Part 7 out of 20
meet soon, I trust, in Paris, where you shall have your
revenge." The duke, as he spoke, kissed his hand, spurred
his horse into a gallop and disappeared, followed by his
troop, who were soon lost in distance and darkness.
D'Artagnan and Porthos were now alone with a man who held by
the bridles two horses; they thought it was Mousqueton and
went up to him.
"What do I see?" cried the lieutenant. "Grimaud, is it
Grimaud signified that he was not mistaken.
"And whose horses are these?" cried D'Artagnan.
"Who has given them to us?" said Porthos.
"The Comte de la Fere."
"Athos! Athos!" muttered D'Artagnan; "you think of every
one; you are indeed a nobleman! Whither art thou going,
"To join the Vicomte de Bragelonne in Flanders, your honor."
They were taking the road toward Paris, when groans, which
seemed to proceed from a ditch, attracted their attention.
"What is that?" asked D'Artagnan.
"It is I -- Mousqueton," said a mournful voice, whilst a sort
of shadow arose out of the side of the road.
Porthos ran to him. "Art thou dangerously wounded, my dear
Mousqueton?" he said.
"No, sir, but I am severely."
"What can we do?" said D'Artagnan; "we must return to
"I will take care of Mousqueton," said Grimaud; and he gave
his arm to his old comrade, whose eyes were full of tears,
nor could Grimaud tell whether the tears were caused by
wounds or by the pleasure of seeing him again.
D'Artagnan and Porthos went on, meantime, to Paris. They
were passed by a sort of courier, covered with dust, the
bearer of a letter from the duke to the cardinal, giving
testimony to the valor of D'Artagnan and Porthos.
Mazarin had passed a very bad night when this letter was
brought to him, announcing that the duke was free and that
he would henceforth raise up mortal strife against him.
"What consoles me," said the cardinal after reading the
letter, "is that, at least, in this chase, D'Artagnan has
done me one good turn -- he has destroyed Broussel. This
Gascon is a precious fellow; even his misadventures are of
The cardinal referred to that man whom D'Artagnan upset at
the corner of the Cimetiere Saint Jean in Paris, and who was
no other than the Councillor Broussel.
The four old Friends prepare to meet again.
"Well," said Porthos, seated in the courtyard of the Hotel
de la Chevrette, to D'Artagnan, who, with a long and
melancholy face, had returned from the Palais Royal; "did he
receive you ungraciously, my dear friend?"
"I'faith, yes! a brute, that cardinal. What are you eating
"I am dipping a biscuit in a glass of Spanish wine; do the
"You are right. Gimblou, a glass of wine."
"Well, how has all gone off?"
"Zounds! you know there's only one way of saying things, so
I went in and said, `My lord, we were not the strongest
"`Yes, I know that,' he said, `but give me the particulars.'
"You know, Porthos, I could not give him the particulars
without naming our friends; to name them would be to commit
them to ruin, so I merely said they were fifty and we were
"`There was firing, nevertheless, I heard,' he said; `and
your swords -- they saw the light of day, I presume?'
"`That is, the night, my lord,' I answered.
"`Ah!' cried the cardinal, `I thought you were a Gascon, my
"`I am a Gascon,' said I, `only when I succeed.' The answer
pleased him and he laughed.
"`That will teach me,' he said, `to have my guards provided
with better horses; for if they had been able to keep up
with you and if each one of them had done as much as you and
your friend, you would have kept your word and would have
brought him back to me dead or alive.'"
"Well, there's nothing bad in that, it seems to me," said
"Oh, mon Dieu! no, nothing at all. It was the way in which
he spoke. It is incredible how these biscuit soak up wine!
They are veritable sponges! Gimblou, another bottle."
The bottle was brought with a promptness which showed the
degree of consideration D'Artagnan enjoyed in the
establishment. He continued:
"So I was going away, but he called me back.
"`You have had three horses foundered or killed?' he asked
"`Yes, my lord.'
"`How much were they worth?'"
"Why," said Porthos, "that was very good of him, it seems to
"`A thousand pistoles,' I said."
"A thousand pistoles!" Porthos exclaimed. "Oh! oh! that is a
large sum. If he knew anything about horses he would dispute
"Faith! he was very much inclined to do so, the contemptible
fellow. He made a great start and looked at me. I also
looked at him; then he understood, and putting his hand into
a drawer, he took from it a quantity of notes on a bank in
"For a thousand pistoles?"
"For a thousand pistoles -- just that amount, the beggar;
not one too many."
"And you have them?"
"They are here."
"Upon my word, I think he acted very generously."
"Generously! to men who had risked their lives for him, and
besides had done him a great service?"
"A great service -- what was that?"
"Why, it seems that I crushed for him a parliament
"What! that little man in black that you upset at the corner
of Saint Jean Cemetery?"
