The Three Musketeers
Alexandre Dumas [Pere]
Part 13 out of 17
sister-in-law is on the point of having someone
assassinated, and beg him not to lose sight of her. There
is in London, I hope, some establishment like that of the
Magdalens, or of the Repentant Daughters. He must place his
sister in one of these, and we shall be in peace."
"Yes," said d'Artagnan, "till she comes out."
"Ah, my faith!" said Athos, "you require too much,
d'Artagnan. I have given you all I have, and I beg leave to
tell you that this is the bottom of my sack."
"But I think it would be still better," said Aramis, "to
inform the queen and Lord de Winter at the same time."
"Yes; but who is to carry the letter to Tours, and who to
"I answer for Bazin," said Aramis.
"And I for Planchet," said d'Artagnan.
"Ay," said Porthos, "if we cannot leave the camp, our
"To be sure they may; and this very day we will write the
letters," said Aramis. "Give the lackeys money, and they
"We will give them money?" replied Athos. "Have you any
The four friends looked at one another, and a cloud came
over the brows which but lately had been so cheerful.
"Look out!" cried d'Artagnan, "I see black points and red
points moving yonder. Why did you talk of a regiment,
Athos? It is a veritable army!"
"My faith, yes," said Athos; "there they are. See the
sneaks come, without drum or trumpet. Ah, ah! have you
Grimaud made a sign in the affirmative, and pointed to a
dozen bodies which he had set up in the most picturesque
attitudes. Some carried arms, others seemed to be taking
aim, and the remainder appeared merely to be sword in hand.
"Bravo!" said Athos; "that does honor to your imagination."
"All very well," said Porthos, "but I should like to
"Let us decamp first, and you will understand afterward."
"A moment, gentlemen, a moment; give Grimaud time to clear
away the breakfast."
"Ah, ah!" said Aramis, "the black points and the red points
are visibly enlarging. I am of d'Artagnan's opinion; we
have no time to lose in regaining our camp."
"My faith," said Athos, "I have nothing to say against a
retreat. We bet upon one hour, and we have stayed an hour
and a half. Nothing can be said; let us be off, gentlemen,
let us be off!"
Grimaud was already ahead, with the basket and the dessert.
The four friends followed, ten paces behind him.
"What the devil shall we do now, gentlemen?" cried Athos.
"Have you forgotten anything?" said Aramis.
"The white flag, morbleu! We must not leave a flag in the
hands of the enemy, even if that flag be but a napkin."
And Athos ran back to the bastion, mounted the platform, and
bore off the flag; but as the Rochellais had arrived within
musket range, they opened a terrible fire upon this man, who
appeared to expose himself for pleasure's sake.
But Athos might be said to bear a charmed life. The balls
passed and whistled all around him; not one struck him.
Athos waved his flag, turning his back on the guards of the
city, and saluting those of the camp. On both sides loud
cries arose--on the one side cries of anger, on the other
cries of enthusiasm.
A second discharge followed the first, and three balls, by
passing through it, made the napkin really a flag. Cries
were heard from the camp, "Come down! come down!"
Athos came down; his friends, who anxiously awaited him, saw
him returned with joy.
"Come along, Athos, come along!" cried d'Artagnan; "now we
have found everything except money, it would be stupid to be
But Athos continued to march majestically, whatever remarks
his companions made; and they, finding their remarks
useless, regulated their pace by his.
Grimaud and his basket were far in advance, out of the range
of the balls.
At the end of an instant they heard a furious fusillade.
"What's that?" asked Porthos, "what are they firing at now?
I hear no balls whistle, and I see nobody!"
"They are firing at the corpses," replied Athos.
"But the dead cannot return their fire."
"Certainly not! They will then fancy it is an ambuscade,
they will deliberate; and by the time they have found out
the pleasantry, we shall be out of the range of their balls.
That renders it useless to get a pleurisy by too much
"Oh, I comprehend now," said the astonished Porthos.
"That's lucky," said Athos, shrugging his shoulders.
On their part, the French, on seeing the four friends return
at such a step, uttered cries of enthusiasm.
At length a fresh discharge was heard, and this time the
balls came rattling among the stones around the four
friends, and whistling sharply in their ears. The
Rochellais had at last taken possession of the bastion.
"These Rochellais are bungling fellows," said Athos; "how
many have we killed of them--a dozen?"
"How many did we crush under the wall?"
"Eight or ten."
"And in exchange for all that not even a scratch! Ah, but
what is the matter with your hand, d'Artagnan? It bleeds,
"Oh, it's nothing," said d'Artagnan.
"A spent ball?"
"Not even that."
"What is it, then?"
We have said that Athos loved d'Artagnan like a child, and
this somber and inflexible personage felt the anxiety of a
parent for the young man.
"Only grazed a little," replied d'Artagnan; "my fingers were
caught between two stones--that of the wall and that of my
ring--and the skin was broken."
"That comes of wearing diamonds, my master," said Athos,
"Ah, to be sure," cried Porthos, "there is a diamond. Why
the devil, then, do we plague ourselves about money, when
there is a diamond?"
"Stop a bit!" said Aramis.
"Well thought of, Porthos; this time you have an idea."
"Undoubtedly," said Porthos, drawing himself up at Athos's
compliment; "as there is a diamond, let us sell it."
"But," said d'Artagnan, "it is the queen's diamond."
"The stronger reason why it should be sold," replied Athos.
The queen saving Monsieur de Buckingham, her lover; nothing
more just. The queen saving us, her friends; nothing more
moral. Let us sell the diamond. What says Monsieur the
Abbe? I don't ask Porthos; his opinion has been given."
"Why, I think," said Aramis, blushing as usual, "that his
ring not coming from a mistress, and consequently not being
a love token, d'Artagnan may sell it."
"My dear Aramis, you speak like theology personified. Your
advice, then, is--"
"To sell the diamond," replied Aramis.
"Well, then," said d'Artagnan, gaily, "let us sell the
diamond, and say no more about it."
The fusillade continued; but the four friends were out of
reach, and the Rochellais only fired to appease their
"My faith, it was time that idea came into Porthos's head.
Here we are at the camp; therefore, gentlemen, not a word
more of this affair. We are observed; they are coming to
meet us. We shall be carried in triumph."
In fact, as we have said, the whole camp was in motion.
More than two thousand persons had assisted, as at a
spectacle, in this fortunate but wild undertaking of the
four friends--an undertaking of which they were far from
suspecting the real motive. Nothing was heard but cries of
"Live the Musketeers! Live the Guards!" M. de Busigny was
the first to come and shake Athos by the hand, and
acknowledge that the wager was lost. The dragoon and the
Swiss followed him, and all their comrades followed the
dragoon and the Swiss. There was nothing but felicitations,
pressures of the hand, and embraces; there was no end to the
inextinguishable laughter at the Rochellais. The tumult at
length became so great that the cardinal fancied there must
be some riot, and sent La Houdiniere, his captain of the
Guards, to inquire what was going on.
The affair was described to the messenger with all the
effervescence of enthusiasm.
"Well?" asked the cardinal, on seeing La Houdiniere return.
"Well, monseigneur," replied the latter, "three Musketeers
and a Guardsman laid a wager with Monsieur de Busigny that
they would go and breakfast in the bastion St. Gervais; and
while breakfasting they held it for two hours against the
enemy, and have killed I don't know how many Rochellais."
"Did you inquire the names of those three Musketeers?"
"What are their names?"
"Messieurs Athos, Porthos, and Aramis."
"Still my three brave fellows!" murmured the cardinal. "And
"Still my young scapegrace. Positively, these four men must
be on my side."
The same evening the cardinal spoke to M. de Treville of the
exploit of the morning, which was the talk of the whole
camp. M. de Treville, who had received the account of the
adventure from the mouths of the heroes of it, related it in
all its details to his Eminence, not forgetting the episode
of the napkin.
"That's well, Monsieur de Treville," said the cardinal;
"pray let that napkin be sent to me. I will have three
fleur-de-lis embroidered on it in gold, and will give it to
your company as a standard."
"Monseigneur," said M. de Treville, "that will be unjust to
the Guardsmen. Monsieur d'Artagnan is not with me; he
serves under Monsieur Dessessart."
"Well, then, take him," said the cardinal; "when four men
are so much attached to one another, it is only fair that
they should serve in the same company."
That same evening M. de Treville announced this good news to
the three Musketeers and d'Artagnan, inviting all four to
breakfast with him next morning.
D'Artagnan was beside himself with joy. We know that the
dream of his life had been to become a Musketeer. The three
friends were likewise greatly delighted.
