Part 13 out of 20
his sword out of the scabbard.
As to D'Artagnan, he remained standing like a man in
consternation, with the deepest affliction depicted on his
"Ah, this is not right; Athos insults us; he wishes to die
alone; it is bad, bad, bad."
Mousqueton, witnessing this despair, melted into tears in a
corner of the room.
"Come," said D'Artagnan, "all this leads to nothing. Let us
go on. We will embrace Raoul, and perhaps he will have news
"Stop -- an idea!" cried Porthos; "indeed, my dear
D'Artagnan, I don't know how you manage, but you are always
full of ideas; let us go and embrace Raoul."
"Woe to that man who should happen to contradict my master
at this moment," said Mousqueton to himself; "I wouldn't give
a farthing for his life."
They set out. On arriving at the Rue Saint Denis, the
friends found a vast concourse of people. It was the Duc de
Beaufort, who was coming from the Vendomois and whom the
coadjutor was showing to the Parisians, intoxicated with
joy. With the duke's aid they already considered themselves
The two friends turned off into a side street to avoid
meeting the prince, and so reached the Saint Denis gate.
"Is it true," said the guard to the two cavaliers, "that the
Duc de Beaufort has arrived in Paris?"
"Nothing more certain; and the best proof of it is," said
D'Artagnan, "that he has dispatched us to meet the Duc de
Vendome, his father, who is coming in his turn."
"Long live De Beaufort!" cried the guards, and they drew
back respectfully to let the two friends pass. Once across
the barriers these two knew neither fatigue nor fear. Their
horses flew, and they never ceased speaking of Athos and
The camp had entered Saint Omer; the friends made a little
detour and went to the camp, and gave the army an exact
account of the flight of the king and queen. They found
Raoul near his tent, reclining on a truss of hay, of which
his horse stole some mouthfuls; the young man's eyes were
red and he seemed dejected. The Marechal de Grammont and the
Comte de Guiche had returned to Paris and he was quite
lonely. And as soon as he saw the two cavaliers he ran to
them with open arms.
"Oh, is it you, dear friends? Did you come here to fetch me?
Will you take me away with you? Do you bring me tidings of
"Have you not received any?" said D'Artagnan to the youth.
"Alas! sir, no, and I do not know what has become of him; so
that I am really so unhappy that I weep."
In fact, tears rolled down his cheeks.
Porthos turned aside, in order not to show by his honest
round face what was passing in his mind.
"Deuce take it!" cried D'Artagnan, more moved than he had
been for a long time, "don't despair, my friend, if you have
not received any letters from the count, we have received
"Oh, really!" cried Raoul.
"And a comforting one, too," added D'Artagnan, seeing the
delight that his intelligence gave the young man.
"Have you it?" asked Raoul
"Yes -- that is, I had it," repined the Gascon, making
believe to find it. "Wait, it ought to be there in my
pocket; it speaks of his return, does it not, Porthos?"
All Gascon as he was, D'Artagnan could not bear alone the
weight of that falsehood.
"Yes," replied Porthos, coughing.
"Eh, give it to me!" said the young man.
"Eh! I read it a little while since. Can I have lost it? Ah!
confound it! yes, my pocket has a hole in it."
"Oh, yes, Monsieur Raoul!" said Mousqueton, "the letter was
very consoling. These gentlemen read it to me and I wept for
"But at any rate, you know where he is, Monsieur
d'Artagnan?" asked Raoul, somewhat comforted.
"Ah! that's the thing!" replied the Gascon. "Undoubtedly I
know it, but it is a mystery."
"Not to me, I hope?"
"No, not to you, so I am going to tell you where he is."
Porthos devoured D'Artagnan with wondering eyes.
"Where the devil shall I say that he is, so that he cannot
try to rejoin him?" thought D'Artagnan.
"Well, where is he, sir?" asked Raoul, in a soft and coaxing
"He is at Constantinople."
"Among the Turks!" exclaimed Raoul, alarmed. "Good heavens!
how can you tell me that?"
"Does that alarm you?" cried D'Artagnan. "Pooh! what are the
Turks to such men as the Comte de la Fere and the Abbe
"Ah, his friend is with him?" said Raoul. "That comforts me
"Has he wit or not -- this demon D'Artagnan?" said Porthos,
astonished at his friend's deception.
"Now, sir," said D'Artagnan, wishing to change the
conversation, "here are fifty pistoles that the count has
sent you by the same courier. I suppose you have no more
money and that they will be welcome."
"I have still twenty pistoles, sir."
"Well, take them; that makes seventy."
"And if you wish for more," said Porthos, putting his hand
to his pocket ----
"Thank you, sir," replied Raoul, blushing; "thank you a
At this moment Olivain appeared. "Apropos," said D'Artagnan,
loud enough for the servant to hear him, "are you satisfied
"Yes, in some respects, tolerably well."
Olivain pretended to have heard nothing and entered the
"What fault do you find with the fellow?"
"He is a glutton."
"Oh, sir!" cried Olivain, reappearing at this accusation.
"And a little bit of a thief."
"Oh, sir! oh!"
"And, more especially, a notorious coward."
"Oh, oh! sir! you really vilify me!" cried Olivain.
"The deuce!" cried D'Artagnan. "Pray learn, Monsieur
Olivain, that people like us are not to be served by
cowards. Rob your master, eat his sweetmeats, and drink his
wine; but, by Jove! don't be a coward, or I shall cut off
your ears. Look at Monsieur Mouston, see the honorable
wounds he has received, observe how his habitual valor has
given dignity to his countenance."
Mousqueton was in the third heaven and would have embraced
D'Artagnan had he dared; meanwhile he resolved to sacrifice
his life for him on the next occasion that presented itself.
"Send away that fellow, Raoul," said the Gascon; "for if
he's a coward he will disgrace thee some day."
"Monsieur says I am coward," cried Olivain, "because he
wanted the other day to fight a cornet in Grammont's
regiment and I refused to accompany him."
"Monsieur Olivain, a lackey ought never to disobey," said
D'Artagnan, sternly; then taking him aside, he whispered to
him: "Thou hast done right; thy master was in the wrong;
here's a crown for thee, but should he ever be insulted and
thou dost not let thyself be cut in quarters for him, I will
cut out thy tongue. Remember that."
Olivain bowed and slipped the crown into his pocket.
"And now, Raoul," said the Gascon, "Monsieur du Vallon and I
are going away as ambassadors, where, I know not; but should
you want anything, write to Madame Turquaine, at La
Chevrette, Rue Tiquetonne and draw upon her purse as on a
banker -- with economy; for it is not so well filled as that
of Monsieur d'Emery."
And having, meantime, embraced his ward, he passed him into
the robust arms of Porthos, who lifted him up from the
ground and held him a moment suspended near the noble heart
of the formidable giant.
"Come," said D'Artagnan, "let us go."
And they set out for Boulogne, where toward evening they
arrived, their horses flecked with foam and dark with
At ten steps from the place where they halted was a young
man in black, who seemed waiting for some one, and who, from
the moment he saw them enter the town, never took his eyes
D'Artagnan approached him, and seeing him stare so fixedly,
"Well, friend! I don't like people to quiz me!"
"Sir," said the young man, "do you not come from Paris, if
D'Artagnan thought it was some gossip who wanted news from
"Yes, sir," he said, in a softened tone.
