The Vicomte de Bragelonne
Alexandre Dumas, Pere
Part 5 out of 13
"By that of the strongest."
"But my intention is to pay you for it."
"That is very generous of you, my lord."
"And the worth of it - "
"My lord, I fix no price."
"What do you ask, then?"
"I only ask to be permitted to go away."
"Where? - to General Lambert's camp?"
"I!" cried the fisherman; "what should I go to Newcastle for, now I have
no longer any fish?"
"At all events, listen to me."
"I do, my lord."
"I shall give you some advice."
"How, my lord! - pay me and give me good advice likewise! You overwhelm
me, my lord."
Monk looked more earnestly than ever at the fisherman, about whom he
still appeared to entertain some suspicion. "Yes, I shall pay you, and
give you a piece of advice; for the two things are connected. If you
return, then, to General Lambert - "
The fisherman made a movement of his head and shoulders, which signified,
"If he persists in it, I won't contradict him."
"Do not cross the marsh," continued Monk: "you will have money in your
pocket, and there are in the marsh some Scottish ambuscaders I have
placed there. Those people are very intractable; they understand but
very little of the language which you speak, although it appears to me to
be composed of three languages. They might take from you what I have
given you, and, on your return to your country, you would not fail to say
that General Monk has two hands, the one Scottish, and the other English;
and that he takes back with the Scottish hand what he has given with the
"Oh! general, I shall go where you like, be sure of that," said the
fisherman, with a fear too expressive not to be exaggerated. "I only
wish to remain here, if you will allow me to remain."
"I readily believe you," said Monk, with an imperceptible smile, "but I
cannot, nevertheless, keep you in my tent."
"I have no such wish, my lord, and desire only that your lordship should
point out where you will have me posted. Do not trouble yourself about
us - with us a night soon passes away."
"You shall be conducted to your bark."
"As your lordship pleases. Only, if your lordship would allow me to be
taken back by a carpenter, I should be extremely grateful."
"Because the gentlemen of your army, in dragging my boat up the river
with a cable pulled by their horses, have battered it a little upon the
rocks of the shore, so that I have at least two feet of water in my hold,
"The greater reason why you should watch your boat, I think."
"My lord, I am quite at your orders," said the fisherman; "I shall empty
my baskets where you wish; then you will pay me, if you please to do so;
and you will send me away, if it appears right to you. You see I am very
easily managed and pleased, my lord."
"Come, come, you are a very good sort of fellow," said Monk, whose
scrutinizing glance had not been able to find a single shade in the clear
eye of the fisherman. "Holloa, Digby!" An aid-de-camp appeared. "You
will conduct this good fellow and his companions to the little tents of
the canteens, in front of the marshes, so that they will be near their
bark, and yet will not sleep on board to-night. What is the matter,
Spithead was the sergeant from whom Monk had borrowed a piece of tobacco
for his supper. Spithead having entered the general's tent without being
sent for, had drawn this question from Monk.
"My lord," said he, "a French gentleman has just presented himself at the
outposts and wishes to speak to your honor."
All this was said, be it understood, in English; but, notwithstanding,
it produced a slight emotion in the fisherman, which Monk, occupied with
his sergeant, did not remark.
"Who is the gentleman?" asked Monk.
"My lord," replied Spithead, "he told it me; but those devils of French
names are so difficult to pronounce for a Scottish throat, that I could
not retain it. I believe, however, from what the guards say, that it is
the same gentleman who presented himself yesterday at the halt, and whom
your honor would not receive."
"That is true; I was holding a council of officers."
"Will your honor give any orders respecting this gentleman?"
"Yes, let him be brought here."
"Must we take any precautions?"
"Such as what?"
"Blinding his eyes, for instance?"
"To what purpose? He can only see what I desire should be seen; that is
to say, that I have around me eleven thousand brave men, who ask no
better than to have their throats cut in honor of the parliament of
Scotland and England."
"And this man, my lord?" said Spithead, pointing to the fisherman, who,
during this conversation, had remained standing and motionless, like a
man who sees but does not understand.
"Ah, that is true," said Monk. Then turning towards the fisherman, - "I
shall see you again, my brave fellow," said he; "I have selected a
lodging for you. Digby, take him to it. Fear nothing; your money shall
be sent to you presently."
"Thank you, my lord," said the fisherman, and after having bowed, he left
the tent, accompanied by Digby. Before he had gone a hundred paces he
found his companions, who were whispering with a volubility which did not
appear exempt from uneasiness, but he made them a sign which seemed to
reassure them. "_Hola_, you fellows!" said the _patron_, "come this
way. His lordship, General Monk, has the generosity to pay us for our
fish, and the goodness to give us hospitality for to-night."
The fishermen gathered round their leader, and, conducted by Digby, the
little troop proceeded towards the canteens, the post, as may be
remembered, which had been assigned them. As they went along in the
dark, the fishermen passed close to the guards who were conducting the
French gentleman to General Monk. This gentleman was on horseback and
enveloped in a large cloak, which prevented the _patron_ from seeing him,
however great his curiosity might be. As to the gentleman, ignorant that
he was elbowing compatriots, he did not pay any attention to the little
The aid-de-camp settled his guests in a tolerably comfortable tent, from
which was dislodged an Irish canteen woman, who went, with her six
children, to sleep where she could. A large fire was burning in front of
this tent, and threw its purple light over the grassy pools of the marsh,
rippled by a fresh breeze. The arrangements made, the aid-de-camp wished
the fishermen good-night, calling to their notice that they might see
from the door of the tent the masts of their bark, which was tossing
gently on the Tweed, a proof that it had not yet sunk. The sight of this
appeared to delight the leader of the fishermen infinitely.
The French gentleman whom Spithead had announced to Monk, and who,
closely wrapped in his cloak, had passed by the fishermen who left the
general's tent five minutes before he entered it, - the French gentleman
went through the various posts without even casting his eyes around him,
for fear of appearing indiscreet. As the order had been given, he was
conducted to the tent of the general. The gentleman was left alone in
the sort of ante-chamber in front of the principal body of the tent,
where he awaited Monk, who only delayed till he had heard the report of
his people, and observed through the opening of the canvas the
countenance of the person who solicited an audience.
Without doubt, the report of those who had accompanied the French
gentleman established the discretion with which he had behaved, for the
first impression the stranger received of the welcome made him by the
general was more favorable than he could have expected at such a moment,
and on the part of so suspicious a man. Nevertheless, according to his
custom, when Monk found himself in the presence of a stranger, he fixed
upon him his penetrating eyes, which scrutiny, the stranger, on his part,
sustained without embarrassment or notice. At the end of a few seconds,
the general made a gesture with his hand and head in sign of attention.
"My lord," said the gentleman, in excellent English, "I have requested
an interview with your honor, for an affair of importance."
"Monsieur," replied Monk, in French, "you speak our language well for a
son of the continent. I ask your pardon - for doubtless the question is
indiscreet - do you speak French with the same purity?"
"There is nothing surprising, my lord, in my speaking English tolerably;
I resided for some time in England in my youth, and since then I have
made two voyages to this country." These words were spoken in French,
and with a purity of accent that bespoke not only a Frenchman, but a
Frenchman from the vicinity of Tours.
"And what part of England have you resided in, monsieur?"
"In my youth, London, my lord; then, about 1635, I made a pleasure trip
to Scotland; and lastly, in 1648, I lived for some time at Newcastle,
particularly in the convent, the gardens of which are now occupied by
"Excuse me, monsieur; but you must comprehend that these questions are
necessary on my part - do you not?"
"It would astonish me, my lord, if they were not asked."
"Now, then, monsieur, what can I do to serve you? What do you wish?"
"This, my lord; - but, in the first place, are we alone?"
"Perfectly so, monsieur, except, of course, the post which guards us."
So saying, Monk pulled open the canvas with his hand, and pointed to the
soldier placed at ten paces from the tent, and who, at the first call,
could have rendered assistance in a second.
"In that case, my lord," said the gentleman, in as calm a tone as if he
had been for a length of time in habits of intimacy with his
interlocutor, "I have made up my mind to address myself to you, because I
believe you to be an honest man. Indeed, the communication I am about to
make to you will prove to you the esteem in which I hold you."
Monk, astonished at this language, which established between him and the
French gentleman equality at least, raised his piercing eye to the
stranger's face, and with a sensible irony conveyed by the inflection of
his voice alone, for not a muscle of his face moved, - "I thank you,
monsieur," said he; "but, in the first place, to whom have I the honor of
"I sent you my name by your sergeant, my lord."
"Excuse him, monsieur, he is a Scotsman, - he could not retain it."
"I am called the Comte de la Fere, monsieur," said Athos, bowing.
"The Comte de la Fere?" said Monk, endeavoring to recollect the name.
"Pardon me, monsieur, but this appears to be the first time I have ever
heard that name. Do you fill any post at the court of France?"
"None; I am a simple gentleman."
"King Charles I. made me a knight of the Garter, and Queen Anne of
Austria has given me the cordon of the Holy Ghost. These are my only
"The Garter! the Holy Ghost! Are you a knight of those two orders,
"And on what occasions have such favors been bestowed upon you?"
"For services rendered to their majesties."
Monk looked with astonishment at this man, who appeared to him so simple
and so great at the same time. Then, as if he had renounced endeavoring
to penetrate this mystery of a simplicity and grandeur upon which the
stranger did not seem disposed to give him any other information than
that which he had already received, - "Did you present yourself yesterday
at our advanced posts?"
"And was sent back? Yes, my lord."