"My faith," said d'Artagnan to Athos, "you had a triumphant
idea! As you said, we have acquired glory, and were enabled
to carry on a conversation of the highest importance."
"Which we can resume now without anybody suspecting us, for,
with the help of God, we shall henceforth pass for
That evening d'Artagnan went to present his respects to M.
Dessessart, and inform him of his promotion.
M. Dessessart, who esteemed d'Artagnan, made him offers of
help, as this change would entail expenses for equipment.
D'Artagnan refused; but thinking the opportunity a good one, he
begged him to have the diamond he put into his hand valued,
as he wished to turn it into money.
The next day, M. Dessessart's valet came to d'Artagnan's
lodging, and gave him a bag containing seven thousand
This was the price of the queen's diamond.
48 A FAMILY AFFAIR
Athos had invented the phrase, family affair. A family
affair was not subject to the investigation of the cardinal;
a family affair concerned nobody. People might employ
themselves in a family affair before all the world.
Therefore Athos had invented the phrase, family affair.
Aramis had discovered the idea, the lackeys.
Porthos had discovered the means, the diamond.
D'Artagnan alone had discovered nothing--he, ordinarily the
most inventive of the four; but it must be also said that
the very name of Milady paralyzed him.
Ah! no, we were mistaken; he had discovered a purchaser for
The breakfast at M. de Treville's was as gay and cheerful as
possible. D'Artagnan already wore his uniform--for being
nearly of the same size as Aramis, and as Aramis was so
liberally paid by the publisher who purchased his poem as to
allow him to buy everything double, he sold his friend a
D'Artagnan would have been at the height of his wishes if he
had not constantly seen Milady like a dark cloud hovering in
After breakfast, it was agreed that they should meet again
in the evening at Athos's lodging, and there finish their
D'Artagnan passed the day in exhibiting his Musketeer's
uniform in every street of the camp.
In the evening, at the appointed hour, the four friends met.
There only remained three things to decide--what they
should write to Milady's brother; what they should write to
the clever person at Tours; and which should be the lackeys
to carry the letters.
Everyone offered his own. Athos talked of the discretion of
Grimaud, who never spoke a word but when his master unlocked
his mouth. Porthos boasted of the strength of Mousqueton,
who was big enough to thrash four men of ordinary size.
Aramis, confiding in the address of Bazin, made a pompous
eulogium on his candidate. Finally, d'Artagnan had entire
faith in the bravery of Planchet, and reminded them of the
manner in which he had conducted himself in the ticklish
affair of Boulogne.
These four virtues disputed the prize for a length of time,
and gave birth to magnificent speeches which we do not
repeat here for fear they should be deemed too long.
"Unfortunately," said Athos, "he whom we send must possess
in himself alone the four qualities united."
"But where is such a lackey to be found?"
"Not to be found!" cried Athos. "I know it well, so take
"Take Planchet. Planchet is brave and shrewd; they are two
qualities out of the four."
"Gentlemen," said Aramis, "the principal question is not to
know which of our four lackeys is the most discreet, the
most strong, the most clever, or the most brave; the
principal thing is to know which loves money the best."
"What Aramis says is very sensible," replied Athos; "we must
speculate upon the faults of people, and not upon their
virtues. Monsieur Abbe, you are a great moralist."
"Doubtless," said Aramis, "for we not only require to be
well served in order to succeed, but moreover, not to fail;
for in case of failure, heads are in question, not for our
"Speak lower, Aramis," said Athos.
"That's wise--not for the lackeys," resumed Aramis, "but for
the master--for the masters, we may say. Are our lackeys
sufficiently devoted to us to risk their lives for us? No."
"My faith," said d'Artagnan. "I would almost answer for
"Well, my dear friend, add to his natural devotedness a good
sum of money, and then, instead of answering for him once,
answer for him twice."
"Why, good God! you will be deceived just the same," said
Athos, who was an optimist when things were concerned, and a
pessimist when men were in question. "They will promise
everything for the sake of the money, and on the road fear
will prevent them from acting. Once taken, they will be
pressed; when pressed, they will confess everything. What
the devil! we are not children. To reach England"--Athos
lowered his voice--"all France, covered with spies and
creatures of the cardinal, must be crossed. A passport for
embarkation must be obtained; and the party must be
acquainted with English in order to ask the way to London.
Really, I think the thing very difficult."
"Not at all," cried d'Artagnan, who was anxious the matter
should be accomplished; "on the contrary, I think it very
easy. It would be, no doubt, parbleu, if we write to Lord
de Winter about affairs of vast importance, of the horrors
of the cardinal--"
"Speak lower!" said Athos.
"--of intrigues and secrets of state," continued d'Artagnan,
complying with the recommendation. "there can be no doubt
we would all be broken on the wheel; but for God's sake, do
not forget, as you yourself said, Athos, that we only write
to him concerning a family affair; that we only write to him
to entreat that as soon as Milady arrives in London he will
put it out of her power to injure us. I will write to him,
then, nearly in these terms."
"Let us see," said Athos, assuming in advance a critical
"Monsieur and dear friend--"
"Ah, yes! Dear friend to an Englishman," interrupted Athos;
"well commenced! Bravo, d'Artagnan! Only with that word
you would be quartered instead of being broken on the
"Well, perhaps. I will say, then, Monsieur, quite short."
"You may even say, My Lord," replied Athos, who stickled for
"My Lord, do you remember the little goat pasture of the
"Good, the Luxembourg! One might believe this is an
allusion to the queen-mother! That's ingenious," said
"Well, then, we will put simply, My Lord, do you remember a
certain little enclosure where your life was spared?"
"My dear d'Artagnan, you will never make anything but a very
bad secretary. Where your life was spared! For shame!
that's unworthy. A man of spirit is not to be reminded of
such services. A benefit reproached is an offense
"The devil!" said d'Artagnan, "you are insupportable. If
the letter must be written under your censure, my faith, I
renounce the task."
"And you will do right. Handle the musket and the sword, my
dear fellow. You will come off splendidly at those two
exercises; but pass the pen over to Monsieur Abbe. That's
"Ay, ay!" said Porthos; "pass the pen to Aramis, who writes
theses in Latin."
"Well, so be it," said d'Artagnan. "Draw up this note for
us, Aramis; but by our Holy Father the Pope, cut it short,
for I shall prune you in my turn, I warn you."
"I ask no better," said Aramis, with that ingenious air of
confidence which every poet has in himself; "but let me be
properly acquainted with the subject. I have heard here and
there that this sister-in-law was a hussy. I have obtained
proof of it by listening to her conversation with the
"Lower! SACRE BLEU!" said Athos.
"But," continued Aramis, "the details escape me."
"And me also," said Porthos.
D'Artagnan and Athos looked at each other for some time in
silence. At length Athos, after serious reflection and
becoming more pale than usual, made a sign of assent to
d'Artagnan, who by it understood he was at liberty to speak.
"Well, this is what you have to say," said d'Artagnan: "My
Lord, your sister-in-law is an infamous woman, who wished to
have you killed that she might inherit your wealth; but she
could not marry your brother, being already married in
France, and having been--" d'Artagnan stopped, as if
seeking for the word, and looked at Athos.
"Repudiated by her husband," said Athos.
"Because she had been branded," continued d'Artagnan.
"Bah!" cried Porthos. "Impossible! What do you say--that
she wanted to have her brother-in-law killed?"
"She was married?" asked Aramis.
"And her husband found out that she had a fleur-de-lis on
her shoulder?" cried Porthos.
These three yeses had been pronounced by Athos, each with a
"And who has seen this fleur-de-lis?" inquired Aramis.
"d'Artagnan and I. Or rather, to observe the chronological
order, I and d'Artagnan," replied Athos.
"And does the husband of this frightful creature still
live?" said Aramis.
"He still lives."
"Are you quite sure of it?"
"I am he."
There was a moment of cold silence, during which everyone
was affected according to his nature.
"This time," said Athos, first breaking the silence,
"d'Artagnan has given us an excellent program, and the
letter must be written at once."
"The devil! You are right, Athos," said Aramis; "and it is
a rather difficult matter. The chancellor himself would be
puzzled how to write such a letter, and yet the chancellor
draws up an official report very readily. Never mind! Be
silent, I will write."