"That's the man, my dear fellow; he was an annoyance to the
cardinal. Unfortunately, I didn't crush him flat. It seems
that he came to himself and that he will continue to be an
"See that, now!" said Porthos; "and I turned my horse aside
from going plump on to him! That will be for another time."
"He owed me for the councillor, the pettifogger!"
"But," said Porthos, "if he was not crushed completely ----
"Ah! Monsieur de Richelieu would have said, `Five hundred
crowns for the councillor.' Well, let's say no more about
it. How much were your animals worth, Porthos?"
"Ah, if poor Mousqueton were here he could tell you to a
"No matter; you can tell within ten crowns."
"Why, Vulcan and Bayard cost me each about two hundred
pistoles, and putting Phoebus at a hundred and fifty, we
should be pretty near the amount."
"There will remain, then, four hundred and fifty pistoles,"
said D'Artagnan, contentedly.
"Yes," said Porthos, "but there are the equipments."
"That is very true. Well, how much for the equipments?"
"If we say one hundred pistoles for the three ---- "
"Good for the hundred pistoles; there remains, then, three
hundred and fifty."
Porthos made a sign of assent.
"We will give the fifty pistoles to the hostess for our
expenses," said D'Artagnan, "and share the three hundred."
"We will share," said Porthos.
"A paltry piece of business!" murmured D'Artagnan crumpling
"Pooh!" said Porthos, "it is always that. But tell me ---- "
"Didn't he speak of me in any way?"
"Ah! yes, indeed!" cried D'Artagnan, who was afraid of
disheartening his friend by telling him that the cardinal
had not breathed a word about him; "yes, surely, he said
"He said?" resumed Porthos.
"Stop, I want to remember his exact words. He said, `As to
your friend, tell him he may sleep in peace.'"
"Good, very good," said Porthos; "that signified as clear as
daylight that he still intends to make me a baron."
At this moment nine o'clock struck. D'Artagnan started.
"Ah, yes," said Porthos, "there is nine o'clock. We have a
rendezvous, you remember, at the Place Royale."
"Ah! stop! hold your peace, Porthos, don't remind me of it;
'tis that which has made me so cross since yesterday. I
shall not go."
"Why?" asked Porthos.
"Because it is a grievous thing for me to meet again those
two men who caused the failure of our enterprise."
"And yet," said Porthos, "neither of them had any advantage
over us. I still had a loaded pistol and you were in full
fight, sword in hand."
"Yes," said D'Artagnan; "but what if this rendezvous had
some hidden purpose?"
"Oh!" said Porthos, "you can't think that, D'Artagnan!"
D'Artagnan did not believe Athos to be capable of a
deception, but he sought an excuse for not going to the
"We must go," said the superb lord of Bracieux, "lest they
should say we were afraid. We who have faced fifty foes on
the high road can well meet two in the Place Royale."
"Yes, yes, but they took part with the princes without
apprising us of it. Athos and Aramis have played a game with
me which alarms me. We discovered yesterday the truth; what
is the use of going to-day to learn something else?"
"You really have some distrust, then?" said Porthos.
"Of Aramis, yes, since he has become an abbe. You can't
imagine, my dear fellow, the sort of man he is. He sees us
on the road which leads him to a bishopric, and perhaps will
not be sorry to get us out of his way."
"Ah, as regards Aramis, that is another thing," said
Porthos, "and it wouldn't surprise me at all."
"Perhaps Monsieur de Beaufort will try, in his turn, to lay
hands on us."
"Nonsense! He had us in his power and he let us go. Besides
we can be on our guard; let us take arms, let Planchet post
himself behind us with his carbine."
"Planchet is a Frondeur," answered D'Artagnan.
"Devil take these civil wars! one can no more now reckon on
one's friends than on one's footmen," said Porthos. "Ah! if
Mousqueton were here! there's a fellow who will never desert
"So long as you are rich! Ah! my friend! 'tis not civil war
that disunites us. It is that we are each of us twenty years
older; it is that the honest emotions of youth have given
place to suggestions of interest, whispers of ambition,
counsels of selfishness. Yes, you are right; let us go,
Porthos, but let us go well armed; were we not to keep the
rendezvous, they would declare we were afraid. Halloo!
Planchet! here! saddle our horses, take your carbine."
"Whom are we going to attack, sir?"
"No one; a mere matter of precaution," answered the Gascon.
"You know, sir, that they wished to murder that good
councillor, Broussel, the father of the people?"
"Really, did they?" said D'Artagnan.
"Yes, but he has been avenged. He was carried home in the
arms of the people. His house has been full ever since. He
has received visits from the coadjutor, from Madame de
Longueville, and the Prince de Conti; Madame de Chevreuse
and Madame de Vendome have left their names at his door. And
now, whenever he wishes ---- "
"Well, whenever he wishes?"
Planchet began to sing:
"Un vent de fronde
S'est leve ce matin;
Je crois qu'il gronde
Contre le Mazarin.
Un vent de fronde
S'est leve ce matin."
