Part 5 out of 21
troops. He will receive me. I shall win his confidence, and
take advantage of it, as soon as possible."
But without going farther, D'Artagnan shook his head and
interrupted himself. "No," said he; "I should not dare to
relate this to Athos; the way is therefore not honorable. I
must use violence," continued he, -- "very certainly I must,
but without compromising my loyalty. With forty men I will
traverse the country as a partisan. But if I fall in with,
not forty thousand English, as Planchet said, but purely and
simply with four hundred, I shall be beaten. Supposing that
among my forty warriors there should be found at least ten
stupid ones -- ten who will allow themselves to be killed
one after the other, from mere folly? No; it is, in fact,
impossible to find forty men to be depended upon -- they do
not exist. I must learn how to be contented with thirty.
With ten men less I should have the right of avoiding any
armed encounter, on account of the small number of my
people; and if the encounter should take place, my chance is
better with thirty men than forty. Besides, I should save
five thousand francs; that is to say, the eighth of my
capital; that is worth the trial. This being so, I should
have thirty men. I shall divide them into three bands, -- we
will spread ourselves about over the country, with an
injunction to reunite at a given moment; in this fashion,
ten by ten, we should excite no suspicion -- we should pass
unperceived. Yes, yes, thirty -- that is a magic number.
There are three tens -- three, that divine number! And then,
truly, a company of thirty men, when all together, will look
rather imposing. Ah! stupid wretch that I am!" continued
D'Artagnan, "I want thirty horses. That is ruinous. Where
the devil was my head when I forgot the horses? We cannot,
however, think of striking such a blow without horses. Well,
so be it, that sacrifice must be made; we can get the horses
in the country -- they are not bad, besides. But I forgot --
peste! Three bands -- that necessitates three leaders; there
is the difficulty. Of the three commanders I have already
one -- that is myself; -- yes, but the two others will of
themselves cost almost as much money as all the rest of the
troop. No; positively I must have but one lieutenant. In
that ease, then, I should reduce my troop to twenty men. I
know very well that twenty men is but very little; but since
with thirty I was determined not to seek to come to blows, I
should do so more carefully still with twenty. Twenty --
that is a round number; that, besides, reduces the number of
the horses by ten, which is a consideration; and then, with
a good lieutenant -- Mordioux! what things patience and
calculation are! Was I not going to embark with forty men,
and I have now reduced them to twenty for an equal success?
Ten thousand livres saved at one stroke, and more safety;
that is well! Now, then, let us see; we have nothing to do
but to find this lieutenant -- let him be found, then; and
after -- That is not so easy; he must be brave and good, a
second myself. Yes, but a lieutenant must have my secret,
and as that secret is worth a million, and I shall only pay
my man a thousand livres, fifteen hundred at the most, my
man will sell the secret to Monk. Mordioux! no lieutenant.
Besides, this man, were he as mute as a disciple of
Pythagoras, -- this man would be sure to have in the troop
some favourite soldier, whom he would make his sergeant, the
sergeant would penetrate the secret of the lieutenant, in
case the latter should be honest and unwilling to sell it.
Then the sergeant, less honest and less ambitious, will give
up the whole for fifty thousand livres. Come, come! that is
impossible. The lieutenant is impossible. But then I must
have no fractions; I cannot divide my troop into two, and
act upon two points, at once, without another self, who --
But what is the use of acting upon two points, as we have
only one man to take? What can be the good of weakening a
corps by placing the right here, and the left there? A
single corps -- Mordioux! a single one, and that commanded
by D'Artagnan. Very well. But twenty men marching in one
band are suspected by everybody; twenty horsemen must not be
seen marching together, or a company will be detached
against them and the password will be required; the which
company, upon seeing them embarrassed to give it, would
shoot M. d'Artagnan and his men like so many rabbits. I
reduce myself then to ten men; in this fashion I shall act
simply and with unity; I shall be forced to be prudent,
which is half the success in an affair of the kind I am
undertaking; a greater number might, perhaps, have drawn me
into some folly. Ten horses are not many, either to buy or
take. A capital idea; what tranquillity it infuses into my
mind! no more suspicions -- no passwords -- no more dangers!
Ten men, they are valets or clerks. Ten men, leading ten
horses laden with merchandise of whatever kind, are
tolerated, well received everywhere. Ten men travel on
account of the house of Planchet & Co., of France -- nothing
can be said against that. These ten men, clothed like
manufacturers, have a good cutlass or a good musket at their
saddle-bow, and a good pistol in the holster. They never
allow themselves to be uneasy, because they have no evil
designs. They are, perhaps, in truth, a little disposed to
be smugglers, but what harm is in that? Smuggling is not,
like polygamy, a hanging offense. The worst that can happen
to us is the confiscation of our merchandise. Our
merchandise confiscated -- fine affair that! Come, come! it
is a superb plan. Ten men only -- ten men, whom I will
engage for my service; ten men who shall be as resolute as
forty, who would cost me four times as much, and to whom,
for greater security, I will never open my mouth as to my
designs, and to whom I shall only say, `My friends, there is
a blow to be struck.' Things being after this fashion, Satan
will be very malicious if he plays me one of his tricks.
