The Adevntures of Henry of Cardigan (L' Adevntures de Henri de Ceredigion)

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  • #966

    Henri de Ceredigion
    Participant

    Please note that all posts will be in English / Veuillez noter que tous les messages seront en anglais

    A Musketeer Christmas / Un Noël de Mousquetaire
    Written in / Écrit en 2014

    Chapter One : The Royal Command / Chapitre Un: Le Commandement Royal

    As Henri de Ceredigion dismounted his horse outside Musketeer Headquarters, he shivered slightly. Considering that today felt like the coldest day of the winter so far, that was perhaps not that surprising, but the real reason he was shivering is because Henri was scared. He’d been summoned to attend a meeting with Captain Treville with such authority that on the ride to headquarters he wondered what on earth he could have done to upset the Captain so which explained why instead of his usual three thumps on the Captain’s office door, he opened the door slightly and said quietly “You wanted to see me, sir?”

    “Ah, Henri” beamed the Captain at his desk, “please come in!”

    Henri gently closed the door behind him, took a deep breath and marched towards the desk. He stopped to attention and saluted and as he did the Captain chortled under his breath.

    “At ease, Cadet” he smiled and as Henri relaxed he added, “Henri, do you remember what you did this time last year?”

    Henri thought long and hard. He had joined the Musketeer corps the previous October after being told by his father, the member of the English Parliament for Cardiganshire, that in order to foster good relations between England and France he was to go to Paris and train to be a Musketeer.

    After arriving in Paris that autumn, he had managed to upset the three leading members of that corps, Athos, Porthos and Aramis without realising who they were and when he found out who they were instead of turning tail and fleeing he stood up to the mark and duelled with them.

    His swordplay was of the highest standard and was only interrupted when a bunch of Cardinal’s guardsmen tried to arrest them all for illegal use of swords. After seeing them all off, Henri was granted perhaps the biggest gift he had ever been given, their friendship and so the previous Christmas he had given them all gifts as a mark of his friendship to them. Since then, he had managed to save the Queen’s blushes as he travelled back to his homeland and recover her diamond studs that had been stolen by an agent of the Cardinal, travelled to Spain and helped save the life of the Titan after he had wrestled a bull and gained a manservant in the form of the stable boy who, when he had been set upon by thieves on the way to Paris, had taken him and his horse in, but nothing explained why the Captain would want to see him so Henri replied, “Nothing that would cause you upset I hope?”

    The Captain smiled, then giggled and eventually burst out laughing thumping his desk with his hand and as Henri looked on he wondered what he had done that could have prompted such a reaction. Eventually the Captain recovered and sniffing, opened a drawer and took out a scroll which he unrolled and read the contents.

    “To our Noble Captain” he read, “We bring you greetings this fine December day and ask that your cadet, Henri De Ceredigion, repeats his kindness of last year. This, we command, by the grace of God, Louis!”

    Henri stood there dumbstruck as the Captain rolled up the scroll and waved it around.

    “Henri” he said, “on the day of the celebration of the birth of our Lord, the King commands that you give myself, Porthos, Athos, Aramis and your manservant a present to be given at the end of meal for those aforementioned!” and with that handed the scroll to Henri who gingerly accepted it as if the scroll was made out of solid gold and as he did added “I look forward to seeing what you can manage in a week or so!”

    ***

    Henri looked at the scroll again and read it for the fifth time since he had arrived back at his digs in the heart of Paris. Even Planchet, his manservant, reading the scroll over his shoulder couldn’t believe it and said “My master, what an honour!”

    “Yes” replied Henri, “it is” and with that rolled up the scroll and put it on the table, “if I knew the first thing about cooking. All I can manage is porridge, vegetables during the summer and well, that’s about it really. How on earth am I going to feed the six of us, I mean Athos thinks nothing of devouring a whole pig for breakfast, how do I compare with that?”

    Planchet sat by his master and put a friendly arm around his shoulder.