"Are you not going to put up at the `Arms of England'?"
"Are you not charged with a mission from his eminence,
"In that case, I am the man you have to do with. I am M.
"Ah!" thought D'Artagnan, "the man I am warned against by
"Ah!" thought Porthos, "the man Aramis wants me to
They both looked searchingly at the young man, who
misunderstood the meaning of that inquisition.
"Do you doubt my word?" he said. "In that case I can give
"No, sir," said D'Artagnan; "and we place ourselves at your
"Well, gentlemen," resumed Mordaunt, "we must set out
without delay, to-day is the last day granted me by the
cardinal. My ship is ready, and had you not come I must have
set off without you, for General Cromwell expects my return
"So!" thought the lieutenant, "'tis to General Cromwell that
our dispatches are addressed."
"Have you no letter for him?" asked the young man.
"I have one, the seal of which I am not to break till I
reach London; but since you tell me to whom it is addressed,
'tis useless to wait till then."
D'Artagnan tore open the envelope of the letter. It was
directed to "Monsieur Oliver Cromwell, General of the Army
of the English Nation."
"Ah!" said D'Artagnan; "a singular commission."
"Who is this Monsieur Oliver Cromwell?" inquired Porthos.
"Formerly a brewer," replied the Gascon.
"Perhaps Mazarin wishes to make a speculation in beer, as we
did in straw," said Porthos.
"Come, come, gentlemen," said Mordaunt, impatiently, "let us
"What!" exclaimed Porthos "without supper? Cannot Monsieur
Cromwell wait a little?"
"Yes, but I?" said Mordaunt.
"Well, you," said Porthos, "what then?"
"I cannot wait."
"Oh! as to you, that is not my concern, and I shall sup
either with or without your permission."
The young man's eyes kindled in secret, but he restrained
"Monsieur," said D'Artagnan, "you must excuse famished
travelers. Besides, our supper can't delay you much. We will
hasten on to the inn; you will meanwhile proceed on foot to
the harbor. We will take a bite and shall be there as soon
as you are."
"Just as you please, gentlemen, provided we set sail," he
"The name of your ship?" inquired D'Artagnan.
"Very well; in half an hour we shall be on board."
And the friends, spurring on their horses, rode to the
hotel, the "Arms of England."
"What do you say of that young man?" asked D'Artagnan, as
they hurried along.
"I say that he doesn't suit me at all," said Porthos, "and
that I feel a strong itching to follow Aramis's advice."
"By no means, my dear Porthos; that man is a messenger of
General Cromwell; it would insure for us a poor reception, I
imagine, should it be announced to him that we had twisted
the neck of his confidant."
"Nevertheless," said Porthos, "I have always noticed that
Aramis gives good advice."
"Listen," returned D'Artagnan, "when our embassy is finished
"If it brings us back to France ---- "
"Well, we shall see."
At that moment the two friends reached the hotel, "Arms of
England," where they supped with hearty appetite and then at
once proceeded to the port.
There they found a brig ready to set sail, upon the deck of
which they recognized Mordaunt walking up and down
"It is singular," said D'Artagnan, whilst the boat was
taking them to the Standard, "it is astonishing how that
young man resembles some one I must have known, but who it
was I cannot yet remember."
A few minutes later they were on board, but the embarkation
of the horses was a longer matter than that of the men, and
it was eight o'clock before they raised anchor.
The young man stamped impatiently and ordered all sail to be
Porthos, completely used up by three nights without sleep
and a journey of seventy leagues on horseback, retired to
his cabin and went to sleep.
D'Artagnan, overcoming his repugnance to Mordaunt, walked
with him upon the deck and invented a hundred stories to
make him talk.
Mousqueton was seasick.
And now our readers must leave the Standard to sail
peaceably, not toward London, where D'Artagnan and Porthos
believed they were going, but to Durham, whither Mordaunt
had been ordered to repair by the letter he had received
during his sojourn at Boulogne, and accompany us to the
royalist camp, on this side of the Tyne, near Newcastle.
There, placed between two rivers on the borders of Scotland,
but still on English soil, the tents of a little army
extended. It was midnight. Some Highlanders were listlessly
keeping watch. The moon, which was partially obscured by
heavy clouds, now and then lit up the muskets of the
sentinels, or silvered the walls, the roofs, and the spires
of the town that Charles I. had just surrendered to the
parliamentary troops, whilst Oxford and Newark still held
out for him in the hopes of coming to some arrangement.
At one of the extremities of the camp, near an immense tent,
in which the Scottish officers were holding a kind of
council, presided over by Lord Leven, their commander, a man
attired as a cavalier lay sleeping on the turf, his right
hand extended over his sword.
About fifty paces off, another man, also appareled as a
cavalier, was talking to a Scotch sentinel, and, though a
foreigner, he seemed to understand without much difficulty
the answers given in the broad Perthshire dialect.
As the town clock of Newcastle struck one the sleeper awoke,
and with all the gestures of a man rousing himself out of
deep sleep he looked attentively about him; perceiving that
he was alone he rose and making a little circuit passed
close to the cavalier who was speaking to the sentinel. The
former had no doubt finished his questions, for a moment
later he said good-night and carelessly followed the same
path taken by the first cavalier.
In the shadow of a tent the former was awaiting him.
"Well, my dear friend?" said he, in as pure French as has
ever been uttered between Rouen and Tours.
"Well, my friend, there is not a moment to lose; we must let
the king know immediately."
"Why, what is the matter?"
"It would take too long to tell you, besides, you will hear
it all directly and the least word dropped here might ruin
all. We must go and find Lord Winter."
They both set off to the other end of the camp, but as it
did not cover more than a surface of five hundred feet they
quickly arrived at the tent they were looking for.
"Tony, is your master sleeping?" said one of the two
cavaliers to a servant who was lying in the outer
compartment, which served as a kind of ante-room.
"No, monsieur le comte," answered the servant, "I think not;
or at least he has not long been so, for he was pacing up
and down for more than two hours after he left the king, and
the sound of his footsteps has only ceased during the last
ten minutes. However, you may look and see," added the
lackey, raising the curtained entrance of the tent.
Lord Winter was seated near an aperture, arranged as a
window to let in the night air, his eyes mechanically
following the course of the moon, intermittently veiled, as
we before observed, by heavy clouds. The two friends
approached Winter, who, with his head on his hands, was
gazing at the heavens; he did not hear them enter and
remained in the same attitude till he felt a hand upon his
He turned around, recognized Athos and Aramis and held out
his hand to them.
"Have you observed," said he to them, "what a blood-red
color the moon has to-night?"
"No," replied Athos; "I thought it looked much the same as
"Look, again, chevalier," returned Lord Winter.
"I must own," said Aramis, "I am like the Comte de la Fere
-- I can see nothing remarkable about it."
"My lord," said Athos, "in a position so precarious as ours
we must examine the earth and not the heavens. Have you
studied our Scotch troops and have you confidence in them?"
"The Scotch?" inquired Winter. "What Scotch?"
"Ours, egad!" exclaimed Athos. "Those in whom the king has
confided -- Lord Leven's Highlanders."
"No," said Winter, then he paused; "but tell me, can you not
perceive the russet tint which marks the heavens?"
"Not the least in the world," said Aramis and Athos at once.