"It doesn't surprise me," said D'Artagnan, in a low tone to
Porthos, "that Mazarin would have been much better satisfied
had I crushed the life out of his councillor."
"You understand, then, monsieur," resumed Planchet, "that if
it were for some enterprise like that undertaken against
Monsieur Broussel that you should ask me to take my carbine
"No, don't be alarmed; but where did you get all these
"From a good source, sir; I heard it from Friquet."
"From Friquet? I know that name ---- "
"A son of Monsieur de Broussel's servant, and a lad that, I
promise you, in a revolt will not give away his share to the
"Is he not a singing boy at Notre Dame?" asked D'Artagnan.
"Yes, that is the very boy; he's patronized by Bazin."
"Ah, yes, I know."
"Of what importance is this little reptile to you?" asked
"Gad!" replied D'Artagnan; "he has already given me good
information and he may do the same again."
Whilst all this was going on, Athos and Aramis were entering
Paris by the Faubourg St. Antoine. They had taken some
refreshment on the road and hastened on, that they might not
fail at the appointed place. Bazin was their only attendant,
for Grimaud had stayed behind to take care of Mousqueton. As
they were passing onward, Athos proposed that they should
lay aside their arms and military costume, and assume a
dress more suited to the city.
"Oh, no, dear count!" cried Aramis, "is it not a warlike
encounter that we are going to?"
"What do you mean, Aramis?"
"That the Place Royale is the termination to the main road
to Vendomois, and nothing else."
"What! our friends?"
"Are become our most dangerous enemies, Athos. Let us be on
"Oh! my dear D'Herblay!"
"Who can say whether D'Artagnan may not have betrayed us to
the cardinal? who can tell whether Mazarin may not take
advantage of this rendezvous to seize us?"
"What! Aramis, you think that D'Artagnan, that Porthos,
would lend their hands to such an infamy?"
"Among friends, my dear Athos, no, you are right; but among
enemies it would be only a stratagem."
Athos crossed his arms and bowed his noble head.
"What can you expect, Athos? Men are so made; and we are not
always twenty years old. We have cruelly wounded, as you
know, that personal pride by which D'Artagnan is blindly
governed. He has been beaten. Did you not observe his
despair on the journey? As to Porthos, his barony was
perhaps dependent on that affair. Well, he found us on his
road and will not be baron this time. Perhaps that famous
barony will have something to do with our interview this
evening. Let us take our precautions, Athos."
"But suppose they come unarmed? What a disgrace to us."
"Oh, never fear! besides, if they do, we can easily make an
excuse; we came straight off a journey and are insurgents,
"An excuse for us! to meet D'Artagnan with a false excuse!
to have to make a false excuse to Porthos! Oh, Aramis!"
continued Athos, shaking his head mournfully, "upon my soul,
you make me the most miserable of men; you disenchant a
heart not wholly dead to friendship. Go in whatever guise
you choose; for my part, I shall go unarmed."
"No, for I will not allow you to do so. 'Tis not one man,
not Athos only, not the Comte de la Fere whom you will ruin
by this amiable weakness, but a whole party to whom you
belong and who depend upon you."
"Be it so then," replied Athos, sorrowfully.
And they pursued their road in mournful silence.
Scarcely had they reached by the Rue de la Mule the iron
gate of the Place Royale, when they perceived three
cavaliers, D'Artagnan, Porthos, and Planchet, the two former
wrapped up in their military cloaks under which their swords
were hidden, and Planchet, his musket by his side. They were
waiting at the entrance of the Rue Sainte Catharine, and
their horses were fastened to the rings of the arcade.
Athos, therefore, commanded Bazin to fasten up his horse and
that of Aramis in the same manner.
They then advanced two and two, and saluted each other
"Now where will it be agreeable to you that we hold our
conference?" inquired Aramis, perceiving that people were
stopping to look at them, supposing that they were going to
engage in one of those far-famed duels still extant in the
memory of the Parisians, and especially the inhabitants of
the Place Royale.
"The gate is shut," said Aramis, "but if these gentlemen
like a cool retreat under the trees, and perfect seclusion,
I will get the key from the Hotel de Rohan and we shall be
D'Artagnan darted a look into the obscurity of the Place.
Porthos ventured to put his head between the railings, to
try if his glance could penetrate the gloom.
"If you prefer any other place," said Athos, in his
persuasive voice, "choose for yourselves."
"This place, if Monsieur d'Herblay can procure the key, is
the best that we can have," was the answer.
Aramis went off at once, begging Athos not to remain alone
within reach of D'Artagnan and Porthos; a piece of advice
which was received with a contemptuous smile.
Aramis returned soon with a man from the Hotel de Rohan, who
was saying to him:
"You swear, sir, that it is not so?"
"Stop," and Aramis gave him a louis d'or.
"Ah! you will not swear, my master," said the concierge,
shaking his head.
"Well, one can never say what may happen; at present we and
these gentlemen are excellent friends."
"Yes, certainly," added Athos and the other two.