    “Master” he said, “as well as being a stable boy, I was sometimes asked to help in the kitchens of the inn where I worked. Please, as you showed me the kindness to take me on as a manservant when I returned your horse to you when the inn I worked at had to close, let me show you kindness by offering to help!”

    “Planchet” said Henri, his eyes wide, “you would do that for me?”

    Planchet nodded and with that master and servant hugged each other and started work on the meal that had to be not only fit for a king, but could manage to satisfy the Musketeer famed for his appetite.

    #985

    Henri de Ceredigion
    Participant

    Chapter Two: To Market, To Market (Chapitre deux: Mettre sur le marché, sur le marché)
    The following day Henri mounted his trusty steed and with a bellow of “YAH!” he was soon galloping through the streets of Paris heading towards the market. In his pocket was a list of the ingredients that he and Planchet had chosen for the meal along with several coins that he hoped would be enough to pay for all the food needed.

    Although not as cold as the previous day, by the time Henri arrived at the market, his face was red from the cold but as he dismounted his horse, Robert, the miller who Henri bought all his flour from instantly recognised him and said with a cheery smile, “Bonjour Henri, good ride?”

    Henri nodded and took out the list from his pocket and looked down it. Each part of the meal had been broken down into its component parts and Henri would add up each bit of the meal in his head so as he announced “One and a half livres of your finest flour, Monsieur!” he knew that that way he would have a little left over just in case.

    Robert, smacked his lips and said “Monsieur, you shall have the best flour in Paris” and with that he started to fill a small bag, all the time commenting on how the flour was made from the finest wheat in France, was milled using the finest stones in France by the miller who had been awarded several accolades for his work and as he handed Henri the bag he added “and I now present it to the finest gentleman in Paris” and with that bowed.

    Henri’s redness from his ride had disappeared but was now replaced by redness from blushing. He was not used to all this praise being heaped upon him, he was just doing what he had been asked to do in his usual polite manner proven by giving the miller a little bit more than the cost of the flour and saying “Consider this a Christmas bonus, monsieur”. Robert bowed again and as Henri made his way to the next stall he called “A bientot, Mon Amis!”

    The rest of the morning was spent in a similar manner ordering all the ingredients needed for the feast, interrupted only by Henri carrying them when he began to become overburdened and loading them onto his steed. However on one trip back, someone tapped him on the shoulder.

    “Just a moment” replied Henri as he hefted some shin of beef onto his horse and not being anything like as big or as strong as Porthos it wasn’t the easiest of tasks who when the person tapped him again, Henri was less than impressed.

    “Can’t you see I’m busy?” he snapped in an uncharacteristic manner but the person refused to stop and so Henri, holding the beef as if he was holding a baby spun round and was about to bellow “What is it?” when he froze. There in front of him was Jussac, captain of the Cardinal’s guardsmen and Henri’s sworn enemy.

    Shortly after saving the Queen’s blushes, he’d been given the rest of the day off and so was walking around the streets of Paris when a handkerchief fell out of a carriage. Being ever the gentleman, Henri gave chase and returned the item to a lady who looked more beautiful that even the Queen, but that beauty was a trap.

    The person was Milady de Winter and she drugged Henri to make him her slave. When Henri woke up the following morning, he was in the Bastille charged with attempted regicide as whilst under the influence of the drug, he had made his way to the palace and made an attempt on the Queen’s life.

    It had been foiled at the last minute by Porthos who found himself torn between defending his monarch and his friendship with the cadet but had no choice but to punch the young man so hard that he flew out of the Queen’s chamber and dropped to the floor some fifty feet lower. Aramis reasoned that the drug was the reason that Henri survived and when it came to light that Jussac was behind the whole scheme to discredit the Musketeers, Henri swore that the next time they met one of them would die and so as the two enemies eyed each other, Henri knew that laden with the beef he was the one likely to die.

    “So” said Jussac, his hand on his sword, “we meet again Henri!”