"Many officers, monsieur, would permit no one to enter their camp,
particularly on the eve of a probable battle. But I differ from my
colleagues, and like to leave nothing behind me. Every advice is good
to me; all danger is sent to me by God, and I weigh it in my hand with
the energy He has given me. So, yesterday, you were only sent back on
account of the council I was holding. To-day I am at liberty, - speak."
"My lord, you have done much better in receiving me, for what I have to
say has nothing to do with the battle you are about to fight with General
Lambert, or with your camp; and the proof is, that I turned away my head
that I might not see your men, and closed my eyes that I might not count
your tents. No, I came to speak to you, my lord, on my own account."
"Speak then, monsieur," said Monk.
"Just now," continued Athos, "I had the honor of telling your lordship
that for a long time I lived in Newcastle; it was in the time of Charles
I., and when the king was given up to Cromwell by the Scots."
"I know," said Monk, coldly.
"I had at that time a large sum in gold, and on the eve of the battle,
from a presentiment perhaps of the turn which things would take on the
morrow, I concealed it in the principal vault of the covenant of
Newcastle, in the tower whose summit you now see silvered by the
moonbeams. My treasure has then remained interred there, and I have come
to entreat your honor to permit me to withdraw it before, perhaps, the
battle turning that way, a mine or some other war engine has destroyed
the building and scattered my gold, or rendered it so apparent that the
soldiers will take possession of it."
Monk was well acquainted with mankind; he saw in the physiognomy of this
gentleman all the energy, all the reason, all the circumspection
possible; he could therefore only attribute to a magnanimous confidence
the revelation the Frenchman had made him, and he showed himself
profoundly touched by it.
"Monsieur," said he, "you have augured well of me. But is the sum worth
the trouble to which you expose yourself? Do you even believe that it
can be in the same place where you left it?"
"It is there monsieur, I do not doubt."
"That is a reply to one question; but to the other. I asked you if the
sum was so large as to warrant your exposing yourself thus."
"It is really large; yes, my lord, for it is a million I inclosed in two
"A million!" cried Monk, at whom this time, in turn, Athos looked
earnestly and long. Monk perceived this, and his mistrust returned.
"Here is a man," said he to himself, "who is laying a snare for me. So
you wish to withdraw this money, monsieur," replied he, "as I understand?"
"If you please, my lord."
"This very evening, and that on account of the circumstances I have
"But, monsieur," objected Monk, "General Lambert is as near the abbey
where you have to act as I am. Why, then, have you not addressed
yourself to him?"
"Because, my lord, when one acts in important matters, it is best to
consult one's instinct before everything. Well, General Lambert does
not inspire with me so much confidence as you do."
"Be it so, monsieur. I shall assist you in recovering your money, if,
however, it can still be there; for that is far from likely. Since 1648
twelve years have rolled away, and many events have taken place." Monk
dwelt upon this point to see if the French gentleman would seize the
evasions that were open to him, but Athos did not hesitate.
"I assure you, my lord," he said firmly, "that my conviction is, that the
two barrels have neither changed place nor master." This reply had
removed one suspicion from the mind of Monk, but it had suggested
another. Without doubt this Frenchman was some emissary sent to entice
into error the protector of the parliament; the gold was nothing but a
lure; and by the help of this lure they thought to excite the cupidity of
the general. This gold might not exist. It was Monk's business, then,
to seize the Frenchman in the act of falsehood and trick, and to draw
from the false step itself in which his enemies wished to entrap him, a
triumph for his renown. When Monk was determined how to act, -
"Monsieur," said he to Athos, "without doubt you will do me the honor to
share my supper this evening?"
"Yes, my lord," replied Athos, bowing; "for you do me an honor of which I
feel myself worthy, by the inclination which drew me towards you."
"It is so much the more gracious on your part to accept my invitation
with such frankness, as my cooks are but few and inexperienced, and my
providers have returned this evening empty-handed; so that if it had not
been for a fisherman of your nation who strayed into our camp, General
Monk would have gone to bed without his supper to-day; I have, then, some
fresh fish to offer you, as the vendor assures me."
"My lord, it is principally for the sake of having the honor to pass an
hour with you."
After this exchange of civilities, during which Monk had lost nothing of
his circumspection, the supper, or what was to serve for one, had been
laid upon a deal table. Monk invited the Comte de la Fere to be seated
at this table, and took his place opposite to him. A single dish of
boiled fish, set before the two illustrious guests, was more tempting to
hungry stomachs than to delicate palates.
Whilst supping, that is, while eating the fish, washed down with bad ale,
Monk got Athos to relate to him the last events of the Fronde, the
reconciliation of M. de Conde with the king, and the probable marriage of
the infanta of Spain; but he avoided, as Athos himself avoided it, all
allusion to the political interests which united, or rather which
disunited at this time, England, France and Holland.
Monk, in this conversation, convinced himself of one thing, which he must
have remarked after the first words exchanged: that was, that he had to
deal with a man of high distinction. He could not be an assassin, and it
was repugnant to Monk to believe him to be a spy; but there was
sufficient _finesse_ and at the same time firmness in Athos to lead Monk
to fancy he was a conspirator. When they had quitted the table, "You
still believe in your treasure, then, monsieur?" asked Monk.
"Yes, my lord."
"And you think you can find the place again where it was buried?"
"At the first inspection."
"Well, monsieur, from curiosity I shall accompany you. And it is so much
the more necessary that I should accompany you, that you would find great
difficulties in passing through the camp without me or one of my
"General, I would not suffer you to inconvenience yourself if I did not,
in fact, stand in need of your company; but as I recognize that this
company is not only honorable, but necessary, I accept it."
"Do you desire we should take any people with us?" asked Monk.
"General, I believe that would be useless, if you yourself do not see the
necessity for it. Two men and a horse will suffice to transport the two
casks on board the felucca which brought me hither."
"But it will be necessary to pick, dig, and remove the earth, and split
stones; you don't intend doing this work yourself, monsieur, do you?"
"General, there is no picking or digging required. The treasure is
buried in the sepulchral vault of the convent, under a stone in which is
fixed a large iron ring, and under which there are four steps leading
down. The two casks are there, placed end to end, covered with a coat of
plaster in the form of a bier. There is, besides, an inscription, which
will enable me to recognize the stone; and as I am not willing, in an
affair of delicacy and confidence, to keep the secret from your honor,
here is the inscription: - '_Hic jacet venerabilis, Petrus Gulielmus
Scott, Canon Honorab. Conventus Novi Castelli. Obiit quarta et decima
Feb. ann. Dom. MCCVIII. Requiescat in pace._'"
Monk did not lose a single word. He was astonished either at the
marvelous duplicity of this man and the superior style in which he played
his part, or at the good loyal faith with which he presented his request,
in a situation in which concerning a million of money, risked against the
blow from a dagger, amidst an army that would have looked upon the theft
as a restitution.
"Very well," said he; "I shall accompany you; and the adventure appears
to me so wonderful, that I shall carry the torch myself." And saying
these words, he girded on a short sword, placed a pistol in his belt,
disclosing in this movement, which opened his doublet a little, the fine
rings of a coat of mail, destined to protect him from the first dagger-
thrust of an assassin. After which he took a Scottish dirk in his left
hand, and then turning to Athos, "Are you ready, monsieur?" said he.
Athos, as if in opposition to what Monk had done, unfastened his poniard,
which he placed upon the table; unhooked his sword-belt, which he laid
close to his poniard; and, without affectation, opening his doublet as if
to look for his handkerchief, showed beneath his fine cambric shirt his
naked breast, without weapons either offensive or defensive.
"This is truly a singular man," said Monk; "he is without any arms; he
has an ambuscade placed somewhere yonder."
"General," said he, as if he had divined Monk's thought, "you wish we
should be alone; that is very right, but a great captain ought never to
expose himself with temerity. It is night, the passage of the marsh may
present dangers; be accompanied."
"You are right," replied he, calling Digby. The aid-de-camp appeared.
"Fifty men with swords and muskets," said he, looking at Athos.
"That is too few if there is danger, too many if there is not."
"I will go alone," said Monk; "I want nobody. Come, monsieur."
Athos and Monk passed over, in going from the camp towards the Tweed,
that part of the ground which Digby had traversed with the fishermen
coming from the Tweed to the camp. The aspect of this place, the aspect
of the changes man had wrought in it, was of a nature to produce a great
effect upon a lively and delicate imagination like that of Athos. Athos
looked at nothing but these desolate spots; Monk looked at nothing but
Athos - at Athos, who, with his eyes sometimes directed towards heaven,
and sometimes towards the earth, sought, thought, and sighed.
Digby, whom the last orders of the general, and particularly the accent
with which he had given them, had at first a little excited, Digby
followed the pair at about twenty paces, but the general having turned
round as if astonished to find his orders had not been obeyed, the aid-de-
camp perceived his indiscretion, and returned to his tent.
He supposed that the general wished to make, incognito, one of those
reviews of vigilance which every experienced captain never fails to make
on the eve of a decisive engagement: he explained to himself the presence
of Athos in this case as an inferior explains all that is mysterious on
the part of his leader. Athos might be, and, indeed, in the eyes of
Digby, must be, a spy, whose information was to enlighten the general.
