Becoming a Musketeer
by Harry Hayfield
There were no two ways about it. Yes, I was a registered carer looking after my grandparents, but at only £50 a week, I was finding it very hard to make ends meet and so I had to face facts and seek part time employment. Looking through the online job market pages, I was very surprised to see an advert for "a person who likes getting close to history" and decided to chance it. You can imagine my surprise when a week later I got a letter in reply congratulating me on my new position. The fact that it had not been named was a little odd I thought, but reported to the curator's office of the Museum of Welsh History at 9.00am on the dot as requested in the letter.
"Ah, good show,” said the curator as he entered the office and handed me a packet. "There's your uniform, see you in 10 minutes" and he left the office. I opened the packet and found a very nice (if slightly blue for my liking) jacket and hat, which I put on. I was about to look in a nearby mirror when the curator returned and led me into the main entrance and welcomed me with open arms.
"This is everything that Wales has to offer, historically,” he announced, gesturing to the whole room. "If anyone has done anything in Wales in the past, this building has it!" and pointed to the various wings. "Your job is to look after it all!"
"Of course!" I said, "and as a curator of whichever wing you decide to place me in..." I started, but stopped when I suddenly realised that the curator was laughing his head off. "Have I done something wrong?" I asked.
"Oh, my dear boy!" he said, "When you said on your application that you had a good sense of humour you were not kidding. You do realise that you are a security guard?"
"A what?" I exclaimed and dashed to a mirror where I saw a company logo of a portcullis gate on my shoulders with the words "Safe and Secure Security" written around it.
"And what a good thing you've come now!" continued the curator, "especially as we have heard that the international thief Artie Kraft has been spotted in the county, but I am sure that someone like you will be able to cope. Well, toodle pip!" and with that the curator walked away leaving me shaking like a leaf.
For the rest of that day, I had kittens! I wondered wherever I should just stay in the one place and not move or whether that would make it easier for Artie to spot me so decided that I should walk everywhere and that scheme seemed to be working a treat until late in the afternoon when I was about to leave the Renaissance wing. I suddenly stopped for no reason and hid round the corner as a brutish thug of a man walked past in front of me.
“That must be Artie Kraft!” I gulped and experienced severe collywobbles. Looking around the wing for anything, I spied a reconstruction of a Musketeer’s outfit from 17th century France. According to the label, King Louis XIII of France had lent a detachment to the Irish (to ensure that Catholicism stayed in Britain) and they had been sent on a mission to Pembrokeshire. Deciding that I was going to need some help, I took the uniform and slipped away to a nearby closet where I changed into it and then following the brute waited until he was about to walk in front of another wing entrance. I girded my loins, gulped and jumped out in front of him and drew the sword.
“En garde, Monsieur” I said in my best French accent, “where dost thou think thou art going? Art thou planning to put thy hands on thy musty relics or art thou Pickaxo, the famous artist?” and posed with the sword hoping that my show of bravado was going to work.
“Listen, mate!” the person replied in a gruff Birmingham accent, “I’m part of the construction crew outside adding another wing to this place, and I’m after a kettle of boiling water to make our crew several cups of tea, now how about you let me pass or I might just have to hurt you!” and with that raised the pick axe he was carrying.
“All right, All right!” I said panicking and dropping the sword, “I was only joking” and stepped to one side letting the person walk past. As he did, I collapsed on the wall and heaved a massive sigh of relief. However, as I changed back into my work clothes and placed the uniform on the mannequin, I felt awful. I stepped back and bowed, “I beg forgiveness for dishonouring the uniform of a Musketeer” I said, “and hope that you can find it in your heart to understand that I was only doing what I though would help!” The sense of disappointment followed me home that evening and as I fell asleep, the last thing I thought was “Thank goodness that Captain Treville wasn’t around to see that exhibition!”
“Wake up, you ‘orrible little man. The Captain wants to see you straight away!”
“I’m awake! I’m awake!” I shouted in response to the sudden and unexpected request. As I opened my eyes, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. There in front of me was a large man wearing an almost exact replica of the uniform in the museum. Still slightly asleep I put my hand out to touch it but was slapped down.
“You’re got a nerve!” said the man, “First you disgrace a Musketeer uniform and now you have the gall to think that you can touch it? Follow me, Captain Treville wants to have a word with you!” and with that he dragged me towards an office and practically threw me inside and slammed the door behind me. As I staggered to my feet, I heard someone chuckling and peering over a very ornate desk came face to face with a rather old gentleman who was smiling.
“I must apologise for Athos” he smiled, “ever since I made him a Lieutenant, he’s let the position go to his head. Now, would you like to have seat and tell me what you’ve done to upset him?”