    “Indeed we do” said Henri, his eyes narrowing

    “Another one of your English imports?” Jussac asked, noting the beef.

    “I told you then” replied Henri, “as I tell you now. The idea of remembering those fallen Musketeers could and should have been made into a ceremony to remember those guardsmen who fell in battle” as he remembered how a spy had informed the Cardinal of his research into fallen Musketeers in order to mark their passing at a ceremony that the King commanded to be held each year.

    “I have come” continued Jussac, “to bring a message”

    “And I am ready to accept it” replied Henri, his body tensing, “but believe that the message will be your epitaph!”

    Suddenly Jussac pulled something out of his pocket and Henri, assuming it was a knife jumped back a few steps and was about to snarl his anger when he suddenly realised that it wasn’t a knife but what looked like a card. Shouldering the beef, he took the card fr0m Jussac and read the contents.

    “This month” the message read, “is a month of peace to all men, be they living in the moors or the fen, and so I wish to say to you, Joyeux Noel and god speed too!”

    As Henri looked up in disbelief, Jussac doffed his hat and as he came up he replied “You are still my enemy, Henri De Ceredigion, but when you serve a master as myself, you respect his wishes” and with that he turned and walked away.

    Henri turned to his horse who whinnied as if to say “Well don’t ask me what all that was about!” and as Henri loaded the beef onto his steed and mounted him, the two trotted back home wondering if the time of year was more than just eating, drinking and making merry with your friends.

    #986

    Henri de Ceredigion
    Participant

    Chapter Three: Preparing the Feast / Chapitre Trois: Préparer la Fête

    Over the course of the week before the meal was due to be served, Henri brought the various gifts he would present to his friends and as he did, he noted that each day was getting colder and colder and on the eve of the eve of Christmas as he was entering his digs, a snowflake landed on his nose and as he turned around and stood in the doorway a light snowfall started over the city of Paris.

    The following morning, Henri woke up as the sun rose and opening the windows of his room he gasped in amazement. The whole of the city was covered in a white blanket and as Henri leant on the windowsill he was instantly transported back to the last time he had seen freshly fallen snow.

    He had just turned eight years old when he woke up to a while world at his home in England and after being dressed in his warmest clothes he dashed out and spent the whole morning examining this strange material that was covering the ground. It was white, much whiter than anything his mother would make, it was cold, even colder than his father’s wine and it was very wet, so wet in fact that he had to stand in front of the roaring fire for an hour to dry out.

    As Henri watched the children of Paris throwing balls of snow at each other, part of him wanted to join them but the other part knew that he had a duty to perform, even so that snow did look remarkably interesting and so ten minutes later the children of Paris had a new target who jumped out of his front door and yelled “Look at me, I’m a target” for the next twenty minutes Henri forgot all his cares.

    Dusting himself down from the snowball fight which he ended with a noble “My fellow combatants, the English musketeer cadet salutes you” which earned him a snowball at the base of his back, Henri set about the meal helped by Planchet who had just arrived with the last of the ingredients.

    First of all was to gather all the ingredients together and then apportion them for the various dishes that would be cooked and so it was almost lunchtime when that task was finished and master and servant looked at the table in front of them heaving with food they both looked at each other and said “Poome du Poop?” and they both nodded.

    ***

    The Poome du Poop was famed throughout Paris for its connection with the Musketeer corps. Everyone who had owned the inn since the day it was built was either a former Musketeer or a manservant of a member of that corps and as Planchet and Henri entered to a hearty “Hail the Musketeers!” he breathed to his master, “One day, this shall be ours, master!”

    Henri had found out by sheer luck that every Christmas Eve, the inn’s policy of welcoming only Musketeers was extended to those who had served or were in the process of being trained and as Henri sat down at a table, he was surprised to see one of his friends as the waiter.

    “Hello there, Pierre” he said, smiling, “What are you doing here?”