At the end of a walk of about ten minutes among the tents and posts,
which were closer together near the headquarters, Monk entered upon a
little causeway which diverged into three branches. That on the left led
to the river, that in the middle to Newcastle Abbey on the marsh, that on
the right crossed the first lines of Monk's camp; that is to say, the
lines nearest to Lambert's army. Beyond the river was an advanced post,
belonging to Monk's army, which watched the enemy; it was composed of one
hundred and fifty Scots. They had swum across the Tweed, and, in case of
attack, were to recross it in the same manner, giving the alarm; but as
there was no post at that spot, and as Lambert's soldiers were not so
prompt at taking to the water as Monk's were, the latter appeared not to
have as much uneasiness on that side. On this side of the river, at
about five hundred paces from the old abbey, the fishermen had taken up
their abode amidst a crowd of small tents raised by soldiers of the
neighboring clans, who had with them their wives and children. All this
confusion, seen by the moon's light, presented a striking _coup d'oeil_;
the half shadow enlarged every detail, and the light, that flatterer
which only attaches itself to the polished side of things, courted upon
each rusty musket the point still left intact, and upon every rag of
canvas the whitest and least sullied part.
Monk arrived then with Athos, crossing this spot, illumined with a double
light, the silver splendor of the moon, and the red blaze of the fires at
the meeting of these three causeways; there he stopped, and addressing
his companion, - "Monsieur," said he, "do you know your road?"
"General, if I am not mistaken, the middle causeway leads straight to the
"That is right; but we shall want lights to guide us in the vaults."
Monk turned round.
"Ah! I thought Digby was following us!" said he. "So much the better;
he will procure us what we want."
"Yes, general, there is a man yonder who has been walking behind us for
"Digby!" cried Monk. "Digby! come here, if you please."
But instead of obeying, the shadow made a motion of surprise, and,
retreating instead of advancing, it bent down and disappeared along the
jetty on the left, directing its course towards the lodging of the
"It appears not to be Digby," said Monk.
Both had followed the shadow which had vanished. But it was not so rare
a thing for a man to be wandering about at eleven o'clock at night, in a
camp in which are reposing ten or eleven thousand men, as to give Monk
and Athos any alarm at his disappearance.
"As it is so," said Monk, "and we must have a light, a lantern, a torch,
or something by which we may see where to see our feet; let us seek this
"General, the first soldier we meet will light us."
"No," said Monk, in order to discover if there were not any connivance
between the Comte de la Fere and the fisherman. "No, I should prefer one
of these French sailors who came this evening to sell me their fish.
They leave to-morrow, and the secret will be better kept by them;
whereas, if a report should be spread in the Scottish army, that
treasures are to be found in the abbey of Newcastle, my Highlanders will
believe there is a million concealed beneath every slab, and they will
not leave stone upon stone in the building."
"Do as you think best, general," replied Athos, in a natural tone of
voice, making evident that soldier or fisherman was the same to him, and
that he had no preference.
Monk approached the causeway behind which had disappeared the person he
had taken for Digby, and met a patrol who, making the tour of the tents,
was going towards headquarters; he was stopped with his companion, gave
the password, and went on. A soldier, roused by the noise, unrolled his
plaid, and looked up to see what was going forward. "Ask him," said Monk
to Athos, "where the fishermen are; if I were to speak to him, he would
Athos went up to the soldier, who pointed out the tent to him;
immediately Monk and Athos turned towards it. It appeared to the general
that at the moment they came up, a shadow like that they had already
seen, glided into this tent; but on drawing nearer he perceived he must
have been mistaken, for all of them were asleep _pele mele_, and nothing
was seen but arms and legs joined, crossed, and mixed. Athos, fearing
lest he should be suspected of connivance with some of his compatriots,
remained outside the tent.
"_Hola!_" said Monk, in French, "wake up here." Two or three of the
sleepers got up.
"I want a man to light me," continued Monk.
"Your honor may depend on us," said a voice which made Athos start.
"Where do you wish us to go?"
"You shall see. A light! come, quickly!"
"Yes, your honor. Does it please your honor that I should accompany you?"
"You or another; it is of very little consequence, provided I have a
"It is strange!" thought Athos; "what a singular voice that man has!"
"Some fire, you fellows!" cried the fisherman; "come, make haste!"
Then addressing his companion nearest to him in a low voice: - "Get ready
a light, Menneville," said he, "and hold yourself ready for anything."
One of the fishermen struck light from a stone, set fire to some tinder,
and by the aid of a match lit a lantern. The light immediately spread
all over the tent.
"Are you ready, monsieur?" said Monk to Athos, who had turned away, not
to expose his face to the light.
"Yes, general," replied he.
"Ah! the French gentleman!" said the leader of the fishermen to himself.
"_Peste!_ I have a great mind to charge you with the commission,
Menneville; he may know me. Light! light!" This dialogue was pronounced
at the back of the tent, and in so low a voice that Monk could not hear a
syllable of it; he was, besides, talking with Athos. Menneville got
himself ready in the meantime, or rather received the orders of his
"Well?" said Monk.
"I am ready, general," said the fisherman.
Monk, Athos, and the fisherman left the tent.
"It is impossible!" thought Athos. "What dream could put that into my
"Go forward; follow the middle causeway, and stretch out your legs," said
Monk to the fisherman.
They were not twenty paces on their way when the same shadow that had
appeared to enter the tent came out of it again, crawled along as far as
the piles, and, protected by that sort of parapet placed along the
causeway, carefully observed the march of the general. All three
disappeared in the night haze. They were walking towards Newcastle, the
white stones of which appeared to them like sepulchers. After standing
for a few seconds under the porch, they penetrated into the interior.
The door had been broken open by hatchets. A post of four men slept in
safety in a corner, so certain were they that the attack would not take
place on that side.
"Will not these men be in your way?" said Monk to Athos.
"On the contrary, monsieur, they will assist in rolling out the barrels,
if your honor will permit them."
"You are right."
The post, though fast asleep, roused up at the first steps of the three
visitors amongst the briars and grass that invaded the porch. Monk gave
the password, and penetrated into the interior of the convent, preceded
by the light. He walked last, watching the least movement of Athos, his
naked dirk in his sleeve, and ready to plunge it into the back of the
gentleman at the first suspicious gesture he should see him make. But
Athos, with a firm and sure step, crossed the chambers and courts.
Not a door, not a window was left in the building. The doors had been
burnt, some on the spot, and the charcoal of them was still jagged with
the action of the fire, which had gone out of itself, powerless, no
doubt, to get to the heart of those massive joints of oak fastened
together with iron nails. As to the windows, all the panes having been
broken, night birds, alarmed by the torch, flew away through their
holes. At the same time, gigantic bats began to trace their vast, silent
circles around the intruders, whilst the light of the torch made their
shadows tremble on the high stone walls. Monk concluded that there could
be no man in the convent, since wild beasts and birds were there still,
and fled away at his approach.
After having passed the rubbish, and torn away more than one branch of
ivy that had made itself a guardian of the solitude, Athos arrived at the
vaults situated beneath the great hall, but the entrance of which was
from the chapel. There he stopped. "Here we are, general," said he.
"This, then, is the slab?"
"Ay, and here is the ring - but the ring is sealed into the stone."
"We must have a lever."
"That's a very easy thing to find."
Whilst looking around them, Athos and Monk perceived a little ash of
about three inches in diameter, which had shot up in an angle of the
wall, reaching a window, concealed by its branches.
"Have you a knife?" said Monk to the fisherman.
"Cut down this tree, then."
The fisherman obeyed, but not without notching his cutlass. When the ash
was cut and fashioned into the shape of a lever, the three men penetrated
into the vault.
"Stop where you are," said Monk to the fisherman. "We are going to dig
up some powder; your light may be dangerous."
The man drew back in a sort of terror, and faithfully kept to the post
assigned him, whilst Monk and Athos turned behind a column at the foot of
which, penetrating through a crack, was a moonbeam, reflected exactly on
the stone which the Comte de la Fere had come so far in search.
"This is it," said Athos, pointing out to the general the Latin
"Yes," said Monk.
Then, as if still willing to leave the Frenchman one means of evasion, -
"Do you not observe that this vault has already been broken into,"
continued he, "and that several statues have already been knocked down?"
"My lord, you have, without doubt, heard that the religious respect of
your Scots loves to confide to the statues of the dead the valuable
objects they have possessed during their lives. Therefore, the soldiers
had reason to think that under the pedestals of the statues which
ornament most of these tombs, a treasure was hidden. They have
consequently broken down pedestal and statue: but the tomb of the
venerable cannon, with which we have to do, is not distinguished by any
monument. It is simple, therefore it has been protected by the
superstitious fear which your Puritans have always had of sacrilege. Not
a morsel of the masonry of this tomb has been chipped off."
"That is true," said Monk.
Athos seized the lever.
"Shall I help you?" said Monk.
"Thank you, my lord; but I am not willing that your honor should lend
your hand to a work of which, perhaps, you would not take the
responsibility if you knew the probable consequences of it."
Monk raised his head.
"What do you mean by that, monsieur?"
"I mean - but that man - "
"Stop," said Monk; "I perceive what you are afraid of. I shall make a
trial." Monk turned towards the fisherman, the whole of whose profile
was thrown upon the wall.
"Come here, friend!" said he in English, and in a tone of command.
The fisherman did not stir.
"That is well," continued he: "he does not know English. Speak to me,
then, in English, if you please, monsieur."
"My lord," replied Athos, "I have frequently seen men in certain
circumstances have sufficient command over themselves not to reply to a
question put to them in a language they understood. The fisherman is
perhaps more learned than we believe him to be. Send him away, my lord,
I beg you."
"Decidedly," said Monk, "he wishes to have me alone in this vault. Never
mind, we shall go through with it; one man is as good as another man; and
we are alone. My friend," said Monk to the fisherman, "go back up the
stairs we have just descended, and watch that nobody comes to disturb
us." The fisherman made a sign of obedience. "Leave your torch," said
Monk; "it would betray your presence, and might procure you a musket-
The fisherman appeared to appreciate the counsel; he laid down the light,
and disappeared under the vault of the stairs. Monk took up the torch,
and brought it to the foot of the column.