Aramis accordingly took the quill, reflected for a few
moments, wrote eight or ten lines in a charming little
female hand, and then with a voice soft and slow, as if each
word had been scrupulously weighed, he read the following:
"My Lord, The person who writes these few lines had the
honor of crossing swords with you in the little enclosure of
the Rue d'Enfer. As you have several times since declared
yourself the friend of that person, he thinks it his duty to
respond to that friendship by sending you important
information. Twice you have nearly been the victim of a near relative,
whom you believe to be your heir because you
are ignorant that before she contracted a marriage in
England she was already married in France. But the third
time, which is the present, you may succumb. Your relative
left La Rochelle for England during the night. Watch her
arrival, for she has great and terrible projects. If you
require to know positively what she is capable of, read her
past history on her left shoulder."
"Well, now that will do wonderfully well," said Athos. "My
dear Aramis, you have the pen of a secretary of state. Lord
de Winter will now be upon his guard if the letter should
reach him; and even if it should fall into the hands of the
cardinal, we shall not be compromised. But as the lackey
who goes may make us believe he has been to London and may
stop at Chatellerault, let us give him only half the sum
promised him, with the letter, with an agreement that he
shall have the other half in exchange for the reply. Have
you the diamond?" continued Athos.
"I have what is still better. I have the price"; and
d'Artagnan threw the bag upon the table. At the sound of
the gold Aramis raised his eyes and Porthos started. As to
Athos, he remained unmoved.
"How much in that little bag?"
"Seven thousand livres, in louis of twelve francs."
"Seven thousand livres!" cried Porthos. "That poor little
diamond was worth seven thousand livres?"
"It appears so," said Athos, "since here they are. I don't
suppose that our friend d'Artagnan has added any of his own
to the amount."
"But, gentlemen, in all this," said d'Artagnan, "we do not
think of the queen. Let us take some heed of the welfare of
her dear Buckingham. That is the least we owe her."
"That's true," said Athos; "but that concerns Aramis."
"Well," replied the latter, blushing, "what must I say?"
"Oh, that's simple enough!" replied Athos. "Write a second
letter for that clever personage who lives at Tours."
Aramis resumed his pen, reflected a little, and wrote the
following lines, which he immediately submitted to the
approbation of his friends.
"My dear cousin."
"Ah, ah!" said Athos. "This clever person is your relative,
"Go on, to your cousin, then!"
"My dear Cousin, His Eminence, the cardinal, whom God
preserve for the happiness of France and the confusion of
the enemies of the kingdom, is on the point of putting an
end to the hectic rebellion of La Rochelle. It is probable
that the succor of the English fleet will never even arrive
in sight of the place. I will even venture to say that I am
certain M. de Buckingham will be prevented from setting out
by some great event. His Eminence is the most illustrious
politician of times past, of times present, and probably of
times to come. He would extinguish the sun if the sun
incommoded him. Give these happy tidings to your sister, my
dear cousin. I have dreamed that the unlucky Englishman was
dead. I cannot recollect whether it was by steel or by
poison; only of this I am sure, I have dreamed he was dead,
and you know my dreams never deceive me. Be assured, then,
of seeing me soon return."
"Capital!" cried Athos; "you are the king of poets, my dear
Aramis. You speak like the Apocalypse, and you are as true
as the Gospel. There is nothing now to do but to put the
address to this letter."
"That is easily done," said Aramis.
He folded the letter fancifully, and took up his pen and
"To Mlle. Michon, seamstress, Tours."
The three friends looked at one another and laughed; they
"Now," said Aramis, "you will please to understand,
gentlemen, that Bazin alone can carry this letter to Tours.
My cousin knows nobody but Bazin, and places confidence in
nobody but him; any other person would fail. Besides, Bazin
is ambitious and learned; Bazin has read history, gentlemen,
he knows that Sixtus the Fifth became Pope after having kept
pigs. Well, as he means to enter the Church at the same
time as myself, he does not despair of becoming Pope in his
turn, or at least a cardinal. You can understand that a man
who has such views will never allow himself to be taken, or
if taken, will undergo martyrdom rather than speak."
"Very well," said d'Artagnan, "I consent to Bazin with all
my heart, but grant me Planchet. Milady had him one day
turned out of doors, with sundry blows of a good stick to
accelerate his motions. Now, Planchet has an excellent
memory; and I will be bound that sooner than relinquish any
possible means of vengeance, he will allow himself to be
beaten to death. If your arrangements at Tours are your
arrangements, Aramis, those of London are mine. I request,
then, that Planchet may be chosen, more particularly as he
has already been to London with me, and knows how to speak
correctly: London, sir, if you please, and my master, Lord
d'Artagnan. With that you may be satisfied he can make his
way, both going and returning."
"In that case," said Athos, "Planchet must receive seven
hundred livres for going, and seven hundred livres for
coming back; and Bazin, three hundred livres for going, and
three hundred livres for returning--that will reduce the sum
to five thousand livres. We will each take a thousand
livres to be employed as seems good, and we will leave a
fund of a thousand livres under the guardianship of Monsieur
Abbe here, for extraordinary occasions or common wants.
Will that do?"
"My dear Athos," said Aramis, "you speak like Nestor, who
was, as everyone knows, the wisest among the Greeks."
"Well, then," said Athos, "it is agreed. Planchet and Bazin
shall go. Everything considered, I am not sorry to retain
Grimaud; he is accustomed to my ways, and I am particular.
Yesterday's affair must have shaken him a little; his voyage
would upset him quite."
Planchet was sent for, and instructions were given him. The
matter had been named to him by d'Artagnan, who in the first
place pointed out the money to him, then the glory, and then
"I will carry the letter in the lining of my coat," said
Planchet; "and if I am taken I will swallow it."
"Well, but then you will not be able to fulfill your
commission," said d'Artagnan.
"You will give me a copy this evening, which I shall know by
D'Artagnan looked at his friends, as if to say, "Well, what
did I tell you?"
"Now," continued he, addressing Planchet, "you have eight
days to get an interview with Lord de Winter; you have eight
days to return--in all sixteen days. If, on the sixteenth
day after your departure, at eight o'clock in the evening
you are not here, no money--even if it be but five minutes
"Then, monsieur," said Planchet, "you must buy me a watch."
"Take this," said Athos, with his usual careless generosity,
giving him his own, "and be a good lad. Remember, if you
talk, if you babble, if you get drunk, you risk your
master's head, who has so much confidence in your fidelity,
and who answers for you. But remember, also, that if by
your fault any evil happens to d'Artagnan, I will find you,
wherever you may be, for the purpose of ripping up your
"Oh, monsieur!" said Planchet, humiliated by the suspicion,
and moreover, terrified at the calm air of the Musketeer.
"And I," said Porthos, rolling his large eyes, "remember, I
will skin you alive."
"And I," said Aramis, with his soft, melodius voice,
"remember that I will roast you at a slow fire, like a
Planchet began to weep. We will not venture to say whether
it was from terror created by the threats or from tenderness
at seeing four friends so closely united.
D'Artagnan took his hand. "See, Planchet," said he, "these
gentlemen only say this out of affection for me, but at
bottom they all like you."
"Ah, monsieur," said Planchet, "I will succeed or I will
consent to be cut in quarters; and if they do cut me in
quarters, be assured that not a morsel of me will speak."
It was decided that Planchet should set out the next day, at
eight o'clock in the morning, in order, as he had said, that
he might during the night learn the letter by heart. He
gained just twelve hours by this engagement; he was to be
back on the sixteenth day, by eight o'clock in the evening.
In the morning, as he was mounting his horse, d'Artagnan,
who felt at the bottom of his heart a partiality for the
duke, took Planchet aside.
"Listen," said he to him. "When you have given the letter
to Lord de Winter and he has read it, you will further say
to him: Watch over his Grace Lord Buckingham, for they wish
to assassinate him. But this, Planchet, is so serious and
important that I have not informed my friends that I would
entrust this secret to you; and for a captain's commission I
would not write it."
"Be satisfied, monsieur," said Planchet, "you shall see if
confidence can be placed in me."
Mounted on an excellent horse, which he was to leave at the
end of twenty leagues in order to take the post, Planchet
set off at a gallop, his spirits a little depressed by the
triple promise made him by the Musketeers, but otherwise as
light-hearted as possible.
Bazin set out the next day for Tours, and was allowed eight
days for performing his commission.
The four friends, during the period of these two absences,
had, as may well be supposed, the eye on the watch, the nose
to the wind, and the ear on the hark. Their days were
passed in endeavoring to catch all that was said, in
observing the proceeding of the cardinal, and in looking out
for all the couriers who arrived. More than once an
involuntary trembling seized them when called upon for some
unexpected service. They had, besides, to look constantly
to their own proper safety; Milady was a phantom which, when
it had once appeared to people, did not allow them to sleep
On the morning of the eighth day, Bazin, fresh as ever, and
smiling, according to custom, entered the cabaret of the
Parpaillot as the four friends were sitting down to
breakfast, saying, as had been agreed upon: "Monsieur
Aramis, the answer from your cousin."
The four friends exchanged a joyful glance; half of the work
was done. It is true, however, that it was the shorter and
Aramis, blushing in spite of himself, took the letter, which
was in a large, coarse hand and not particular for its
"Good God!" cried he, laughing, "I quite despair of my poor
Michon; she will never write like Monsieur de Voiture."
"What does you mean by boor Michon?" said the Swiss, who was
chatting with the four friends when the letter came.
"Oh, pardieu, less than nothing," said Aramis; "a charming
little seamstress, whom I love dearly and from whose hand I
requested a few lines as a sort of keepsake."
"The duvil!" said the Swiss, "if she is as great a lady as
her writing is large, you are a lucky fellow, gomrade!"
Aramis read the letter, and passed it to Athos.
"See what she writes to me, Athos," said he.
Athos cast a glance over the epistle, and to disperse all
the suspicions that might have been created, read aloud:
"My cousin, My sister and I are skillful in interpreting
dreams, and even entertain great fear of them; but of yours
it may be said, I hope, every dream is an illusion. Adieu!
Take care of yourself, and act so that we may from time to
time hear you spoken of.
"And what dream does she mean?" asked the dragoon, who had
approached during the reading.
"Yez; what's the dream?" said the Swiss.
"Well, pardieu!" said Aramis, "it was only this: I had a
dream, and I related it to her."
"Yez, yez," said the Swiss; "it's simple enough to dell a
dream, but I neffer dream."
"You are very fortunate," said Athos, rising; "I wish I
could say as much!"
"Neffer," replied the Swiss, enchanted that a man like Athos
could envy him anything. "Neffer, neffer!"
D'Artagnan, seeing Athos rise, did likewise, took his arm,
and went out.
Porthos and Aramis remained behind to encounter the jokes of
the dragoon and the Swiss.
As to Bazin, he went and lay down on a truss of straw; and
as he had more imagination than the Swiss, he dreamed that
Aramis, having become pope, adorned his head with a
But, as we have said, Bazin had not, by his fortunate
return, removed more than a part of the uneasiness which
weighed upon the four friends. The days of expectation are
long, and d'Artagnan, in particular, would have wagered that
the days were forty-four hours. He forgot the necessary
slowness of navigation; he exaggerated to himself the power
of Milady. He credited this woman, who appeared to him the
equal of a demon, with agents as supernatural as herself; at
the least noise, he imagined himself about to be arrested,
and that Planchet was being brought back to be confronted
with himself and his friends. Still further, his confidence
in the worthy Picard, at one time so great, diminished day
by day. This anxiety became so great that it even extended
to Aramis and Porthos. Athos alone remained unmoved, as if
no danger hovered over him, and as if he breathed his
On the sixteenth day, in particular, these signs were so
strong in d'Artagnan and his two friends that they could not
remain quiet in one place, and wandered about like ghosts on
the road by which Planchet was expected.
"Really," said Athos to them, "you are not men but children,
to let a woman terrify you so! And what does it amount to,
after all? To be imprisoned. Well, but we should be taken
out of prison; Madame Bonacieux was released. To be
decapitated? Why, every day in the trenches we go
cheerfully to expose ourselves to worse than that--for a
bullet may break a leg, and I am convinced a surgeon would
give us more pain in cutting off a thigh than an executioner
in cutting off a head. Wait quietly, then; in two hours, in
four, in six hours at latest, Planchet will be here. He
promised to be here, and I have very great faith in
Planchet, who appears to me to be a very good lad."
"But if he does not come?" said d'Artagnan.
"Well, if he does not come, it will be because he has been
delayed, that's all. He may have fallen from his horse, he
may have cut a caper from the deck; he may have traveled so
fast against the wind as to have brought on a violent
catarrh. Eh, gentlemen, let us reckon upon accidents! Life
is a chaplet of little miseries which the philosopher counts
with a smile. Be philosophers, as I am, gentlemen; sit down
at the table and let us drink. Nothing makes the future
look so bright as surveying it through a glass of
"That's all very well," replied d'Artagnan; "but I am tired
of fearing when I open a fresh bottle that the wine may come
from the cellar of Milady."
"You are very fastidious," said Athos; "such a beautiful
"A woman of mark!" said Porthos, with his loud laugh.
Athos started, passed his hand over his brow to remove the
drops of perspiration that burst forth, and rose in his turn
with a nervous movement he could not repress.
The day, however, passed away; and the evening came on
slowly, but finally it came. The bars were filled with
drinkers. Athos, who had pocketed his share of the diamond,
seldom quit the Parpaillot. He had found in M. de Busigny,
who, by the by, had given them a magnificent dinner, a
partner worthy of his company. They were playing together,
as usual, when seven o'clock sounded; the patrol was heard
passing to double the posts. At half past seven the retreat
"We are lost," said d'Artagnan, in the ear of Athos.
"You mean to say we have lost," said Athos, quietly, drawing
four pistoles from his pocket and throwing them upon the
table. "Come, gentlemen," said he, "they are beating the
tattoo. Let us to bed!"
And Athos went out of the Parpaillot, followed by
d'Artagnan. Aramis came behind, giving his arm to Porthos.
Aramis mumbled verses to himself, and Porthos from time to
time pulled a hair or two from his mustache, in sign of
But all at once a shadow appeared in the darkness the
outline of which was familiar to d'Artagnan, and a well-
known voice said, "Monsieur, I have brought your cloak; it
is chilly this evening."
"Planchet!" cried d'Artagnan, beside himself with joy.
"Planchet!" repeated Aramis and Porthos.
"Well, yes, Planchet, to be sure," said Athos, "what is
there so astonishing in that? He promised to be back by
eight o'clock, and eight is striking. Bravo, Planchet, you
are a lad of your word, and if ever you leave your master, I
will promise you a place in my service."
"Oh, no, never," said Planchet, "I will never leave Monsieur
At the same time d'Artagnan felt that Planchet slipped a
note into his hand.
D'Artagnan felt a strong inclination to embrace Planchet as
he had embraced him on his departure; but he feared lest
this mark of affection, bestowed upon his lackey in the open
street, might appear extraordinary to passers-by, and he
"I have the note," said he to Athos and to his friends.
"That's well," said Athos, "let us go home and read it."
The note burned the hand of d'Artagnan. He wished to hasten
their steps; but Athos took his arm and passed it under his
own, and the young man was forced to regulate his pace by
that of his friend.
At length they reached the tent, lit a lamp, and while
Planchet stood at the entrance that the four friends might
not be surprised, d'Artagnan, with a trembling hand, broke
the seal and opened the so anxiously expected letter.
It contained half a line, in a hand perfectly British, and
with a conciseness as perfectly Spartan:
Thank you; be easy.
d'Artagnan translated this for the others.
Athos took the letter from the hands of d'Artagnan,
approached the lamp, set fire to the paper, and did not let
go till it was reduced to a cinder.
Then, calling Planchet, he said, "Now, my lad, you may claim
your seven hundred livres, but you did not run much risk
with such a note as that."
"I am not to blame for having tried every means to compress
it," said Planchet.
"Well!" cried d'Artagnan, "tell us all about it."
"Dame, that's a long job, monsieur."
"You are right, Planchet," said Athos; "besides, the tattoo
has been sounded, and we should be observed if we kept a
light burning much longer than the others."
"So be it," said d'Artagnan. "Go to bed, Planchet, and
"My faith, monsieur! that will be the first time I have done
so for sixteen days."
"And me, too!" said d'Artagnan.
"And me, too!" said Porthos.
"And me, too!" said Aramis.
"Well, if you will have the truth, and me, too!" said Athos.
Meantime Milady, drunk with passion, roaring on the deck like a
lioness that has been embarked, had been tempted to throw herself
into the sea that she might regain the coast, for she could not
get rid of the thought that she had been insulted by d'Artagnan,
threatened by Athos, and that she had quit France without being
revenged on them. This idea soon became so insupportable to her
that at the risk of whatever terrible consequences might result
to herself from it, she implored the captain to put her on shore;
but the captain, eager to escape from his false position--placed
between French and English cruisers, like the bat between the
mice and the birds--was in great haste to regain England, and
positively refused to obey what he took for a woman's caprice,
promising his passenger, who had been particularly recommended to
him by the cardinal, to land her, if the sea and the French
permitted him, at one of the ports of Brittany, either at Lorient
or Brest. But the wind was contrary, the sea bad; they tacked
and kept offshore. Nine days after leaving the Charente, pale
with fatigue and vexation, Milady saw only the blue coasts of
She calculated that to cross this corner of France and return to
the cardinal it would take her at least three days. Add another
day for landing, and that would make four. Add these four to the
nine others, that would be thirteen days lost--thirteen days,
during which so many important events might pass in London. She
reflected likewise that the cardinal would be furious at her
return, and consequently would be more disposed to listen to the
complaints brought against her than to the accusations she
brought against others.
