busied himself in scribbling a new decree.

“This is a new order,” the Cardinal bellowed. “It offers anyone holding it a promotion to lieutenant in the company.”

The Cardinal walked slowly over to D’Artagnan’s three friends and waived the offer under their noses. Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, in turn, each bowed with his hand across his chest, refusing acceptance of the order. In the end the three men angled themselves to D’Artagnan, proclaiming him the most worthy man of the honor.

D’Artagnan looked over at his loyal friends and then directed his gaze at the Cardinal. Rather than annoyance, the Cardinal displayed a look of acceptance. He had offered D’Artagnan’s companions a great honor, and they had refused it, instead opting to support their pledge of loyalty to each other.

Simon rubbed his palm over the outside of the book once again. Any time he wanted to be transported back to France in 1625, he would just pick up this book or close his eyes and his memories of the characters would come to life. The Three Musketeers, by Alexander Dumas, was able to weave history with fiction effortlessly, and it made Simon feel as if he was D’Artagnan at the time. Every day he would think about the character and be able to consider how he would react in a certain situation. To him the characters had become real people and he could weave stories in his mind whenever he chose to be entertained. Sometimes he would don his cape, hat and Styrofoam sword to act out the battles described so artfully in the book. Simon found, most importantly, that he had learned through reading this story to value his friendships and be loyal.

Simon set the book down again. He glanced over at his bookcase and picked up a new book. As he flipped through the pages of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, he began envisioning a lush island with tropical plants and pirates. He would have to put D’Artagnan aside for now so that he could visit his new friends, Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver.