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Twenty Years After by Alexandre Dumas [Pere]

Part 17 out of 20

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"Poor fellow!" he exclaimed.

"Indeed!" said D'Artagnan, "monsters have only to complain
to gain your sympathy. I believe he's swimming toward us.
Does he think we are going to take him in? Row, Porthos,
row." And setting the example he plowed his oar into the
sea; two strokes took the bark on twenty fathoms further.

"Oh! you will not abandon me! You will not leave me to
perish! You will not be pitiless!" cried Mordaunt.

"Ah! ah!" said Porthos to Mordaunt, "I think we have you
now, my hero! and there are no doors by which you can escape
this time but those of hell."

"Oh! Porthos!" murmured the Comte de la Fere.

"Oh, pray, for mercy's sake, don't fly from me. For pity's
sake!" cried the young man, whose agony-drawn breath at
times, when his head went under water, under the wave,
exhaled and made the icy waters bubble.

D'Artagnan, however, who had consulted with Aramis, spoke to
the poor wretch. "Go away," he said; "your repentance is too
recent to inspire confidence. See! the vessel in which you
wished to fry us is still smoking; and the situation in
which you are is a bed of roses compared to that in which
you wished to place us and in which you have placed Monsieur
Groslow and his companions."

"Sir!" replied Mordaunt, in a tone of deep despair, "my
penitence is sincere. Gentlemen, I am young, scarcely
twenty-three years old. I was drawn on by a very natural
resentment to avenge my mother. You would have done what I

Mordaunt wanted now only two or three fathoms to reach the
boat, for the approach of death seemed to give him
supernatural strength.

"Alas!" he said, "I am then to die? You are going to kill
the son, as you killed the mother! Surely, if I am culpable
and if I ask for pardon, I ought to be forgiven."

Then, as if his strength failed him, he seemed unable to
sustain himself above the water and a wave passed over his
head, which drowned his voice.

"Oh! this is torture to me," cried Athos.

Mordaunt reappeared.

"For my part," said D'Artagnan, "I say this must come to an
end; murderer, as you were, of your uncle! executioner, as
you were, of King Charles! incendiary! I recommend you to
sink forthwith to the bottom of the sea; and if you come
another fathom nearer, I'll stave your wicked head in with
this oar."

"D'Artagnan! D'Artagnan!" cried Athos, "my son, I entreat
you; the wretch is dying, and it is horrible to let a man
die without extending a hand to save him. I cannot resist
doing so; he must live."

"Zounds!" replied D'Artagnan, "why don't you give yourself
up directly, feet and hands bound, to that wretch? Ah! Comte
de la Fere, you wish to perish by his hands! I, your son, as
you call me -- I will not let you!"

'Twas the first time D'Artagnan had ever refused a request
from Athos.

Aramis calmly drew his sword, which he had carried between
his teeth as he swam.

"If he lays his hand on the boat's edge I will cut it off,
regicide that he is."

"And I," said Porthos. "Wait."

"What are you going to do?" asked Aramis.

"Throw myself in the water and strangle him."

"Oh, gentlemen!" cried Athos, "be men! be Christians! See!
death is depicted on his face! Ah! do not bring on me the
horrors of remorse! Grant me this poor wretch's life. I will
bless you -- I ---- "

"I am dying!" cried Mordaunt, "come to me! come to me!"

D'Artagnan began to be touched. The boat at this moment
turned around, and the dying man was by that turn brought
nearer Athos.

"Monsieur the Comte de la Fere," he cried, "I supplicate
you! pity me! I call on you -- where are you? I see you no
longer -- I am dying -- help me! help me!"

"Here I am, sir!" said Athos, leaning and stretching out his
arm to Mordaunt with that air of dignity and nobility of
soul habitual to him; "here I am, take my hand and jump into
our boat."

Mordaunt made a last effort -- rose -- seized the hand thus
extended to him and grasped it with the vehemence of

"That's right," said Athos; "put your other hand here. "And
he offered him his shoulder as another stay and support, so
that his head almost touched that of Mordaunt; and these two
mortal enemies were in as close an embrace as if they had
been brothers.

"Now, sir," said the count, "you are safe -- calm yourself."

"Ah! my mother," cried Mordaunt, with eyes on fire with a
look of hate impossible to paint, "I can only offer thee one
victim, but it shall at any rate be the one thou wouldst
thyself have chosen!"

And whilst D'Artagnan uttered a cry, Porthos raised the oar,
and Aramis sought a place to strike, a frightful shake given
to the boat precipitated Athos into the sea; whilst
Mordaunt, with a shout of triumph, grasped the neck of his
victim, and in order to paralyze his movements, twined arms
and legs around the musketeer. For an instant, without an
exclamation, without a cry for help, Athos tried to sustain
himself on the surface of the waters, but the weight dragged
him down; he disappeared by degrees; soon nothing was to be
seen except his long, floating hair; then both men
disappeared and the bubbling of the water, which, in its
turn, was soon effaced, alone indicated the spot where these
two had sunk.

Mute with horror, the three friends had remained
open-mouthed, their eyes dilated, their arms extended like
statues, and, motionless as they were, the beating of their
hearts was audible. Porthos was the first who came to
himself. He tore his hair.

"Oh!" he cried, "Athos! Athos! thou man of noble heart; woe
is me! I have let thee perish!"

At this instant, in the midst of the silver circle illumined
by the light of the moon the same whirlpool which had been
made by the sinking men was again obvious, and first were
seen, rising above the waves, a wisp of hair, then a pale
face with open eyes, yet, nevertheless, the eyes of death;
then a body, which, after rising of itself even to the waist
above the sea, turned gently on its back, according to the
caprice of the waves, and floated.

In the bosom of this corpse was plunged a poniard, the gold
hilt of which shone in the moonbeams.

"Mordaunt! Mordaunt!" cried the three friends; "'tis

"But Athos!" exclaimed D'Artagnan.

Suddenly the boat leaned on one side beneath a new and
unexpected weight and Grimaud uttered a shout of joy; every
one turned around and beheld Athos, livid, his eyes dim and
his hands trembling, supporting himself on the edge of the
boat. Eight vigorous arms lifted him up immediately and laid
him in the boat, where directly Athos was warmed and
reanimated, reviving with the caresses and cares of his
friends, who were intoxicated with joy.

"You are not hurt?" asked D'Artagnan.

"No," replied Athos; "and he ---- "

"Oh, he! now we may say at last, thank Heaven! he is really
dead. Look!" and D'Artagnan, obliging Athos to look in the
direction he pointed, showed him the body of Mordaunt
floating on its back, which, sometimes submerged, sometimes
rising, seemed still to pursue the four friends with looks
of insult and mortal hatred.

At last he sank. Athos had followed him with a glance in
which the deepest melancholy and pity were expressed.

"Bravo! Athos!" cried Aramis, with an emotion very rare in

"A capital blow you gave!" cried Porthos.

"I have a son. I wished to live," said Athos.

"In short," said D'Artagnan, "this has been the will of

"It was not I who killed him," said Athos in a soft, low
tone, "'twas destiny."


How Mousqueton, after being very nearly roasted, had a Narrow
Escape of being eaten.

A deep silence reigned for a long time in the boat after the
fearful scene described.

The moon, which had shone for a short time, disappeared
behind the clouds; every object was again plunged in the
obscurity that is so awful in the deserts and still more so
in that liquid desert, the ocean, and nothing was heard save
the whistling of the west wind driving along the tops of the
crested billows.

Porthos was the first to speak.

"I have seen," he said, "many dreadful things, but nothing
that ever agitated me so much as what I have just witnessed.
Nevertheless, even in my present state of perturbation, I
protest that I feel happy. I have a hundred pounds' weight
less upon my chest. I breathe more freely." In fact, Porthos
breathed so loud as to do credit to the free play of his
powerful lungs.