She allowed the vessel to pass Lorient and Brest without
repeating her request to the captain, who, on his part, took care
not to remind her of it. Milady therefore continued her voyage,
and on the very day that Planchet embarked at Portsmouth for
France, the messenger of his Eminence entered the port in
All the city was agitated by an extraordinary movement. Four
large vessels, recently built, had just been launched. At the
end of the jetty, his clothes richly laced with gold, glittering,
as was customary with him, with diamonds and precious stones, his
hat ornamented with a white feather which drooped upon his
shoulder, Buckingham was seen surrounded by a staff almost as
brilliant as himself.
It was one of those rare and beautiful days in winter when
England remembers that there is a sun. The star of day, pale but
nevertheless still splendid, was setting in the horizon,
glorifying at once the heavens and the sea with bands of fire,
and casting upon the towers and the old houses of the city a last
ray of gold which made the windows sparkle like the reflection of
a conflagration. Breathing that sea breeze, so much more
invigorating and balsamic as the land is approached,
contemplating all the power of those preparations she was
commissioned to destroy, all the power of that army which she was
to combat alone--she, a woman with a few bags of gold--Milady
compared herself mentally to Judith, the terrible Jewess, when
she penetrated the camp of the Assyrians and beheld the enormous
mass of chariots, horses, men, and arms, which a gesture of her
hand was to dissipate like a cloud of smoke.
They entered the roadstead; but as they drew near in order to
cast anchor, a little cutter, looking like a coastguard
formidably armed, approached the merchant vessel and dropped into
the sea a boat which directed its course to the ladder. This
boat contained an officer, a mate, and eight rowers. The officer
alone went on board, where he was received with all the deference
inspired by the uniform.
The officer conversed a few instants with the captain, gave him
several papers, of which he was the bearer, to read, and upon the
order of the merchant captain the whole crew of the vessel, both
passengers and sailors, were called upon deck.
When this species of summons was made the officer inquired aloud
the point of the brig's departure, its route, its landings; and
to all these questions the captain replied without difficulty and
without hesitation. Then the officer began to pass in review all
the people, one after the other, and stopping when he came to
Milady, surveyed her very closely, but without addressing a
single word to her.
He then returned to the captain, said a few words to him, and as
if from that moment the vessel was under his command, he ordered
a maneuver which the crew executed immediately. Then the vessel
resumed its course, still escorted by the little cutter, which
sailed side by side with it, menacing it with the mouths of its
six cannon. The boat followed in the wake of the ship, a speck
near the enormous mass.
During the examination of Milady by the officer, as may well be
imagined, Milady on her part was not less scrutinizing in her
glances. But however great was the power of this woman with eyes
of flame in reading the hearts of those whose secrets she wished
to divine, she met this time with a countenance of such
impassivity that no discovery followed her investigation. The
officer who had stopped in front of her and studied her with so
much care might have been twenty-five or twenty-six years of age.
He was of pale complexion, with clear blue eyes, rather deeply
set; his mouth, fine and well cut, remained motionless in its
correct lines; his chin, strongly marked, denoted that strength
of will which in the ordinary Britannic type denotes mostly
nothing but obstinacy; a brow a little receding, as is proper for
poets, enthusiasts, and soldiers, was scarcely shaded by short
thin hair which, like the beard which covered the lower part of
his face, was of a beautiful deep chestnut color.
When they entered the port, it was already night. The fog
increased the darkness, and formed round the sternlights and
lanterns of the jetty a circle like that which surrounds the moon
when the weather threatens to become rainy. The air they
breathed was heavy, damp, and cold.
Milady, that woman so courageous and firm, shivered in spite of
The officer desired to have Milady's packages pointed out to him,
and ordered them to be placed in the boat. When this operation
was complete, he invited her to descend by offering her his hand.
Milady looked at this man, and hesitated. "Who are you, sir,"
asked she, "who has the kindness to trouble yourself so
particularly on my account?"
"You may perceive, madame, by my uniform, that I am an officer in
the English navy," replied the young man.
"But is it the custom for the officers in the English navy to
place themselves at the service of their female compatriots when
they land in a port of Great Britain, and carry their gallantry
so far as to conduct them ashore?"
"Yes, madame, it is the custom, not from gallantry but prudence,
that in time of war foreigners should be conducted to particular
hotels, in order that they may remain under the eye of the
government until full information can be obtained about them."
These words were pronounced with the most exact politeness and
the most perfect calmness. Nevertheless, they had not the power
of convincing Milady.
"But I am not a foreigner, sir," said she, with an accent as pure
as ever was heard between Portsmouth and Manchester; "my name is
Lady Clarik, and this measure--"
"This measure is general, madame; and you will seek in vain to
"I will follow you, then, sir."
Accepting the hand of the officer, she began the descent of the
ladder, at the foot of which the boat waited. The officer
followed her. A large cloak was spread at the stern; the officer
requested her to sit down upon this cloak, and placed himself
"Row!" said he to the sailors.
The eight oars fell at once into the sea, making but a single
sound, giving but a single stroke, and the boat seemed to fly
over the surface of the water.
In five minutes they gained the land.
The officer leaped to the pier, and offered his hand to Milady.
A carriage was in waiting.
"Is this carriage for us?" asked Milady.
"Yes, madame," replied the officer.
"The hotel, then, is far away?"
"At the other end of the town."
"Very well," said Milady; and she resolutely entered the
The officer saw that the baggage was fastened carefully behind
the carriage; and this operation ended, he took his place beside
Milady, and shut the door.
Immediately, without any order being given or his place of
destination indicated, the coachman set off at a rapid pace, and
plunged into the streets of the city.
So strange a reception naturally gave Milady ample matter for
reflection; so seeing that the young officer did not seem at all
disposed for conversation, she reclined in her corner of the
carriage, and one after the other passed in review all the
surmises which presented themselves to her mind.
At the end of a quarter of an hour, however, surprised at the
length of the journey, she leaned forward toward the door to see
whither she was being conducted. Houses were no longer to be
seen; trees appeared in the darkness like great black phantoms
chasing one another. Milady shuddered.
"But we are no longer in the city, sir," said she.
The young officer preserved silence.
"I beg you to understand, sir, I will go no farther unless you
tell me whither you are taking me."
This threat brought no reply.
"Oh, this is too much," cried Milady. "Help! help!"
No voice replied to hers; the carriage continued to roll on with
rapidity; the officer seemed a statue.
Milady looked at the officer with one of those terrible
expressions peculiar to her countenance, and which so rarely
failed of their effect; anger made her eyes flash in the
The young man remained immovable.
Milady tried to open the door in order to throw herself out.
"Take care, madame," said the young man, coolly, "you will kill
yourself in jumping."
Milady reseated herself, foaming. The officer leaned forward,
looked at her in his turn, and appeared surprised to see that
face, just before so beautiful, distorted with passion and almost
hideous. The artful creature at once comprehended that she was
injuring herself by allowing him thus to read her soul; she
collected her features, and in a complaining voice said: "In the
name of heaven, sir, tell me if it is to you, if it is to your
government, if it is to an enemy I am to attribute the violence
that is done me?"
"No violence will be offered to you, madame, and what happens to
you is the result of a very simple measure which we are obliged
to adopt with all who land in England."
"Then you don't know me, sir?"
"It is the first time I have had the honor of seeing you."
"And on your honor, you have no cause of hatred against me?"
"None, I swear to you."
There was so much serenity, coolness, mildness even, in the voice
of the young man, that Milady felt reassured.
At length after a journey of nearly an hour, the carriage stopped
before an iron gate, which closed an avenue leading to a castle
severe in form, massive, and isolated. Then, as the wheels
rolled over a fine gravel, Milady could hear a vast roaring,
which she at once recognized as the noise of the sea dashing
against some steep cliff.
The carriage passed under two arched gateways, and at length
stopped in a court large, dark, and square. Almost immediately
the door of the carriage was opened, the young man sprang lightly
out and presented his hand to Milady, who leaned upon it, and in
her turn alighted with tolerable calmness.