"Tell me," continued Winter, always possessed by the same
idea, "is there not a tradition in France that Henry IV.,
the evening before the day he was assassinated, when he was
playing at chess with M. de Bassompiere, saw clots of blood
upon the chessboard?"
"Yes," said Athos, "and the marechal has often told me so
"Then it was so," murmured Winter, "and the next day Henry
IV. was killed."
"But what has this vision of Henry IV. to do with you, my
lord?" inquired Aramis.
"Nothing; and indeed I am mad to trouble you with such
things, when your coming to my tent at such an hour
announces that you are the bearers of important news."
"Yes, my lord," said Athos, "I wish to speak to the king."
"To the king! but the king is asleep."
"I have something important to reveal to him."
"Can it not be put off till to-morrow?"
"He must know it this moment, and perhaps it is already too
"Come, then," said Lord Winter.
Lord Winter's tent was pitched by the side of the royal
marquee, a kind of corridor communicating between the two.
This corridor was guarded, not by a sentinel, but by a
confidential servant, through whom, in case of urgency,
Charles could communicate instantly with his faithful
"These gentlemen are with me," said Winter.
The lackey bowed and let them pass. As he had said, on a
camp bed, dressed in his black doublet, booted, unbelted,
with his felt hat beside him, lay the king, overcome by
sleep and fatigue. They advanced, and Athos, who was the
first to enter, gazed a moment in silence on that pale and
noble face, framed in its long and now untidy, matted hair,
the blue veins showing through the transparent temples, his
eyes seemingly swollen by tears.
Athos sighed deeply; the sigh woke the king, so lightly did
He opened his eyes.
"Ah!" said he, raising himself on his elbow, "is it you,
Comte de la Fere?"
"Yes, sire," replied Athos.
"You watch while I sleep and you have come to bring me some
"Alas, sire," answered Athos, "your majesty has guessed
"It is bad news?"
"Never mind; the messenger is welcome. You never come to me
without conferring pleasure. You whose devotion recognizes
neither country nor misfortune, you who are sent to me by
Henrietta; whatever news you bring, speak out."
"Sire, Cromwell has arrived this night at Newcastle."
"Ah!" exclaimed the king, "to fight?"
"No, sire, but to buy your majesty."
"What did you say?"
"I said, sire, that four hundred thousand pounds are owing
to the Scottish army."
"For unpaid wages; yes, I know it. For the last year my
faithful Highlanders have fought for honor alone."
"Well, sir, though honor is a fine thing, they are tired of
fighting for it, and to-night they have sold you for two
hundred thousand pounds -- that is to say, for half what is
"Impossible!" cried the king, "the Scotch sell their king
for two hundred thousand pounds! And who is the Judas who
has concluded this infamous bargain?"
"Are you certain of it, sir?"
"I heard it with my own ears."
The king sighed deeply, as if his heart would break, and
then buried his face in his hands.
"Oh! the Scotch," he exclaimed, "the Scotch I called `my
faithful,' to whom I trusted myself when I could have fled
to Oxford! the Scotch, my brothers! But are you well
"Lying behind the tent of Lord Leven, I raised it and saw
all, heard all!"
"And when is this to be consummated?"
"To-day -- this morning; so your majesty must perceive there
is no time to lose!"
"To do what? since you say I am sold."
"To cross the Tyne, reach Scotland and rejoin Lord Montrose,
who will not sell you."
"And what shall I do in Scotland? A war of partisans,
unworthy of a king."
"The example of Robert Bruce will absolve you, sire."
"No, no! I have fought too long; they have sold me, they
shall give me up, and the eternal shame of treble treason
shall fall on their heads."
"Sire," said Athos, "perhaps a king should act thus, but not
a husband and a father. I have come in the name of your wife
and daughter and of the children you have still in London,
and I say to you, `Live, sire,' -- it is the will of
The king raised himself, buckled on his belt, and passing
his handkerchief over his moist forehead, said:
"Well, what is to be done?"
"Sire, have you in the army one regiment on which you can
"Winter," said the king, "do you believe in the fidelity of
"Sire, they are but men, and men are become both weak and
wicked. I will not answer for them. I would confide my life
to them, but I should hesitate ere I trusted them with your
"Well!" said Athos, "since you have not a regiment, we are
three devoted men. It is enough. Let your majesty mount on
horseback and place yourself in the midst of us; we will
cross the Tyne, reach Scotland, and you will be saved."
"Is this your counsel also, Winter?" inquired the king.
"And yours, Monsieur d'Herblay?"
"As you wish, then. Winter, give the necessary orders."
Winter then left the tent; in the meantime the king finished
his toilet. The first rays of daybreak penetrated the
aperture of the tent as Winter re-entered it.
"All is ready, sire," said he.
"For us, also?" inquired Athos.
"Grimaud and Blaisois are holding your horses, ready
"In that case," exclaimed Athos, "let us not lose an
instant, but set off."
"Come," added the king.
"Sire," said Aramis, "will not your majesty acquaint some of
your friends of this?"
"Friends!" answered Charles, sadly, "I have but three -- one
of twenty years, who has never forgotten me, and two of a
week's standing, whom I shall never forget. Come, gentlemen,
The king quitted his tent and found his horse ready waiting
for him. It was a chestnut that the king had ridden for
three years and of which he was very fond.
The horse neighed with pleasure at seeing him.
"Ah!" said the king, "I was unjust; here is a creature that
loves me. You at least will be faithful to me, Arthur."
The horse, as if it understood these words, bent its red
nostrils toward the king's face, and parting his lips
displayed all its teeth, as if with pleasure.
"Yes, yes," said the king, caressing it with his hand, "yes,
my Arthur, thou art a fond and faithful creature."
After this little scene Charles threw himself into the
saddle, and turning to Athos, Aramis and Winter, said:
"Now, gentlemen, I am at your service."
But Athos was standing with his eyes fixed on a black line
which bordered the banks of the Tyne and seemed to extend
double the length of the camp.
"What is that line?" cried Athos, whose vision was still
rather obscured by the uncertain shades and demi-tints of
daybreak. "What is that line? I did not observe it
"It must be the fog rising from the river," said the king.
"Sire, it is something more opaque than the fog."
"Indeed!" said Winter, "it appears to me like a bar of red
"It is the enemy, who have made a sortie from Newcastle and
are surrounding us!" exclaimed Athos.
"The enemy!" cried the king.
"Yes, the enemy. It is too late. Stop a moment; does not
that sunbeam yonder, just by the side of the town, glitter
on the Ironsides?"
This was the name given the cuirassiers, whom Cromwell had
made his body-guard.
"Ah!" said the king, "we shall soon see whether my
Highlanders have betrayed me or not."
"What are you going to do?" exclaimed Athos.
"To give them the order to charge, and run down these
And the king, putting spurs to his horse, set off to the
tent of Lord Leven.
"Follow him," said Athos.
"Come!" exclaimed Aramis.
"Is the king wounded?" cried Lord Winter. "I see spots of
blood on the ground." And he set off to follow the two
He was stopped by Athos.
"Go and call out your regiment," said he; "I can foresee
that we shall have need of it directly."
Winter turned his horse and the two friends rode on. It had
taken but two minutes for the king to reach the tent of the
Scottish commander; he dismounted and entered.
The general was there, surrounded by the more prominent
"The king!" they exclaimed, as all rose in bewilderment.