"For my part," observed Aramis, "I cannot say the same as
you do, Porthos. I am still terrified to such a degree that
I scarcely believe my eyes. I look around the boat,
expecting every moment to see that poor wretch holding
between his hands the poniard plunged into his heart."

"Oh! I feel easy," replied Porthos. "The poniard was pointed
at the sixth rib and buried up to the hilt in his body. I do
not reproach you, Athos, for what you have done. On the
contrary, when one aims a blow that is the regulation way to
strike. So now, I breathe again -- I am happy!"

"Don't be in haste to celebrate a victory, Porthos,"
interposed D'Artagnan; "never have we incurred a greater
danger than we are now encountering. Men may subdue men --
they cannot overcome the elements. We are now on the sea, at
night, without any pilot, in a frail bark; should a blast of
wind upset the boat we are lost."

Mousqueton heaved a deep sigh.

"You are ungrateful, D'Artagnan," said Athos; "yes,
ungrateful to Providence, to whom we owe our safety in the
most miraculous manner. Let us sail before the wind, and
unless it changes we shall be drifted either to Calais or
Boulogne. Should our bark be upset we are five of us good
swimmers, able enough to turn it over again, or if not, to
hold on by it. Now we are on the very road which all the
vessels between Dover and Calais take, 'tis impossible but
that we should meet with a fisherman who will pick us up."

"But should we not find any fisherman and should the wind
shift to the north?"

"That," said Athos, "would be quite another thing; and we
should nevermore see land until we were upon the other side
of the Atlantic."

"Which implies that we may die of hunger," said Aramis.

"'Tis more than possible," answered the Comte de la Fere.

Mousqueton sighed again, more deeply than before.

"What is the matter? what ails you?" asked Porthos.

"I am cold, sir," said Mousqueton.

"Impossible! your body is covered with a coating of fat
which preserves it from the cold air."

"Ah! sir, 'tis this very coating of fat that makes me

"How is that, Mousqueton?

"Alas! your honor, in the library of the Chateau of Bracieux
there are a lot of books of travels."

"What then?"

"Amongst them the voyages of Jean Mocquet in the time of
Henry IV."


"In these books, your honor, 'tis told how hungry voyagers,
drifting out to sea, have a bad habit of eating each other
and beginning with ---- "

"The fattest among them!" cried D'Artagnan, unable in spite
of the gravity of the occasion to help laughing.

"Yes, sir," answered Mousqueton; "but permit me to say I see
nothing laughable in it. However," he added, turning to
Porthos, "I should not regret dying, sir, were I sure that
by doing so I might still be useful to you."

"Mouston," replied Porthos, much affected, "should we ever
see my castle of Pierrefonds again you shall have as your
own and for your descendants the vineyard that surrounds the

"And you should call it `Devotion,'" added Aramis; "the
vineyard of self-sacrifice, to transmit to latest ages the
recollection of your devotion to your master."

"Chevalier," said D'Artagnan, laughing, "you could eat a
piece of Mouston, couldn't you, especially after two or
three days of fasting?"

"Oh, no," replied Aramis, "I should much prefer Blaisois; we
haven't known him so long."

One may readily conceive that during these jokes which were
intended chiefly to divert Athos from the scene which had
just taken place, the servants, with the exception of
Grimaud, were not silent. Suddenly Mousqueton uttered a cry
of delight, taking from beneath one of the benches a bottle
of wine; and on looking more closely in the same place he
discovered a dozen similar bottles, bread, and a monster
junk of salted beef.

"Oh, sir!" he cried, passing the bottle to Porthos, "we are
saved -- the bark is supplied with provisions."

This intelligence restored every one save Athos to gayety.

"Zounds!" exclaimed Porthos, "'tis astonishing how empty
violent agitation makes the stomach."

And he drank off half a bottle at a draught and bit great
mouthfuls of the bread and meat.

"Now," said Athos, "sleep, or try to sleep, my friends, and
I will watch."

In a few moments, notwithstanding their wet clothes, the icy
blast that blew and the previous scene of terror, these
hardy adventurers, with their iron frames, inured to every
hardship, threw themselves down, intending to profit by the
advice of Athos, who sat at the helm, pensively wakeful,
guiding the little bark the way it was to go, his eyes fixed
on the heavens, as if he sought to verify not only the road
to France, but the benign aspect of protecting Providence.
After some hours of repose the sleepers were aroused by

Dawn was shedding its pallid, placid glimmer on the purple
ocean, when at the distance of a musket shot from them was
seen a dark gray mass, above which gleamed a triangular
sail; then masters and servants joined in a fervent cry to
the crew of that vessel to hear them and to save.

"A bark!" all cried together.

It was, in fact, a small craft from Dunkirk bound for

A quarter of an hour afterward the rowboat of this craft
took them all aboard. Grimaud tendered twenty guineas to the
captain, and at nine o'clock in the morning, having a fair
wind, our Frenchmen set foot on their native land.

"Egad! how strong one feels here!" said Porthos, almost
burying his large feet in the sands. "Zounds! I could defy a

"Be quiet, Porthos," said D'Artagnan, "we are observed."

"We are admired, i'faith," answered Porthos.

"These people who are looking at us are only merchants,"
said Athos, "and are looking more at the cargo than at us."

"I shall not trust to that," said the lieutenant, "and I
shall make for the Dunes* as soon as possible."

*Sandy hills about Dunkirk, from which it derives its name.

The party followed him and soon disappeared with him behind
the hillocks of sand unobserved. Here, after a short
conference, they proposed to separate.

"And why separate?" asked Athos.

"Because," answered the Gascon, "we were sent, Porthos and
I, by Cardinal Mazarin to fight for Cromwell; instead of
fighting for Cromwell we have served Charles I. -- not the
same thing by any means. In returning with the Comte de la
Fere and Monsieur d'Herblay our crime would be confirmed. We
have circumvented Cromwell, Mordaunt, and the sea, but we
shall find a certain difficulty in circumventing Mazarin."

"You forget," replied Athos, "that we consider ourselves
your prisoners and not free from the engagement we entered

"Truly, Athos," interrupted D'Artagnan, "I am vexed that
such a man as you are should talk nonsense which schoolboys
would be ashamed of. Chevalier," he continued, addressing
Aramis, who, leaning proudly on his sword, seemed to agree
with his companion, "Chevalier, Porthos and I run no risk;
besides, should any ill-luck happen to two of us, will it
not be much better that the other two should be spared to
assist those who may be apprehended? Besides, who knows
whether, divided, we may not obtain a pardon -- you from the
queen, we from Mazarin -- which, were we all four together,
would never be granted. Come, Athos and Aramis, go to the
right; Porthos, come with me to the left; these gentlemen
should file off into Normandy, whilst we, by the nearest
road, reach Paris."

He then gave his friends minute directions as to their

"Ah! my dear friend," exclaimed Athos, "how I should admire
the resources of your mind did I not stop to adore those of
your heart."

And he gave him his hand.

"Isn't this fox a genius, Athos?" asked the Gascon. "No! he
knows how to crunch fowls, to dodge the huntsman and to find
his way home by day or by night, that's all. Well, is all


"Then let's count our money and divide it. Ah! hurrah!
there's the sun! A merry morning to you, Sunshine. 'Tis a
long time since I saw thee!"

"Come, come, D'Artagnan," said Athos, "do not affect to be
strong-minded; there are tears in your eyes. Let us be open
with each other and sincere."

"What!" cried the Gascon, "do you think, Athos, we can take
leave, calmly, of two friends at a time not free from danger
to you and Aramis?"

"No," answered Athos; "embrace me, my son."

"Zounds!" said Porthos, sobbing, "I believe I'm crying; but
how foolish all this is!"

Then they embraced. At that moment their fraternal bond of
union was closer than ever, and when they parted, each to
take the route agreed on, they turned back to utter
affectionate expressions, which the echoes of the Dunes
repeated. At last they lost sight of each other.

"Sacrebleu! D'Artagnan," said Porthos, "I must out with it
at once, for I can't keep to myself anything I have against
you; I haven't been able to recognize you in this matter."