"Still, then, I am a prisoner," said Milady, looking around her,
and bringing back her eyes with a most gracious smile to the
young officer; "but I feel assured it will not be for long,"
added she. "My own conscience and your politeness, sir, are the
guarantees of that."
However flattering this compliment, the officer made no reply;
but drawing from his belt a little silver whistle, such as
boatswains use in ships of war, he whistled three times, with
three different modulations. Immediately several men appeared,
who unharnessed the smoking horses, and put the carriage into a
Then the officer, with the same calm politeness, invited his
prisoner to enter the house. She, with a still-smiling
countenance, took his arm, and passed with him under a low arched
door, which by a vaulted passage, lighted only at the farther
end, led to a stone staircase around an angle of stone. They
then came to a massive door, which after the introduction into
the lock of a key which the young man carried with him, turned
heavily upon its hinges, and disclosed the chamber destined for
With a single glance the prisoner took in the apartment in its
minutest details. It was a chamber whose furniture was at once
appropriate for a prisoner or a free man; and yet bars at the
windows and outside bolts at the door decided the question in
favor of the prison.
In an instant all the strength of mind of this creature, though
drawn from the most vigorous sources, abandoned her; she sank
into a large easy chair, with her arms crossed, her head lowered,
and expecting every instant to see a judge enter to interrogate
But no one entered except two or three marines, who brought her
trunks and packages, deposited them in a corner, and retired
The officer superintended all these details with the same
calmness Milady had constantly seen in him, never pronouncing a
word himself, and making himself obeyed by a gesture of his hand
or a sound of his whistle.
It might have been said that between this man and his inferiors
spoken language did not exist, or had become useless.
At length Milady could hold out no longer; she broke the silence.
"In the name of heaven, sir," cried she, "what means all that is
passing? Put an end to my doubts; I have courage enough for any
danger I can foresee, for every misfortune which I understand.
Where am I, and why am I here? If I am free, why these bars and
these doors? If I am a prisoner, what crime have I committed?"
"You are here in the apartment destined for you, madame. I
received orders to go and take charge of you on the sea, and to
conduct you to this castle. This order I believe I have
accomplished with all the exactness of a soldier, but also with
the courtesy of a gentleman. There terminates, at least to the
present moment, the duty I had to fulfill toward you; the rest
concerns another person."
"And who is that other person?" asked Milady, warmly. "Can you
not tell me his name?"
At the moment a great jingling of spurs was heard on the stairs.
Some voices passed and faded away, and the sound of a single
footstep approached the door.
"That person is here, madame," said the officer, leaving the
entrance open, and drawing himself up in an attitude of respect.
At the same time the door opened; a man appeared on the
threshold. He was without a hat, carried a sword, and flourished
a handkerchief in his hand.
Milady thought she recognized this shadow in the gloom; she
supported herself with one hand upon the arm of the chair, and
advanced her head as if to meet a certainty.
The stranger advanced slowly, and as he advanced, after entering
into the circle of light projected by the lamp, Milady
involuntarily drew back.
Then when she had no longer any doubt, she cried, in a state of
stupor, "What, my brother, is it you?"
"Yes, fair lady!" replied Lord de Winter, making a bow, half
courteous, half ironical; "it is I, myself."
"But this castle, then?"
"I am, then, your prisoner?"
"But this is a frightful abuse of power!"
"No high-sounding words! Let us sit down and chat quietly, as
brother and sister ought to do."
Then, turning toward the door, and seeing that the young officer
was waiting for his last orders, he said. "All is well, I thank
you; now leave us alone, Mr. Felton."
50 CHAT BETWEEN BROTHER AND SISTER
During the time which Lord de Winter took to shut the door, close
a shutter, and draw a chair near to his sister-in-law's fauteuil,
Milady, anxiously thoughtful, plunged her glance into the depths
of possibility, and discovered all the plan, of which she could
not even obtain a glance as long as she was ignorant into whose
hands she had fallen. She knew her brother-in-law to be a worthy
gentleman, a bold hunter, an intrepid player, enterprising with
women, but by no means remarkable for his skill in intrigues.
How had he discovered her arrival, and caused her to be seized?
Why did he detain her?
Athos had dropped some words which proved that the conversation
she had with the cardinal had fallen into outside ears; but she
could not suppose that he had dug a countermine so promptly and
so boldly. She rather feared that her preceding operations in
England might have been discovered. Buckingham might have
guessed that it was she who had cut off the two studs, and avenge
himself for that little treachery; but Buckingham was incapable
of going to any excess against a woman, particularly if that
woman was supposed to have acted from a feeling of jealousy.
This supposition appeared to her most reasonable. It seemed to
her that they wanted to revenge the past, and not to anticipate
the future. At all events, she congratulated herself upon having
fallen into the hands of her brother-in-law, with whom she
reckoned she could deal very easily, rather than into the hands
of an acknowledged and intelligent enemy.
"Yes, let us chat, brother," said she, with a kind of
cheerfulness, decided as she was to draw from the conversation,
in spite of all the dissimulation Lord de Winter could bring, the
revelations of which she stood in need to regulate her future
"You have, then, decided to come to England again," said Lord de
Winter, "in spite of the resolutions you so often expressed in
Paris never to set your feet on British ground?"
Milady replied to this question by another question. "To begin
with, tell me," said she, "how have you watched me so closely as
to be aware beforehand not only of my arrival, but even of the
day, the hour, and the port at which I should arrive?"
Lord de Winter adopted the same tactics as Milady, thinking that
as his sister-in-law employed them they must be the best.
"But tell me, my dear sister," replied he, "what makes you come
"I come to see you," replied Milady, without knowing how much she
aggravated by this reply the suspicions to which d'Artagnan's
letter had given birth in the mind of her brother-in-law, and
only desiring to gain the good will of her auditor by a
"Ah, to see me?" said de Winter, cunningly.
"To be sure, to see you. What is there astonishing in that?"
"And you had no other object in coming to England but to see me?"
"So it was for me alone you have taken the trouble to cross the
"For you alone."
"The deuce! What tenderness, my sister!"
"But am I not your nearest relative?" demanded Milady, with a
tone of the most touching ingenuousness.
"And my only heir, are you not?" said Lord de Winter in his turn,
fixing his eyes on those of Milady.
Whatever command she had over herself, Milady could not help
starting; and as in pronouncing the last words Lord de Winter
placed his hand upon the arm of his sister, this start did not
In fact, the blow was direct and severe. The first idea that
occurred to Milady's mind was that she had been betrayed by
Kitty, and that she had recounted to the baron the selfish
aversion toward himself of which she had imprudently allowed some
marks to escape before her servant. She also recollected the
furious and imprudent attack she had made upon d'Artagnan when he
spared the life of her brother.
"I do not understand, my Lord," said she, in order to gain time
and make her adversary speak out. "What do you mean to say? Is
there any secret meaning concealed beneath your words?"
"Oh, my God, no!" said Lord de Winter, with apparent good nature.
"You wish to see me, and you come to England. I learn this
desire, or rather I suspect that you feel it; and in order to
spare you all the annoyances of a nocturnal arrival in a port and
all the fatigues of landing, I send one of my officers to meet
you, I place a carriage at his orders, and he brings you hither
to this castle, of which I am governor, whither I come every day,
and where, in order to satisfy our mutual desire of seeing each
other, I have prepared you a chamber. What is there more
astonishing in all that I have said to you than in what you have
"No; what I think astonishing is that you should expect my
"And yet that is the most simple thing in the world, my dear
sister. Have you not observed that the captain of your little
vessel, on entering the roadstead, sent forward, in order to
obtain permission to enter the port, a little boat bearing his
logbook and the register of his voyagers? I am commandant of the
port. They brought me that book. I recognized your name in it.
My heart told me what your mouth has just confirmed--that is to
say, with what view you have exposed yourself to the dangers of a
sea so perilous, or at least so troublesome at this moment--and I
sent my cutter to meet you. You know the rest."
Milady knew that Lord de Winter lied, and she was the more
"My brother," continued she, "was not that my Lord Buckingham
whom I saw on the jetty this evening as we arrived?"
"Himself. Ah, I can understand how the sight of him struck you,"
replied Lord de Winter. "You came from a country where he must
be very much talked of, and I know that his armaments against
France greatly engage the attention of your friend the cardinal."
"My friend the cardinal!" cried Milady, seeing that on this point
as on the other Lord de Winter seemed well instructed.