    “Helping out” replied his friend originally from Normandy and now in his third year of training and explained that he had found out a couple of weeks earlier that all the cadets were asked if they would like to work at the inn on Christmas Eve, “and so here I am. Now, may I take you order please?”

    “A mug of beer for my manservant” replied Henri, “a mug of fresh milk for me” and then raising his voice he added “and a hearty Joyeux Noel to you all!”

    “HUZZAH!” cried the inn as Henri chuckled and explained that Athos had told him that when a group of Musketeers get together they’ll use any excuse to down a few mugs of ale.

    As master and servant drank their mugs, Henri looked at the gathered Musketeers and started to daydream. Yes, he was English by birth and yes, technically would never be able to become a Musketeer in the truest sense of the word but in the fifteen months he had been training and serving alongside his friends he relished the day when the King would tap him on the shoulders and confer the honour of being a formally commissioned Musketeer officer. And when that day came, he would stand tall, raise his sword and proclaim that motto that resonated through all time.

    “ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL!”

    “Aye lad” said a voice, breaking into Henri’s train of thought, “but we don’t do it on the tops of tables” and was followed by raucous laughing.

    Henri blinked and realised that he was now standing on top of his table with his sword raised high and looking like a complete idiot. Sheepishly, he clambered down and said to Planchet “Meal time?”

    Planchet nodded with a smile.

    #987

    Henri de Ceredigion
    Participant

    Chapter Four: Making a Meal of it / Chapitre Quatre: Faire un Repas
    “Past the hour of two and all’s well!”

    As the town crier walked past Henri’s digs, both master and servant had tied on their aprons and were starting on the meal. The first thing to be tackled was boeuf bourguignon, one of Planchet’s suggestions, which needed the longest amount of time to cook. As Henri cut the beef into large chunks and started to cover them with some of the flour, Planchet heated up a pan and was soon searing them over the heat and as he did he explained why to his master, who was taking a very keen interest.

    “This will bring out the flavour of the meat, master” he explained, “and as we have a gourmet coming this evening, flavour has to be everything!” and Henri found himself agreeing. When the beef looked done, Planchet took it out and handed the pan to Henri who was about to tip the residual oil out to start afresh for the next batch of ingredients when Planchet grabbed his arm.

    “Non” he said, with a stern expression on his face, “keep the oil”

    “But it’s dirty” replied Henri

    “Yes” replied Planchet, “and full of flavour as well” and with that he threw in some chopped bacon, some onions and some peppercorns and as he heated them through until the onions started to change colour Henri suddenly gasped and pointed to the bottom of the pan.

    “The peppercorns have burnt!” he exclaimed and started pacing the floor, “the meal’s been ruined before we have even started”.

    Planchet smiled and said “There is nothing to fear, it will make the stew taste better” and with that added some herbs and then the meat and then asked his master for some wine. Henri opened a cupboard and took out the bottle that he handed out whenever Athos came to visit however Planchet simply said “If the wine is not good enough to drink, it is not good enough for this” and took out the wine that Henri had bought especially for Aramis that evening and poured it into the pot before pouring in some beer and then using his smallest fingers crushed a small sugar cube into the pot.

    Henri was sad to hear that the sugar was being used in the meal, he had managed to buy just enough sugar for the meal and wanted to taste some himself but as Planchet placed the pot into the oven he said “I shall just have to wait to become a baron!”

    Next on the agenda struck Henri as rather odd as Planchet announced he was going to make a cake.

    “A cake?” asked Henri, “but…”

    Planchet chuckled and said “In England you may have cakes made of sponge, but here our cakes are of the savoury nature” and with that he set to work making a cake that Henri had never seen before in his life.

    As Planchet poured some flour into a large bowl and added some yeast, Henri was asked to slice some of the goat’s cheese into small cubes, then chop some olives which he had bought from a Greek merchant, and then chopped some hazelnuts from his native home and as he did he suddenly stopped and said “Planchet, do you miss your home?”