I sat down on a nearby chair and held my head. “Do forgive such a silly question,” I asked, “but are you…?”
The gentleman stood up, slowly and walked in front of the desk. “Captain Treville of His Majesty’s Musketeers at your service!” he said, bowing and then groaning came back upright. “These knees of mine!” he moaned as he returned to his desk.
I sat there completely open mouthed. I was in the office of the Captain of the Musketeers of His Majesty King Louis XIII as immortalised by Alexandre Dumas. “No way!” I thought, “This is impossible!” Captain Treville could see I was having problems understanding what was happening and rang a bell. A few moments later, a rather small gentleman dressed in the same sort of clothes dashed in and saluted.
“Ah, Albert!” said the Captain, “could I have a cup of coffee without milk?”
“Oui, monsieur” came the reply and then he turned to me, “Monsieur?”
“Er, orange squash please?” I asked
The man saluted and dashed out leaving me even more confused. “That’s Albert,” explained the Captain, “right little miracle worker he is. If it wasn’t for his inventions, I dread to think what the Cardinal might have done to the Queen by now. Now, I suppose you are wondering what you are doing here?”
“The thought had crossed my mind!” I smiled prompting the Captain to chuckle. He explained that what I thought was a replica of a Musketeer’s outfit was in fact his own that he had lent to a detachment that were indeed in Ireland at that very moment, but before they had left he had invited a local witch to cast a spell so that if anyone ever used the uniform in selfless defence, they would be granted access to him and be considered for entry into the Musketeers.
“In that case” I said standing up, “I feel I have to withdraw from that invitation as I failed the code of the Musketeers” and explained what had happened. As I explained, I noted that Treville’s smile was getting bigger and bigger. “And that is why I feel I must decline your kind, and if I may so, completely unexpected offer!” and turned to leave the room but was stopped by the sound of hand clapping. I turned round slowly to see Treville standing up and applauding me.
“And that is why I think you are worthy!” said Treville as he gestured me to sit down, “You are clearly perfect for the Musketeers. Yes, you made a mistake, but you admitted it at once and then sought repentance, qualities that I recognise as prerequisites for entrance into the Musketeer corps!”
As I sat down, finding it all very hard to take in, Albert returned with a glass of orange squash for me and a cup of steaming coffee for Treville. He looked at me and smiled and said “I know, it took me several minutes when I was first offered a post in the Musketeer corps, up until a year ago I was just a humble inventor and now look at me!” posing in his uniform and then he turned to Treville, “My Bolognese gun has been modified as requested and will be issued next week!” and with that he saluted and dashed out.
“Besides”, Treville laughed, “I need someone to keep up with Albert these days”. I nodded as I sipped my glass and then addressed Treville, “Monsieur” I said, “I can quite understand why you think I am suitable, but compared to the current guard, I am nothing. I don’t have anything like the girth of Athos, the poeticness of Aramis, the cleverness of Albert and as for Porthos, well do you know anyone stronger than him?”.
“That’s true!” he smiled as he drank his coffee, “and yet you have something that no one in my guard has” he added
“An English accent?” I asked, causing Treville to giggle
“Well, yes, there is that, but I was thinking of something just a little more practical and that is…”
However, before the Captain could finish his statement, a bell started to ring.
“Ah, that’s your alarm clock ringing!” he said, as I suddenly felt very sleepy, “Just hold hard to your beliefs, my lad, and anything is possible!” and as he said that I fell asleep.
I yawned and switched off my alarm and lay there in my bed for several moments wondering what I had just experienced. Had I really been in the office of Captain Treville, commanding officer of His Majesty’s Musketeers or had I been so disappointed by the events of the previous day that I had dreamed the whole thing as a means of trying to cope with it. I was still considering these thoughts at lunchtime when I bumped into an artist painting an oil painting of the Venus de Milo (which was on loan as part of a cultural exchange programme). I apologised most profusely, explaining that I was miles away.
“Please do not apologise, Monsieur” he replied, “I too was miles away, captivated by the beauty of this statue and wished to capture it’s essence in oil” and then he sighed.
“Is there a problem?” I asked
“Mais, oui, mon ami!” he said, sighing again, “I don’t know which of these two colours to use to express the intense beauty of such an object” and he took two bottles of oil paints from his bag. One called Royal Blue and the other called Shady White. He then turned to me and ask if I could help him.