Fifteen thousand livres saved -- that's superb -- out of
Thus fortified by his laborious calculations, D'Artagnan
stopped at this plan, and determined to change nothing in
it. He had already on a list furnished by his inexhaustible
memory, ten men illustrious amongst the seekers of
adventures, ill-treated by fortune, and not on good terms
with justice. Upon this D'Artagnan rose, and instantly set
off on the search, telling Planchet not to expect him to
breakfast, and perhaps not to dinner. A day and a half spent
in rummaging amongst certain dens of Paris sufficed for his
recruiting; and, without allowing his adventurers to
communicate with each other, he had picked up and got
together, in less than thirty hours, a charming collection
of ill-looking faces, speaking a French less pure than the
English they were about to attempt. These men were, for the
most part, guards, whose merit D'Artagnan had had an
opportunity of appreciating in various encounters, whom
drunkenness, unlucky sword-thrusts, unexpected winnings at
play, or the economical reforms of Mazarin, had forced to
seek shade and solitude, those two great consolers of
irritated and chafing spirits. They bore upon their
countenances and in their vestments the traces of the
heartaches they had undergone. Some had their visages
scarred, -- all had their clothes in rags. D'Artagnan
comforted the most needy of these brotherly miseries by a
prudent distribution of the crowns of the society; then,
having taken care that these crowns should be employed in
the physical improvement of the troop, he appointed a
trysting place in the north of France, between Berghes and
Saint Omer. Six days were allowed as the utmost term, and
D'Artagnan was sufficiently acquainted with the good-will,
the good-humor, and the relative probity of these
illustrious recruits, to be certain that not one of them
would fail in his appointment. These orders given, this
rendezvous fixed, he went to bid farewell to Planchet, who
asked news of his army. D'Artagnan did not think proper to
inform him of the reduction he had made in his personnel. He
feared that the confidence of his associate would be abated
by such an avowal. Planchet was delighted to learn that the
army was levied, and that he (Planchet) found himself a kind
of half king, who from his throne-counter kept in pay a body
of troops destined to make war against perfidious Albion,
that enemy of all true French hearts. Planchet paid down in
double louis, twenty thousand livres to D'Artagnan, on the
part of himself (Planchet), and twenty thousand livres,
still in double louis, in account with D'Artagnan.
D'Artagnan placed each of the twenty thousand francs in a
bag, and weighing a hag in each hand, -- "This money is very
embarrassing, my dear Planchet," said he. "Do you know this
weighs thirty pounds?"
"Bah! your horse will carry that like a feather."
D'Artagnan shook his head. "Don't tell me such things,
Planchet: a horse overloaded with thirty pounds, in addition
to the rider and his portmanteau, cannot cross a river so
easily -- cannot leap over a wall or ditch so lightly; and
the horse failing, the horseman fails. It is true that you,
Planchet, who have served in the infantry, may not be aware
of all that."
"Then what is to be done, monsieur?" said Planchet, greatly
"Listen to me," said D'Artagnan. "I will pay my army on its
return home. Keep my half of twenty thousand livres, which
you can use during that time."
"And my half?" said Planchet.
"I shall take that with me."
"Your confidence does me honor," said Planchet: "but
supposing you should not return?"
"That is possible, though not very probable. Then, Planchet,
in case I should not return -- give me a pen! I will make my
will." D'Artagnan took a pen and some paper, and wrote upon
a plain sheet, -- "I, D'Artagnan, possess twenty thousand
livres, laid up cent by cent during thirty years that I have
been in the service of his majesty the king of France. I
leave five thousand to Athos, five thousand to Porthos and
five thousand to Aramis, that they may give the said sums in
my name and their own to my young friend Raoul, Vicomte de
Bragelonne. I give the remaining five thousand to Planchet,
that he may distribute the fifteen thousand with less regret
among my friends. With which purpose I sign these presents.
Planchet appeared very curious to know what D'Artagnan had
"Here," said the musketeer, "read it"
On reading the last lines the tears came into Planchet's
eyes. "You think, then, that I would not have given the
money without that? Then I will have none of your five
D'Artagnan smiled. "Accept it, accept it, Planchet; and in
that way you will only lose fifteen thousand francs instead
of twenty thousand, and you will not be tempted to disregard
the signature of your master and friend, by losing nothing
How well that dear Monsieur d'Artagnan knew the hearts of
men and grocers! They who have pronounced Don Quixote mad
because he rode out to the conquest of an empire with nobody
but Sancho, his squire, and they who have pronounced Sancho
mad because he accompanied his master in his attempt to
conquer the said empire, -- they certainly will have no
hesitation in extending the same judgment to D'Artagnan and
Planchet. And yet the first passed for one of the most
subtle spirits among the astute spirits of the court of
France. As to the second, he had acquired by good right the
reputation of having one of the longest heads among the
grocers of the Rue des Lombards; consequently of Paris, and
consequently of France. Now, to consider these two men from
the point of view from which you would consider other men,
and the means by the aid of which they contemplated to
restore a monarch to his throne, compared with other means,
the shallowest brains of the country where brains are most
shallow must have revolted against the presumptuous madness
of the lieutenant and the stupidity of his associate.
Fortunately, D'Artagnan was not a man to listen to the idle
talk of those around him, or to the comments that were made
on himself. He had adopted the motto, "Act well, and let
people talk." Planchet on his part, had adopted this, "Act
and say nothing." It resulted from this, that, according to
the custom of all superior geniuses, these two men flattered
themselves intra pectus, with being in the right against all
who found fault with them.
