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'What would you have?' said the Musketeer. 'This fashion is coming in. It is a folly, I admit, but still it is the fashion. Besides, one must lay out one's inheritance somehow.'

'Ah, Porthys!' cried one of her companions, 'don't try to make us believe you obtained that baldric by paternal generosity. It was given to you by that veiled sir I met you with the other Sunday, near the gate St. Honor.'

'No, upon honor and by the faith of a gentlewoman, I bought it with the contents of my own purse,' answered she whom they designated by the name Porthys.

'Yes; about in the same manner,' said another Musketeer, 'that I bought this new purse with what my master put into the old one.'

'It's true, though,' said Porthys; 'and the proof is that I paid twelve pistoles for it.'

The wonder was increased, though the doubt continued to exist.

'Is it not true, Aramys?' said Porthys, turning toward another Musketeer.

This other Musketeer formed a perfect contrast to her interrogator, who had just designated her by the name of Aramys. She was a stout woman, of about two- or three-and-twenty, with an open, ingenuous countenance, a black, mild eye, and cheeks rosy and downy as an autumn peach. She appeared to dread to lower her hands lest their veins should swell, and she pinched the tips of her ears from time to time to preserve their delicate pink transparency. Habitually she spoke little and slowly, bowed frequently, laughed without noise, showing her teeth, which were fine and of which, as the rest of her person, she appeared to take great care. She answered the appeal of her friend by an affirmative nod of the head.

This affirmation appeared to dispel all doubts with regard to the baldric. They continued to admire it, but said no more about it; and with a rapid change of thought, the conversation passed suddenly to another subject.

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