D'Artagnan had heard the conversation and had understood it.
"You see?" he said to Porthos.
"What do I see?"
"That he wouldn't swear."
"That man wanted Aramis to swear that we are not going to
the Place Royale to fight."
"And Aramis wouldn't swear?"
Athos did not lose sight of the two speakers. Aramis opened
the gate and faced around in order that D'Artagnan and
Porthos might enter. In passing through the gate, the hilt
of the lieutenant's sword was caught in the grating and he
was obliged to pull off his cloak; in doing so he showed the
butt end of his pistols and a ray of the moon was reflected
on the shining metal.
"Do you see?" whispered Aramis to Athos, touching his
shoulder with one hand and pointing with the other to the
arms which the Gascon wore under his belt.
"Alas! I do!" replied Athos, with a deep sigh.
He entered third, and Aramis, who shut the gate after him,
last. The two serving-men waited without; but as if they
likewise mistrusted each other, they kept their respective
The Place Royale.
They proceeded silently to the centre of the Place, but as
at this very moment the moon had just emerged from behind a
cloud, they thought they might be observed if they remained
on that spot and therefore regained the shade of the
There were benches here and there; the four gentlemen
stopped near them; at a sign from Athos, Porthos and
D'Artagnan sat down, the two others stood in front of them.
After a few minutes of silent embarrassment, Athos spoke.
"Gentlemen," he said, "our presence here is the best proof
of former friendship; not one of us has failed the others at
this rendezvous; not one has, therefore, to reproach
"Hear me, count," replied D'Artagnan; "instead of making
compliments to each other, let us explain our conduct to
each other, like men of right and honest hearts."
"I wish for nothing more; have you any cause of complaint
against me or Monsieur d'Herblay? If so, speak out,"
"I have," replied D'Artagnan. "When I saw you at your
chateau at Bragelonne, I made certain proposals to you which
you perfectly understood; instead of answering me as a
friend, you played with me as a child; the friendship,
therefore, that you boast of was not broken yesterday by the
shock of swords, but by your dissimulation at your castle."
"D'Artagnan!" said Athos, reproachfully.
"You asked for candor and you have it. You ask what I have
against you; I tell you. And I have the same sincerity to
show you, if you wish, Monsieur d'Herblay; I acted in a
similar way to you and you also deceived me."
"Really, monsieur, you say strange things," said Aramis.
"You came seeking me to make to me certain proposals, but
did you make them? No, you sounded me, nothing more. Very
well what did I say to you? that Mazarin was contemptible
and that I wouldn't serve Mazarin. But that is all. Did I
tell you that I wouldn't serve any other? On the contrary, I
gave you to understand, I think, that I adhered to the
princes. We even joked very pleasantly, if I remember
rightly, on the very probable contingency of your being
charged by the cardinal with my arrest. Were you a party
man? There is no doubt of that. Well, why should not we,
too, belong to a party? You had your secret and we had ours;
we didn't exchange them. So much the better; it proves that
we know how to keep our secrets."
"I do not reproach you, monsieur," said D'Artagnan; "'tis
only because Monsieur de la Fere has spoken of friendship
that I question your conduct."
"And what do you find in it that is worthy of blame?" asked
The blood mounted instantly to the temples of D'Artagnan,
who arose, and replied:
"I consider it worthy conduct of a pupil of Jesuits."
On seeing D'Artagnan rise, Porthos rose also; these four men
were therefore all standing at the same time, with a
menacing aspect, opposite to each other.
Upon hearing D'Artagnan's reply, Aramis seemed about to draw
his sword, when Athos prevented him.
"D'Artagnan," he said, "you are here to-night, still
infuriated by yesterday's adventure. I believed your heart
noble enough to enable a friendship of twenty years to
overcome an affront of a quarter of an hour. Come, do you
really think you have anything to say against me? Say it
then; if I am in fault I will avow the error."
The grave and harmonious tones of that beloved voice seemed
to have still its ancient influence, whilst that of Aramis,
which had become harsh and tuneless in his moments of
ill-humor, irritated him. He answered therefore:
"I think, monsieur le comte, that you had something to
communicate to me at your chateau of Bragelonne, and that
gentleman" -- he pointed to Aramis -- "had also something to
tell me when I was in his convent. At that time I was not
concerned in the adventure, in the course of which you have
so successfully estopped me! However, because I was prudent
you must not take me for a fool. If I had wished to widen
the breach between those whom Monsieur d'Herblay chooses to
receive with a rope ladder and those whom he receives with a
wooden ladder, I could have spoken out."
"What are you meddling with?" cried Aramis, pale with anger,
suspecting that D'Artagnan had acted as a spy on him and had
seen him with Madame de Longueville.
"I never meddle save with what concerns me, and I know how
to make believe that I haven't seen what does not concern
me; but I hate hypocrites, and among that number I place
musketeers who are abbes and abbes who are musketeers; and,"
he added, turning to Porthos "here's a gentleman who's of
the same opinion as myself."
Porthos, who had not spoken one word, answered merely by a
word and a gesture.
He said "yes" and he put his hand on his sword.
Aramis started back and drew his. D'Artagnan bent forward,
ready either to attack or to stand on his defense.
Athos at that moment extended his hand with the air of
supreme command which characterized him alone, drew out his
sword and the scabbard at the same time, broke the blade in
the sheath on his knee and threw the pieces to his right.
Then turning to Aramis:
"Aramis," he said, "break your sword."
"It must be done," said Athos; then in a lower and more
gentle voice, he added. "I wish it."
Then Aramis, paler than before, but subdued by these words,
snapped the serpent blade between his hands, and then
folding his arms, stood trembling with rage.
These proceedings made D'Artagnan and Porthos draw back.
D'Artagnan did not draw his sword; Porthos put his back into
"Never!" exclaimed Athos, raising his right hand to Heaven,
"never! I swear before God, who seeth us, and who, in the
darkness of this night heareth us, never shall my sword
cross yours, never my eye express a glance of anger, nor my
heart a throb of hatred, at you. We lived together, we
loved, we hated together; we shed, we mingled our blood
together, and too probably, I may still add, that there may
be yet a bond between us closer even than that of
friendship; perhaps there may be the bond of crime; for we
four, we once did condemn, judge and slay a human being whom
we had not any right to cut off from this world, although
apparently fitter for hell than for this life. D'Artagnan, I
have always loved you as my son; Porthos, we slept six years
side by side; Aramis is your brother as well as mine, and
Aramis has once loved you, as I love you now and as I have
ever loved you. What can Cardinal Mazarin be to us, to four
men who compelled such a man as Richelieu to act as we
pleased? What is such or such a prince to us, who fixed the
diadem upon a great queen's head? D'Artagnan, I ask your
pardon for having yesterday crossed swords with you; Aramis
does the same to Porthos; now hate me if you can; but for my
own part, I shall ever, even if you do hate me, retain
esteem and friendship for you. I repeat my words, Aramis,
and then, if you desire it, and if they desire it, let us
separate forever from our old friends."
There was a solemn, though momentary silence, which was
broken by Aramis.
"I swear," he said, with a calm brow and kindly glance, but
in a voice still trembling with recent emotion, "I swear
that I no longer bear animosity to those who were once my
friends. I regret that I ever crossed swords with you,
Porthos; I swear not only that it shall never again be
pointed at your breast, but that in the bottom of my heart
there will never in future be the slightest hostile
sentiment; now, Athos, come."
Athos was about to retire.
"Oh! no! no! do not go away!" exclaimed D'Artagnan, impelled
by one of those irresistible impulses which showed the
nobility of his nature, the native brightness of his
character; "I swear that I would give the last drop of my
blood and the last fragment of my limbs to preserve the
friendship of such a friend as you, Athos -- of such a man
as you, Aramis." And he threw himself into the arms of
"My son!" exclaimed Athos, pressing him in his arms.
"And as for me," said Porthos, "I swear nothing, but I'm
choked. Forsooth! If I were obliged to fight against you, I
think I should allow myself to be pierced through and
through, for I never loved any one but you in the wide
world;" and honest Porthos burst into tears as he embraced
"My friends," said Athos, "this is what I expected from such
hearts as yours. Yes, I have said it and I now repeat it:
our destinies are irrevocably united, although we now pursue
divergent roads. I respect your convictions, and whilst we
fight for opposite sides, let us remain friends. Ministers,
princes, kings, will pass away like mountain torrents; civil
war, like a forest flame; but we -- we shall remain; I have
a presentiment that we shall."
"Yes," replied D'Artagnan, "let us still be musketeers, and
let us retain as our battle-standard that famous napkin of
the bastion St. Gervais, on which the great cardinal had
three fleurs-de-lis embroidered."
"Be it so," cried Aramis. "Cardinalists or Frondeurs, what
matters it? Let us meet again as capital seconds in a duel,
devoted friends in business, merry companions in our ancient
"And whenever," added Athos, "we meet in battle, at this
word, `Place Royale!' let us put our swords into our left
hands and shake hands with the right, even in the very lust
and music of the hottest carnage."
"You speak charmingly," said Porthos.
"And are the first of men!" added D'Artagnan. "You excel us
Athos smiled with ineffable pleasure.
"'Tis then all settled. Gentlemen, your hands; are we not
pretty good Christians?"
"Egad!" said D'Artagnan, "by Heaven! yes."
"We should be so on this occasion, if only to be faithful to
our oath," said Aramis.
"Ah, I'm ready to do what you will," cried Porthos; "even to
swear by Mahomet. Devil take me if I've ever been so happy
as at this moment."
And he wiped his eyes, still moist.
"Has not one of you a cross?" asked Athos.
Aramis smiled and drew from his vest a cross of diamonds,
which was hung around his neck by a chain of pearls. "Here
is one," he said.