As a beginning, D'Artagnan set out in the finest of possible
weather, without a cloud in the heavens -- without a cloud
on his mind, joyous and strong, calm and decided, great in
his resolution, and consequently carrying with him a tenfold
dose of that potent fluid which the shocks of mind cause to
spring from the nerves, and which procure for the human
machine a force and an influence of which future ages will
render, according to all probability, a more arithmetical
account than we can possibly do at present. He was again, as
in times past, on that same road of adventures which had led
him to Boulogne, and which he was now traveling for the
fourth time. It appeared to him that he could almost
recognize the trace of his own steps upon the road, and that
of his first upon the doors of the hostelries; -- his
memory, always active and present, brought back that youth
which neither thirty years later his great heart nor his
wrist of steel would have belied. What a rich nature was
that of this man! He had all the passions, all the defects,
all the weaknesses, and the spirit of contradiction familiar
to his understanding changed all these imperfections into
corresponding qualities. D'Artagnan, thanks to his ever
active imagination, was afraid of a shadow; and ashamed of
being afraid, he marched straight up to that shadow, and
then became extravagant in his bravery if the danger proved
to be real. Thus everything in him was emotion, and
therefore enjoyment. He loved the society of others, but
never became tired of his own; and more than once, if he
could have been heard when he was alone, he might have been
seen laughing at the jokes he related to himself or the
tricks his imagination created just five minutes before
ennui might have been looked for. D'Artagnan was not perhaps
so gay this time as he would have been with the prospect of
finding some good friends at Calais, instead of joining the
ten scamps there; melancholy, however, did not visit him
more than once a day, and it was about five visits that he
received from that somber deity before he got sight of the
sea at Boulogne, and then these visits were indeed but
short. But when once D'Artagnan found himself near the field
of action, all other feelings but that of confidence
disappeared never to return. From Boulogne he followed the
coast to Calais. Calais was the place of general rendezvous,
and at Calais he had named to each of his recruits the
hostelry of "Le Grand Monarque," where living was not
extravagant, where sailors messed, and where men of the
sword, with sheath of leather, be it understood, found
lodging, table, food, and all the comforts of life, for
thirty sous per diem. D'Artagnan proposed to himself to take
them by surprise in flagrante delicto of wandering life, and
to judge by the first appearance if he could count on them
as trusty companions.
He arrived at Calais at half past four in the afternoon.
D'Artagnan travels for the House of Planchet and Company
The hostelry of "Le Grand Monarque" was situated in a little
street parallel to the port without looking out upon the
port itself. Some lanes cut -- as steps cut the two
parallels of the ladder -- the two great straight lines of
the port and the street. By these lanes passengers came
suddenly from the port into the street, or from the street
on to the port. D'Artagnan, arrived at the port, took one of
these lanes, and came out in front of the hostelry of "Le
Grand Monarque." The moment was well chosen and might remind
D'Artagnan of his start in life at the hostelry of the
"Franc-Meunier" at Meung. Some sailors who had been playing
at dice had started a quarrel, and were threatening each
other furiously. The host, hostess, and two lads were
watching with anxiety the circle of these angry gamblers,
from the midst of which war seemed ready to break forth,
bristling with knives and hatchets. The play, nevertheless,
was continued. A stone bench was occupied by two men, who
appeared thence to watch the door; four tables, placed at
the back of the common chamber, were occupied by eight other
individuals. Neither the men at the door, nor those at the
tables, took any part in the play or the quarrel. D'Artagnan
recognized his ten men in these cold, indifferent
spectators. The quarrel went on increasing. Every passion
has, like the sea, its tide which ascends and descends.
Reaching the climax of passion, one sailor overturned the
table and the money which was upon it. The table fell, and
the money rolled about. In an instant all belonging to the
hostelry threw themselves upon the stakes, and many a piece
of silver was picked up by people who stole away whilst the
sailors were scuffling with each other.
The two men on the bench and the eight at the tables,
although they seemed perfect strangers to each other, these
ten men alone, we say, appeared to have agreed to remain
impassible amidst the cries of fury and the chinking of
money. Two only contented themselves with pushing with their
feet combatants who came under their table. Two others,
rather than take part in this disturbance, buried their
hands in their pockets; and another two jumped upon the
table they occupied, as people do to avoid being submerged
by overflowing water.
"Come, come," said D'Artagnan to himself, not having lost
one of the details we have related, "this is a very fair
gathering -- circumspect, calm, accustomed to disturbance,
acquainted with blows! Peste! I have been lucky."
All at once his attention was called to a particular part of
the room. The two men who had pushed the strugglers with
their feet were assailed with abuse by the sailors, who had
become reconciled. One of them, half drunk with passion, and
quite drunk with beer, came, in a menacing manner, to demand
of the shorter of these two sages by what right he had
touched with his foot creatures of the good God, who were
not dogs. And whilst putting this question, in order to make
it more direct, he applied his great fist to the nose of
This man became pale, without its being to be discerned
whether his pallor arose from anger or from fear; seeing
which, the sailor concluded it was from fear, and raised his
fist with the manifest intention of letting it fall upon the
head of the stranger. But though the threatened man did not
appear to move, he dealt the sailor such a severe blow in
the stomach that he sent him rolling and howling to the
other side of the room. At the same instant, rallied by the
esprit de corps, all the comrades of the conquered man fell
upon the conqueror.