"Ah, ah!" said he; "money, then, is concealed under this tomb?"
"Yes, my lord; and in five minutes you will no longer doubt it."
At the same time Athos struck a violent blow upon the plaster, which
split, presenting a chink for the point of the lever. Athos introduced
the bar into this crack, and soon large pieces of plaster yielded, rising
up like rounded slabs. Then the Comte de la Fere seized the stones and
threw them away with a force that hands so delicate as his might not have
been supposed capable of having.
"My lord," said Athos, "this is plainly the masonry of which I told your
"Yes; but I do not yet see the casks," said Monk.
"If I had a dagger," said Athos, looking round him, "you should soon see
them, monsieur. Unfortunately, I left mine in your tent."
"I would willingly offer you mine," said Monk, "but the blade is too thin
for such work."
Athos appeared to look around him for a thing of some kind that might
serve as a substitute for the weapon he desired. Monk did not lose one
of the movements of his hands, or one of the expressions of his eyes.
"Why do you not ask the fisherman for his cutlass?" said Monk; "he has a
"Ah! that is true," said Athos; "for he cut the tree down with it." And
he advanced towards the stairs.
"Friend," said he to the fisherman, "throw me down your cutlass, if you
please; I want it."
The noise of the falling weapon sounded on the steps.
"Take it," said Monk; "it is a solid instrument, as I have seen, and a
strong hand might make good use of it."
Athos appeared only to give to the words of Monk the natural and simple
sense under which they were to be heard and understood. Nor did he
remark, or at least appear to remark, that when he returned with the
weapon, Monk drew back, placing his left hand on the stock of his pistol;
in the right he already held his dirk. He went to work then, turning his
back to Monk, placing his life in his hands, without possible defense.
He then struck, during several seconds, so skillfully and sharply upon
the intermediary plaster, that it separated into two parts, and Monk was
able to discern two barrels placed end to end, and which their weight
maintained motionless in their chalky envelope.
"My lord," said Athos, "you see that my presentiments have not been
"Yes, monsieur," said Monk, "and I have good reason to believe you are
satisfied; are you not?"
"Doubtless I am; the loss of this money would have been inexpressibly
great to me: but I was certain that God, who protects the good cause,
would not have permitted this gold, which should procure its triumph, to
be diverted to baser purposes.
"You are, upon my honor, as mysterious in your words as in your actions,
monsieur," said Monk. "Just now as I did not perfectly understand you
when you said that you were not willing to throw upon me the
responsibility of the work we were accomplishing."
"I had reason to say so, my lord."
"And now you speak to me of the good cause. What do you mean by the
words 'the good cause?' We are defending at this moment, in England,
five or six causes, which does not prevent every one from considering his
own not only as the good cause, but as the best. What is yours,
monsieur? Speak boldly, that we may see if, upon this point, to which
you appear to attach a great importance, we are of the same opinion."
Athos fixed upon Monk one of those penetrating looks which seemed to
convey to him to whom they are directed a challenge to conceal a single
one of his thoughts; then, taking off his hat, he began in a solemn
voice, while his interlocutor, with one hand upon his visage, allowed
that long and nervous hand to compress his mustache and beard, while his
vague and melancholy eye wandered about the recesses of the vaults.
Heart and Mind.
"My lord," said the Comte de la Fere, "you are an noble Englishman, you
are a loyal man; you are speaking to a noble Frenchman, to a man of
heart. The gold contained in these two casks before us, I have told you
was mine. I was wrong - it is the first lie I have pronounced in my
life, a temporary lie, it is true. This gold is the property of King
Charles II., exiled from his country, driven from his palaces, the orphan
at once of his father and his throne, and deprived of everything, even of
the melancholy happiness of kissing on his knees the stone upon which the
hands of his murderers have written that simple epitaph which will
eternally cry out for vengeance upon them: -'HERE LIES CHARLES I.'"
Monk grew slightly pale, and an imperceptible shudder crept over his skin
and raised his gray mustache.
"I," continued Athos, "I, Comte de la Fere, the last, only faithful
friend the poor abandoned prince has left, I have offered him to come
hither to find the man upon whom now depends the fate of royalty and of
England; and I have come, and placed myself under the eye of this man,
and have placed myself naked and unarmed in his hands, saying: - 'My
lord, here are the last resources of a prince whom God made your master,
whom his birth made your king; upon you, and you alone, depend his life
and future. Will you employ this money in consoling England for the
evils it must have suffered from anarchy; that is to say, will you aid,
and if not aid, will you allow King Charles II. to act? You are master,
you are king, all-powerful master and king, for chance sometimes defeats
the work of time and God. I am here alone with you, my lord: if divided
success alarms you, if my complicity annoys you, you are armed, my lord,
and here is a grave ready dug; if, on the contrary, the enthusiasm of
your cause carries you away, if you are what you appear to be, if your
hand in what it undertakes obeys your mind, and your mind your heart,
here are the means of ruining forever the cause of your enemy, Charles
Stuart. Kill, then, the man you have before you, for that man will never
return to him who has sent him without bearing with him the deposit which
Charles I., his father, confided to him, and keep the gold which may
assist in carrying on the civil war. Alas! my lord, it is the fate of
this unfortunate prince. He must either corrupt or kill, for everything
resists him, everything repulses him, everything is hostile to him; and
yet he is marked with divine seal, and he must, not to belie his blood,
reascend the throne, or die upon the sacred soil of his country.'
"My lord, you have heard me. To any other but the illustrious man who
listens to me, I would have said: 'My lord, you are poor; my lord, the
king offers you this million as an earnest of an immense bargain; take
it, and serve Charles II. as I served Charles I., and I feel assured that
God, who listens to us, who sees us, who alone reads in your heart, shut
up from all human eyes, - I am assured God will give you a happy eternal
life after death.' But to General Monk, to the illustrious man of whose
standard I believe I have taken measure, I say: 'My lord, there is for
you in the history of peoples and kings a brilliant place, an immortal,
imperishable glory, if alone, without any other interest but the good of
your country and the interests of justice, you become the supporter of
your king. Many others have been conquerors and glorious usurpers; you,
my lord, you will be content with being the most virtuous, the most
honest, and the most incorruptible of men: you will have held a crown in
your hand, and instead of placing it upon your own brow, you will have
deposited it upon the head of him for whom it was made. Oh, my lord, act
thus, and you will leave to posterity the most enviable of names, in
which no human creature can rival you.'"
Athos stopped. During the whole time that the noble gentleman was
speaking, Monk had not given one sign of either approbation or
disapprobation; scarcely even, during this vehement appeal, had his eyes
been animated with that fire which bespeaks intelligence. The Comte de
la Fere looked at him sorrowfully, and on seeing that melancholy
countenance, felt discouragement penetrate to his very heart. At length
Monk appeared to recover, and broke the silence.
"Monsieur," said he, in a mild, calm tone, "in reply to you, I will make
use of your own words. To any other but yourself I would reply by
expulsion, imprisonment, or still worse, for, in fact, you tempt me and
you force me at the same time. But you are one of those men, monsieur,
to whom it is impossible to refuse the attention and respect they merit;
you are a brave gentleman, monsieur - I say so, and I am a judge. You
just now spoke of a deposit which the late king transmitted through you
to his son - are you, then, one of those Frenchmen who, as I have heard,
endeavored to carry off Charles I. from Whitehall?"
"Yes, my lord; it was I who was beneath the scaffold during the
execution; I, who had not been able to redeem it, received upon my brow
the blood of the martyred king. I received, at the same time, the last
word of Charles I.; it was to me he said, 'REMEMBER!' and in saying,
'Remember!' he alluded to the money at your feet, my lord."
"I have heard much of you, monsieur," said Monk, "but I am happy to have,
in the first place, appreciated you by my own observations, and not by my
remembrances. I will give you, then, explanations that I have given to
no other, and you will appreciate what a distinction I make between you
and the persons who have hitherto been sent to me."
Athos bowed and prepared to absorb greedily the words which fell, one by
one, from the mouth of Monk, - those words rare and precious as the dew
in the desert.
"You spoke to me," said Monk, "of Charles II.; but pray, monsieur, of
what consequence to me is that phantom of a king? I have grown old in a
war and in a policy which are nowadays so closely linked together, that
every man of the sword must fight in virtue of his rights or his ambition
with a personal interest, and not blindly behind an officer, as in
ordinary wars. For myself, I perhaps desire nothing, but I fear much.
In the war of to-day rests the liberty of England, and, perhaps, that of
every Englishman. How can you expect that I, free in the position I have
made for myself, should go willingly and hold out my hands to the
shackles of a stranger? That is all Charles is to me. He has fought
battles here which he has lost, he is therefore a bad captain; he has
succeeded in no negotiation, he is therefore a bad diplomatist; he has
paraded his wants and his miseries in all the courts of Europe, he has
therefore a weak and pusillanimous heart. Nothing noble, nothing great,
nothing strong has hitherto emanated from that genius which aspires to
govern one of the greatest kingdoms of the earth. I know this Charles,
then, under none but bad aspects, and you would wish me, a man of good
sense, to go and make myself gratuitously the slave of a creature who is
inferior to me in military capacity, in politics, and in dignity! No,
monsieur. When some great and noble action shall have taught me to value
Charles, I shall perhaps recognize his rights to a throne from which we
cast the father because he wanted the virtues which his son has hitherto
lacked, but, in fact of rights, I only recognize my own; the revolution
made me a general, my sword will make me protector, if I wish it. Let
Charles show himself, let him present himself, let him enter the
competition open to genius, and, above all, let him remember that he is
of a race from whom more will be expected than from any other.
Therefore, monsieur, say no more about him. I neither refuse nor accept:
I reserve myself - I wait."
Athos knew Monk to be too well informed of all concerning Charles to
venture to urge the discussion further; it was neither the time nor the
place. "My lord," then said he, "I have nothing to do but thank you."
"And why, monsieur? Because you have formed a correct opinion of me, or
because I have acted according to your judgment? Is that, in truth,
worthy of thanks? This gold which you are about to carry to Charles will
serve me as a test for him, by seeing the use he will make of it. I
shall have an opinion which now I have not."
"And yet does not your honor fear to compromise yourself by allowing such
a sum to be carried away for the service of your enemy?"
"My enemy, say you? Eh, monsieur, I have no enemies. I am in the
service of the parliament, which orders me to fight General Lambert and
Charles Stuart - its enemies, and not mine. I fight them. If the
parliament, on the contrary, ordered me to unfurl my standards on the
port of London, and to assemble my soldiers on the banks to receive
Charles II. - "
"You would obey?" cried Athos, joyfully.
"Pardon me," said Monk, smiling, "I was going on - I, a gray-headed man –
in truth, how could I forget myself? was going to speak like a foolish
"Then you would not obey?" said Athos.
"I do not say that either, monsieur. The welfare of my country before
everything. God, who has given me the power, has, no doubt, willed that
I should have that power for the good of all, and He has given me, at the
same time, discernment. If the parliament were to order such a thing, I
The brow of Athos became clouded. "Then I may positively say that your
honor is not inclined to favor King Charles II.?"
"You continue to question me, monsieur le comte; allow me to do so in
turn, if you please."
"Do, monsieur; and may God inspire you with the idea of replying to me as
frankly as I shall reply to you."
"When you shall have taken this money back to your prince, what advice
will you give him?"
Athos fixed upon Monk a proud and resolute look.
"My lord," said he, "with this million, which others would perhaps employ
in negotiating, I would advise the king to rise two regiments, to enter
Scotland, which you have just pacified: to give to the people the
franchises which the revolution promised them, and in which it has not,
in all cases, kept its word. I should advise him to command in person
this little army, which would, believe me, increase, and to die, standard
in hand, and sword in sheath, saying, 'Englishmen! I am the third king
of my race you have killed; beware of the justice of God!'"
Monk hung down his head, and mused for an instant. "If he succeeded,"
said he, "which is very improbable, but not impossible - for everything
is possible in this world - what would you advise him to do?"
"To think that by the will of God he lost his crown, by the good will of
men he recovered it."
An ironical smile passed over the lips of Monk.
"Unfortunately, monsieur," said he, "kings do not know how to follow good
"Ah, my lord, Charles II. is not a king," replied Athos, smiling in his
turn, but with a very different expression from Monk.
"Let us terminate this, monsieur le comte, - that is your desire, is it
"I shall give orders to have these two casks transported whither you
please. Where are you lodging, monsieur?"
"In a little hamlet at the mouth of the river, your honor."
"Oh, I know the hamlet; it consists of five or six houses, does it not?"
"Exactly. Well, I inhabit the first, - two net-makers occupy it with me;
it is their bark which brought me ashore."
"But your own vessel, monsieur?"
"My vessel is at anchor, a quarter of a mile at sea, and waits for me."
"You do not think, however, of setting out immediately?"
"My lord, I shall try once more to convince your honor."
"You will not succeed," replied Monk; "but it is of consequence that you
should depart from Newcastle without leaving of your passage the least
suspicion that might prove injurious to me or you. To-morrow my officers
think Lambert will attack me. I, on the contrary, am convinced he will
not stir; it is in my opinion impossible. Lambert leads an army devoid
of homogeneous principles, and there is no possible army with such
elements. I have taught my soldiers to consider my authority subordinate
to another, therefore, after me, round me, and beneath me, they still
look for something. It would result that if I were dead, whatever might
happen, my army would not be demoralized all at once; it results, that if
I choose to absent myself, for instance, as it does please me to do
sometimes, there would not be in the camp the shadow of uneasiness or
disorder. I am the magnet - the sympathetic and natural strength of the
English. All those scattered irons that will be sent against me I shall
attract to myself. Lambert, at this moment, commands eighteen thousand
deserters; but I have never mentioned that to my officers, you may easily
suppose. Nothing is more useful to an army than the expectation of a
coming battle; everybody is awake - everybody is on guard. I tell you
this that you may live in perfect security. Do not be in a hurry, then,
to cross the seas; within a week there will be something fresh, either a
battle or an accommodation. Then, as you have judged me to be an
honorable man, and confided your secret to me, I have to thank you for
this confidence, and I shall come and pay you a visit or send for you.
Do not go before I send word. I repeat the request."
"I promise you, general," cried Athos, with a joy so great, that in spite
of all his circumspection, he could not prevent its sparkling in his eyes.
Monk surprised this flash, and immediately extinguished it by one of
those silent smiles which always caused his interlocutors to know they
had made no inroad on his mind.
"Then, my lord, it is a week that you desire me to wait?"
"A week? yes, monsieur."
"And during those days what shall I do?"
"If there should be a battle, keep at a distance from it, I beseech you.
I know the French delight in such amusements; - you might take a fancy to
see how we fight, and you might receive some chance shot. Our Scotsmen
are very bad marksmen, and I do not wish that a worthy gentleman like you
should return to France wounded. Nor should I like to be obliged,
myself, to send to your prince his million left here by you; for then it
would be said, and with some reason, that I paid the Pretender to enable
him to make war against the parliament. Go, then, monsieur, and let it
be done as has been agreed upon."
"Ah, my lord," said Athos, "what joy it would give me to be the first
that penetrated to the noble heart which beats beneath that cloak!"
"You think, then, that I have secrets," said Monk, without changing the
half cheerful expression of his countenance. "Why, monsieur, what secret
can you expect to find in the hollow head of a soldier? But it is
getting late, and our torch is almost out; let us call our man."
"_Hola!_" cried Monk in French, approaching the stairs; "_hola!_
The fisherman, benumbed by the cold night air, replied in a hoarse voice,
asking what they wanted of him.
"Go to the post," said Monk, "and order a sergeant, in the name of
General Monk, to come here immediately."
This was a commission easily performed; for the sergeant, uneasy at the
general's being in that desolate abbey, had drawn nearer by degrees, and
was not much further off than the fisherman. The general's order was
therefore heard by him, and he hastened to obey it.
"Get a horse and two men," said Monk.
"A horse and two men?" repeated the sergeant.
"Yes," replied Monk. "Have you got any means of getting a horse with a
pack-saddle or two panniers?"
"No doubt, at a hundred paces off, in the Scottish camp."
"What shall I do with the horse, general."
The sergeant descended the three steps which separated him from Monk, and
came into the vault.
"You see," said Monk, "that gentleman yonder?"
"And you see these two casks?"
"They are two casks, one containing powder, and the other balls; I wish
these casks to be transported to the little hamlet at the mouth of the
river, and which I intend to occupy to-morrow with two hundred muskets.
You understand that the commission is a secret one, for it is a movement
that may decide the fate of the battle."
"Oh, general!" murmured the sergeant.
"Mind, then! Let these casks be fastened on to the horse, and let them
be escorted by two men and you to the residence of this gentleman, who is
my friend. But take care that nobody knows it."
"I would go by the marsh if I knew the road," said the sergeant.
"I know one myself," said Athos; "it is not wide, but it is solid, having
been made upon piles; and with care we shall get over safely enough."
"Do everything this gentleman shall order you to do."
"Oh! oh! the casks are heavy," said the sergeant, trying to lift one.
"They weigh four hundred pounds each, if they contain what they ought to
contain, do they not, monsieur."
"Thereabouts," said Athos.
The sergeant went in search of the two men and the horse. Monk, left
alone with Athos, affected to speak to him on nothing but indifferent
subjects while examining the vault in a cursory manner. Then, hearing
the horse's steps, -
"I leave you with your men, monsieur," said he, "and return to the camp.
You are perfectly safe."
"I shall see you again, then, my lord?" asked Athos.
"That is agreed upon, monsieur, and with much pleasure."
Monk held out his hand to Athos.
"Ah! my lord, if you would!" murmured Athos.
"Hush! monsieur, it is agreed that we shall speak no more of that." And
bowing to Athos, he went up the stairs, meeting about half-way his men,
who were coming down. He had not gone twenty paces, when a faint but
prolonged whistle was heard at a distance. Monk listened, but seeing
nothing and hearing nothing, he continued his route. Then he remembered
the fisherman, and looked about for him; but the fisherman had
disappeared. If he had, however, looked with more attention, he might
have seen that man, bent double, gliding like a serpent along the stones
and losing himself in the mist that floated over the surface of the
marsh. He might equally have seen, had he attempted to pierce that mist,
a spectacle that might have attracted his attention; and that was the
rigging of the vessel, which had changed place, and was now nearer the
shore. But Monk saw nothing; and thinking he had nothing to fear, he
entered the deserted causeway which led to his camp. It was then that
the disappearance of the fisherman appeared strange, and that a real
suspicion began to take possession of his mind. He had just placed at
the orders of Athos the only post that could protect him. He had a mile
of causeway to traverse before he could regain his camp. The fog
increased with such intensity that he could scarcely distinguish objects
at ten paces' distance. Monk then thought he heard the sound of an oar
over the marsh on the right. "Who goes there?" said he.
But nobody answered; then he cocked his pistol, took his sword in his
hand, and quickened his pace, without, however, being willing to call
anybody. Such a summons, for which there was no absolute necessity,
appeared unworthy of him.