"Well," resumed Athos, "swear on this cross, which, in spite
of its magnificent material, is still a cross; swear to be
united in spite of everything, and forever, and may this
oath bind us to each other, and even, also, our descendants!
Does this oath satisfy you?"
"Yes," said they all, with one accord.
"Ah, traitor!" muttered D'Artagnan, leaning toward Aramis
and whispering in his ear, "you have made us swear on the
crucifix of a Frondeuse."
The Ferry across the Oise.
We hope that the reader has not quite forgotten the young
traveler whom we left on the road to Flanders.
In losing sight of his guardian, whom he had quitted, gazing
after him in front of the royal basilican, Raoul spurred on
his horse, in order not only to escape from his own
melancholy reflections, but also to hide from Olivain the
emotion his face might betray.
One hour's rapid progress, however, sufficed to disperse the
gloomy fancies that had clouded the young man's bright
anticipations; and the hitherto unfelt pleasure of freedom
-- a pleasure which is sweet even to those who have never
known dependence -- seemed to Raoul to gild not only Heaven
and earth, but especially that blue but dim horizon of life
we call the future.
Nevertheless, after several attempts at conversation with
Olivain he foresaw that many days passed thus would prove
exceedingly dull; and the count's agreeable voice, his
gentle and persuasive eloquence, recurred to his mind at the
various towns through which they journeyed and about which
he had no longer any one to give him those interesting
details which he would have drawn from Athos, the most
amusing and the best informed of guides. Another
recollection contributed also to sadden Raoul: on their
arrival at Sonores he had perceived, hidden behind a screen
of poplars, a little chateau which so vividly recalled that
of La Valliere to his mind that he halted for nearly ten
minutes to gaze at it, and resumed his journey with a sigh
too abstracted even to reply to Olivain's respectful inquiry
about the cause of so much fixed attention. The aspect of
external objects is often a mysterious guide communicating
with the fibres of memory, which in spite of us will arouse
them at times; this thread, like that of Ariadne, when once
unraveled will conduct one through a labyrinth of thought,
in which one loses one's self in endeavoring to follow that
phantom of the past which is called recollection.
Now the sight of this chateau had taken Raoul back fifty
leagues westward and had caused him to review his life from
the moment when he had taken leave of little Louise to that
in which he had seen her for the first time; and every
branch of oak, every gilded weathercock on roof of slates,
reminded him that, instead of returning to the friends of
his childhood, every instant estranged him further and that
perhaps he had even left them forever.
With a full heart and burning head he desired Olivain to
lead on the horses to a wayside inn, which he observed
within gunshot range, a little in advance of the place they
As for himself, he dismounted and remained under a beautiful
group of chestnuts in flower, amidst which were murmuring a
multitude of happy bees, and bade Olivain send the host to
him with writing paper and ink, to be placed on a table
which he found there, conveniently ready. Olivain obeyed and
continued on his way, whilst Raoul remained sitting, with
his elbow leaning on the table, from time to time gently
shaking the flowers from his head, which fell upon him like
snow, and gazing vaguely on the charming landscape spread
out before him, dotted over with green fields and groups of
trees. Raoul had been there about ten minutes, during five
of which he was lost in reverie, when there appeared within
the circle comprised in his rolling gaze a man with a
rubicund face, who, with a napkin around his body, another
under his arm, and a white cap upon his head, approached
him, holding paper, pen and ink in hand.
"Ha! ha!" laughed the apparition, "every gentleman seems to
have the same fancy, for not a quarter of an hour ago a
young lad, well mounted like you, as tall as you and of
about your age, halted before this clump of trees and had
this table and this chair brought here, and dined here, with
an old gentleman who seemed to be his tutor, upon a pie, of
which they haven't left a mouthful, and two bottles of Macon
wine, of which they haven't left a drop, but fortunately we
have still some of the same wine and some of the same pies
left, and if your worship will but give your orders ---- "
"No, friend " replied Raoul, smiling, "I am obliged to you,
but at this moment I want nothing but the things for which I
have asked -- only I shall be very glad if the ink prove
black and the pen good; upon these conditions I will pay for
the pen the price of the bottle, and for the ink the price
of the pie."
"Very well, sir," said the host, "I'll give the pie and the
bottle of wine to your servant, and in this way you will
have the pen and ink into the bargain."
"Do as you like," said Raoul, who was beginning his
apprenticeship with that particular class of society, who,
when there were robbers on the highroads, were connected
with them, and who, since highwaymen no longer exist, have
advantageously and aptly filled their vacant place.
The host, his mind at ease about his bill, placed pen, ink
and paper upon the table. By a lucky chance the pen was
tolerably good and Raoul began to write. The host remained
standing in front of him, looking with a kind of involuntary
admiration at his handsome face, combining both gravity and
sweetness of expression. Beauty has always been and always
will be all-powerful.