The latter, with the same coolness of which he had given
proof, without committing the imprudence of touching his
weapons, took up a beer-pot with a pewter-lid, and knocked
down two or three of his assailants; then, as he was about
to yield to numbers, the seven other silent men at the
tables, who had not stirred, perceived that their cause was
at stake, and came to the rescue. At the same time, the two
indifferent spectators at the door turned round with
frowning brows, indicating their evident intention of taking
the enemy in the rear, if the enemy did not cease their
The host, his helpers, and two watchmen who were passing,
and who from curiosity had penetrated too far into the room,
were mixed up in the tumult and showered with blows. The
Parisians hit like Cyclops, with an ensemble and a tactic
delightful to behold. At length, obliged to beat a retreat
before superior numbers, they formed an intrenchment behind
the large table, which they raised by main force; whilst the
two others, arming themselves each with a trestle, and using
it like a great sledge-hammer, knocked down at a blow eight
sailors upon whose heads they had brought their monstrous
catapult in play. The floor was already strewn with wounded,
and the room filled with cries and dust, when D'Artagnan,
satisfied with the test, advanced, sword in hand, and
striking with the pommel every head that came in his way, he
uttered a vigorous hola! which put an instantaneous end to
the conflict. A great backflood directly took place from the
center to the sides of the room, so that D'Artagnan found
himself isolated and dominator.
"What is all this about?" then demanded he of the assembly,
with the majestic tone of Neptune pronouncing the Quos ego.
At the very instant, at the first sound of his voice, to
carry on the Virgilian metaphor, D'Artagnan's recruits,
recognizing each his sovereign lord, discontinued their
plank-fighting and trestle blows. On their side, the
sailors, seeing that long naked sword, that martial air, and
the agile arm which came to the rescue of their enemies, in
the person of a man who seemed accustomed to command, the
sailors picked up their wounded and their pitchers. The
Parisians wiped their brows, and viewed their leader with
respect. D'Artagnan was loaded with thanks by the host of
"Le Grand Monarque." He received them like a man who knows
that nothing is being offered that does not belong to him,
and then said he would go and walk upon the port till supper
was ready. Immediately each of the recruits, who understood
the summons, took his hat, brushed the dust off his clothes,
and followed D'Artagnan. But D'Artagnan whilst walking and
observing, took care not to stop; he directed his course
towards the downs, and the ten men -- surprised at finding
themselves going in the track of each other, uneasy at
seeing on their right, on their left, and behind them,
companions upon whom they had not reckoned -- followed him,
casting furtive glances at each other. It was not till he
had arrived at the hollow part of the deepest down that
D'Artagnan, smiling to see them outdone, turned towards
them, making a friendly sign with his hand.
"Eh! come, come, gentlemen," said he, "let us not devour
each other; you are made to live together, to understand
each other in all respects, and not to devour one another."
Instantly all hesitation ceased; the men breathed as if they
had been taken out of a coffin, and examined each other
complacently. After this examination they turned their eyes
towards their leader, who had long been acquainted with the
art of speaking to men of that class, and who improvised the
following little speech, pronounced with an energy truly
"Gentlemen, you all know who I am. I have engaged you from
knowing you to be brave, and willing to associate you with
me in a glorious enterprise. Imagine that in laboring for me
you labor for the king. I only warn you that if you allow
anything of this supposition to appear, I shall be forced to
crack your skulls immediately, in the manner most convenient
to me. You are not ignorant, gentlemen, that state secrets
are like a mortal poison: as long as that poison is in its
box and the box is closed, it is not injurious; out of the
box, it kills. Now draw near and you shall know as much of
this secret as I am able to tell you." All drew close to him
with an expression of curiosity. "Approach," continued
D'Artagnan, "and let not the bird which passes over our
heads, the rabbit which sports on the downs, the fish which
bounds from the waters, hear us. Our business is to learn
and to report to monsieur le surintendant of the finances to
what extent English smuggling is injurious to the French
merchants. I shall enter every place, and see everything. We
are poor Picard fishermen, thrown upon the coast by a storm.
It is certain that we must sell fish, neither more nor less,
like true fishermen. Only people might guess who we are, and
might molest us; it is therefore necessary that we should be
in a condition to defend ourselves. And this is why I have
selected men of spirit and courage. We shall lead a steady
life, and not incur much danger; seeing that we have behind
us a powerful protector, thanks to whom no embarrassment is
possible. One thing alone puzzles me; but I hope that after
a short explanation, you will relieve me from that
difficulty. The thing which puzzles me is taking with me a
crew of stupid fishermen, which crew will annoy me
immensely, whilst if, by chance, there were among you any
who have seen the sea ---- "
"Oh! don't let that trouble you," said one of the recruits;
"I was a prisoner among the pirates of Tunis three years,
and can maneuver a boat like an admiral."
"See," said D'Artagnan, "what an admirable thing chance is!"
D'Artagnan pronounced these words with an indefinable tone
of feigned bonhomie, for he knew very well that the victim
of pirates was an old corsair, and had engaged him in
consequence of that knowledge. But D'Artagnan never said
more than there was need to say, in order to leave people in
doubt. He paid himself with the explanation, and welcomed
the effect, without appearing to be preoccupied with the
"And I," said a second, "I, by chance, had an uncle who
directed the works of the port of La Rochelle. When quite a
child, I played about the boats, and I know how to handle an
oar or a sail as well as the best Ponantais sailor." The
latter did not lie much more than the first, for he had
rowed on board his majesty's galleys six years, at Ciotat.