Charles was indeed in the midst of them, his hat on his
head, his brows bent, striking his boot with his riding
"Yes, gentlemen, the king in person, the king who has come
to ask for some account of what has happened."
"What is the matter, sire?" exclaimed Lord Leven.
"It is this, sir," said the king, angrily, "that General
Cromwell has reached Newcastle; that you knew it and I was
not informed of it; that the enemy have left the town and
are now closing the passages of the Tyne against us; that
our sentinels have seen this movement and I have been left
unacquainted with it; that, by an infamous treaty you have
sold me for two hundred thousand pounds to Parliament. Of
this treaty, at least, I have been warned. This is the
matter, gentlemen; answer and exculpate yourselves, for I
stand here to accuse you."
"Sire," said Lord Leven, with hesitation, "sire, your
majesty has been deceived by false reports."
"My own eyes have seen the enemy extend itself between
myself and Scotland; and I can almost say that with my own
ears I have heard the clauses of the treaty debated."
The Scotch chieftains looked at each other in their turn
with frowning brows.
"Sire," murmured Lord Leven, crushed by shame, "sire, we are
ready to give you every proof of our fidelity."
"I ask but one," said the king; "put the army in battle
array and face the enemy."
"That cannot be, sire," said the earl.
"How, cannot be? What hinders it?" exclaimed the king.
"Your majesty is well aware that there is a truce between us
and the English army."
"And if there is a truce the English army has broken it by
quitting the town, contrary to the agreement which kept it
there. Now, I tell you, you must pass with me through this
army across to Scotland, and if you refuse you may choose
betwixt two names, which the contempt of all honest men will
brand you with -- you are either cowards or traitors!"
The eyes of the Scotch flashed fire; and, as often happens
on such occasions, from shame they passed to effrontery and
two heads of clans advanced upon the king.
"Yes," said they, "we have promised to deliver Scotland and
England from him who for the last five-and-twenty years has
sucked the blood and gold of Scotland and England. We have
promised and we will keep our promise. Charles Stuart, you
are our prisoner."
And both extended their hands as if to seize the king, but
before they could touch him with the tips of their fingers,
both had fallen, one dead, the other stunned.
Aramis had passed his sword through the body of the first
and Athos had knocked down the other with the butt end of
Then, as Lord Leven and the other chieftains recoiled before
this unexpected rescue, which seemed to come from Heaven for
the prince they already thought was their prisoner, Athos
and Aramis dragged the king from the perjured assembly into
which he had so imprudently ventured, and throwing
themselves on horseback all three returned at full gallop to
the royal tent.
On their road they perceived Lord Winter marching at the
head of his regiment. The king motioned him to accompany
They all four entered the tent; they had no plan ready --
they must think of one.
The king threw himself into an arm-chair. "I am lost," said
"No, sire," replied Athos. "You are only betrayed."
The king sighed deeply.
"Betrayed! yes betrayed by the Scotch, amongst whom I was
born, whom I have always loved better than the English. Oh,
traitors that ye are!"
"Sire," said Athos, "this is not a moment for recrimination,
but a time to show yourself a king and a gentleman. Up,
sire! up! for you have here at least three men who will not
betray you. Ah! if we had been five!" murmured Athos,
thinking of D'Artagnan and Porthos.
"What do you say?" inquired Charles, rising.
"I say, sire, that there is now but one way open. Lord
Winter answers for his regiment, or at least very nearly so
-- we will not split straws about words -- let him place
himself at the head of his men, we will place ourselves at
the side of your majesty, and we will mow a swath through
Cromwell's army and reach Scotland."
"There is another method," said Aramis. "Let one of us put
on the dress and mount the king's horse. Whilst they pursue
him the king might escape."
"It is good advice," said Athos, "and if the king will do
one of us the honor we shall be truly grateful to him."
"What do you think of this counsel, Winter?" asked the king,
looking with admiration at these two men, whose chief idea
seemed to be how they could take on their shoulders all the
dangers that assailed him.
"I think the only chance of saving your majesty has just
been proposed by Monsieur d'Herblay. I humbly entreat your
majesty to choose quickly, for we have not an instant to
"But if I accept, it is death, or at least imprisonment, for
him who takes my place."
"He will have had the glory of having saved his king," cried
The king looked at his old friend with tears in his eyes;
undid the Order of the Saint Esprit which he wore, to honor
the two Frenchmen who were with him, and passed it around
Winter's neck, who received on his knees this striking proof
of his sovereign's confidence and friendship.
"It is right," said Athos; "he has served your majesty
longer than we have."
The king overheard these words and turned around with tears
in his eyes.
"Wait a moment, sir," said he; "I have an order for each of
He turned to a closet where his own orders were locked up,
and took out two ribbons of the Order of the Garter.
"These cannot be for us," said Athos.
"Why not, sir?" asked Charles.
"Such are for royalty, and we are simple commoners."
"Speak not of crowns. I shall not find amongst them such
great hearts as yours. No, no, you do yourselves injustice;
but I am here to do you justice. On your knees, count."
Athos knelt down and the king passed the ribbon down from
left to right as usual, raised his sword, and instead of
pronouncing the customary formula, "I make you a knight. Be
brave, faithful and loyal," he said, "You are brave,
faithful and loyal. I knight you, monsieur le comte."
Then turning to Aramis, he said:
"It is now your turn, monsieur le chevalier."
The same ceremony recommenced, with the same words, whilst
Winter unlaced his leather cuirass, that he might disguise
himself like the king. Charles, having proceeded with Aramis
as with Athos, embraced them both.
"Sire," said Winter, who in this trying emergency felt all
his strength and energy fire up, "we are ready."
The king looked at the three gentlemen. "Then we must fly!"
"Flying through an army, sire," said Athos, "in all
countries in the world is called charging."
"Then I shall die, sword in hand," said Charles. "Monsieur
le comte, monsieur le chevalier, if ever I am king ---- "
"Sire, you have already done us more honor than simple
gentlemen could ever aspire to, therefore gratitude is on
our side. But we must not lose time. We have already wasted
The king again shook hands with all three, exchanged hats
with Winter and went out.
Winter's regiment was ranged on some high ground above the
camp. The king, followed by the three friends, turned his
steps that way. The Scotch camp seemed as if at last
awakened; the soldiers had come out of their tents and taken
up their station in battle array.
"Do you see that?" said the king. "Perhaps they are penitent
and preparing to march."
"If they are penitent," said Athos, "let them follow us."
"Well!" said the king, "what shall we do?"
"Let us examine the enemy's army."
At the same instant the eyes of the little group were fixed
on the same line which at daybreak they had mistaken for fog
and which the morning sun now plainly showed was an army in
order of battle. The air was soft and clear, as it generally
is at that early hour of the morning. The regiments, the
standards, and even the colors of the horses and uniforms
were now clearly distinct.
On the summit of a rising ground, a little in advance of the
enemy, appeared a short and heavy looking man; this man was
surrounded by officers. He turned a spyglass toward the
little group amongst which the king stood.
"Does this man know your majesty personally?" inquired
"That man is Cromwell," said he.
"Then draw down your hat, sire, that he may not discover the
"Ah!" said Athos, "how much time we have lost."
"Now," said the king, "give the word and let us start."
"Will you not give it, sire?" asked Athos.
"No; I make you my lieutenant-general," said the king.