"He's not a guest like the other one here just now,"
observed mine host to Olivain, who had rejoined his master
to see if he wanted anything, "and your young master has no
"My master had appetite enough three days ago, but what can
one do? he lost it the day before yesterday."
And Olivain and the host took their way together toward the
inn, Olivain, according to the custom of serving-men well
pleased with their place, relating to the tavern-keeper all
that he could say in favor of the young gentleman; whilst
Raoul wrote on thus:
"Sir, -- After a four hours' march I stop to write to you,
for I miss you every moment, and I am always on the point of
turning my head as if to reply when you speak to me. I was
so bewildered by your departure and so overcome with grief
at our separation, that I am sure I was able to but very
feebly express all the affection and gratitude I feel toward
you. You will forgive me, sir, for your heart is of such a
generous nature that you can well understand all that has
passed in mine. I entreat you to write to me, for you form a
part of my existence, and, if I may venture to tell you so,
I also feel anxious. It seemed to me as if you were yourself
preparing for some dangerous undertaking, about which I did
not dare to question you, since you told me nothing. I have,
therefore, as you see, great need of hearing from you. Now
that you are no longer beside me I am afraid every moment of
erring. You sustained me powerfully, sir, and I protest to
you that to-day I feel very lonely. Will you have the
goodness, sir, should you receive news from Blois, to send
me a few lines about my little friend Mademoiselle de la
Valliere, about whose health, when we left, so much anxiety
was felt? You can understand, honored and dear guardian, how
precious and indispensable to me is the remembrance of the
years that I have passed with you. I hope that you will
sometimes, too, think of me, and if at certain hours you
should miss me, if you should feel any slight regret at my
absence, I shall be overwhelmed with joy at the thought that
you appreciate my affection for and my devotion to yourself,
and that I have been able to prove them to you whilst I had
the happiness of living with you."
After finishing this letter Raoul felt more composed; he
looked well around him to see if Olivain and the host might
not be watching him, whilst he impressed a kiss upon the
paper, a mute and touching caress, which the heart of Athos
might well divine on opening the letter.
During this time Olivain had finished his bottle and eaten
his pie; the horses were also refreshed. Raoul motioned to
the host to approach, threw a crown upon the table, mounted
his horse, and posted his letter at Senlis. The rest that
had been thus afforded to men and horses enabled them to
continue their journey at a good round pace. At Verberie,
Raoul desired Olivain to make some inquiry about the young
man who was preceding them; he had been observed to pass
only three-quarters of an hour previously, but he was well
mounted, as the tavern-keeper had already said, and rode at
a rapid pace.
"Let us try and overtake this gentleman," said Raoul to
Olivain; "like ourselves he is on his way to join the army
and may prove agreeable company."
It was about four o'clock in the afternoon when Raoul
arrived at Compiegne; there he dined heartily and again
inquired about the young gentleman who was in advance of
them. He had stopped, like Raoul, at the Hotel of the Bell
and Bottle, the best at Compiegne; and had started again on
his journey, saying that he should sleep at Noyon.
"Well, let us sleep at Noyon," said Raoul.
"Sir," replied Olivain, respectfully, "allow me to remark
that we have already much fatigued the horses this morning.
I think it would be well to sleep here and to start again
very early to-morrow. Eighteen leagues is enough for the
"The Comte de la Fere wished me to hasten on," replied
Raoul, "that I might rejoin the prince on the morning of the
fourth day; let us push on, then, to Noyon; it will be a
stage similar to those we traveled from Blois to Paris. We
shall arrive at eight o'clock. The horses will have a long
night's rest, and at five o'clock to-morrow morning we can
be again on the road."
Olivain dared offer no opposition to this determination but
he followed his master, grumbling.
"Go on, go on," said he, between his teeth, "expend your
ardor the first day; to-morrow, instead of journeying twenty
leagues, you will travel ten, the day after to-morrow, five,
and in three days you will be in bed. There you must rest;
young people are such braggarts."
It was easy to see that Olivain had not been taught in the
school of the Planchets and the Grimauds. Raoul really felt
tired, but he was desirous of testing his strength, and,
brought up in the principles of Athos and certain of having
heard him speak a thousand times of stages of twenty-five
leagues, he did not wish to fall far short of his model.
D'Artagnan, that man of iron, who seemed to be made of nerve
and muscle only, had struck him with admiration. Therefore,
in spite of Olivain's remarks, he continued to urge his
steed more and more, and following a pleasant little path,
leading to a ferry, and which he had been assured shortened
the journey by the distance of one league, he arrived at the
summit of a hill and perceived the river flowing before him.
A little troop of men on horseback were waiting on the edge
of the stream, ready to embark. Raoul did not doubt this was
the gentleman and his escort; he called out to him, but they
were too distant to be heard; then, in spite of the
weariness of his beast, he made it gallop but the rising
ground soon deprived him of all sight of the travelers, and
when he had again attained a new height, the ferryboat had
left the shore and was making for the opposite bank. Raoul,
seeing that he could not arrive in time to cross the ferry
with the travelers, halted to wait for Olivain. At this
moment a shriek was heard that seemed to come from the
river. Raoul turned toward the side whence the cry had
sounded, and shaded his eyes from the glare of the setting
sun with his hand.