Two others were more frank: they confessed honestly that
they had served on board a vessel as soldiers on punishment,
and did not blush for it. D'Artagnan found himself, then,
the leader of ten men of war and four sailors, having at
once a land army and a sea force, which would have earned
the pride of Planchet to its height, if Planchet had known
Nothing was now left but arranging the general orders, and
D'Artagnan gave them with precision. He enjoined his men to
be ready to set out for the Hague, some following the coast
which leads to Breskens, others the road to Antwerp. The
rendezvous was given, by calculating each day's march, a
fortnight from that time upon the chief place at the Hague.
D'Artagnan recommended his men to go in couples, as they
liked best, from sympathy. He himself selected from among
those with the least disreputable look, two guards whom he
had formerly known, and whose only faults were being
drunkards and gamblers. These men had not entirely lost all
ideas of civilization, and under proper garments their
hearts would beat again. D'Artagnan, not to create any
jealousy with the others, made the rest go forward. He kept
his two selected ones, clothed them from his own wardrobe,
and set out with them.
It was to these two, whom he seemed to honor with an
absolute confidence, that D'Artagnan imparted a false
secret, destined to secure the success of the expedition. He
confessed to them that the object was not to learn to what
extent the French merchants were injured by English
smuggling, but to learn how far French smuggling could annoy
English trade. These men appeared convinced; they were
effectively so. D'Artagnan was quite sure that at the first
debauch when thoroughly drunk, one of the two would divulge
the secret to the whole band. His game appeared infallible.
A fortnight after all we have said had taken place at
Calais, the whole troop assembled at the Hague.
Then D'Artagnan perceived that all his men, with remarkable
intelligence, had already travestied themselves into
sailors, more or less ill-treated by the sea. D'Artagnan
left them to sleep in a den in Newkerke street, whilst he
lodged comfortably upon the Grand Canal. He learned that the
king of England had come back to his old ally, William II.
of Nassau, stadtholder of Holland. He learned also that the
refusal of Louis XIV. had a little cooled the protection
afforded him up to that time, and in consequence he had gone
to reside in a little village house at Scheveningen,
situated in the downs, on the sea-shore, about a league from
There, it was said, the unfortunate banished king consoled
himself in his exile, by looking, with the melancholy
peculiar to the princes of his race, at that immense North
Sea, which separated him from his England, as it had
formerly separated Mary Stuart from France. There behind the
trees of the beautiful wood of Scheveningen on the fine sand
upon which grows the golden broom of the down, Charles II.
vegetated as it did, more unfortunate, for he had life and
thought, and he hoped and despaired by turns.
D'Artagnan went once as far as Scheveningen, in order to be
certain that all was true that was said of the king. He
beheld Charles II., pensive and alone, coming out of a
little door opening into the wood, and walking on the beach
in the setting sun, without even attracting the attention of
the fishermen, who, on their return in the evening, drew,
like the ancient mariners of the Archipelago, their barks up
upon the sand of the shore.
D'Artagnan recognized the king; he saw him fix his
melancholy look upon the immense extent of the waters, and
absorb upon his pale countenance the red rays of the sun
already cut by the black line of the horizon. Then Charles
returned to his isolated abode, always alone, slow and sad,
amusing himself with making the friable and moving sand
creak beneath his feet.
That very evening D'Artagnan hired for a thousand livres a
fishing-boat worth four thousand. He paid a thousand livres
down, and deposited the three thousand with a Burgomaster,
after which he brought on board without their being seen,
the ten men who formed his land army; and with the rising
tide, at three o'clock in the morning, he got into the open
sea, maneuvering ostensibly with the four others, and
depending upon the science of his galley slave as upon that
of the first pilot of the port.
In which the Author, very unwillingly, is forced to write a Little History
While kings and men were thus occupied with England, which
governed itself quite alone, and which, it must be said in
its praise, had never been so badly governed, a man upon
whom God had fixed his eye, and placed his finger, a man
predestined to write his name in brilliant letters upon the
page of history, was pursuing in the face of the world a
work full of mystery and audacity. He went on, and no one
knew whither he meant to go, although not only England, but
France, and Europe, watched him marching with a firm step
and head held high. All that was known of this man we are
about to tell.
Monk had just declared himself in favor of the liberty of
the Rump Parliament, a parliament which General Lambert,
imitating Cromwell, whose lieutenant he had been, had just
blocked up so closely, in order to bring it to his will,
that no member, during all the blockade, was able to go out,
and only one, Peter Wentworth, had been able to get in.
Lambert and Monk -- everything was summed up in these two
men; the first representing military despotism, the second
pure republicanism. These men were the two sole political
representatives of that revolution in which Charles I. had
first lost his crown, and afterwards his head. As regarded
Lambert, he did not dissemble his views; he sought to
establish a military government, and to be himself the head
of that government.
Monk, a rigid republican, some said, wished to maintain the
Rump Parliament, that visible though degenerated
representative of the republic. Monk, artful and ambitious,
said others, wished simply to make of this parliament, which
he affected to protect, a solid step by which to mount the
throne which Cromwell had left empty, but upon which he had
never dared to take his seat.
Thus Lambert by persecuting the parliament, and Monk by
declaring for it, had mutually proclaimed themselves enemies
of each other. Monk and Lambert, therefore, had at first
thought of creating an army each for himself: Monk in
Scotland, where were the Presbyterians and the royalists,
that is to say, the malcontents; Lambert in London, where
was found, as is always the case, the strongest opposition
to the existing power which it had beneath its eyes.