The Next Day.
It was seven o'clock in the morning, the first rays of day lightened the
pools of the marsh, in which the sun was reflected like a red ball, when
Athos, awakening and opening the window of his bed-chamber, which looked
out upon the banks of the river, perceived, at fifteen paces' distance
from him, the sergeant and the men who had accompanied him the evening
before, and who, after having deposited the casks at his house, had
returned to the camp by the causeway on the right.
Why had these men come back after having returned to the camp? That was
the question which first presented itself to Athos. The sergeant, with
his head raised, appeared to be watching the moment when the gentleman
should appear to address him. Athos, surprised to see these men, whom he
had seen depart the night before, could not refrain from expressing his
astonishment to them.
"There is nothing surprising in that, monsieur," said the sergeant; "for
yesterday the general commanded me to watch over your safety, and I
thought it right to obey that order."
"Is the general at the camp?" asked Athos.
"No doubt he is, monsieur; as when he left you he was going back."
"Well, wait for me a moment; I am going thither to render an account of
the fidelity with which you fulfilled your duty, and to get my sword,
which I left upon the table in the tent."
"This happens very well," said the sergeant, "for we were about to
request you to do so."
Athos fancied he could detect an air of equivocal _bonhomie_ upon the
countenance of the sergeant; but the adventure of the vault might have
excited the curiosity of the man, and it was not surprising that he
allowed some of the feelings which agitated his mind to appear in his
face. Athos closed the doors carefully, confiding the keys to Grimaud,
who had chosen his domicile beneath the shed itself, which led to the
cellar where the casks had been deposited. The sergeant escorted the
Comte de la Fere to the camp. There a fresh guard awaited him, and
relieved the four men who had conducted Athos.
This fresh guard was commanded by the aid-de-camp Digby, who, on their
way, fixed upon Athos looks so little encouraging, that the Frenchman
asked himself whence arose, with regard to him, this vigilance and this
severity, when the evening before he had been left perfectly free. He
nevertheless continued his way to the headquarters, keeping to himself
the observations which men and things forced him to make. He found in
the general's tent, to which he had been introduced the evening before,
three superior officers: these were Monk's lieutenant and two colonels.
Athos perceived his sword; it was still on the table where he left it.
Neither of the officers had seen Athos, consequently neither of them knew
him. Monk's lieutenant asked, at the appearance of Athos, if that were
the same gentleman with whom the general had left the tent.
"Yes, your honor," said the sergeant; "it is the same."
"But," said Athos, haughtily, "I do not deny it, I think; and now,
gentlemen, in turn, permit me to ask you to what purpose these questions
are asked, and particularly some explanations upon the tone in which you
"Monsieur," said the lieutenant, "if we address these questions to you,
it is because we have a right to do so, and if we make them in a
particular tone, it is because that tone, believe me, agrees with the
"Gentlemen," said Athos, "you do not know who I am; but I must tell you
that I acknowledge no one here but General Monk as my equal. Where is
he? Let me be conducted to him, and if he has any questions to put to
me, I will answer him and to his satisfaction, I hope. I repeat,
gentlemen, where is the general?"
"Eh! good God! you know better than we do where he is," said the
"Monsieur," said Athos; "I do not understand you."
"You will understand me - and, in the first place, do not speak so
Athos smiled disdainfully.
"We don't ask you to smile," said one of the colonels warmly; "we require
you to answer."
"And I, gentlemen, declare to you that I will not reply until I am in
the presence of the general."
"But," replied the same colonel who had already spoken, "you know very
well that is impossible."
"This is the second time I have received this strange reply to the wish I
express," said Athos. "Is the general absent?"
This question was made with such apparent good faith, and the gentleman
wore an air of such natural surprise, that the three officers exchanged a
meaning look. The lieutenant, by a tacit convention with the other two,
"Monsieur, the general left you last night on the borders of the
"And you went - "
"It is not for me to answer you, but for those who have accompanied me.
They were your soldiers, ask them."
"But if we please to question you?"
"Then it will please me to reply, monsieur, that I do not recognize any
one here, that I know no one here but the general, and that it is to him
alone I will reply."
"So be it, monsieur; but as we are the masters, we constitute ourselves a
council of war, and when you are before judges you must reply."
The countenance of Athos expressed nothing but astonishment and disdain,
instead of the terror the officers expected to read in it at this threat.
"Scottish or English judges upon me, a subject of the king of France;
upon me, placed under the safeguard of British honor! You are mad,
gentlemen!" said Athos, shrugging his shoulders.
The officers looked at each other. "Then, monsieur," said one of them,
"do you pretend not to know where the general is?"
"To that, monsieur, I have already replied."
"Yes, but you have already replied an incredible thing."
"It is true, nevertheless, gentlemen. Men of my rank are not generally
liars. I am a gentleman, I have told you, and when I have at my side the
sword which, by an excess of delicacy, I left last night upon the table
whereon it still lies, believe me, no man says that to me which I am
unwilling to hear. I am at this moment disarmed; if you pretend to be my
judges, try me; if you are but my executioners, kill me."
"But, monsieur - " asked the lieutenant, in a more courteous voice,
struck with the lofty coolness of Athos.
"Sir, I came to speak confidentially with your general about affairs of
importance. It was not an ordinary welcome that he gave me. The
accounts your soldiers can give you may convince you of that. If, then,
the general received me in that manner, he knew my titles to his esteem.
Now, you do not suspect, I should think, that I should reveal my secrets
to you, and still less his."
"But these casks, what do they contain?"
"Have you not put that question to your soldiers? What was their
"That they contained powder and ball."
"From whom had they that information? They must have told you that."
"From the general; but we are not dupes."
"Beware, gentlemen; it is not to me you are now giving the lie, it is to
The officers again looked at each other. Athos continued: "Before your
soldiers the general told me to wait a week, and at the expiration of
that week he would give me the answer he had to make me. Have I fled
away? No; I wait."
"He told you to wait a week!" cried the lieutenant.
"He told me that so clearly, sir, that I have a sloop at the mouth of the
river, which I could with ease have joined yesterday, and embarked. Now,
if I have remained, it was only in compliance with the desire of your
general; his honor having requested me not to depart without a last
audience, which he fixed at a week hence. I repeat to you, then, I am
The lieutenant turned towards the other officers, and said, in a low
voice: "If this gentleman speaks truth, there may still be some hope.
The general may be carrying out some negotiations so secret, that he
thought it imprudent to inform even us. Then the time limited for his
absence would be a week." Then, turning towards Athos: "Monsieur," said
he, "your declaration is of the most serious importance; are you willing
to repeat it under the seal of an oath?"
"Sir," replied Athos, "I have always lived in a world where my simple
word was regarded as the most sacred of oaths."
"This time, however, monsieur, the circumstance is more grave than any
you may have been placed in. The safety of the whole army is at stake.
Reflect; the general has disappeared, and our search for him has been in
vain. Is this disappearance natural? Has a crime been committed? Are
we not bound to carry our investigations to extremity? Have we any right
to wait with patience? At this moment, everything, monsieur, depends
upon the words you are about to pronounce."
"Thus questioned, gentlemen, I no longer hesitate," said Athos. "Yes, I
came hither to converse confidentially with General Monk, and ask him for
an answer regarding certain interests; yes, the general being, doubtless,
unable to pronounce before the expected battle, begged me to remain a
week in the house I inhabit, promising me that in a week I should see him
again. Yes, all this is true, and I swear it by God who is the absolute
master of my life and yours." Athos pronounced these words with so much
grandeur and solemnity, that the three officers were almost convinced.
Nevertheless, one of the colonels made a last attempt.
"Monsieur," said he, "although we may now be persuaded of the truth of
what you say, there is yet a strange mystery in all this. The general is
too prudent a man to have thus abandoned his army on the eve of a battle
without having at least given notice of it to one of us. As for myself,
I cannot believe but some strange event has been the cause of this
disappearance. Yesterday some foreign fishermen came to sell their fish
here; they were lodged yonder among the Scots; that is to say, on the
road the general took with this gentleman, to go to the abbey, and to
return from it. It was one of these fishermen that accompanied the
general with a light. And this morning, bark and fishermen have all
disappeared, carried away by the night's tide."
"For my part," said the lieutenant, "I see nothing in that that is not
quite natural, for these people were not prisoners."
"No; but I repeat it was one of them who lighted the general and this
gentleman to the abbey, and Digby assures us that the general had strong
suspicions concerning those people. Now, who can say whether these
people were not connected with this gentleman; and that, the blow being
struck, the gentleman, who is evidently brave, did not remain to reassure
us by his presence, and to prevent our researches being made in a right
This speech made an impression upon the other two officers.
"Sir," said Athos, "permit me to tell you, that your reasoning, though
specious in appearance, nevertheless wants consistency, as regards me. I
have remained, you say, to divert suspicion. Well! on the contrary,
suspicions arise in me as well as in you; and I say, it is impossible,
gentlemen, that the general, on the eve of a battle, should leave his
army without saying anything to at least one of his officers. Yes, there
is some strange event connected with this; instead of being idle and
waiting, you must display all the activity and all the vigilance
possible. I am your prisoner, gentlemen, upon parole or otherwise. My
honor is concerned in ascertaining what has become of General Monk, and
to such a point, that if you were to say to me, 'Depart!' I should
reply: 'No, I will remain!' And if you were to ask my opinion, I should
add: 'Yes, the general is the victim of some conspiracy, for, if he had
intended to leave the camp he would have told me so.' Seek, then, search
the land, search the sea; the general has not gone of his own good will."