"Why not?" said D'Artagnan, with his wise smile.

"Because if, as you say, Athos and Aramis are in real
danger, this is not the time to abandon them. For my part, I
confess to you that I was all ready to follow them and am
still ready to rejoin them, in spite of all the Mazarins in
the world."

"You would be right, Porthos, but for one thing, which may
change the current of your ideas; and that is, that it is
not those gentlemen who are in the greatest danger, it is
ourselves; it is not to abandon them that we have separated,
but to avoid compromising them."

"Really?" said Porthos, opening his eyes in astonishment.

"Yes, no doubt. If they are arrested they will only be put
in the Bastile; if we are arrested it is a matter of the
Place de Greve."

"Oh! oh!" said Porthos, "there is quite a gap between that
fate and the baronial coronet you promised me, D'Artagnan."

"Bah! perhaps not so great as you think, Porthos; you know
the proverb, `All roads lead to Rome.'"

"But how is it that we are incurring greater risks than
Athos and Aramis?" asked Porthos.

"Because they have but fulfilled the mission confided to
them by Queen Henrietta and we have betrayed that confided
to us by Mazarin; because, going hence as emissaries to
Cromwell, we became partisans of King Charles; because,
instead of helping cut off the royal head condemned by those
fellows called Mazarin, Cromwell, Joyce, Bridge, Fairfax,
etc., we very nearly succeeded in saving it."

"Upon my word that is true," said Porthos; "but how can you
suppose, my dear friend, that in the midst of his great
preoccupations General Cromwell has had time to think ---- "

"Cromwell thinks of everything; Cromwell has time for
everything; and believe me, dear friend, we ought not to
lose our time -- it is precious. We shall not be safe till
we have seen Mazarin, and then ---- "

"The devil!" said Porthos; "what can we say to Mazarin?"

"Leave that to me -- I have my plan. He laughs best who
laughs last. Cromwell is mighty, Mazarin is tricky, but I
would rather have to do with them than with the late
Monsieur Mordaunt."

"Ah!" said Porthos, "it is very pleasant to be able to say
`the late Monsieur Mordaunt.'"

"My faith, yes," said D'Artagnan. "But we must be going."

The two immediately started across country toward the road
to Paris, followed by Mousqueton, who, after being too cold
all night, at the end of a quarter of an hour found himself
too warm.


The Return.

During the six weeks that Athos and Aramis had been absent
from France, the Parisians, finding themselves one morning
without either queen or king, were greatly annoyed at being
thus deserted, and the absence of Mazarin, a thing so long
desired, did not compensate for that of the two august

The first feeling that pervaded Paris on hearing of the
flight to Saint Germain, was that sort of affright which
seizes children when they awake in the night and find
themselves alone. A deputation was therefore sent to the
queen to entreat her to return to Paris; but she not only
declined to receive the deputies, but sent an intimation by
Chancellor Seguier, implying that if the parliament did not
humble itself before her majesty by negativing all the
questions that had been the cause of the quarrel, Paris
would be besieged the very next day.

This threatening answer, unluckily for the court, produced
quite a different effect to that which was intended. It
wounded the pride of the parliament, which, supported by the
citizens, replied by declaring that Cardinal Mazarin was the
cause of all the discontent; denounced him as the enemy both
of the king and the state, and ordered him to retire from
the court that same day and from France within a week
afterward; enjoining, in case of disobedience on his part,
all the subjects of the king to pursue and take him.

Mazarin being thus placed beyond the pale of the protection
of the law, preparations on both sides were commenced -- by
the queen, to attack Paris, by the citizens, to defend it.
The latter were occupied in breaking up the pavement and
stretching chains across the streets, when, headed by the
coadjutor, appeared the Prince de Conti (the brother of the
Prince de Conde) and the Duc de Longueville, his
brother-in-law. This unexpected band of auxiliaries arrived
in Paris on the tenth of January and the Prince of Conti was
named, but not until after a stormy discussion,
generalissimo of the army of the king, out of Paris.

As for the Duc de Beaufort, he arrived from Vendome,
according to the annals of the day, bringing with him his
high bearing and his long and beautiful hair, qualifications
which gained him the sovereignty of the marketplaces.

The Parisian army had organized with the promptness
characteristic of the bourgeois whenever they are moved by
any sentiment whatever to disguise themselves as soldiers.
On the nineteenth the impromptu army had attempted a sortie,
more to assure itself and others of its actual existence
than with any more serious intention. They carried a banner,
on which could be read this strange device: "We are seeking
our king."

The next following days were occupied in trivial movements
which resulted only in the carrying off of a few herds of
cattle and the burning of two or three houses.

That was still the situation of affairs up to the early days
of February. On the first day of that month our four
companions had landed at Boulogne, and, in two parties, had
set out for Paris. Toward the end of the fourth day of the
journey Athos and Aramis reached Nanterre, which place they
cautiously passed by on the outskirts, fearing that they
might encounter some troop from the queen's army.

It was against his will that Athos took these precautions,
but Aramis had very judiciously reminded him that they had
no right to be imprudent, that they had been charged by King
Charles with a supreme and sacred mission, which, received
at the foot of the scaffold, could be accomplished only at
the feet of Queen Henrietta. Upon that, Athos yielded.

On reaching the capital Athos and Aramis found it in arms.
The sentinel at the gate refused even to let them pass, and
called his sergeant.

The sergeant, with the air of importance which such people
assume when they are clad with military dignity, said:

"Who are you, gentlemen?"

"Two gentlemen."

"And where do you come from?"

"From London."

"And what are you going to do in Paris?"

"We are going with a mission to Her Majesty, the Queen of

"Ah, every one seems to be going to see the queen of
England. We have already at the station three gentlemen
whose passports are under examination, who are on their way
to her majesty. Where are your passports?"

"We have none; we left England, ignorant of the state of
politics here, having left Paris before the departure of the

"Ah!" said the sergeant, with a cunning smile, "you are
Mazarinists, who are sent as spies."

"My dear friend," here Athos spoke, "rest assured, if we
were Mazarinists we should come well prepared with every
sort of passport. In your situation distrust those who are
well provided with every formality."

"Enter the guardroom," said the sergeant; "we will lay your
case before the commandant of the post."

The guardroom was filled with citizens and common people,
some playing, some drinking, some talking. In a corner,
almost hidden from view, were three gentlemen, who had
preceded Athos and Aramis, and an officer was examining
their passports. The first impulse of these three, and of
those who last entered, was to cast an inquiring glance at
each other. The first arrivals wore long cloaks, in whose
drapery they were carefully enveloped; one of them, shorter
than the rest, remained pertinaciously in the background.

When the sergeant on entering the room announced that in all
probability he was bringing in two Mazarinists, it appeared
to be the unanimous opinion of the officers on guard that
they ought not to pass.

"Be it so," said Athos; "yet it is probable, on the
contrary, that we shall enter, because we seem to have to do
with sensible people. There seems to be only one thing to
do, which is, to send our names to Her Majesty the Queen of
England, and if she engages to answer for us I presume we
shall be allowed to enter."

On hearing these words the shortest of the other three men
seemed more attentive than ever to what was going on,
wrapping his cloak around him more carefully than before.

"Merciful goodness!" whispered Aramis to Athos, "did you

"What?" asked Athos.

"The face of the shortest of those three gentlemen?"


"He looked to me -- but 'tis impossible."

At this instant the sergeant, who had been for his orders,
returned, and pointing to the three gentlemen in cloaks,

"The passports are in order; let these three gentlemen

The three gentlemen bowed and hastened to take advantage of
this permission.

Aramis looked after them, and as the last of them passed
close to him he pressed the hand of Athos.

"What is the matter with you, my friend?" asked the latter.

"I have -- doubtless I am dreaming; tell me, sir," he said
to the sergeant, "do you know those three gentlemen who are
just gone out?"

"Only by their passports; they are three Frondists, who are
gone to rejoin the Duc de Longueville."