    “Master” said Planchet, mixing the yeast into the flour, “this is my home by your side!”

    “I mean” added Henri, “do you miss your home, home. Where you were born and grew up with your parents?” and with that he sniffed slightly

    Planchet stopped mixing and asked Henri if something was wrong.

    “Chopping these hazelnuts” he said, “has reminded me of home. Last Christmas I didn’t miss my home at all, I was living in Paris, a new city, but, well., I…” and with that Henri broke down and slumped into his servant’s chest. Planchet gently patted his master and said “Here, let me chop those nuts for you”

    As Planchet finished chopping the nuts and then added them along with the cheese and the olives to the mix, Henri sat down on a stool and sniffed.

    “I’m sorry” he said, wiping his eyes with his apron, “I don’t know what came over me. I could only think of my parents, gathering food for the next few days, sitting around the table with my seat empty. I know that they know that I am safe and well as I only wrote to them a few days ago, but, it’s not the same as actually being there!”

    Planchet smiled and said gently, “We all think of our family at this time of the year, master, but think of the glory that will be bestowed on them when you return at the end of your training as a fully commissioned officer. Is that not what you dream of?”

    Henri sniffed as he nodded in agreement.

    “There” Planchet said, “now how about making the batter for the cake and mixing it with such force that not even Porthos could deny your strength!”

    As Henri added four eggs to a bowl, he took a deep breath and whisked as hard and as fast as he could. It took him the best part of ten minutes to get the eggs to Planchet’s satisfaction and as he handed the bowl to his servant, Planchet gently squeezed his arm and said “The Titan has a challenger!” which caused Henri to smile for the first time in an hour.

    Planchet added some olive oil to the eggs, some milk, some curds, a pinch of salt, a peppercorn, and then added the mixed flour as well and gently started to mix it but as Henri noted, he wasn’t mixing it he seemed to be folding it, as if making his master’s bed in the morning.

    “If you mix a cake too much” he replied, “you get a cake like Porthos, tough, but folding a cake, it becomes like Aramis, light and delicate” and left Henri wondering if Aramis would like being compared to a cake.

    As Planchet carried on mixing, Henri buttered a loaf tin that he had borrowed from the next door neighbour who worked at the local bakery and a short while later, the mixture was poured in and that too placed in the oven.

    It was now approaching sunset and as the sky started to turn orange, Henri opened the door and watched the spectacle. He had not seen this before and would have been scared that the world was ending if Aramis hadn’t told him on one of their many escapades about the time he saw it in his hometown as a child and as Henri watched the ornateness slowly fade as night descended on Paris, he smiled to himself and thought of the friend who would soon be coming to feast with him.

    “Master” called Planchet from the kitchen, “time for the Madames!”

    Henri smiled and as he entered the kitchen, he bowed and said “Madames, welcome to my kitchen” and with that took a pan from the wall and started to make a roux sauce. It was one of the things that he knew to make off by heart having been taught it by his mother when he was a child and as he made it he recited the recipe, “One part of butter, one part of flour, half a English pint of milk, season and sauce!” and as he did Planchet watched with a smile on his face. When he had finished, Planchet leaned over and added “with some mustard for the French!” and dropped in some mustard. As Henri mixed it into the sauce, Planchet took some of the bread that he had made the previous day and cut off the crusts before rolling the bread thinly and then spread some butter that had been standing by the hot oven over the bread.

    “Why the butter?” asked Henri

    “No butter, master, no crunch, no crunch, no croque!” he replied with a smile as he placed the bread into a muffin tin and then asked Henri to place some ham into the bottom of the bread, this was then followed by a small egg, then the sauce and was topped off with some Gruyere cheese than had been bought by a Swiss cheesemaker who made the trip to Paris every year just to supply Henri’s cupboards and with that the “madames” were placed in the oven. That just left the chouquettes which were Planchet’s speciality and as much as Henri would have loved to have watched them being made, a knock on the door meant that was not possible. His guests had arrived for the meal and so he had to become the dutiful host for the evening.