"Listen, then, Lord Winter. Proceed, sire, I beg. What we
are going to say does not concern your majesty."
The king, smiling, turned a few steps back.
"This is what I propose to do," said Athos. "We will divide
our regiments into two squadrons. You will put yourself at
the head of the first. We and his majesty will lead the
second. If no obstacle occurs we will both charge together,
force the enemy's line and throw ourselves into the Tyne,
which we must cross, either by fording or swimming; if, on
the contrary, any repulse should take place, you and your
men must fight to the last man, whilst we and the king
proceed on our road. Once arrived at the brink of the river,
should we even find them three ranks deep, as long as you
and your regiment do your duty, we will look to the rest."
"To horse!" said Lord Winter.
"To horse!" re-echoed Athos; "everything is arranged and
"Now, gentlemen," cried the king, "forward! and rally to the
old cry of France, `Montjoy and St. Denis!' The war cry of
England is too often in the mouths of traitors."
They mounted -- the king on Winter's horse and Winter on
that of the king; then Winter took his place at the head of
the first squadron, and the king, with Athos on his right
and Aramis on his left, at the head of the second.
The Scotch army stood motionless and silent, seized with
shame at sight of these preparations.
Some of the chieftains left the ranks and broke their swords
"There," said the king, "that consoles me; they are not all
At this moment Winter's voice was raised with the cry of
The first squadron moved off; the second followed, and
descended from the plateau. A regiment of cuirassiers,
nearly equal as to numbers, issued from behind the hill and
came full gallop toward it.
The king pointed this out.
"Sire," said Athos, "we foresaw this; and if Lord Winter's
men but do their duty, we are saved, instead of lost."
At this moment they heard above all the galloping and
neighing of the horses Winter's voice crying out:
"Sword in hand!"
At these words every sword was drawn, and glittered in the
air like lightning.
"Now, gentlemen," said the king in his turn, excited by this
sight, "come, gentlemen, sword in hand!"
But Aramis and Athos were the only ones to obey this command
and the king's example.
"We are betrayed," said the king in a low voice.
"Wait a moment," said Athos, "perhaps they do not recognize
your majesty's voice, and await the order of their captain."
"Have they not heard that of their colonel? But look! look!"
cried the king, drawing up his horse with a sudden jerk,
which threw it on its haunches, and seizing the bridle of
"Ah, cowards! traitors!" screamed Lord Winter, whose voice
they heard, whilst his men, quitting their ranks, dispersed
all over the plain.
About fifteen men were ranged around him and awaited the
charge of Cromwell's cuirassiers.
"Let us go and die with them!" said the king.
"Let us go," said Athos and Aramis.
"All faithful hearts with me!" cried out Winter.
This voice was heard by the two friends, who set off, full
"No quarter!" cried a voice in French, answering to that of
Winter, which made them tremble.
As for Winter, at the sound of that voice he turned pale,
and was, as it were, petrified.
It was the voice of a cavalier mounted on a magnificent
black horse, who was charging at the head of the English
regiment, of which, in his ardor, he was ten steps in
"'Tis he!" murmured Winter, his eyes glazed and he allowed
his sword to fall to his side.
"The king! the king!" cried out several voices, deceived by
the blue ribbon and chestnut horse of Winter; "take him
"No! it is not the king!" exclaimed the cavalier. "Lord
Winter, you are not the king; you are my uncle."
At the same moment Mordaunt, for it was he, leveled his
pistol at Winter; it went off and the ball entered the heart
of the old cavalier, who with one bound on his saddle fell
back into the arms of Athos, murmuring: "He is avenged!"
"Think of my mother!" shouted Mordaunt, as his horse plunged
and darted off at full gallop.
"Wretch!" exclaimed Aramis, raising his pistol as he passed
by him; but the powder flashed in the pan and it did not go
At this moment the whole regiment came up and they fell upon
the few men who had held out, surrounding the two Frenchmen.
Athos, after making sure that Lord Winter was really dead,
let fall the corpse and said:
"Come, Aramis, now for the honor of France!" and the two
Englishmen who were nearest to them fell, mortally wounded.
At the same moment a fearful "hurrah!" rent the air and
thirty blades glittered about their heads.
Suddenly a man sprang out of the English ranks, fell upon
Athos, twined arms of steel around him, and tearing his
sword from him, said in his ear:
"Silence! yield -- you yield to me, do you not?"
A giant had seized also Aramis's two wrists, who struggled
in vain to release himself from this formidable grasp.
"D'Art ---- " exclaimed Athos, whilst the Gascon covered his
mouth with his hand.
"I am your prisoner," said Aramis, giving up his sword to
"Fire, fire!" cried Mordaunt, returning to the group
surrounding the two friends.
"And wherefore fire?" said the colonel; "every one has
"It is the son of Milady," said Athos to D'Artagnan.
"I recognize him."
"It is the monk," whispered Porthos to Aramis.
"I know it."
And now the ranks began to open. D'Artagnan held the bridle
of Athos's horse and Porthos that of Aramis. Both of them
attempted to lead his prisoner off the battle-field.
This movement revealed the spot where Winter's body had
fallen. Mordaunt had found it out and was gazing on his dead
relative with an expression of malignant hatred.
Athos, though now cool and collected, put his hand to his
belt, where his loaded pistols yet remained.
"What are you about?" said D'Artagnan.
"Let me kill him."
"We are all four lost, if by the least gesture you discover
that you recognize him."
Then turning to the young man he exclaimed:
"A fine prize! a fine prize, friend Mordaunt; we have both
myself and Monsieur du Vallon, taken two Knights of the
Garter, nothing less."
"But," said Mordaunt, looking at Athos and Aramis with
bloodshot eyes, "these are Frenchmen, I imagine."
"I'faith, I don't know. Are you French, sir?" said he to
"I am," replied the latter, gravely.
"Very well, my dear sir, you are the prisoner of a fellow
"But the king -- where is the king?" exclaimed Athos,
D'Artagnan vigorously seized his prisoner's hand, saying:
"Eh! the king? We have secured him."
"Yes," said Aramis, "through an infamous act of treason."
Porthos pressed his friend's hand and said to him:
"Yes, sir, all is fair in war, stratagem as well as force;
At this instant the squadron, that ought to have protected
Charles's retreat, was advancing to meet the English
regiments. The king, who was entirely surrounded, walked
alone in a great empty space. He appeared calm, but it was
evidently not without a mighty effort. Drops of perspiration
trickled down his face, and from time to time he put a
handkerchief to his mouth to wipe away the blood that rilled
"Behold Nebuchadnezzar!" exclaimed an old Puritan soldier,
whose eyes flashed at the sight of the man they called the
"Do you call him Nebuchadnezzar?" said Mordaunt, with a
terrible smile; "no, it is Charles the First, the king, the
good King Charles, who despoils his subjects to enrich
Charles glanced a moment at the insolent creature who
uttered this, but did not recognize him. Nevertheless, the
calm religious dignity of his countenance abashed Mordaunt.
"Bon jour, messieurs!" said the king to the two gentlemen
who were held by D'Artagnan and Porthos. "The day has been
unfortunate, but it is not your fault, thank God! But where
is my old friend Winter?"
The two gentlemen turned away their heads in silence.
"In Strafford's company," said Mordaunt, tauntingly.