The lieutenant made a sign to the two other officers.
"No, monsieur," said he, "no; in your turn you go too far. The general
has nothing to suffer from these events, and, no doubt, has directed
them. What Monk is now doing he has often done before. We are wrong in
alarming ourselves; his absence will, doubtless, be of short duration;
therefore, let us beware, lest by a pusillanimity which the general would
consider a crime, of making his absence public, and by that means
demoralize the army. The general gives a striking proof of his
confidence in us; let us show ourselves worthy of it. Gentlemen, let the
most profound silence cover all this with an impenetrable veil; we will
detain this gentleman, not from mistrust of him with regard to the crime,
but to assure more effectively the secret of the general's absence by
keeping among ourselves; therefore, until fresh orders, the gentleman
will remain at headquarters."
"Gentlemen," said Athos, "you forget that last night the general confided
to me a deposit over which I am bound to watch. Give me whatever guard
you like, chain me if you like, but leave me the house I inhabit for my
prison. The general, on his return, would reproach you, I swear on the
honor of a gentleman, for having displeased him in this."
"So be it, monsieur," said the lieutenant; "return to your abode."
Then they placed over Athos a guard of fifty men, who surrounded his
house, without losing sight of him for a minute.
The secret remained secure, but hours, days passed away without the
general's returning, or without anything being heard of him.
Two days after the events we have just related, and while General Monk
was expected every minute in the camp to which he did not return, a
little Dutch _felucca_, manned by eleven men, cast anchor upon the coast
of Scheveningen, nearly within cannon-shot of the port. It was night,
the darkness was great, the tide rose in the darkness; it was a capital
time to land passengers and merchandise.
The road of Scheveningen forms a vast crescent; it is not very deep and
not very safe; therefore, nothing is seen stationed there but large
Flemish hoys, or some of those Dutch barks which fishermen draw up on the
sand on rollers, as the ancients did, according to Virgil. When the tide
is rising, and advancing on land, it is not prudent to bring the vessels
too close in shore, for, if the wind is fresh, the prows are buried in
the sand; and the sand of that coast is spongy; it receives easily, but
does not yield so well. It was on this account, no doubt, that a boat
was detached from the bark, as soon as the latter had cast anchor, and
came with eight sailors, amidst whom was to be seen an object of an
oblong form, a sort of large pannier or bale.
The shore was deserted; the few fishermen inhabiting the down were gone
to bed. The only sentinel that guarded the coast (a coast very badly
guarded, seeing that a landing from large ships was impossible), without
having been able to follow the example of the fishermen, who were gone to
bed, imitated them so far, that he slept at the back of his watch-box as
soundly as they slept in their beds. The only noise to be heard, then,
was the whistling of the night breeze among the bushes and the brambles
of the downs. But the people who were approaching were doubtless
mistrustful people, for this real silence and apparent solitude did not
satisfy them. Their boat, therefore, scarcely as visible as a dark speck
upon the ocean, gilded along noiselessly, avoiding the use of their oars
for fear of being heard, and gained the nearest land.
Scarcely had it touched the ground when a single man jumped out of the
boat, after having given a brief order, in a manner which denoted the
habit of commanding. In consequence of this order, several muskets
immediately glittered in the feeble light reflected from that mirror of
the heavens, the sea; and the oblong bale of which we spoke, containing
no doubt some contraband object, was transported to land, with infinite
precautions. Immediately after that, the man who had landed first, set
off at a rapid pace diagonally towards the village of Scheveningen,
directing his course to the nearest point of the wood. When there, he
sought for that house already described as the temporary residence - and
a very humble residence - of him who was styled by courtesy king of
All were asleep there, as everywhere else, only a large dog, of the race
of those which the fishermen of Scheveningen harness to little carts to
carry fish to the Hague, began to bark formidably as soon as the
stranger's steps were audible beneath the windows. But the watchfulness,
instead of alarming the newly-landed man, appeared, on the contrary, to
give him great joy, for his voice might perhaps have proved insufficient
to rouse the people of the house, whilst, with an auxiliary of that sort,
his voice became almost useless. The stranger waited, then, till these
reiterated and sonorous barkings should, according to all probability,
have produced their effect, and then he ventured a summons. On hearing
his voice, the dog began to roar with such violence that another voice
was soon heard from the interior, quieting the dog. With that the dog
"What do you want?" asked that voice, at the same time weak, broken, and
"I want his majesty King Charles II., king of England," said the stranger.
"What do you want with him?"
"I want to speak with him."
"Who are you?"
"Ah! _Mordioux!_ you ask too much; I don't like talking through doors."
"Only tell me your name."
"I don't like to declare my name in the open air, either; besides, you
may be sure I shall not eat your dog, and I hope to God he will be as
reserved with respect to me."
"You bring news, perhaps, monsieur, do you not?" replied the voice,
patient and querulous as that of an old man.
"I will answer for it, I bring you news you little expect. Open the
door, then, if you please, _hein!_"
"Monsieur," persisted the old man, "do you believe, upon your soul and
conscience, that your news is worth waking the king?"
"For God's sake, my dear monsieur, draw your bolts; you will not be
sorry, I swear, for the trouble it will give you. I am worth my weight
in gold, _parole d'honneur!_"
"Monsieur, I cannot open the door till you have told me your name."
"Must I, then?"
"It is by the order of my master, monsieur."
"Well, my name is - but, I warn you, my name will tell you absolutely
"Never mind, tell it, notwithstanding."
"Well, I am the Chevalier d'Artagnan."
The voice uttered an exclamation.
"Oh! good heavens!" said a voice on the other side of the door.
"Monsieur d'Artagnan. What happiness! I could not help thinking I knew
"Humph!" said D'Artagnan. "My voice is known here! That's flattering."
"Oh! yes, we know it," said the old man, drawing the bolts; "and here is
the proof." And at these words he let in D'Artagnan, who, by the light
of the lantern he carried in his hand, recognized his obstinate
"Ah! _Mordioux!_" cried he: "why, it is Parry! I ought to have known
"Parry, yes, my dear Monsieur d'Artagnan, it is I. What joy to see you
"You are right there, what joy!" said D'Artagnan, pressing the old man's
hand. "There, now you'll go and inform the king, will you not?"
"But the king is asleep, my dear monsieur."
"_Mordioux!_ then wake him. He won't scold you for having disturbed him,
I will promise you."
"You come on the part of the count, do you not?"
"The Comte de la Fere?"
"_Ma foi!_ no; I come on my own part. Come, Parry, quick! The king - I
want the king."
Parry did not think it his duty to resist any longer; he knew D'Artagnan
of old; he knew that, although a Gascon, his words never promised more
than they could stand to. He crossed a court and a little garden,
appeased the dog, that seemed most anxious to taste of the musketeer's
flesh, and went to knock at the window of a chamber forming the ground-
floor of a little pavilion. Immediately a little dog inhabiting that
chamber replied to the great dog inhabiting the court.
"Poor king!" said D'Artagnan to himself, "these are his body-guards. It
is true he is not the worse guarded on that account."
"What is wanted with me?" asked the king, from the back of the chamber.
"Sire, it is M. le Chevalier d'Artagnan, who brings you some news."
A noise was immediately heard in the chamber, a door was opened, and a
flood of light inundated the corridor and the garden. The king was
working by the light of a lamp. Papers were lying about upon his desk,
and he had commenced the first copy of a letter which showed, by the
numerous erasures, the trouble he had had in writing it.
"Come in, monsieur le chevalier," said he, turning around. Then
perceiving the fisherman, "What do you mean, Parry? Where is M. le
Chevalier d'Artagnan?" asked Charles.
"He is before you, sire," said M. d'Artagnan.
"What, in that costume?"
"Yes; look at me, sire; do you not remember having seen me at Blois, in
the ante-chamber of King Louis XIV.?"
"Yes, monsieur, and I remember I was much pleased with you."
D'Artagnan bowed. "It was my duty to behave as I did, the moment I knew
that I had the honor of being near your majesty."
"You bring me news, do you say?"
"From the king of France?"
"_Ma foi!_ no, sire," replied D'Artagnan. "Your majesty must have seen
yonder that the king of France is only occupied with his own majesty."
Charles raised his eyes towards heaven.
"No, sire, no," continued D'Artagnan. "I bring news entirely composed of
personal facts. Nevertheless, I hope that your majesty will listen to
the facts and news with some favor."
"If I am not mistaken, sire, your majesty spoke a great deal at Blois, of
the embarrassed state in which the affairs of England are."
Charles colored. "Monsieur," said he, "it was to the king of France I
related - "
"Oh! your majesty is mistaken," said the musketeer, coolly; "I know how
to speak to kings in misfortune. It is only when they are in misfortune
that they speak to me; once fortunate, they look upon me no more. I
have, then, for your majesty, not only the greatest respect, but, still
more, the most absolute devotion; and that, believe me, with me, sire,
means something. Now, hearing your majesty complain of fate, I found
that you were noble and generous, and bore misfortune well."
"In truth!" said Charles, much astonished, "I do not know which I ought
to prefer, your freedoms or your respects."
"You will choose presently, sire," said D'Artagnan. "Then your majesty
complained to your brother, Louis XIV., of the difficulty you experienced
in returning to England and regaining your throne for want of men and
Charles allowed a movement of impatience to escape him.
"And the principal object your majesty found in your way," continued
D'Artagnan, "was a certain general commanding the armies of the
parliament, and who was playing yonder the part of another Cromwell. Did
not your majesty say so?"