Monk had pacified Scotland, he had there formed for himself
an army, and found an asylum. The one watched the other.
Monk knew that the day was not yet come, the day marked by
the Lord for a great change; his sword, therefore, appeared
glued to the sheath. Inexpugnable, in his wild and
mountainous Scotland, an absolute general, king of an army
of eleven thousand old soldiers, whom he had more than once
led on to victory; as well informed, nay, even better, of
the affairs of London, than Lambert, who held garrison in
the city, -- such was the position of Monk, when, at a
hundred leagues from London, he declared himself for the
parliament. Lambert, on the contrary, as we have said, lived
in the capital. That was the center of all his operations,
and he there collected around him all his friends, and all
the people of the lower class, eternally inclined to cherish
the enemies of constituted power.
It was then in London that Lambert learnt the support that,
from the frontiers of Scotland, Monk lent to the parliament.
He judged there was no time to be lost, and that the Tweed
was not so far distant from the Thames that an army could
not march from one river to the other, particularly when it
was well commanded. He knew, besides, that as fast as the
soldiers of Monk penetrated into England, they would form on
their route that ball of snow, the emblem of the globe of
fortune, which is for the ambitious nothing but a step
growing unceasingly higher to conduct him to his object. He
got together, therefore, his army, formidable at the same
time for its composition and its numbers, and hastened to
meet Monk, who, on his part, like a prudent navigator
sailing amidst rocks, advanced by very short marches,
listening to the reports and scenting the air which came
The two armies came in sight of each other near Newcastle,
Lambert, arriving first, encamped in the city itself. Monk,
always circumspect, stopped where he was, and placed his
general quarters at Coldstream, on the Tweed. The sight of
Lambert spread joy through Monk's army, whilst, on the
contrary, the sight of Monk threw disorder into Lambert's
army. It might have been thought that these intrepid
warriors, who had made such a noise in the streets of
London, had set out with the hopes of meeting no one, and
that now seeing that they had met an army, and that that
army hoisted before them not only a standard, but still
further, a cause and a principle, -- it might have been
believed, we say, that these intrepid warriors had begun to
reflect, that they were less good republicans than the
soldiers of Monk, since the latter supported the parliament;
whilst Lambert supported nothing, not even himself.
As to Monk, if he had had to reflect, or if he did reflect,
it must have been after a sad fashion, for history relates
-- and that modest dame, it is well known, never lies --
history relates, that the day of his arrival at Coldstream
search was made in vain throughout the place for a single
If Monk had commanded an English army, that was enough to
have brought about a general desertion. But it is not with
the Scotch as it is with the English, to whom that fluid
flesh which is called blood is a paramount necessity; the
Scotch, a poor and sober race, live upon a little barley
crushed between two stones, diluted with the water of the
fountain, and cooked upon another stone, heated.
The Scotch, their distribution of barley being made, cared
very little whether there was or was not any meat in
Coldstream. Monk, little accustomed to barley-cakes, was
hungry, and his staff, at least as hungry as himself, looked
with anxiety right and left, to know what was being prepared
Monk ordered search to be made; his scouts had on arriving
in the place found it deserted and the cupboards empty; upon
butchers and bakers it was of no use depending in
Coldstream. The smallest morsel of bread, then, could not be
found for the general's table.
As accounts succeeded each other, all equally
unsatisfactory, Monk, seeing terror and discouragement upon
every face, declared that he was not hungry; besides they
should eat on the morrow, since Lambert was there probably
with the intention of giving battle, and consequently would
give up his provisions, if he were forced from Newcastle, or
forever to relieve Monk's soldiers from hunger if he
This consolation was only efficacious upon a very small
number; but of what importance was it to Monk? for Monk was
very absolute, under the appearance of the most perfect
mildness. Every one, therefore, was obliged to be satisfied,
or at least to appear so. Monk quite as hungry as his
people, but affecting perfect indifference for the absent
mutton, cut a fragment of tobacco, half an inch long, from
the carotte of a sergeant who formed part of his suite, and
began to masticate the said fragment, assuring his
lieutenants that hunger was a chimera, and that, besides,
people were never hungry when they had anything to chew.
This joke satisfied some of those who had resisted Monk's
first deduction drawn from the neighborhood of Lambert's
army; the number of the dissentients diminished greatly; the
guard took their posts, the patrols began, and the general
continued his frugal repast beneath his open tent.
Between his camp and that of the enemy stood an old abbey,
of which, at the present day, there only remain some ruins,
but which then was in existence, and was called Newcastle
Abbey. It was built upon a vast site, independent at once of
the plain and of the river, because it was almost a marsh
fed by springs and kept up by rains. Nevertheless, in the
midst of these pools of water, covered with long grass,
rushes, and reeds, were seen solid spots of ground, formerly
used as the kitchen-garden, the park, the pleasure-gardens,
and other dependencies of the abbey, looking like one of
those great sea-spiders, whose body is round, whilst the
claws go diverging round from this circumference.
The kitchen-garden, one of the longest claws of the abbey,
extended to Monk's camp. Unfortunately it was, as we have
said, early in June, and the kitchen-garden, being
abandoned, offered no resources.