Charles shuddered. The demon had known how to wound him. The
remembrance of Strafford was a source of lasting remorse to
him, the shadow that haunted him by day and night. The king
looked around him. He saw a corpse at his feet. It was
Winter's. He uttered not a word, nor shed a tear, but a
deadly pallor spread over his face; he knelt down on the
ground, raised Winter's head, and unfastening the Order of
the Saint Esprit, placed it on his own breast.
"Lord Winter is killed, then?" inquired D'Artagnan, fixing
his eyes on the corpse.
"Yes," said Athos, "by his own nephew."
"Come, he was the first of us to go; peace be to him! he was
an honest man," said D'Artagnan.
"Charles Stuart," said the colonel of the English regiment,
approaching the king, who had just put on the insignia of
royalty, "do you yield yourself a prisoner?"
"Colonel Tomlison," said Charles, "kings cannot yield; the
man alone submits to force."
The king drew his sword and broke it on his knee.
At this moment a horse without a rider, covered with foam,
his nostrils extended and eyes all fire, galloped up, and
recognizing his master, stopped and neighed with pleasure;
it was Arthur.
The king smiled, patted it with his hand and jumped lightly
into the saddle.
"Now, gentlemen," said he, "conduct me where you will."
Turning back again, he said, "I thought I saw Winter move;
if he still lives, by all you hold most sacred, do not
"Never fear, King Charles," said Mordaunt, "the bullet
pierced his heart."
"Do not breathe a word nor make the least sign to me or
Porthos," said D'Artagnan to Athos and Aramis, "that you
recognize this man, for Milady is not dead; her soul lives
in the body of this demon."
The detachment now moved toward the town with the royal
captive; but on the road an aide-de-camp, from Cromwell,
sent orders that Colonel Tomlison should conduct him to
At the same time couriers started in every direction over
England and Europe to announce that Charles Stuart was the
prisoner of Oliver Cromwell.
"Have you been to the general?" said Mordaunt to D'Artagnan
and Porthos; "you know he sent for you after the action."
"We want first to put our prisoners in a place of safety,"
replied D'Artagnan. "Do you know, sir, these gentlemen are
each of them worth fifteen hundred pounds?"
"Oh, be assured," said Mordaunt, looking at them with an
expression he vainly endeavoured to soften, "my soldiers
will guard them, and guard them well, I promise you."
"I shall take better care of them myself," answered
D'Artagnan; "besides, all they require is a good room, with
sentinels, or their simple parole that they will not attempt
escape. I will go and see about that, and then we shall have
the honor of presenting ourselves to the general and
receiving his commands for his eminence."
"You think of starting at once, then?" inquired Mordaunt.
"Our mission is ended, and there is nothing more to detain
us now but the good pleasure of the great man to whom we
The young man bit his lips and whispered to his sergeant:
"You will follow these men and not lose sight of them; when
you have discovered where they lodge, come and await me at
the town gate."
The sergeant made a sign of comprehension.
Instead of following the knot of prisoners that were being
taken into the town, Mordaunt turned his steps toward the
rising ground from whence Cromwell had witnessed the battle
and on which he had just had his tent pitched.
Cromwell had given orders that no one was to be allowed
admission; but the sentinel, who knew that Mordaunt was one
of the most confidential friends of the general, thought the
order did not extend to the young man. Mordaunt, therefore,
raised the canvas, and saw Cromwell seated before a table,
his head buried in his hands, his back being turned.
Whether he heard Mordaunt or not as he entered, Cromwell did
not move. Mordaunt remained standing near the door. At last,
after a few moments, Cromwell raised his head, and, as if he
divined that some one was there, turned slowly around.
"I said I wished to be alone," he exclaimed, on seeing the
"They thought this order did not concern me, sir;
nevertheless, if you wish it, I am ready to go."
"Ah! is it you, Mordaunt?" said Cromwell, the cloud passing
away from his face; "since you are here, it is well; you may
"I come to congratulate you."
"To congratulate me -- what for?"
"On the capture of Charles Stuart. You are now master of
"I was much more really so two hours ago."
"How so, general?"
"Because England had need of me to take the tyrant, and now
the tyrant is taken. Have you seen him?"
"Yes, sir." said Mordaunt.
"What is his bearing?"
Mordaunt hesitated; but it seemed as though he was
constrained to tell the truth.
"Calm and dignified," said he.
"What did he say?"
"Some parting words to his friends."
"His friends!" murmured Cromwell. "Has he any friends?" Then
he added aloud, "Did he make any resistance?"
"No, sir, with the exception of two or three friends every
one deserted him; he had no means of resistance."
"To whom did he give up his sword?"
"He did not give it up; he broke it."
"He did well; but instead of breaking it, he might have used
it to still more advantage."
There was a momentary pause.
"I heard that the colonel of the regiment that escorted
Charles was killed," said Cromwell, staring very fixedly at
"By whom?" inquired Cromwell.
"What was his name?"
"Your uncle?" exclaimed Cromwell.
"My uncle," answered Mordaunt; "but traitors to England are
no longer members of my family."
Cromwell observed the young man a moment in silence, then,
with that profound melancholy Shakespeare describes so well:
"Mordaunt," he said, "you are a terrible servant."
"When the Lord commands," said Mordaunt, "His commands are
not to be disputed. Abraham raised the knife against Isaac,
and Isaac was his son."
"Yes," said Cromwell, "but the Lord did not suffer that
sacrifice to be accomplished."
"I have looked around me," said Mordaunt, "and I have seen
neither goat nor kid caught among the bushes of the plain."
Cromwell bowed. "You are strong among the strong, Mordaunt,"
he said; "and the Frenchmen, how did they behave?"
"Yes, yes," murmured Cromwell; "the French fight well; and
if my glass was good and I mistake not, they were foremost
in the fight."
"They were," replied Mordaunt.
"After you, however," said Cromwell.
"It was the fault of their horses, not theirs."
"And the Scotch?"
"They kept their word and never stirred," said Mordaunt.
"Their officers wish to see you, sir."
"I have no time to see them. Are they paid?"
"Let them be off and return to their own country, there to
hide their shame, if its hills are high enough; I have
nothing more to do with them nor they with me. And now go,
"Before I go," said Mordaunt, "I have some questions and a
favor to ask you, sir."
"A favor from me?"
"I come to you, my leader, my head, my father, and I ask
you, master, are you contented with me?"
Cromwell looked at him with astonishment. The young man
"Yes," said Cromwell; "you have done, since I knew you, not
only your duty, but more than your duty; you have been a
faithful friend, a cautious negotiator, a brave soldier."
"Do you remember, sir it was my idea, the Scotch treaty, for
giving up the king?"
"Yes, the idea was yours. I had no such contempt for men
"Was I not a good ambassador in France?"
"Yes, for Mazarin has granted what I desire."
"Have I not always fought for your glory and interests?"
"Too ardently, perhaps; it is what I have just reproached
you for. But what is the meaning of all these questions?"
"To tell you, my lord, that the moment has now arrived when,
with a single word, you may recompense all these services."
"Oh!" said Oliver, with a slight curl of his lip, "I forgot
that every service merits some reward and that up to this
moment you have not been paid."
"Sir, I can take my pay at this moment, to the full extent
of my wishes."
"How is that?"
"I have the payment under my hand; I almost possess it."
"What is it? Have they offered you money? Do you wish a
step, or some place in the government?"