"Is he not your friend?" replied the baron, negligently. "Ah,
pardon! I thought so; but we will return to my Lord Duke
presently. Let us not depart from the sentimental turn our
conversation had taken. You came, you say, to see me?"
"Well, I reply that you shall be served to the height of your
wishes, and that we shall see each other every day."
"Am I, then, to remain here eternally?" demanded Milady, with a
"Do you find yourself badly lodged, sister? Demand anything you
want, and I will hasten to have you furnished with it."
"But I have neither my women nor my servants."
"You shall have all, madame. Tell me on what footing your
household was established by your first husband, and although I
am only your brother-in-law, I will arrange one similar."
"My first husband!" cried Milady, looking at Lord de Winter with
eyes almost starting from their sockets.
"Yes, your French husband. I don't speak of my brother. If you
have forgotten, as he is still living, I can write to him and he
will send me information on the subject."
A cold sweat burst from the brow of Milady.
"You jest!" said she, in a hollow voice.
"Do I look so?" asked the baron, rising and going a step
"Or rather you insult me," continued she, pressing with her
stiffened hands the two arms of her easy chair, and raising
herself upon her wrists.
"I insult you!" said Lord de Winter, with contempt. "In truth,
madame, do you think that can be possible?"
"Indeed, sir," said Milady, "you must be either drunk or mad.
Leave the room, and send me a woman."
"Women are very indiscreet, my sister. Cannot I serve you as a
waiting maid? By that means all our secrets will remain in the
"Insolent!" cried Milady; and as if acted upon by a spring, she
bounded toward the baron, who awaited her attack with his arms
crossed, but nevertheless with one hand on the hilt of his sword.
"Come!" said he. "I know you are accustomed to assassinate
people; but I warn you I shall defend myself, even against you."
"You are right," said Milady. "You have all the appearance of
being cowardly enough to lift your hand against a woman."
"Perhaps so; and I have an excuse, for mine would not be the
first hand of a man that has been placed upon you, I imagine."
And the baron pointed, with a slow and accusing gesture, to the
left shoulder of Milady, which he almost touched with his finger.
Milady uttered a deep, inward shriek, and retreated to a corner
of the room like a panther which crouches for a spring.
"Oh, growl as much as you please," cried Lord de Winter, "but
don't try to bite, for I warn you that it would be to your
disadvantage. There are here no procurators who regulate
successions beforehand. There is no knight-errant to come and
seek a quarrel with me on account of the fair lady I detain a
prisoner; but I have judges quite ready who will quickly dispose
of a woman so shameless as to glide, a bigamist, into the bed of
Lord de Winter, my brother. And these judges, I warn you, will
soon send you to an executioner who will make both your shoulders
The eyes of Milady darted such flashes that although he was a man
and armed before an unarmed woman, he felt the chill of fear
glide through his whole frame. However, he continued all the
same, but with increasing warmth: "Yes, I can very well
understand that after having inherited the fortune of my brother
it would be very agreeable to you to be my heir likewise; but
know beforehand, if you kill me or cause me to be killed, my
precautions are taken. Not a penny of what I possess will pass
into your hands. Were you not already rich enough--you who
possess nearly a million? And could you not stop your fatal
career, if you did not do evil for the infinite and supreme joy
of doing it? Oh, be assured, if the memory of my brother were
not sacred to me, you should rot in a state dungeon or satisfy
the curiosity of sailors at Tyburn. I will be silent, but you
must endure your captivity quietly. In fifteen or twenty days I
shall set out for La Rochelle with the army; but on the eve of my
departure a vessel which I shall see depart will take you hence
and convey you to our colonies in the south. And be assured that
you shall be accompanied by one who will blow your brains out at
the first attempt you make to return to England or the
Milady listened with an attention that dilated her inflamed eyes.
"Yes, at present," continued Lord de Winter, "you will remain in
this castle. The walls are thick, the doors strong, and the bars
solid; besides, your window opens immediately over the sea. The
men of my crew, who are devoted to me for life and death, mount
guard around this apartment, and watch all the passages that lead
to the courtyard. Even if you gained the yard, there would still
be three iron gates for you to pass. The order is positive. A
step, a gesture, a word, on your part, denoting an effort to
escape, and you are to be fired upon. If they kill you, English
justice will be under an obligation to me for having saved it
trouble. Ah! I see your features regain their calmness, your
countenance recovers its assurance. You are saying to yourself:
'Fifteen days, twenty days? Bah! I have an inventive mind;
before that is expired some idea will occur to me. I have an
infernal spirit. I shall meet with a victim. Before fifteen
days are gone by I shall be away from here.' Ah, try it!"
Milady, finding her thoughts betrayed, dug her nails into her
flesh to subdue every emotion that might give to her face any
expression except agony.
Lord de Winter continued: "The officer who commands here in my
absence you have already seen, and therefore know him. He knows
how, as you must have observed, to obey an order--for you did
not, I am sure, come from Portsmouth hither without endeavoring
to make him speak. What do you say of him? Could a statue of
marble have been more impassive and more mute? You have already
tried the power of your seductions upon many men, and
unfortunately you have always succeeded; but I give you leave to
try them upon this one. PARDIEU! if you succeed with him, I
pronounce you the demon himself."
He went toward the door and opened it hastily.
"Call Mr. Felton," said he. "Wait a minute longer, and I will
introduce him to you."
There followed between these two personages a strange silence,
during which the sound of a slow and regular step was heard
approaching. Shortly a human form appeared in the shade of the
corridor, and the young lieutenant, with whom we are already
acquainted, stopped at the threshold to receive the orders of the
"Come in, my dear John," said Lord de Winter, "come in, and shut
The young officer entered.
"Now," said the baron, "look at this woman. She is young; she is
beautiful; she possesses all earthly seductions. Well, she is a
monster, who, at twenty-five years of age, has been guilty of as
many crimes as you could read of in a year in the archives of our
tribunals. Her voice prejudices her hearers in her favor; her
beauty serves as a bait to her victims; her body even pays what
she promises--I must do her that justice. She will try to seduce
you, perhaps she will try to kill you. I have extricated you
from misery, Felton; I have caused you to be named lieutenant; I
once saved your life, you know on what occasion. I am for you
not only a protector, but a friend; not only a benefactor, but a
father. This woman has come back again into England for the
purpose of conspiring against my life. I hold this serpent in my
hands. Well, I call you, and say to you: Friend Felton, John,
my child, guard me, and more particularly guard yourself, against
this woman. Swear, by your hopes of salvation, to keep her
safely for the chastisement she has merited. John Felton, I
trust your word! John Felton, I put faith in your loyalty!"
"My Lord," said the young officer, summoning to his mild
countenance all the hatred he could find in his heart, "my Lord,
I swear all shall be done as you desire."
Milady received this look like a resigned victim; it was
impossible to imagine a more submissive or a more mild expression
than that which prevailed on her beautiful countenance. Lord de
Winter himself could scarcely recognize the tigress who, a minute
before, prepared apparently for a fight.
"She is not to leave this chamber, understand, John," continued
the baron. "She is to correspond with nobody; she is to speak to
no one but you--if you will do her the honor to address a word to
"That is sufficient, my Lord! I have sworn."
"And now, madame, try to make your peace with God, for you are
judged by men!"
Milady let her head sink, as if crushed by this sentence. Lord
de Winter went out, making a sign to Felton, who followed him,
shutting the door after him.
One instant after, the heavy step of a marine who served as
sentinel was heard in the corridor--his ax in his girdle and his
musket on his shoulder.
Milady remained for some minutes in the same position, for she
thought they might perhaps be examining her through the keyhole;
she then slowly raised her head, which had resumed its formidable
expression of menace and defiance, ran to the door to listen,
looked out of her window, and returning to bury herself again in
her large armchair, she reflected.
Meanwhile, the cardinal looked anxiously for news from England;
but no news arrived that was not annoying and threatening.
Although La Rochelle was invested, however certain success might
appear--thanks to the precautions taken, and above all to the
dyke, which prevented the entrance of any vessel into the
besieged city--the blockade might last a long time yet. This was
a great affront to the king's army, and a great inconvenience to
the cardinal, who had no longer, it is true, to embroil Louis
XIII with Anne of Austria--for that affair was over--but he had
to adjust matters for M. de Bassompierre, who was embroiled with
the Duc d'Angouleme.
As to Monsieur, who had begun the siege, he left to the cardinal
the task of finishing it.