"'Tis strange," said Aramis, almost involuntarily; "I
fancied that I recognized Mazarin himself."

The sergeant burst into a fit of laughter.

"He!" he cried; "he venture himself amongst us, to be hung!
Not so foolish as all that."

"Ah!" muttered Athos, "I may be mistaken, I haven't the
unerring eye of D'Artagnan."

"Who is speaking of Monsieur D'Artagnan?" asked an officer
who appeared at that moment upon the threshold of the room.

"What!" cried Aramis and Athos, "what! Planchet!"

"Planchet," added Grimaud; "Planchet, with a gorget,

"Ah, gentlemen!" cried Planchet, "so you are back again in
Paris. Oh, how happy you make us! no doubt you come to join
the princes!"

"As thou seest, Planchet," said Aramis, whilst Athos smiled
on seeing what important rank was held in the city militia
by the former comrade of Mousqueton, Bazin and Grimaud.

"And Monsieur d'Artagnan, of whom you spoke just now,
Monsieur d'Herblay; may I ask if you have any news of him?"

"We parted from him four days ago and we have reason to
believe that he has reached Paris before us."

"No, sir; I am sure he hasn't yet arrived. But then he may
have stopped at Saint Germain."

"I don't think so; we appointed to meet at La Chevrette."

"I was there this very day."

"And had the pretty Madeleine no news?" asked Aramis,

"No, sir, and it must be admitted that she seemed very

"In fact," said Aramis, "there is no time lost and we made
our journey quickly. Permit me, then, my dear Athos, without
inquiring further about our friend, to pay my respects to M.

"Ah, monsieur le chevalier," said Planchet, bowing.

"Lieutenant?" asked Aramis.

"Lieutenant, with a promise of becoming captain."

"'Tis capital; and pray, how did you acquire all these

"In the first place, gentlemen, you know that I was the
means of Monsieur de Rochefort's escape; well, I was very
near being hung by Mazarin and that made me more popular
than ever."

"So, owing to your popularity ---- "

"No; thanks to something better. You know, gentlemen, that I
served the Piedmont regiment and had the honor of being a


"Well, one day when no one could drill a mob of citizens,
who began to march, some with the right foot, others with
the left, I succeeded, I did, in making them all begin with
the same foot, and I was made lieutenant on the spot."

"So I presume," said Athos, "that you have a large number of
the nobles with you?"

"Certainly. There are the Prince de Conti, the Duc de
Longueville, the Duc de Beaufort, the Duc de Bouillon, the
Marechal de la Mothe, the Marquis de Sevigne, and I don't
know who, for my part."

"And the Vicomte Raoul de Bragelonne?" inquired Athos, in a
tremulous voice. "D'Artagnan told me that he had recommended
him to your care, in parting."

"Yes, count; nor have I lost sight of him for a single
instant since."

"Then," said Athos in a tone of delight, "he is well? no
accident has happened to him?"

"None, sir."

"And he lives?"

"Still at the Hotel of the Great Charlemagne."

"And passes his time?"

"Sometimes with the queen of England, sometimes with Madame
de Chevreuse. He and the Count de Guiche are like each
other's shadows."

"Thanks, Planchet, thanks!" cried Athos, extending his hand
to the lieutenant.

"Oh, sir!" Planchet only touched the tips of the count's

"Well, what are you doing, count -- to a former lackey?

"My friend," said Athos, "he has given me news of Raoul."

"And now, gentlemen," said Planchet, who had not heard what
they were saying, "what do you intend to do?"

"Re-enter Paris, if you will let us, my good Planchet."

"Let you. sir? Now, as ever, I am nothing but your servant."
Then turning to his men:

"Allow these gentlemen to pass," he said; "they are friends
of the Duc de Beaufort."

"Long live the Duc de Beaufort!" cried the sentinels.

The sergeant drew near to Planchet.

"What! without passports?" he murmured.

"Without passports," said Planchet.

"Take notice, captain," he continued, giving Planchet his
expected title, "take notice that one of the three men who
just now went out from here told me privately to distrust
these gentlemen."

"And I," said Planchet, with dignity, "I know them and I
answer for them."

As he said this, he pressed Grimaud's hand, who seemed
honored by the distinction.

"Farewell till we meet again," said Aramis, as they took
leave of Planchet; "if anything happens to us we shall blame
you for it."

"Sir," said Planchet, "I am in all things at your service."

"That fellow is no fool," said Aramis, as he got on his

"How should he be?" replied Athos, whilst mounting also,
"seeing he was used so long to brush your hats."


The Ambassadors.

The two friends rode rapidly down the declivity of the
Faubourg, but on arriving at the bottom were surprised to
find that the streets of Paris had become rivers, and the
open places lakes; after the great rains which fell in
January the Seine had overflowed its banks and the river
inundated half the capital. The two gentlemen were obliged,
therefore, to get off their horses and take a boat; and in
that strange manner they approached the Louvre.

Night had closed in, and Paris, seen thus, by the light of
lanterns flickering on the pools of water, crowded with
ferry-boats of every kind, including those that glittered
with the armed patrols, with the watchword, passing from
post to post -- Paris presented such an aspect as to
strongly seize the senses of Aramis, a man most susceptible
to warlike impressions.

They reached the queen's apartments, but were compelled to
stop in the ante-chamber, since her majesty was at that
moment giving audience to gentlemen bringing her news from

"We, too," said Athos, to the footman who had given him that
answer, "not only bring news from England, but have just
come from there."

"What? then, are your names, gentlemen?"

"The Comte de la Fere and the Chevalier d'Herblay," said

"Ah! in that case, gentlemen," said the footman, on hearing
the names which the queen had so often pronounced with hope,
"in that case it is another thing, and I think her majesty
will pardon me for not keeping you here a moment. Please
follow me," and he went on before, followed by Athos and

On arriving at the door of the room where the queen was
receiving he made a sign for them to wait and opening the

"Madame," he said, "I hope your majesty will forgive me for
disobeying your orders, when you learn that the gentlemen I
have come to announce are the Comte de la Fere and the
Chevalier d'Herblay."

On hearing those two names the queen uttered a cry of joy,
which the two gentlemen heard.

"Poor queen!" murmured Athos.

"Oh, let them come in! let them come in," cried the young
princess, bounding to the door.

The poor child was constant in her attendance on her mother
and sought by her filial attentions to make her forget the
absence of her two sons and her other daughter.

"Come in, gentlemen," repeated the princess, opening the
door herself.

The queen was seated on a fauteuil and before her were
standing two or three gentlemen, and among them the Duc de
Chatillon, the brother of the nobleman killed eight or nine
years previously in a duel on account of Madame de
Longueville, on the Place Royale. All these gentlemen had
been noticed by Athos and Aramis in the guardhouse, and when
the two friends were announced they started and exchanged
some words in a low tone. "Well, sirs!" cried the queen, on
perceiving the two friends, "you have come, faithful
friends! But the royal couriers have been more expeditious
than you, and here are Monsieur de Flamarens and Monsieur de
Chatillon, who bring me from Her Majesty the Queen Anne of
Austria, the very latest intelligence."

Aramis and Athos were astounded by the calmness, even the
gayety of the queen's manner.

"Go on with your recital, sirs," said the queen, turning to
the Duc de Chatillon. "You said that His Majesty, King
Charles, my august consort, had been condemned to death by a
majority of his subjects!"

"Yes, madame," Chatillon stammered out.

Athos and Aramis were more and more astonished.

"And that being conducted to the scaffold," resumed the
queen -- "oh, my lord! oh, my king! -- and that being led to
the scaffold he had been saved by an indignant people."

"Just so madame," replied Chatillon, in so low a voice that
though the two friends were listening eagerly they could
hardly hear this affirmation.

The queen clasped her hands in enthusiastic gratitude,
whilst her daughter threw her arms around her mother's neck
and kissed her -- her own eyes streaming with tears.