Monk had ordered this spot to be guarded, as most subject to
surprises. The fires of the enemy's general were plainly to
be perceived on the other side of the abbey. But between
these fires and the abbey extended the Tweed, unfolding its
luminous scales beneath the thick shade of tall green oaks.
Monk was perfectly well acquainted with this position,
Newcastle and its environs having already more than once
been his headquarters. He knew that by day his enemy might
without doubt throw a few scouts into these ruins and
promote a skirmish, but that by night he would take care to
abstain from such a risk. He felt himself, therefore, in
Thus his soldiers saw him, after what he boastingly called
his supper -- that is to say, after the exercise of
mastication reported by us at the commencement of this
chapter -- like Napoleon on the eve of Austerlitz, seated
asleep in his rush chair, half beneath the light of his
lamp, half beneath the reflection of the moon, commencing
its ascent in the heavens, which denoted that it was nearly
half past nine in the evening. All at once Monk was roused
from his half sleep, fictitious perhaps, by a troop of
soldiers, who came with joyous cries, and kicked the poles
of his tent with a humming noise as if on purpose to wake
him. There was no need of so much noise; the general opened
his eyes quickly.
"Well, my children, what is going on now?" asked the
"General!" replied several voices at once, "General! you
shall have some supper."
"I have had my supper, gentlemen," replied he, quietly, "and
was comfortably digesting it, as you see. But come in, and
tell me what brings you hither."
"Good news, general."
"Bah! Has Lambert sent us word that he will fight
"No, but we have just captured a fishing-boat conveying fish
"And you have done very wrong, my friends. These gentlemen
from London are delicate, must have their first course; you
will put them sadly out of humor this evening, and to-morrow
they will be pitiless. It would really be in good taste to
send back to Lambert both his fish and his fishermen, unless
---- " and the general reflected an instant.
"Tell me," continued he, "what are these fishermen, if you
"Some Picard seamen who were fishing on the coasts of France
or Holland, and who have been thrown upon ours by a gale of
"Do any among them speak our language?"
"The leader spoke some few words of English."
The mistrust of the general was awakened in proportion as
fresh information reached him. "That is well," said he. "I
wish to see these men, bring them to me."
An officer immediately went to fetch them.
"How many are there of them?" continued Monk; "and what is
"There are ten or twelve of them, general, and they were
aboard of a kind of chasse-maree, as it is called --
"And you say they were carrying fish to Lambert's camp?"
"Yes, general, and they seem to have had good luck in their
"Humph! we shall see that," said Monk.
At this moment the officer returned, bringing the leader of
the fishermen with him. He was a man from fifty to
fifty-five years old, but good-looking for his age. He was
of middle height, and wore a justaucorps of coarse wool, a
cap pulled down over his eyes, a cutlass hung from his belt,
and he walked with the hesitation peculiar to sailors, who,
never knowing, thanks to the movement of the vessel, whether
their foot will be placed upon the plank or upon nothing,
give to every one of their steps a fall as firm as if they
were driving a pile. Monk, with an acute and penetrating
look, examined the fisherman for some time, while the latter
smiled, with that smile half cunning, half silly, peculiar
to French peasants.
"Do you speak English?" asked Monk, in excellent French.
"Ah! but badly, my lord," replied the fisherman.
This reply was made much more with the lively and sharp
accentuation of the people beyond the Loire, than with the
slightly-drawling accent of the countries of the west and
north of France.
"But you do speak it?" persisted Monk, in order to examine
his accent once more.
"Eh! we men of the sea," replied the fisherman, "speak a
little of all languages."
"Then you are a sea fisherman?"
"I am at present, my lord -- a fisherman, and a famous
fisherman too. I have taken a barbel that weighs at least
thirty pounds, and more than fifty mullets; I have also some
little whitings that will fry beautifully."
"You appear to me to have fished more frequently in the Gulf
of Gascony than in the Channel," said Monk, smiling.
"Well, I am from the south; but does that prevent me from
being a good fisherman, my lord?"
"Oh! not at all; I shall buy your fish. And now speak
frankly; for whom did you destine them?"
"My lord, I will conceal nothing from you. I was going to
Newcastle, following the coast, when a party of horsemen who
were passing along in an opposite direction made a sign to
my bark to turn back to your honor's camp, under penalty of
a discharge of musketry. As I was not armed for fighting,"
added the fisherman, smiling, "I was forced to submit."
"And why did you go to Lambert's camp in preference to
"My lord, I will be frank; will your lordship permit me?"
"Yes, and even if need be shall command you to be so."
"Well, my lord, I was going to M. Lambert's camp because
those gentlemen from the city pay well -- whilst your
Scotchmen, Puritans, Presbyterians, Covenanters, or whatever
you choose to call them, eat but little, and pay for
Monk shrugged his shoulders, without, however, being able to
refrain from smiling at the same time. "How is it that,
being from the south, you come to fish on our coasts?"
"Because I have been fool enough to marry in Picardy."
"Yes; but even Picardy is not England."
"My lord, man shoves his boat into the sea, but God and the
wind do the rest, and drive the boat where they please."
"You had, then, no intention of landing on our coasts?"
"And what route were you steering?"
"We were returning from Ostend, where some mackerel had
already been seen, when a sharp wind from the south drove us
from our course; then, seeing that it was useless to
struggle against it, we let it drive us. It then became
necessary, not to lose our fish, which were good, to go and
sell them at the nearest English port, and that was
Newcastle. We were told the opportunity was good, as there
was an increase of population in the camp, an increase of
population in the city; both, we were told, were full of
gentlemen, very rich and very hungry. So we steered our
course towards Newcastle."