"Yes; but I repeat to you, monsieur, those words were for the king's ears
"And you will see, sire, that it is very fortunate that they fell into
those of his lieutenant of musketeers. That man so troublesome to your
majesty was one General Monk, I believe; did I not hear his name
"Yes, monsieur, but once more, to what purpose are all these questions."
"Oh! I know very well, sire, that etiquette will not allow kings to be
questioned. I hope, however, presently you will pardon my want of
etiquette. Your majesty added that, notwithstanding, if you could see
him, confer with him, and meet him face to face, you would triumph,
either by force or persuasion, over that obstacle - the only serious one,
the only insurmountable one, the only real one you met with on your road."
"All that is true, monsieur: my destiny, my future, my obscurity, or my
glory depend upon that man; but what do you draw from that?"
"One thing alone, that if this General Monk is troublesome to the point
your majesty describes, it would be expedient to get rid of him or make
an ally of him."
"Monsieur, a king who has neither army nor money, as you have heard my
conversation with my brother Louis, has no means of acting against a man
"Yes, sire, that was your opinion, I know very well: but, fortunately for
you, it was not mine."
"What do you mean by that?"
"That, without an army and without a million, I have done - I, myself –
what your majesty thought could alone be done with an army and a million."
"How! What do you say? What have you done?"
"What have I done? Eh! well, sire, I went yonder to take this man who is
so troublesome to your majesty."
"You went to take Monk in England?"
"Should I by chance have done wrong, sire?"
"In truth, you are mad, monsieur!"
"Not the least in the world, sire."
"You have taken Monk?"
"In the midst of his camp."
The king trembled with impatience.
"And having taken him on the causeway of Newcastle, I bring him to your
majesty," said D'Artagnan, simply.
"You bring him to me!" cried the king, almost indignant at what he
considered a mystification.
"Yes, sire," replied D'Artagnan, in the same tone, "I bring him to you;
he is down below yonder, in a large chest pierced with holes, so as to
allow him to breathe."
"Oh! don't be uneasy, sire, we have taken the greatest possible care of
him. He comes in good state, and in perfect condition. Would your
majesty please to see him, to talk with him, or to have him thrown into
"Oh, heavens!" repeated Charles, "oh, heavens! do you speak the truth,
monsieur? Are you not insulting me with some unworthy joke? You have
accomplished this unheard-of act of audacity and genius - impossible!"
"Will your majesty permit me to open the window?" said D'Artagnan,
The king had not time to reply yes or no. D'Artagnan gave a shrill and
prolonged whistle, which he repeated three times through the silence of
"There!" said he, "he will be brought to your majesty."
In which D'Artagnan begins to fear he has placed his Money and that of
Planchet in the Sinking Fund.
The king could not overcome his surprise, and looked sometimes at the
smiling face of the musketeer, and sometimes at the dark window which
opened into the night. But before he had fixed his ideas, eight of
D'Artagnan's men, for two had remained to take care of the bark, brought
to the house, where Parry received him, that object of an oblong form,
which, for the moment, inclosed the destinies of England. Before he left
Calais, D'Artagnan had had made in that city a sort of coffin, large and
deep enough for a man to turn in it at his ease. The bottom and sides,
properly upholstered, formed a bed sufficiently soft to prevent the
rolling of the ship turning this kind of cage into a rat-trap. The
little grating, of which D'Artagnan had spoken to the king, like the
visor of the helmet, was placed opposite to the man's face. It was so
constructed that, at the least cry, a sudden pressure would stifle that
cry, and, if necessary, him who had uttered that cry.
D'Artagnan was so well acquainted with his crew and his prisoner, that
during the whole voyage he had been in dread of two things: either that
the general would prefer death to this sort of imprisonment, and would
smother himself by endeavoring to speak, or that his guards would allow
themselves to be tempted by the offers of the prisoner, and put him,
D'Artagnan, into the box instead of Monk.
D'Artagnan, therefore, had passed the two days and the two nights of the
voyage close to the coffin, alone with the general, offering him wine and
food, which the latter had refused, and constantly endeavoring to
reassure him upon the destiny which awaited him at the end of this
singular captivity. Two pistols on the table and his naked sword made
D'Artagnan easy with regard to indiscretions from without.
When once at Scheveningen he had felt completely reassured. His men
greatly dreaded any conflict with the lords of the soil. He had,
besides, interested in his cause him who had morally served him as
lieutenant, and whom we have seen reply to the name of Menneville. The
latter, not being a vulgar spirit, had more to risk than the others,
because he had more conscience. He believed in a future in the service
of D'Artagnan, and consequently would have allowed himself to be cut to
pieces, rather than violate the order given by his leader. Thus it was
that, once landed, it was to him that D'Artagnan had confided the care of
the chest and the general's breathing. It was he, too, he had ordered to
have the chest brought by the seven men as soon as he should hear the
triple whistle. We have seen that the lieutenant obeyed. The coffer
once in the house, D'Artagnan dismissed his men with a gracious smile,
saying, "Messieurs, you have rendered a great service to King Charles
II., who in less than six weeks will be king of England. Your
gratification will then be doubled. Return to the boat and wait for
me." Upon which they departed with such shouts of joy as terrified even
the dog himself.
D'Artagnan had caused the coffer to be brought as far as the king's ante-
chamber. He then, with great care, closed the door of this ante-chamber,
after which he opened the coffer, and said to the general:
"General, I have a thousand excuses to make to you; my manner of acting
has not been worthy of such a man as you, I know very well; but I wished
you to take me for the captain of a bark. And then England is a very
inconvenient country for transports. I hope, therefore, you will take
all that into consideration. But now, general, you are at liberty to get
up and walk." This said, he cut the bonds which fastened the arms and
hands of the general. The latter got up, and then sat down with the
countenance of a man who expects death. D'Artagnan opened the door of
Charles's study, and said, "Sire, here is your enemy, M. Monk; I promised
myself to perform this service for your majesty. It is done; now order
as you please. M. Monk," added he, turning towards the prisoner, "you
are in the presence of his majesty Charles II., sovereign lord of Great
Monk raised towards the prince his coldly stoical look, and replied: "I
know no king of Great Britain; I recognize even here no one worthy of
bearing the name of gentleman: for it is in the name of King Charles II.
that an emissary, whom I took for an honest man, came and laid an
infamous snare for me. I have fallen into that snare; so much the worse
for me. Now, you the tempter," said he to the king; "you the executor,"
said he to D'Artagnan; "remember what I am about to say to you: you have
my body, you may kill it, and I advise you to do so, for you shall never
have my mind or my will. And now, ask me not a single word, as from this
moment I will not open my mouth even to cry out. I have said."
And he pronounced these words with the savage, invincible resolution of
the most mortified Puritan. D'Artagnan looked at his prisoner like a man
who knows the value of every word, and who fixes that value according to
the accent with which it has been pronounced.
"The fact is," said he, in a whisper to the king, "the general is an
obstinate man; he would not take a mouthful of bread, nor swallow a drop
of wine, during the two days of our voyage. But as from this moment it
is your majesty who must decide his fate, I wash my hands of him."
Monk, erect, pale, and resigned, waited with his eyes fixed and his arms
folded. D'Artagnan turned towards him. "You will please to understand
perfectly," said he, "that your speech, otherwise very fine, does not
suit anybody, not even yourself. His majesty wished to speak to you, you
refused an interview; why, now that you are face to face, that you are
here by a force independent of your will, why do you confine yourself to
the rigors which I consider useless and absurd? Speak! what the devil!
speak, if only to say 'No.'"
Monk did not unclose his lips; Monk did not turn his eyes; Monk stroked
his mustache with a thoughtful air, which announced that matters were
going on badly.
During all this time Charles II. had fallen into a profound reverie. For
the first time he found himself face to face with Monk; with the man he
had so much desired to see; and, with that peculiar glance which God has
given to eagles and kings, he had fathomed the abyss of his heart. He
beheld Monk, then, resolved positively to die rather than speak, which
was not to be wondered at in so considerable a man, the wound in whose
mind must at the moment have been cruel. Charles II. formed, on the
instant, one of those resolutions upon which an ordinary man risks his
life, a general his fortune, and a king his kingdom. "Monsieur," said he
to Monk, "you are perfectly right upon certain points; I do not,
therefore, ask you to answer me, but to listen to me."
There was a moment's silence, during which the king looked at Monk, who
"You have made me just now a painful reproach, monsieur," continued the
king; "you said that one of my emissaries had been to Newcastle to lay a
snare for you, and that, parenthetically, cannot be understood by M.
d'Artagnan here, and to whom, before everything, I owe sincere thanks for
his generous, his heroic devotion."
D'Artagnan bowed with respect; Monk took no notice.
"For M. d'Artagnan - and observe, M. Monk, I do not say this to excuse
myself - for M. d'Artagnan," continued the king, "went to England of his
free will, without interest, without orders, without hope, like a true
gentleman as he is, to render a service to an unfortunate king, and to
add to the illustrious actions of an existence, already so well filled,
one glorious deed more."
D'Artagnan colored a little, and coughed to keep his countenance. Monk
did not stir.
"You do not believe what I tell you, M. Monk," continued the king. "I
can understand that, - such proofs of devotion are so rare, that their
reality may well be put in doubt."
"Monsieur would do wrong not to believe you, sire," cried D'Artagnan:
"for that which your majesty has said is the exact truth, and the truth
so exact that it seems, in going to fetch the general, I have done
something which sets everything wrong. In truth, if it be so, I am in
"Monsieur d'Artagnan," said the king, pressing the hand of the musketeer,
"you have obliged me as much as if you had promoted the success of my
cause, for you have revealed to me an unknown friend, to whom I shall
ever be grateful, and whom I shall always love." And the king pressed
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