"Now, madame, nothing remains to me except to proffer my
respectful homage," said Chatillon, who felt confused and
ashamed beneath the stern gaze of Athos.

"One moment, yes," answered the queen. "One moment -- I beg
-- for here are the Chevalier d'Herblay and the Comte de la
Fere, just arrived from London, and they can give you, as
eye-witnesses, such details as you can convey to the queen,
my royal sister. Speak, gentlemen, speak -- I am listening;
conceal nothing, gloss over nothing. Since his majesty still
lives, since the honor of the throne is safe, everything
else is a matter of indifference to me."

Athos turned pale and laid his hand on his heart.

"Well!" exclaimed the queen, who remarked this movement and
his paleness. "Speak, sir! I beg you to do so."

"I beg you to excuse me, madame; I wish to add nothing to
the recital of these gentlemen until they perceive
themselves that they have perhaps been mistaken."

"Mistaken!" cried the queen, almost suffocated by emotion;
"mistaken! what has happened, then?"

"Sir," interposed Monsieur de Flamarens to Athos, "if we are
mistaken the error has originated with the queen. I do not
suppose you will have the presumption to set it to rights --
that would be to accuse Her Majesty, Queen Anne, of

"With the queen, sir?" replied Athos, in his calm, vibrating

"Yes," murmured Flamarens, lowering his eyes.

Athos sighed deeply.

"Or rather, sir," said Aramis, with his peculiar irritating
politeness, "the error of the person who was with you when
we met you in the guardroom; for if the Comte de la Fere and
I are not mistaken, we saw you in the company of a third

Chatillon and Flamarens started.

"Explain yourself, count!" cried the queen, whose anxiety
grew greater every moment. "On your brow I read despair --
your lips falter ere you announce some terrible tidings --
your hands tremble. Oh, my God! my God! what has happened?"

"Lord!" ejaculated the young princess, falling on her knees,
"have mercy on us!"

"Sir," said Chatillon, "if you bring bad tidings it will be
cruel in you to announce them to the queen."

Aramis went so close to Chatillon as almost to touch him.

"Sir," said he, with compressed lips and flashing eyes, "you
have not the presumption to instruct the Comte de la Fere
and myself what we ought to say here?"

During this brief altercation Athos, with his hands on his
heart, his head bent low, approached the queen and in a
voice of deepest sorrow said:

"Madame, princes -- who by nature are above other men --
receive from Heaven courage to support greater misfortunes
than those of lower rank, for their hearts are elevated as
their fortunes. We ought not, therefore, I think, to act
toward a queen so illustrious as your majesty as we should
act toward a woman of our lowlier condition. Queen, destined
as you are to endure every sorrow on this earth, hear the
result of our unhappy mission."

Athos, kneeling down before the queen, trembling and very
cold, drew from his bosom, inclosed in the same case, the
order set in diamonds which the queen had given to Lord de
Winter and the wedding ring which Charles I. before his
death had placed in the hands of Aramis. Since the moment he
had first received these two mementoes Athos had never
parted with them.

He opened the case and offered them to the queen with deep
and silent anguish.

The queen stretched out her hand, seized the ring, pressed
it convulsively to her lips -- and without being able to
breathe a sigh, to give vent to a sob, she extended her
arms, became deadly pale, and fell senseless in the arms of
her attendants and her daughter.

Athos kissed the hem of the robe of the widowed queen and
rising, with a dignity that made a deep impression on those

"I, the Comte de la Fere, a gentleman who has never deceived
any human being, swear before God and before this unhappy
queen, that all that was possible to save the king of
England was done whilst we were on English ground. Now,
chevalier," he added, turning to Aramis, "let us go. Our
duty is fulfilled."

"Not yet." said Aramis; "we have still a word to say to
these gentlemen."

And turning to Chatillon: "Sir, be so good as not to go away
without giving me an opportunity to tell you something I
cannot say before the queen."

Chatillon bowed in token of assent and they all went out,
stopping at the window of a gallery on the ground floor.

"Sir," said Aramis, "you allowed yourself just now to treat
us in a most extraordinary manner. That would not be
endurable in any case, and is still less so on the part of
those who came to bring the queen the message of a liar."

"Sir!" cried De Chatillon.

"What have you done with Monsieur de Bruy? Has he by any
possibility gone to change his face which was too like that
of Monsieur de Mazarin? There is an abundance of Italian
masks at the Palais Royal, from harlequin even to

"Chevalier! chevalier!" said Athos.

"Leave me alone," said Aramis impatiently. "You know well
that I don't like to leave things half finished."

"Conclude, then, sir," answered De Chatillon, with as much
hauteur as Aramis.

"Gentlemen," resumed Aramis, "any one but the Comte de la
Fere and myself would have had you arrested -- for we have
friends in Paris -- but we are contented with another
course. Come and converse with us for just five minutes,
sword in hand, upon this deserted terrace."

"One moment, gentlemen," cried Flamarens. "I know well that
the proposition is tempting, but at present it is impossible
to accept it."

"And why not?" said Aramis, in his tone of raillery. "Is it
Mazarin's proximity that makes you so prudent?"

"Oh, you hear that, Flamarens!" said Chatillon. "Not to
reply would be a blot on my name and my honor."

"That is my opinion," said Aramis.

"You will not reply, however, and these gentlemen, I am
sure, will presently be of my opinion."

Aramis shook his head with a motion of indescribable

Chatillon saw the motion and put his hand to his sword.

"Willingly," replied De Chatillon.

"Duke," said Flamarens, "you forget that to-morrow you are
to command an expedition of the greatest importance,
projected by the prince, assented to by the queen. Until
to-morrow evening you are not at your own disposal."

"Let it be then the day after to-morrow," said Aramis.

"To-morrow, rather," said De Chatillon, "if you will take
the trouble of coming so far as the gates of Charenton."

"How can you doubt it, sir? For the pleasure of a meeting
with you I would go to the end of the world."

"Very well, to-morrow, sir."

"I shall rely on it. Are you going to rejoin your cardinal?
Swear first, on your honor, not to inform him of our


"Why not?"

"Because it is for victors to make conditions, and you are
not yet victors, gentlemen."

"Then let us draw on the spot. It is all one to us -- to us
who do not command to-morrow's expedition."

Chatillon and Flamarens looked at each other. There was such
irony in the words and in the bearing of Aramis that the
duke had great difficulty in bridling his anger, but at a
word from Flamarens he restrained himself and contented
himself with saying:

"You promise, sir -- that's agreed -- that I shall find you
to-morrow at Charenton?"

"Oh, don't be afraid, sir," replied Aramis; and the two
gentlemen shortly afterward left the Louvre.

"For what reason is all this fume and fury?" asked Athos.
"What have they done to you?"

"They -- did you not see what they did?"


"They laughed when we swore that we had done our duty in
England. Now, if they believed us, they laughed in order to
insult us; if they did not believe it they insulted us all
the more. However, I'm glad not to fight them until
to-morrow. I hope we shall have something better to do
to-night than to draw the sword."

"What have we to do?"

"Egad! to take Mazarin."

Athos curled his lip with disdain.

"These undertakings do not suit me, as you know, Aramis."


"Because it is taking people unawares."

"Really, Athos, you would make a singular general. You would
fight only by broad daylight, warn your foe before an
attack, and never attempt anything by night lest you should
be accused of taking advantage of the darkness."

Athos smiled.

"You know one cannot change his nature," he said. "Besides,
do you know what is our situation, and whether Mazarin's
arrest wouldn't be rather an encumbrance than an advantage?"

"Say at once you disapprove of my proposal."

"I think you ought to do nothing, since you exacted a
promise from these gentlemen not to let Mazarin know that we
were in France."

"I have entered into no engagement and consider myself quite
free. Come, come."


"Either to seek the Duc de Beaufort or the Duc de Bouillon,
and to tell them about this."

"Yes, but on one condition -- that we begin by the
coadjutor. He is a priest, learned in cases of conscience,
and we will tell him ours."