The city, notwithstanding the incredible perseverance of its
mayor, had attempted a sort of mutiny for a surrender; the mayor
had hanged the mutineers. This execution quieted the ill-
disposed, who resolved to allow themselves to die of hunger--this
death always appearing to them more slow and less sure than
On their side, from time to time, the besiegers took the
messengers which the Rochellais sent to Buckingham, or the spies
which Buckingham sent to the Rochellais. In one case or the
other, the trial was soon over. The cardinal pronounced the
single word, "Hanged!" The king was invited to come and see the
hanging. He came languidly, placing himself in a good situation
to see all the details. This amused him sometimes a little, and
made him endure the siege with patience; but it did not prevent
his getting very tired, or from talking at every moment of
returning to Paris--so that if the messengers and the spies had
failed, his Eminence, notwithstanding all his inventiveness,
would have found himself much embarrassed.
Nevertheless, time passed on, and the Rochellais did not
surrender. The last spy that was taken was the bearer of a
letter. This letter told Buckingham that the city was at an
extremity; but instead of adding, "If your succor does not arrive
within fifteen days, we will surrender," it added, quite simply,
"If your succor comes not within fifteen days, we shall all be
dead with hunger when it comes."
The Rochellais, then, had no hope but in Buckingham. Buckingham
was their Messiah. It was evident that if they one day learned
positively that they must not count on Buckingham, their courage
would fail with their hope.
The cardinal looked, then, with great impatience for the news
from England which would announce to him that Buckingham would
The question of carrying the city by assault, though often
debated in the council of the king, had been always rejected. In
the first place, La Rochelle appeared impregnable. Then the
cardinal, whatever he said, very well knew that the horror of
bloodshed in this encounter, in which Frenchman would combat
against Frenchman, was a retrograde movement of sixty years
impressed upon his policy; and the cardinal was at that period
what we now call a man of progress. In fact, the sack of La
Rochelle, and the assassination of three of four thousand
Huguenots who allowed themselves to be killed, would resemble too
closely, in 1628, the massacre of St. Bartholomew in 1572; and
then, above all this, this extreme measure, which was not at all
repugnant to the king, good Catholic as he was, always fell
before this argument of the besieging generals--La Rochelle is
impregnable except to famine.
The cardinal could not drive from his mind the fear he
entertained of his terrible emissary--for he comprehended the
strange qualities of this woman, sometimes a serpent, sometimes a
lion. Had she betrayed him? Was she dead? He knew her well
enough in all cases to know that, whether acting for or against
him, as a friend or an enemy, she would not remain motionless
without great impediments; but whence did these impediments
arise? That was what he could not know.
And yet he reckoned, and with reason, on Milady. He had divined
in the past of this woman terrible things which his red mantle
alone could cover; and he felt, from one cause or another, that
this woman was his own, as she could look to no other but himself
for a support superior to the danger which threatened her.
He resolved, then, to carry on the war alone, and to look for no
success foreign to himself, but as we look for a fortunate
chance. He continued to press the raising of the famous dyke
which was to starve La Rochelle. Meanwhile, he cast his eyes
over that unfortunate city, which contained so much deep misery
and so many heroic virtues, and recalling the saying of Louis XI,
his political predecessor, as he himself was the predecessor of
Robespierre, he repeated this maxim of Tristan's gossip: "Divide
in order to reign."
Henry IV, when besieging Paris, had loaves and provisions thrown
over the walls. The cardinal had little notes thrown over in
which he represented to the Rochellais how unjust, selfish, and
barbarous was the conduct of their leaders. These leaders had
corn in abundance, and would not let them partake of it; they
adopted as a maxim--for they, too, had maxims--that it was of
very little consequence that women, children, and old men should
die, so long as the men who were to defend the walls remained
strong and healthy. Up to that time, whether from devotedness or
from want of power to act against it, this maxim, without being
generally adopted, nevertheless passed from theory into practice;
but the notes did it injury. The notes reminded the men that the
children, women, and old men whom they allowed to die were their
sons, their wives, and their fathers, and that it would be more
just for everyone to be reduced to the common misery, in order
that equal conditions should give birth to unanimous resolutions.
These notes had all the effect that he who wrote them could
expect, in that they induced a great number of the inhabitants to
open private negotiations with the royal army.
But at the moment when the cardinal saw his means already
bearing fruit, and applauded himself for having put it in action, an
inhabitant of La Rochelle who had contrived to pass the royal
lines--God knows how, such was the watchfulness of Bassompierre,
Schomberg, and the Duc d'Angouleme, themselves watched over by
the cardinal--an inhabitant of La Rochelle, we say, entered the
city, coming from Portsmouth, and saying that he had seen a
magnificent fleet ready to sail within eight days. Still
further, Buckingham announced to the mayor that at length the
great league was about to declare itself against France, and that
the kingdom would be at once invaded by the English, Imperial,
and Spanish armies. This letter was read publicly in all parts
of the city. Copies were put up at the corners of the streets;
and even they who had begun to open negotiations interrupted
them, being resolved to await the succor so pompously announced.
This unexpected circumstance brought back Richelieu's former
anxiety, and forced him in spite of himself once more to turn his
eyes to the other side of the sea.
During this time, exempt from the anxiety of its only and true
chief, the royal army led a joyous life, neither provisions nor
money being wanting in the camp. All the corps rivaled one
another in audacity and gaiety. To take spies and hang them, to
make hazardous expeditions upon the dyke or the sea, to imagine
wild plans, and to execute them coolly--such were the pastimes
which made the army find these days short which were not only so
long to the Rochellais, a prey to famine and anxiety, but even to
the cardinal, who blockaded them so closely.
Sometimes when the cardinal, always on horseback, like the lowest
GENDARME of the army, cast a pensive glance over those works, so
slowly keeping pace with his wishes, which the engineers, brought
from all the corners of France, were executing under his orders,
if he met a Musketeer of the company of Treville, he drew near
and looked at him in a peculiar manner, and not recognizing in
him one of our four companions, he turned his penetrating look
and profound thoughts in another direction.
One day when oppressed with a mortal weariness of mind, without
hope in the negotiations with the city, without news from
England, the cardinal went out, without any other aim than to be
out of doors, and accompanied only by Cahusac and La Houdiniere,
strolled along the beach. Mingling the immensity of his dreams
with the immensity of the ocean, he came, his horse going at a
foot's pace, to a hill from the top of which he perceived behind
a hedge, reclining on the sand and catching in its passage one of
those rays of the sun so rare at this period of the year, seven
men surrounded by empty bottles. Four of these men were our
Musketeers, preparing to listen to a letter one of them had just
received. This letter was so important that it made them forsake
their cards and their dice on the drumhead.
The other three were occupied in opening an enormous flagon of
Collicure wine; these were the lackeys of these gentlemen.
The cardinal was, as we have said, in very low spirits; and
nothing when he was in that state of mind increased his
depression so much as gaiety in others. Besides, he had another
strange fancy, which was always to believe that the causes of his
sadness created the gaiety of others. Making a sign to La
Houdiniere and Cahusac to stop, he alighted from his horse, and
went toward these suspected merry companions, hoping, by means of
the sand which deadened the sound of his steps and of the hedge
which concealed his approach, to catch some words of this
conversation which appeared so interesting. At ten paces from
the hedge he recognized the talkative Gascon; and as he had
already perceived that these men were Musketeers, he did not
doubt that the three others were those called the Inseparables;
that is to say, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis.
It may be supposed that his desire to hear the conversation was
augmented by this discovery. His eyes took a strange expression,
and with the step of a tiger-cat he advanced toward the hedge;
but he had not been able to catch more than a few vague syllables
without any positive sense, when a sonorous and short cry made
him start, and attracted the attention of the Musketeers.
"Officer!" cried Grimaud.
"You are speaking, you scoundrel!" said Athos, rising upon his
elbow, and transfixing Grimaud with his flaming look.
Grimaud therefore added nothing to his speech, but contented
himself with pointing his index finger in the direction of the
hedge, announcing by this gesture the cardinal and his escort.
With a single bound the Musketeers were on their feet, and
saluted with respect.
The cardinal seemed furious.
"It appears that Messieurs the Musketeers keep guard," said he.
"Are the English expected by land, or do the Musketeers consider
themselves superior officers?"
"Monseigneur," replied Athos, for amid the general fright he
alone had preserved the noble calmness and coolness that never
forsook him, "Monseigneur, the Musketeers, when they are not on
duty, or when their duty is over, drink and play at dice, and
they are certainly superior officers to their lackeys."
"Lackeys?" grumbled the cardinal. "Lackeys who have the order to
warn their masters when anyone passes are not lackeys, they are
"Your Eminence may perceive that if we had not taken this
precaution, we should have been exposed to allowing you to pass
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