"Sir, will you grant me my request?"
"Let us hear what it is, first."
"Sir, when you have told me to obey an order did I ever
answer, `Let me see that order '?"
"If, however, your wish should be one impossible to
"When you have cherished a wish and have charged me with its
fulfillment, have I ever replied, `It is impossible'?"
"But a request preferred with so much preparation ---- "
"Ah, do not fear, sir," said Mordaunt, with apparent
simplicity: "it will not ruin you."
"Well, then," said Cromwell, "I promise, as far as lies in
my power, to grant your request; proceed."
"Sir, two prisoners were taken this morning, will you let me
"For their ransom? have they then offered a large one?"
"On the contrary, I think they are poor, sir."
"They are friends of yours, then?"
"Yes, sir," exclaimed Mordaunt, "they are friends, dear
friends of mine, and I would lay down my life for them."
"Very well, Mordaunt," exclaimed Cromwell, pleased at having
his opinion of the young man raised once more; "I will give
them to you; I will not even ask who they are; do as you
like with them."
"Thank you, sir!" exclaimed Mordaunt, "thank you; my life is
always at your service, and should I lose it I should still
owe you something; thank you; you have indeed repaid me
munificently for my services."
He threw himself at the feet of Cromwell, and in spite of
the efforts of the Puritan general, who did not like this
almost kingly homage, he took his hand and kissed it.
"What!" said Cromwell, arresting him for a moment as he
arose; "is there nothing more you wish? neither gold nor
"You have given me all you can give me, and from to-day your
debt is paid."
And Mordaunt darted out of the general's tent, his heart
beating and his eyes sparkling with joy.
Cromwell gazed a moment after him.
"He has slain his uncle!" he murmured. "Alas! what are my
servants? Possibly this one, who asks nothing or seems to
ask nothing, has asked more in the eyes of Heaven than those
who tax the country and steal the bread of the poor. Nobody
serves me for nothing. Charles, who is my prisoner, may
still have friends, but I have none!"
And with a deep sigh he again sank into the reverie that had
been interrupted by Mordaunt.
Whilst Mordaunt was making his way to Cromwell's tent,
D'Artagnan and Porthos had brought their prisoners to the
house which had been assigned to them as their dwelling at
The order given by Mordaunt to the sergeant had been heard
by D'Artagnan, who accordingly, by an expressive glance,
warned Athos and Aramis to exercise extreme caution. The
prisoners, therefore, had remained silent as they marched
along in company with their conquerors -- which they could
do with the less difficulty since each of them had
occupation enough in answering his own thoughts.
It would be impossible to describe Mousqueton's astonishment
when from the threshold of the door he saw the four friends
approaching, followed by a sergeant with a dozen men. He
rubbed his eyes, doubting if he really saw before him Athos
and Aramis; and forced at last to yield to evidence, he was
on the point of breaking forth in exclamations when he
encountered a glance from the eyes of Porthos, the
repressive force of which he was not inclined to dispute.
Mousqueton remained glued to the door, awaiting the
explanation of this strange occurrence. What upset him
completely was that the four friends seemed to have no
acquaintance with one another.
The house to which D'Artagnan and Porthos conducted Athos
and Aramis was the one assigned to them by General Cromwell
and of which they had taken possession on the previous
evening. It was at the corner of two streets and had in the
rear, bordering on the side street, stables and a sort of
garden. The windows on the ground floor, according to a
custom in provincial villages, were barred, so that they
strongly resembled the windows of a prison.
The two friends made the prisoners enter the house first,
whilst they stood at the door, desiring Mousqueton to take
the four horses to the stable.
"Why don't we go in with them?" asked Porthos.
"We must first see what the sergeant wishes us to do,"
The sergeant and his men took possession of the little
D'Artagnan asked them what they wished and why they had
taken that position.
"We have had orders," answered the man, "to help you in
taking care of your prisoners."
There could be no fault to find with this arrangement; on
the contrary, it seemed to be a delicate attention, to be
gratefully received; D'Artagnan, therefore, thanked the man
and gave him a crown piece to drink to General Cromwell's
The sergeant answered that Puritans never drank, and put the
crown piece in his pocket.
"Ah!" said Porthos, "what a fearful day, my dear
"What! a fearful day, when to-day we find our friends?"
"Yes; but under what circumstances?"
"'Tis true that our position is an awkward one; but let us
go in and see more clearly what is to be done."
"Things look black enough," replied Porthos; "I understand
now why Aramis advised me to strangle that horrible
"Silence!" cried the Gascon; "do not utter that name."
"But," argued Porthos, "I speak French and they are all
D'Artagnan looked at Porthos with that air of wonder which a
cunning man cannot help feeling at displays of crass
But as Porthos on his side could not comprehend his
astonishment, he merely pushed him indoors, saying, "Let us
They found Athos in profound despondency; Aramis looked
first at Porthos and then at D'Artagnan, without speaking,
but the latter understood his meaningful look.
"You want to know how we came here? 'Tis easily guessed.
Mazarin sent us with a letter to General Cromwell."
"But how came you to fall into company with Mordaunt, whom I
bade you distrust?" asked Athos.
"And whom I advised you to strangle, Porthos," said Aramis.
"Mazarin again. Cromwell had sent him to Mazarin. Mazarin
sent us to Cromwell. There is a certain fatality in it."
"Yes, you are right, D'Artagnan, a fatality that will
separate and ruin us! So, my dear Aramis, say no more about
it and let us prepare to submit to destiny."
"Zounds! on the contrary, let us speak about it; for it was
agreed among us, once for all, that we should always hold
together, though engaged on opposing sides."
"Yes," added Athos, "I now ask you, D'Artagnan, what side
you are on? Ah! behold for what end the wretched Mazarin has
made use of you. Do you know in what crime you are to-day
engaged? In the capture of a king, his degradation and his
"Oh! oh!" cried Porthos, "do you think so?"
"You are exaggerating, Athos; we are not so far gone as
that," replied the lieutenant.
"Good heavens! we are on the very eve of it. I say, why is
the king taken prisoner? Those who wish to respect him as a
master would not buy him as a slave. Do you think it is to
replace him on the throne that Cromwell has paid for him two
hundred thousand pounds sterling? They will kill him, you
may be sure of it."
"I don't maintain the contrary," said D'Artagnan. "But
what's that to us? I am here because I am a soldier and have
to obey orders -- I have taken an oath to obey, and I do
obey; but you who have taken no such oath, why are you here
and what cause do you represent?"
"That most sacred in the world," said Athos; "the cause of
misfortune, of religion, royalty. A friend, a wife, a
daughter, have done us the honor to call us to their aid. We
have served them to the best of our poor means, and God will
recompense the will, forgive the want of power. You may see
matters differently, D'Artagnan, and think otherwise. I will
not attempt to argue with you, but I blame you."
"Heyday!" cried D'Artagnan, "what matters it to me, after
all, if Cromwell, who's an Englishman, revolts against his
king, who is a Scotchman? I am myself a Frenchman. I have
nothing to do with these things -- why hold me responsible?"
"Yes," said Porthos.