It was then agreed that they were to go first to Monsieur de
Bouillon, as his house came first; but first of all Athos
begged that he might go to the Hotel du Grand Charlemagne,
to see Raoul.

They re-entered the boat which had brought them to the
Louvre and thence proceeded to the Halles; and taking up
Grimaud and Blaisois, they went on foot to the Rue

But Raoul was not at the Hotel du Grand Charlemagne. He had
received a message from the prince, to whom he had hastened
with Olivain the instant he had received it.


The three Lieutenants of the Generalissimo.

The night was dark, but still the town resounded with those
noises that disclose a city in a state of siege. Athos and
Aramis did not proceed a hundred steps without being stopped
by sentinels placed before the barricades, who demanded the
watchword; and on their saying that they were going to
Monsieur de Bouillon on a mission of importance a guide was
given them under pretext of conducting them, but in fact as
a spy over their movements.

On arriving at the Hotel de Bouillon they came across a
little troop of three cavaliers, who seemed to know every
possible password; for they walked without either guide or
escort, and on arriving at the barricades had nothing to do
but to speak to those who guarded them, who instantly let
them pass with evident deference, due probably to their high

On seeing them Athos and Aramis stood still.

"Oh!" cried Aramis, "do you see, count?"

"Yes," said Athos.

"Who do these three cavaliers appear to you to be?"

"What do you think, Aramis?"

"Why, they are our men."

"You are not mistaken; I recognize Monsieur de Flamarens."

"And I, Monsieur de Chatillon."

"As to the cavalier in the brown cloak ---- "

"It is the cardinal."

"In person."

"How the devil do they venture so near the Hotel de

Athos smiled, but did not reply. Five minutes afterward they
knocked at the prince's door.

This door was guarded by a sentinel and there was also a
guard placed in the courtyard, ready to obey the orders of
the Prince de Conti's lieutenant.

Monsieur de Bouillon had the gout, but notwithstanding his
illness, which had prevented his mounting on horseback for
the last month ---that is, since Paris had been besieged --
he was ready to receive the Comte de la Fere and the
Chevalier d'Herblay.

He was in bed, but surrounded with all the paraphernalia of
war. Everywhere were swords, pistols, cuirasses, and
arquebuses, and it was plain that as soon as his gout was
better Monsieur de Bouillon would give a pretty tangle to
the enemies of the parliament to unravel. Meanwhile, to his
great regret, as he said, he was obliged to keep his bed.

"Ah, gentlemen," he cried, as the two friends entered, "you
are very happy! you can ride, you can go and come and fight
for the cause of the people. But I, as you see, am nailed to
my bed -- ah! this demon, gout -- this demon, gout!"

"My lord," said Athos, "we are just arrived from England and
our first concern is to inquire after your health."

"Thanks, gentlemen, thanks! As you see, my health is but
indifferent. But you come from England. And King Charles is
well, as I have just heard?"

"He is dead, my lord!" said Aramis.

"Pooh!" said the duke, too much astonished to believe it

"Dead on the scaffold; condemned by parliament."


"And executed in our presence."

"What, then, has Monsieur de Flamarens been telling me?"

"Monsieur de Flamarens?"

"Yes, he has just gone out."

Athos smiled. "With two companions?" he said.

"With two companions, yes," replied the duke. Then he added
with a certain uneasiness, "Did you meet them?"

"Why, yes, I think so -- in the street," said Athos; and he
looked smilingly at Aramis, who looked at him with an
expression of surprise.

"The devil take this gout!" cried Monsieur de Bouillon,
evidently ill at ease.

"My lord," said Athos, "we admire your devotion to the cause
you have espoused, in remaining at the head of the army
whilst so ill, in so much pain."

"One must," replied Monsieur de Bouillon, "sacrifice one's
comfort to the public good; but I confess to you I am now
almost exhausted. My spirit is willing, my head is clear,
but this demon, the gout, o'ercrows me. I confess, if the
court would do justice to my claims and give the head of my
house the title of prince, and if my brother De Turenne were
reinstated in his command I would return to my estates and
leave the court and parliament to settle things between
themselves as they might."

"You are perfectly right, my lord."

"You think so? At this very moment the court is making
overtures to me; hitherto I have repulsed them; but since
such men as you assure me that I am wrong in doing so, I've
a good mind to follow your advice and to accept a
proposition made to me by the Duc de Chatillon just now."

"Accept it, my lord, accept it," said Aramis.

"Faith! yes. I am even sorry that this evening I almost
repulsed -- but there will be a conference to-morrow and we
shall see."

The two friends saluted the duke.

"Go, gentlemen," he said; "you must be much fatigued after
your voyage. Poor King Charles! But, after all, he was
somewhat to blame in all that business and we may console
ourselves with the reflection that France has no cause of
reproach in the matter and did all she could to serve him."

"Oh! as to that," said Aramis, "we are witnesses. Mazarin
especially ---- "

"Yes, do you know, I am very glad to hear you give that
testimony; the cardinal has some good in him, and if he were
not a foreigner -- well, he would be more justly estimated.
Oh! the devil take this gout!"

Athos and Aramis took their leave, but even in the
ante-chamber they could still hear the duke's cries; he was
evidently suffering the tortures of the damned.

When they reached the street, Aramis said:

"Well, Athos, what do you think?"

"Of whom?"

"Pardieu! of Monsieur de Bouillon."

"My friend, I think that he is much troubled with gout."

"You noticed that I didn't breathe a word as to the purpose
of our visit?"

"You did well; you would have caused him an access of his
disease. Let us go to Monsieur de Beaufort."

The two friends went to the Hotel de Vendome. It was ten
o'clock when they arrived. The Hotel de Vendome was not less
guarded than the Hotel de Bouillon, and presented as warlike
an appearance. There were sentinels, a guard in the court,
stacks of arms, and horses saddled. Two horsemen going out
as Athos and Aramis entered were obliged to give place to

"Ah! ah! gentlemen," said Aramis, "decidedly it is a night
for meetings. We shall be very unfortunate if, after meeting
so often this evening, we should not succeed in meeting

"Oh, as to that, sir," replied Chatillon (for it was he who,
with Flamarens, was leaving the Duc de Beaufort), "you may
be assured; for if we meet by night without seeking each
other, much more shall we meet by day when wishing it."

"I hope that is true," said Aramis.

"As for me, I am sure of it," said the duke.

De Flamarens and De Chatillon continued on their way and
Athos and Aramis dismounted.

Hardly had they given the bridles of their horses to their
lackeys and rid themselves of their cloaks when a man
approached them, and after looking at them for an instant by
the doubtful light of the lantern hung in the centre of the
courtyard he uttered an exclamation of joy and ran to
embrace them.

"Comte de la Fere!" the man cried out; "Chevalier d'Herblay!
How does it happen that you are in Paris?"

"Rochefort!" cried the two friends.

"Yes! we arrived four or five days ago from the Vendomois,
as you know, and we are going to give Mazarin something to
do. You are still with us, I presume?"

"More than ever. And the duke?"

"Furious against the cardinal. You know his success -- our
dear duke? He is really king of Paris; he can't go out
without being mobbed by his admirers."

"Ah! so much the better! Can we have the honor of seeing his

"I shall be proud to present you," and Rochefort walked on.
Every door was opened to him. Monsieur de Beaufort was at
supper, but he rose quickly on hearing the two friends

"Ah!" he cried, "by Jove! you're welcome, sirs. You are
coming to sup with me, are you not? Boisgoli, tell Noirmont
that I have two guests. You know Noirmont, do you not? The
successor of Father Marteau who makes the excellent pies you
know of. Boisgoli, let him send one of his best, but not
such a one as he made for La Ramee. Thank God! we don't want
either rope ladders or gag-pears now."

"My lord," said Athos, "do not let us disturb you. We came
merely to inquire after your health and to take your

"As to my health, since it has stood five years of prison,
with Monsieur de Chavigny to boot, 'tis excellent! As to my
orders, since every one gives his own commands in our party,
I shall end, if this goes on, by giving none at all."