“Well, I am not that much of an artist, but I shall certainly offer my opinion!” I said
“Oh, merci, monsieur!” the artist said as he opened the bottle tops and asked me to peer at them. The next thing I knew, my world has turned light blue as the artist squeezed both bottles right into my face. Luckily, my glasses took the force of the painted explosion but in the time it took me to take them off and wipe the paint off the lenses, the statue of the Venus de Milo had vanished and on the easel was a message “Thanks orfully” it read, “Toodle Pip, Drip”. It didn’t take long to realise who had committed the crime and quite forgetting myself, I set off in hot pursuit and saw Artie dive into the Ancient World section.
I tiptoed in and saw a likely hiding place, a cover under which was clearly a human figure. I gently walked over to it and said into an imaginary walkie talkie, “In Ancient World exhibit, no signs of suspect, over!” before grabbing the cover and shouting “Gotcha!”
However, it was not Artie I had caught, it was in fact a statue of Atlas and due to the force of my grab, the statue toppled over and the world that Atlas was supporting fell off and rolled towards me. I jumped in the air with the intention of letting it roll past but mistimed my jump and ended up on top of it, pedalling for dear life with absolutely no means of controlling it’s direction.
“Coming through!” I shouted as I travelled through the Ancient World section and was able to collide with a ladder than Artie was climbing up. Collide I did and when I opened my eyes I found them covered by two hands. “Get off me!” I shouted, pedalling in completely random directions. I have no idea where I went but did pass two people who said, “Look at that!” with the other person saying “These museums will do anything to generate publicity!” before I suddenly came to a halt. I landed on my feet next to the globe and when I looked up saw that Artie had been thrown into an open cement mixer used by the construction crew and was now covered from head to toe in cement. The boss of the crew dashed over with a chisel and cracked the cement around Artie’s nose explaining that it was super quick drying cement and that it would be impossible to get off without a jackhammer and then rang up the depot on his mobile to order one for that afternoon. “Could you make it this evening?” I asked as a plan started to form in my mind.
“So, what’s this idea that you’ve had?” asked the curator. I explained that as this was a museum that celebrated Welsh cultural connections it seemed rather amiss not to explore the connections between Wales and Australia and cited that several Welsh convicts had been among the original founders of Australia and that I hoped the prototype statue I had knocked up could be used as a demonstration of how the exhibit would look and unveiled the statue (Artie covered in the quick drying cement).
“Oh” gasped the curator, “It’s magnificent, you can tell it’s a real masterpiece, oh there is nothing dishonest about this piece”, then turning to me shook me by the hand and said “I quite agree, we should recognise the connection, tell me, do you have a name?”.
“Well” I replied, trying hard not to giggle, “I call this work “Hardened Criminal” and think that the section should be called “Up and Down Under!”
Later that evening, after Artie had been freed from the cement, arrested and charged with attempted robbery, I went home and settled down to sleep half expecting what was going to happen
“What did I say, eh?” asked Treville as he walked me from his office to the outside of Musketeer Headquarter, “you just needed the right motivation!”
“True” I said, “but even so I’m not sure that…”
Treville placed a finger over my mouth, “less of the modesty, Cadet!” and with that he smiled as we exited the building to be greeted by a massed “Huzzah!” by every other Musketeer in the whole of Paris.
“Gentlemen!” said Treville, holding his hands up for silence, “this young man may come from foreign climes, may speak with a different accent to the rest of us and may not be as strong as some of us, but I believe he has all the determination to become a fine Musketeer given time. Do I hear anyone who wishes to formally nominate him for the position of Musketeer cadet?”
I looked across the ranks of Musketeers and was stunned to see Porthos step forward.
“We have a valid nomination” said Treville, “does anyone wish to second the nomination?”
The massed ranks all took one step forward.
“Having received a valid nomination and seconded, I hereby announce that your application has been successful” Treville said, turning to me, “but have to ask you one more question. Do you accept the rules and regulations of the Musketeers, to live honourably in defence of His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen and the country of France?” and then he leant in and whispered “and England if the Duke ever comes to visit?”
“This, I swear by almighty God!” I replied, bowing
“Then welcome aboard, Cadet Hayfield!” said Treville and as he handed me a Musketeer cadet uniform, the crowd gathered at the steps of Musketeer headquarters gave three rousing cheers as a bell began to ring.
As I woke up and yawned, I had the biggest smile on my face. A smile that grew even larger when on the chair where I had placed my work clothes, a second set of clothes had appeared. That of a Musketeer cadet. I got out of bed and bowed in the direction of Paris, “I shall not let you down, Monsieur!” I said and with that got dressed, switched on my laptop and started work on a Musketeer themed theatre production for my local community theatre group determined that I would follow the Musketeer’s famed motto of:
ONE FOR ALL AND ALL FOR ONE