"Because all gentlemen are brothers, because you are a
gentleman, because the kings of all countries are the first
among gentlemen, because the blind populace, ungrateful and
brutal, always takes pleasure in pulling down what is above
them. And you, you, D'Artagnan, a man sprung from the
ancient nobility of France, bearing an honorable name,
carrying a good sword, have helped to give up a king to
beersellers, shopkeepers, and wagoners. Ah! D'Artagnan!
perhaps you have done your duty as a soldier, but as a
gentleman, I say that you are very culpable."
D'Artagnan was chewing the stalk of a flower, unable to
reply and thoroughly uncomfortable; for when turned from the
eyes of Athos he encountered those of Aramis.
"And you, Porthos," continued the count, as if in
consideration for D'Artagnan's embarrassment, "you, the best
heart, the best friend, the best soldier that I know -- you,
with a soul that makes you worthy of a birth on the steps of
a throne, and who, sooner or later, must receive your reward
from an intelligent king -- you, my dear Porthos, you, a
gentleman in manners, in tastes and in courage, you are as
culpable as D'Artagnan."
Porthos blushed, but with pleasure rather than with
confusion; and yet, bowing his head, as if humiliated, he
"Yes, yes, my dear count, I feel that you are right."
"Come," he said, stretching out his hand to D'Artagnan,
"come, don't be sullen, my dear son, for I have said all
this to you, if not in the tone, at least with the feelings
of a father. It would have been easier to me merely to have
thanked you for preserving my life and not to have uttered a
word of all this."
"Doubtless, doubtless, Athos. But here it is: you have
sentiments, the devil knows what, such as every one can't
entertain. Who could suppose that a sensible man could leave
his house, France, his ward -- a charming youth, for we saw
him in the camp -- to fly to the aid of a rotten, worm-eaten
royalty, which is going to crumble one of these days like an
old hovel. The sentiments you air are certainly fine, so
fine that they are superhuman."
"However that may be, D'Artagnan," replied Athos, without
falling into the snare which his Gascon friend had prepared
for him by an appeal to his parental love, "however that may
be, you know in the bottom of your heart that it is true;
but I am wrong to dispute with my master. D'Artagnan, I am
your prisoner -- treat me as such."
"Ah! pardieu!" said D'Artagnan, "you know you will not be my
prisoner very long."
"No," said Aramis, "they will doubtless treat us like the
prisoners of the Philipghauts."
"And how were they treated?" asked D'Artagnan.
"Why," said Aramis, "one-half were hanged and the other half
"Well, I," said D'Artagnan "I answer that while there
remains a drop of blood in my veins you will be neither
hanged nor shot. Sang Diou! let them come on! Besides -- do
you see that door, Athos?"
"Yes; what then?"
"Well, you can go out by that door whenever you please; for
from this moment you are free as the air."
"I recognize you there, my brave D'Artagnan," replied Athos;
"but you are no longer our masters. That door is guarded,
D'Artagnan; you know that."
"Very well, you will force it," said Porthos. "There are
only a dozen men at the most."
"That would be nothing for us four; it is too much for us
two. No, divided as we now are, we must perish. See the
fatal example: on the Vendomois road, D'Artagnan, you so
brave, and you, Porthos, so valiant and so strong -- you
were beaten; to-day Aramis and I are beaten in our turn. Now
that never happened to us when we were four together. Let us
die, then, as De Winter has died; as for me, I will fly only
on condition that we all fly together."
"Impossible," said D'Artagnan; "we are under Mazarin's
"I know it and I have nothing more to say; my arguments lead
to nothing; doubtless they are bad, since they have not
determined minds so just as yours."
"Besides," said Aramis, "had they taken effect it would be
still better not to compromise two excellent friends like
D'Artagnan and Porthos. Be assured, gentlemen, we shall do
you honor in our dying. As for myself, I shall be proud to
face the bullets, or even the rope, in company with you,
Athos; for you have never seemed to me so grand as you are
D'Artagnan said nothing, but, after having gnawed the flower
stalk, he began to bite his nails. At last:
"Do you imagine," he resumed, "that they mean to kill you?
And wherefore should they do so? What interest have they in
your death? Moreover, you are our prisoners."
"Fool!" cried Aramis; "knowest thou not, then, Mordaunt? I
have but exchanged with him one look, yet that look
convinced me that we were doomed."
"The truth is, I'm very sorry that I did not strangle him as
you advised me," said Porthos.
"Eh! I make no account of the harm Mordaunt can do!" cried
D'Artagnan. "Cap de Diou! if he troubles me too much I will
crush him, the insect! Do not fly, then. It is useless; for
I swear to you that you are as safe here as you were twenty
years, ago -- you, Athos, in the Rue Ferou, and you, Aramis,
in the Rue de Vaugirard."
"Stop," cried Athos, extending his hand to one of the grated
windows by which the room was lighted; "you will soon know
what to expect, for here he is."
In fact, looking at the place to which Athos pointed,
D'Artagnan saw a cavalier coming toward the house at full
It was Mordaunt.
D'Artagnan rushed out of the room.
Porthos wanted to follow him.
"Stay," said D'Artagnan, "and do not come till you hear me
drum my fingers on the door."
When Mordaunt arrived opposite the house he saw D'Artagnan
on the threshold and the soldiers lying on the grass here
and there, with their arms.
"Halloo!" he cried, "are the prisoners still there?"
"Yes, sir," answered the sergeant, uncovering.
"'Tis well; order four men to conduct them to my lodging."
Four men prepared to do so.
"What is it?" said D'Artagnan, with that jeering manner
which our readers have so often observed in him since they
made his acquaintance. "What is the matter, if you please?"
"Sir," replied Mordaunt, "I have ordered the two prisoners
we made this morning to be conducted to my lodging."
"Wherefore, sir? Excuse curiosity, but I wish to be
enlightened on the subject."
"Because these prisoners, sir, are at my disposal and I
choose to dispose of them as I like."
"Allow me -- allow me, sir," said D'Artagnan, "to observe
you are in error. The prisoners belong to those who take
them and not to those who only saw them taken. You might
have taken Lord Winter -- who, 'tis said, was your uncle --
prisoner, but you preferred killing him; 'tis well; we, that
is, Monsieur du Vallon and I, could have killed our
prisoners -- we preferred taking them."
Mordaunt's very lips grew white with rage.
D'Artagnan now saw that affairs were growing worse and he
beat the guard's march upon the door. At the first beat
Porthos rushed out and stood on the other side of the door.
This movement was observed by Mordaunt.
"Sir!" he thus addressed D'Artagnan, "your resistance is
useless; these prisoners have just been given me by my
illustrious patron, Oliver Cromwell."
These words struck D'Artagnan like a thunderbolt. The blood
mounted to his temples, his eyes became dim; he saw from
what fountainhead the ferocious hopes of the young man
arose, and he put his hand to the hilt of his sword.
As for Porthos, he looked inquiringly at D'Artagnan.
This look of Porthos's made the Gascon regret that he had
summoned the brute force of his friend to aid him in an
affair which seemed to require chiefly cunning.
"Violence," he said to himself, "would spoil all;
D'Artagnan, my friend, prove to this young serpent that thou
art not only stronger, but more subtle than he is."
"Ah!" he said, making a low bow, "why did you not begin by
saying that, Monsieur Mordaunt? What! are you sent by
General Oliver Cromwell, the most illustrious captain of the
"I have this instant left him," replied Mordaunt, alighting,
in order to give his horse to a soldier to hold.
"Why did you not say so at once, my dear sir! all England is