"In short, my lord," said Athos, glancing at Aramis, "your
highness is discontented with your party?"

"Discontented, sir! say my highness is furious! To such a
degree, I assure you, though I would not say so to others,
that if the queen, acknowledging the injuries she has done
me, would recall my mother and give me the reversion of the
admiralty, which belonged to my father and was promised me
at his death, well! it would not be long before I should be
training dogs to say that there were greater traitors in
France than the Cardinal Mazarin!"

At this Athos and Aramis could not help exchanging not only
a look but a smile; and had they not known it for a fact,
this would have told them that De Chatillon and De Flamarens
had been there.

"My lord," said Athos, "we are satisfied; we came here only
to express our loyalty and to say that we are at your
lordship's service and his most faithful servants."

"My most faithful friends, gentlemen, my most faithful
friends; you have proved it. And if ever I am reconciled
with the court I shall prove to you, I hope, that I remain
your friend, as well as that of -- what the devil are their
names -- D'Artagnan and Porthos?"

"D'Artagnan and Porthos."

"Ah, yes. You understand, then, Comte de la Fere, you
understand, Chevalier d'Herblay, that I am altogether and
always at your service."

Athos and Aramis bowed and went out.

"My dear Athos," cried Aramis, "I think you consented to
accompany me only to give me a lesson -- God forgive me!"

"Wait a little, Aramis; it will be time for you to perceive
my motive when we have paid our visit to the coadjutor."

"Let us then go to the archiepiscopal palace," said Aramis.

They directed their horses to the city. On arriving at the
cradle from which Paris sprang they found it inundated with
water, and it was again necessary to take a boat. The palace
rose from the bosom of the water, and to see the number of
boats around it one would have fancied one's self not in
Paris, but in Venice. Some of these boats were dark and
mysterious, others noisy and lighted up with torches. The
friends slid in through this congestion of embarkation and
landed in their turn. The palace was surrounded with water,
but a kind of staircase had been fixed to the lower walls;
and the only difference was, that instead of entering by the
doors, people entered by the windows.

Thus did Athos and Aramis make their appearance in the
ante-chamber, where about a dozen noblemen were collected in

"Good heavens!" said Aramis to Athos, "does the coadjutor
intend to indulge himself in the pleasure of making us cool
our hearts off in his ante-chamber?"

"My dear friend, we must take people as we find them. The
coadjutor is at this moment one of the seven kings of Paris,
and has a court. Let us send in our names, and if he does
not send us a suitable message we will leave him to his own
affairs or those of France. Let us call one of these
lackeys, with a demi-pistole in the left hand."

"Exactly so," cried Aramis. "Ah! if I'm not mistaken here's
Bazin. Come here, fellow."

Bazin, who was crossing the ante-chamber majestically in his
clerical dress, turned around to see who the impertinent
gentleman was who thus addressed him; but seeing his friends
he went up to them quickly and expressed delight at seeing

"A truce to compliments," said Aramis; "we want to see the
coadjutor, and instantly, as we are in haste."

"Certainly, sir -- it is not such lords as you are who are
allowed to wait in the ante-chamber, only just now he has a
secret conference with Monsieur de Bruy."

"De Bruy!" cried the friends, "'tis then useless our seeing
monsieur the coadjutor this evening," said Aramis, "so we
give it up."

And they hastened to quit the palace, followed by Bazin, who
was lavish of bows and compliments.

"Well," said Athos, when Aramis and he were in the boat
again, "are you beginning to be convinced that we should
have done a bad turn to all these people in arresting

"You are wisdom incarnate, Athos," Aramis replied.

What had especially been observed by the two friends was the
little interest taken by the court of France in the terrible
events which had occurred in England, which they thought
should have arrested the attention of all Europe.

In fact, aside from a poor widow and a royal orphan who wept
in the corner of the Louvre, no one appeared to be aware
that Charles I. had ever lived and that he had perished on
the scaffold.

The two friends made an appointment for ten o'clock on the
following day; for though the night was well advanced when
they reached the door of the hotel, Aramis said that he had
certain important visits to make and left Athos to enter

At ten o'clock the next day they met again. Athos had been
out since six o'clock.

"Well, have you any news?" Athos asked.

"Nothing. No one has seen D'Artagnan and Porthos has, not
appeared. Have you anything?"


"The devil!" said Aramis.

"In fact," said Athos, "this delay is not natural; they took
the shortest route and should have arrived before we did."

"Add to that D'Artagnan's rapidity in action and that he is
not the man to lose an hour, knowing that we were expecting

"He expected, you will remember, to be here on the fifth."

"And here we are at the ninth. This evening the margin of
possible delay expires."

"What do you think should be done," asked Athos. "if we have
no news of them to-night?"

"Pardieu! we must go and look for them."

"All right," said Athos.

"But Raoul?" said Aramis.

A light cloud passed over the count's face.

"Raoul gives me much uneasiness," he said. "He received
yesterday a message from the Prince de Conde; he went to
meet him at Saint Cloud and has not returned."

"Have you seen Madame de Chevreuse?"

"She was not at home. And you, Aramis, you were going, I
think, to visit Madame de Longueville."

"I did go there."


"She was no longer there, but she had left her new address."

"Where was she?"

"Guess; I give you a thousand chances."

"How should I know where the most beautiful and active of
the Frondists was at midnight? for I presume it was when you
left me that you went to visit her."

"At the Hotel de Ville, my dear fellow."

"What! at the Hotel de Ville? Has she, then, been appointed
provost of merchants?"

"No; but she has become queen of Paris, ad interim, and
since she could not venture at once to establish herself in
the Palais Royal or the Tuileries, she is installed at the
Hotel de Ville, where she is on the point of giving an heir
or an heiress to that dear duke."

"You didn't tell me of that, Aramis."

"Really? It was my forgetfulness then; pardon me."

"Now," asked Athos, "what are we to do with ourselves till
evening? Here we are without occupation, it seems to me."

"You forget, my friend, that we have work cut out for us in
the direction of Charenton; I hope to see Monsieur de
Chatillon, whom I've hated for a long time, there."

"Why have you hated him?"

"Because he is the brother of Coligny."

"Ah, true! he who presumed to be a rival of yours, for which
he was severely punished; that ought to satisfy you."

"'Yes, but it does not; I am rancorous -- the only stigma
that proves me to be a churchman. Do you understand? You
understand that you are in no way obliged to go with me."

"Come, now," said Athos, "you are joking."

"In that case, my dear friend, if you are resolved to
accompany me there is no time to lose; the drum beats; I
observed cannon on the road; I saw the citizens in order of
battle on the Place of the Hotel de Ville; certainly the
fight will be in the direction of Charenton, as the Duc de
Chatillon said."

"I supposed," said Athos, "that last night's conferences
would modify those warlike arrangements."

"No doubt; but they will fight, none the less, if only to
mask the conferences."

"Poor creatures!" said Athos, "who are going to be killed,
in order that Monsieur de Bouillon may have his estate at
Sedan restored to him, that the reversion of the admiralty
may be given to the Duc de Beaufort, and that the coadjutor
may be made a cardinal."

"Come, come, dear Athos, confess that you would not be so
philosophical if your Raoul were to be involved in this

"Perhaps you speak the truth, Aramis."

"Well, let us go, then, where the fighting is, for that is
the most likely place to meet with D'Artagnan, Porthos, and
possibly even Raoul. Stop, there are a fine body of citizens
passing; quite attractive, by Jupiter! and their captain --
see! he has the true military style."

"What, ho!" said Grimaud.

"What?" asked Athos.

"Planchet, sir."

"Lieutenant yesterday," said Aramis, "captain to-day,
colonel, doubtless, to-morrow; in a fortnight the fellow
will be marshal of France."

"Question him about the fight," said Athos.

Planchet, prouder than ever of his new duties, deigned to
explain to the two gentlemen that he was ordered to take up
his position on the Place Royale with two hundred men,
forming the rear of the army of Paris, and to march on
Charenton when necessary.

