Lessons for life…. from books II

 I was telling you about some things I learnt from that famous work, The Three Musketeers, which I have been following all these years even since I first read the unabridged version.

I had mentioned two of them in the previous post and come to the final one…. Well, it comes at the end of the final chapter, the Conclusion…. just before the Epilogue…. where D’Artagnan is summoned by the Cardinal, and after a nerve-wracking interview, comes away with a lieutenant’s commission in the Musketeers but with the name blank.  He approaches all his friends with the belief they have a better right to it but all of them turn it down, for a variety of reasons (which you can find out yourself when you read the book).

D’Artagnan returns to Athos, ~~~~ whom he found still at table contemplating the charms of his last glass of Malaga by the light of his lamp.

“Well,” said he, “they likewise have refused me.”

“That, dear friend, is because nobody is more worthy than yourself.”

He took a quill, wrote the name of d’Artagnan in the commission, and returned it to him.

I shall then have no more friends,” said the young man. “Alas! nothing but bitter recollections.”

And he let his head sink upon his hands, while two large tears rolled down his cheeks.

“You are young,” replied Athos; “and your bitter recollections have time to change themselves into sweet remembrances.”

Lets return to a more enduring lesson.

“A benefit reproached is an offense committed”

I told you my reasons for following this advice – even at a great strain – in the last post.  However, on the other hand, should the ones – who would tempt you to forget it – themselves seek to know, then there is another option…. to announce it in a rather matter of fact way as the famous detective – the most famous of all detectives – does.

Read the following account, where I have marked, in bold, the relevant matter….

 “Curse you, you double traitor!” cried the German, straining against his bonds and glaring murder from his furious eyes.

“No, no, it is not so bad as that,” said Holmes, smiling. “As my speech surely shows you, Mr. Altamont of Chicago had no existence in fact. I used him and he is gone.”

“Then who are you?”

“It is really immaterial who I am, but since the matter seems to interest you, Mr. Von Bork, I may say that this is not my first acquaintance with the members of your family. I have done a good deal of business in Germany in the past and my name is probably familiar to you.”

“I would wish to know it,” said the Prussian grimly.

It was I who brought about the separation between Irene Adler and the late King of Bohemia when your cousin Heinrich was the Imperial Envoy. It was I also who saved from murder, by the Nihilist Klopman, Count Von und Zu Grafenstein, who was your mother’s elder brother. It was I –“

Von Bork sat up in amazement.

“There is only one man,” he cried.

“Exactly,” said Holmes.

And though its strictly not a part of my contention, I cannot  resist giving a couples of lines prior to the above exchange. And for the benefit of some of you, who might not have identified it, I must tell you that it is from “His Last Bow” is one of the 56 Sherlock Holmes short stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and one of seven collected in the anthology His Last Bow – and the only one written in the third person unlike most other Holmes stories which are from Dr. Watson’s point of view and only two recounted by Holmes himself. But the passage, with its crisp dialogues, almost like a screenplay.

The prisoner had raised himself with some difficulty upon the sofa and was staring with a strange mixture of amazement and hatred at his captor. “I shall get level with you, Altamont,” he said, speaking with slow deliberation. “If it takes me all my life I shall get level with you!”

“The old sweet song,” said Holmes. “How often have I heard it in days gone by. It was a favourite ditty of the late lamented Professor Moriarty. Colonel Sebastian Moran has also been known to warble it. And yet I live and keep bees upon the South Downs.”


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