    #988

    Henri de Ceredigion
    Participant

    Chapter Five: The Guests Arrive and Disaster / Chapitre Cinq: Les invités arrivent et les désastres

    For the next half hour Henri greeted all of his guests in the traditional English manner. He bowed to the Captain who was first to enter, then took Porthos’s cloak from his shoulders, engaged in polite conversation with Aramis before chastising Athos as he wolfed down the small choux pastry puffs as if there was no tomorrow with a “Now, now, Athos, leave some of the rest of us!”

    “But I can’t help it” he protested, “They are just so moreish” and with that swiped another handful of them much to the amusement of everyone else. As the laughter continued, Planchet entered and bowed said “Master, you are wanted in the kitchen”.

    Henri bowed and followed Planchet who turned to him with a worried expression.

    “Is something the matter?” Henri asked

    Planchet nodded and making sure that no one could hear bar his master he whispered “We’ve forgotten the dumplings for the boeuf bourguignon!” and with that Henri’s world collapsed.

    “You can’t have a boeuf bourguignon without dumplings” said Planchet as Henri paced the kitchen, “it’s like a summer’s day without the heat!”

    If Henri was panic stricken, it was not showing, but inside he knew that Planchet was right. He had been challenged to make a meal fit for the Captain, Athos, Aramis, Porthos and Planchet and he was not going to fall at this last hurdle. He stopped pacing, closed his eyes and concentrated hard on the question “What is a dumpling?”

    As Planchet watched with concern, the Captain called “Is everything all right in there? It is getting towards the hour of six you know!”

    Planchet was about to say “My master will be with you now” when Henri opened his eyes and exclaimed, “Eureka!” and starting flying around the kitchen like a madman. Grabbing a day old baguette from the cupboard, he started to cut it into large pieces, poured some milk over them and then added an egg and started to mix as fast as he could. He then asked Planchet to place a spoonful of flour into the bowl and carried on mixing. After a while he grabbed some of the mix in his hands and squashed them together and presented it to Planchet and asked “Now, what does that remind you of?”

    Planchet exclaimed “A dumpling, master!” and melted some butter in a large pan and placed the small baguette dumplings into the pan and a few moments later he placed them in the dish that the beef was cooked in and handed it to Henri who entered the room where his guests was and announced “Monsieurs, your meal!” and placed the dish in the centre of the table, took off the lid and was greeted with “Ooooh” from everyone around.

    As Planchet served the meal, the Captain stood up and said, “Gentlemen” and as Planchet sat down at the table, he said grace and with that the meal could begin.

    #989

    Henri de Ceredigion
    Participant

    Chapter Six: The Giving of the Gifts / Chapitre Six: Le Don des Dons
    For the next hour the table was filled with conversation about life as a Musketeer accompanied by compliments to Henri for the meal that was being served and as the last of the croque Madames was polished off by Athos with a “Farewell and Adieu to you ladies of Paris”, the Captain stood up and read from a scroll that he had in his pocket.

    “I hereby announce” he read, “that Cadet Henri has fulfilled his requirement as ordered by His Majesty to serve us a meal. Now, it is time for the gifts!”

    Henri stood up, bowed and went into his room where he returned a few moments later with five gift-wrapped boxes and placed them by their respective owners.

    The Captain was the first to unwrap his gift and as he took off the lid he smiled as he pulled out a cushion.

    “I remember you telling me” said Henri, “that your devotion to their Majesties was getting a little tiresome on your knees, so I thought why not cushion those devotions and don’t worry, I haven’t stolen the Woolsack from the House of Peers in England!”

    The Captain laughed with such volume that Henri could never remember such an occasion and as he wiped a tear from his eye, Henri gestured to Athos to open his present. It was the smallest of the gifts which didn’t impress Athos all that much, neither did the small square that he took out of it either. Holding it aloft, he looked at it quizzically.