"This day will be a warm one," said Planchet, in a warlike

"No doubt," said Aramis, "but it is far from here to the

"Sir, the distance will be diminished," said a subordinate.

Aramis saluted, then turning toward Athos:

"I don't care to camp on the Place Royale with all these
people," he said. "Shall we go forward? We shall see better
what is going on."

"And then Monsieur de Chatillon will not come to the Place
Royale to look for you. Come, then, my friend, we will go

"Haven't you something to say to Monsieur de Flamarens on
your own account?"

"My friend," said Athos, "I have made a resolution never to
draw my sword save when it is absolutely necessary."

"And how long ago was that?"

"When I last drew my poniard."

"Ah! Good! another souvenir of Monsieur Mordaunt. Well, my
friend, nothing now is lacking except that you should feel
remorse for having killed that fellow."

"Hush!" said Athos, putting a finger on his lips, with the
sad smile peculiar to him; "let us talk no more of Mordaunt
-- it will bring bad luck." And Athos set forward toward
Charenton, followed closely by Aramis.


The Battle of Charenton.

As Athos and Aramis proceeded, and passed different
companies on the road, they became aware that they were
arriving near the field of battle.

"Ah! my friend!" cried Athos, suddenly, "where have you
brought us? I fancy I perceive around us faces of different
officers in the royal army; is not that the Duc de Chatillon
himself coming toward us with his brigadiers?"

"Good-day, sirs," said the duke, advancing; "you are puzzled
by what you see here, but one word will explain everything.
There is now a truce and a conference. The prince, Monsieur
de Retz, the Duc de Beaufort, the Duc de Bouillon, are
talking over public affairs. Now one of two things must
happen: either matters will not be arranged, or they will be
arranged, in which last case I shall be relieved of my
command and we shall still meet again."

"Sir," said Aramis, "you speak to the point. Allow me to ask
you a question: Where are the plenipotentiaries?"

"At Charenton, in the second house on the right on entering
from the direction of Paris."

"And was this conference arranged beforehand?"

"No, gentlemen, it seems to be the result of certain
propositions which Mazarin made last night to the

Athos and Aramis exchanged smiles; for they well knew what
those propositions were, to whom they had been made and who
had made them.

"And that house in which the plenipotentiaries are," asked
Athos, "belongs to ---- "

"To Monsieur de Chanleu, who commands your troops at
Charenton. I say your troops, for I presume that you
gentlemen are Frondeurs?"

"Yes, almost," said Aramis.

"We are for the king and the princes," added Athos.

"We must understand each other," said the duke. "The king is
with us and his generals are the Duke of Orleans and the
Prince de Conde, although I must add 'tis almost impossible
now to know to which party any one belongs."

"Yes," answered Athos, "but his right place is in our ranks,
with the Prince de Conti, De Beaufort, D'Elbeuf, and De
Bouillon; but, sir, supposing that the conference is broken
off -- are you going to try to take Charenton?"

"Such are my orders."

"Sir, since you command the cavalry ---- "

"Pardon me, I am commander-in-chief."

"So much the better. You must know all your officers -- I
mean those more distinguished."

"Why, yes, very nearly."

"Will you then kindly tell me if you have in your command
the Chevalier d'Artagnan, lieutenant in the musketeers?"

"No, sir, he is not with us; he left Paris more than six
weeks ago and is believed to have gone on a mission to

"I knew that, but I supposed he had returned."

"No, sir; no one has seen him. I can answer positively on
that point, for the musketeers belong to our forces and
Monsieur de Cambon, the substitute for Monsieur d'Artagnan,
still holds his place."

The two friends looked at each other.

"You see," said Athos.

"It is strange," said Aramis.

"It is absolutely certain that some misfortune has happened
to them on the way."

"If we have no news of them this evening, to-morrow we must

Athos nodded affirmatively, then turning:

"And Monsieur de Bragelonne, a young man fifteen years of
age, attached to the Prince de Conde -- has he the honor of
being known to you?" diffident in allowing the sarcastic
Aramis to perceive how strong were his paternal feelings.

"Yes, surely, he came with the prince; a charming young man;
he is one of your friends then, monsieur le comte?"

"Yes, sir," answered Athos, agitated; "so much so that I
wish to see him if possible."

"Quite possible, sir; do me the favor to accompany me and I
will conduct you to headquarters."

"Halloo, there!" cried Aramis, turning around; "what a noise
behind us!"

"A body of cavaliers is coming toward us," said Chatillon.

"I recognize the coadjutor by his Frondist hat."

"And I the Duc de Beaufort by his white plume of ostrich

"They are coming, full gallop; the prince is with them --
ah! he is leaving them!"

"They are beating the rappel!" cried Chatillon; "we must
discover what is going on."

In fact, they saw the soldiers running to their arms; the
trumpets sounded; the drums beat; the Duc de Beaufort drew
his sword. On his side the prince sounded a rappel and all
the officers of the royalist army, mingling momentarily with
the Parisian troops, ran to him.

"Gentlemen," cried Chatillon, "the truce is broken, that is
evident; they are going to fight; go, then, into Charenton,
for I shall begin in a short time -- there's a signal from
the prince!"

The cornet of a troop had in fact just raised the standard
of the prince.

"Farewell, till the next time we meet," cried Chatillon, and
he set off, full gallop.

Athos and Aramis turned also and went to salute the
coadjutor and the Duc de Beaufort. As to the Duc de
Bouillon, he had such a fit of gout as obliged him to return
to Paris in a litter; but his place was well filled by the
Duc d'Elbeuf and his four sons, ranged around him like a
staff. Meantime, between Charenton and the royal army was
left a space which looked ready to serve as a last resting
place for the dead.

"Gentlemen," cried the coadjutor, tightening his sash, which
he wore, after the fashion of the ancient military prelates,
over his archiepiscopal simar, "there's the enemy
approaching. Let us save them half of their journey."

And without caring whether he were followed or not he set
off; his regiment, which bore the name of the regiment of
Corinth, from the name of his archbishopric, darted after
him and began the fight. Monsieur de Beaufort sent his
cavalry, toward Etampes and Monsieur de Chanleu, who
defended the place, was ready to resist an assault, or if
the enemy were repulsed, to attempt a sortie.

The battle soon became general and the coadjutor performed
miracles of valor. His proper vocation had always been the
sword and he was delighted whenever he could draw it from
the scabbard, no matter for whom or against whom.

Chanleu, whose fire at one time repulsed the royal regiment,
thought that the moment was come to pursue it; but it was
reformed and led again to the charge by the Duc de Chatillon
in person. This charge was so fierce, so skillfully
conducted, that Chanleu was almost surrounded. He commanded
a retreat, which began, step by step, foot by foot;
unhappily, in an instant he fell, mortally wounded. De
Chatillon saw him fall and announced it in a loud voice to
his men, which raised their spirits and completely
disheartened their enemies, so that every man thought only
of his own safety and tried to gain the trenches, where the
coadjutor was trying to reform his disorganized regiment.

Suddenly a squadron of cavalry galloped up to encounter the
royal troops, who were entering, pele-mele, the
intrenchments with the fugitives. Athos and Aramis charged
at the head of their squadrons; Aramis with sword and pistol
in his hands, Athos with his sword in his scabbard, his
pistol in his saddle-bags; calm and cool as if on the
parade, except that his noble and beautiful countenance
became sad as he saw slaughtered so many men who were
sacrificed on the one side to the obstinacy of royalty and
on the other to the personal rancor of the princes. Aramis,
on the contrary, struck right and left and was almost
delirious with excitement. His bright eyes kindled, and his
mouth, so finely formed, assumed a wicked smile; every blow
he aimed was sure, and his pistol finished the deed --
annihilated the wounded wretch who tried to rise again.

On the opposite side two cavaliers, one covered with a gilt
cuirass, the other wearing simply a buff doublet, from which

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