"And your companions, where are they?"
"Oh, my companions have remained on board; they are sailors
without the least instruction."
"Whilst you ---- " said Monk.
"Who, I?" said the patron, laughing; "I have sailed about
with my father, and I know what is called a sou, a crown, a
pistole, a louis, and a double louis, in all the languages
of Europe; my crew, therefore, listen to me as they would to
an oracle, and obey me as if I were an admiral."
"Then it was you who preferred M. Lambert as the best
"Yes, certainly. And, to be frank, my lord, was I wrong?"
"You will see that by and by."
"At all events, my lord, if there is a fault, the fault is
mine; and my comrades should not be dealt hardly with on
"This is decidedly an intelligent, sharp fellow," thought
Monk. Then, after a few minutes, silence employed in
scrutinizing the fisherman, -- "You come from Ostend, did
you not say?" asked the general.
"Yes, my lord, in a straight line."
"You have then heard of the affairs of the day; for I have
no doubt that both in France and Holland they excite
interest. What is he doing who calls himself king of
"Oh, my lord!" cried the fisherman, with loud and expansive
frankness, "that is a lucky question, and you could not put
it to anybody better than to me, for in truth I can make you
a famous reply. Imagine, my lord, that when putting into
Ostend to sell the few mackerel we had caught, I saw the
ex-king walking on the downs waiting for his horses, which
were to take him to the Hague. He is a rather tall, pale
man, with black hair, and somewhat hard-featured. He looks
ill, and I don't think the air of Holland agrees with him."
Monk followed with the greatest attention the rapid,
heightened, and diffuse conversation of the fisherman, in a
language which was not his own, but which, as we have said,
he spoke with great facility. The fisherman on his part,
employed sometimes a French word, sometimes an English word,
and sometimes a word which appeared not to belong to any
language, but was, in truth, pure Gascon. Fortunately his
eyes spoke for him, and that so eloquently, that it was
possible to lose a word from his mouth, but not a single
intention from his eyes. The general appeared more and more
satisfied with his examination. "You must have heard that
this ex-king, as you call him, was going to the Hague for
"Oh, yes," said the fisherman, "I heard that."
"And what was his purpose?"
"Always the same," said the fisherman. "Must he not always
entertain the fixed idea of returning to England?"
"That is true," said Monk, pensively.
"Without reckoning," added the fisherman, "that the
stadtholder -- you know, my lord, William II.?"
"He will assist him with all his power."
"Ah! did you hear that said?"
"No, but I think so."
"You are quite a politician, apparently," said Monk.
"Why, we sailors, my lord, who are accustomed to study the
water and the air -- that is to say, the two most changeable
things in the world -- are seldom deceived as to the rest."
"Now, then," said Monk, changing the conversation, "I am
told you are going to provision us."
"I shall do my best, my lord."
"How much do you ask for your fish in the first place?"
"Not such a fool as to name a price, my lord."
"Because my fish is yours."
"By what right?"
"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
"Do not cross the marsh," continued Monk: "you will have
money in your pocket, and there are in the marsh some Scotch
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 had given
you, and, on your return to your country, you would not fail
to say that General Monk has two hands, the one Scotch, and
the other English; and that he takes back with the Scotch
hand what he has given with the English hand."
"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
"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
"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, my lord."
"The greater reason why you should watch your boat, I
"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 a 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 aide-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?"
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
"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
Scotch 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?"
"Binding 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
"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
"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
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 troop.
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
"My lord," said the gentleman, in excellent English. "I have
requested an interview with your honor, for an affair of
"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 your army."
"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
"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 Scotchman, -- he could not
"I am called the Comte de la Fere, monsieur," said Athos,
"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 dignities."
"The Garter! the Holy Ghost! Are you a knight of those two
"And on what occasions have such favors been bestowed upon
"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 come to speak to you, my lord, on my own
"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 convent 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 place where you left
"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
"It is really large; yes, my lord, for it is a million I
inclosed in two barrels."
"A million!" cried Monk, at whom this time, in turn, Athos
looked earnestly and long. Monk perceived this, and his
"Here is a man," said he, "who is laying a snare for me. So
you wish to withdraw this money, monsieur," replied he, "as
"If you please, my lord."
"This very evening, and that on account of the circumstances
I have named."
"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 me with 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 another 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 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
"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 lieutenants."
"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
"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 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 Scotch
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;
"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
"I will go alone," said Monk; "I want nobody. Come,
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, 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 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 the 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 the 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 abbey."
"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 some time."
"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 fishermen.
"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
set our feet, let us seek this light."
"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 Scotch 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
"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 know me."
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 upon 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
"You or another, it is of very little consequence, provided
I have a light."
"It is strange!" thought Athos, "what a singular voice that
"Some fire, you fellows!" cried the fisherman; "come, make
Then addressing his companion nearest to him in a low voice:
-- "Get 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 head?"
"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 sepulchres.
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
"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 this 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 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
"We must have a lever."
"That's a thing very easy to find."
Whilst looking round 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
"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
"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 been
"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 canon, 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
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
"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
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
"Yes, my lord; and in five minutes you will no longer doubt
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 honor."
"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 cutlass."
"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 only appeared 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 disappointed."
"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