    That” Henri said, “is gum from the gum trees of Asia, it is said to be able to be chewed forever and a day and not lose its flavour”.

    Athos seemed a little doubtful, but broke a piece off and started to chew. The scowl on his face, changed into a beaming smile as he took the rest of the gum and thrust it into his mouth and chewed as if all of Christendom depended on it.

    Next was Aramis and as he opened his box, his face lit up with delight as he took out a bottle that had a spray on the top and as he squirted it on his hand he breathed the scent and exclaimed “This feels like the spirit of my homeland and me. I can smell the flowers of home, the air and the trees of the place that I call home. Monsieur, allow me to doff my hat!” which he did and Henri nodded back and told Planchet to open his gift.

    As Planchet peered in, he took out a mirror and said “But master, I already have a mirror!”

    “There’s a note on the back of it” said the Captain and as Planchet turned the mirror around he read the note.

    “Planchet” it read, “this mirror is a reflective device and on reflection, you are the best gift a man could have. Love Henri!”

    Planchet looked at his master who nodded and smiled and with that he picked up his master and hugged him so tightly that Porthos jested “Two Titans, anyone?” which was met by laughter from all.

    That just left the original Titan to open his present and as he opened his box, his face fell. He tuned the box upside down and a key fell out. He picked it up and looked to Henri and said “Is this it? A key?”

    Henri nodded and replied, “Yes, that is a key to the cupboard over there” and pointed to a cupboard on the ground. Porthos got off his chair and walked over and opened the cupboard and roared with delight as he picked up the anvil with one hand and started lifting it over his head.

    “That should keep those guardsmen busy!” chuckled Henri as Porthos placed the anvil on the table.

    After the meal had ended and Planchet and Henri had washed up, the Captain stood up and unrolled another scroll.

    “Gentlemen” he read, “this scroll is deemed to be proof that Henri had fulfilled our wishes. Captain, we therefore consent that our thanks be placed upon Henri” and with that he drew his sword and said “Henri, take a knee!”

    As Henri approached the Captain, Athos, Porthos, Aramis and Planchet all stood up and watched as Henri knelt down.

    “This world is an uncertain realm” the Captain said, “filled with danger. Honour has been undermined by the pursuit of power. Freedom oppressed by the strong over the weak. But there are those who oppose these forces, who dedicate themselves to truth, honour and freedom. You are already a Musketeer cadet and have proven to be one of these men”. He then patted the sword onto Henri’s shoulder, then the other shoulder and at the same time said “Arise, Henri De Ceredigion” and then added “Musketeer!” before patting the sword on the head.

    All the strength in Henri’s legs deserted him and as Planchet helped him up, he stared in disbelief at the Captain who smiled and said “Henri, this is their Majesties present to you. For all your courage and bravery this past year, even though you have yet to complete your formal training, you can now call yourself a Musketeer, my lad!”

    Henri was so shocked that as soon as Planchet let him go, he collapsed to the ground and could only whisper “Thank you” before he passed out.

    As he came to, Aramis waving his perfume under his nose, Henri shook his head as the Captain presented him with a box. Regaining his composure, he opened the box and gasped as he took out an orange cape, yellow baldric and a golden feather.

    “Attach these to your uniform, Henri” said the Captain, “and call yourself Musketeer!”

    Henri dashed off and returned minutes later with his uniform now adorned by the gifts given to him. As he turned around, everyone applauded and Henri bowed and as he did he whispered “My parents, I have fulfilled my destiny” and with that stood up and drew his sword.

    Athos, Porthos, Aramis and the Captain all drew theirs and as Planchet watched on, with a tear in his eye, they all bellowed…

    “ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL!”

    To which Henri added as the first bells started to ring to signify the arrival of Christmas

    “AND TO ALL A JOYEUX NOEL!”

    The basis for Henri's Christmas present

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