"Olivain!" he exclaimed, "what do I see below there?"
A second scream, more piercing than the first, now sounded.
"Oh, sir!" cried Olivain, "the rope which holds the
ferryboat has broken and the boat is drifting. But what do I
see in the water -- something struggling?"
"Oh, yes," exclaimed Raoul, fixing his glance on one point
in the stream, splendidly illumined by the setting sun, "a
horse, a rider!"
"They are sinking!" cried Olivain in his turn.
It was true, and Raoul was convinced that some accident had
happened and that a man was drowning; he gave his horse its
head, struck his spurs into its sides, and the animal, urged
by pain and feeling that he had space open before him,
bounded over a kind of paling which inclosed the landing
place, and fell into the river, scattering to a distance
waves of white froth.
"Ah, sir!" cried Olivain, "what are you doing? Good God!"
Raoul was directing his horse toward the unhappy man in
danger. This was, in fact, a custom familiar to him. Having
been brought up on the banks of the Loire, he might have
been said to have been cradled on its waves; a hundred times
he had crossed it on horseback, a thousand times had swum
across. Athos, foreseeing the period when he should make a
soldier of the viscount, had inured him to all kinds of
"Oh, heavens!" continued Olivain, in despair, "what would
the count say if he only saw you now!"
"The count would do as I do," replied Raoul, urging his
horse vigorously forward.
"But I -- but I," cried Olivain, pale and disconsolate
rushing about on the shore, "how shall I cross?"
"Leap, coward!" cried Raoul, swimming on; then addressing
the traveler, who was struggling twenty yards in front of
him: "Courage, sir!" said he, "courage! we are coming to
Olivain advanced, retired, then made his horse rear --
turned it and then, struck to the core by shame, leaped, as
Raoul had done, only repeating:
"I am a dead man! we are lost!"
In the meantime, the ferryboat had floated away, carried
down by the stream, and the shrieks of those whom it
contained resounded more and more. A man with gray hair had
thrown himself from the boat into the river and was swimming
vigorously toward the person who was drowning; but being
obliged to go against the current he advanced but slowly.
Raoul continued his way and was visibly gaining ground; but
the horse and its rider, of whom he did not lose sight, were
evidently sinking. The nostrils of the horse were no longer
above water, and the rider, who had lost the reins in
struggling, fell with his head back and his arms extended.
One moment longer and all would disappear.
"Courage!" cried Raoul, "courage!"
"Too late!" murmured the young man, "too late!"
The water closed above his head and stifled his voice.
Raoul sprang from his horse, to which he left the charge of
its own preservation, and in three or four strokes was at
the gentleman's side; he seized the horse at once by the
curb and raised its head above water; the animal began to
breathe again and, as if he comprehended that they had come
to his aid, redoubled his efforts. Raoul at the same time
seized one of the young man's hands and placed it on the
mane, which it grasped with the tenacity of a drowning man.
Thus, sure that the rider would not release his hold, Raoul
now only directed his attention to the horse, which he
guided to the opposite bank, helping it to cut through the
water and encouraging it with words.
All at once the horse stumbled against a ridge and then
placed its foot on the sand.
"Saved!" exclaimed the man with gray hair, who also touched
"Saved!" mechanically repeated the young gentleman,
releasing the mane and sliding from the saddle into Raoul's
arms; Raoul was but ten yards from the shore; there he bore
the fainting man, and laying him down upon the grass,
unfastened the buttons of his collar and unhooked his
doublet. A moment later the gray-headed man was beside him.
Olivain managed in his turn to land, after crossing himself
repeatedly; and the people in the ferryboat guided
themselves as well as they were able toward the bank, with
the aid of a pole which chanced to be in the boat.
Thanks to the attentions of Raoul and the man who
accompanied the young gentleman, the color gradually
returned to the pale cheeks of the dying man, who opened his
eyes, at first entirely bewildered, but who soon fixed his
gaze upon the person who had saved him.
"Ah, sir," he exclaimed, "it was you! Without you I was a
dead man -- thrice dead."
"But one recovers, sir, as you perceive," replied Raoul,
"and we have but had a little bath."
"Oh! sir, what gratitude I feel!" exclaimed the man with
"Ah, there you are, my good D'Arminges; I have given you a
great fright, have I not? but it is your own fault. You were
my tutor, why did you not teach me to swim?"
"Oh, monsieur le comte," replied the old man, "had any
misfortune happened to you, I should never have dared to
show myself to the marshal again."
"But how did the accident happen?" asked Raoul.
"Oh, sir, in the most natural way possible," replied he to
whom they had given the title of count. "We were about a
third of the way across the river when the cord of the
ferryboat broke. Alarmed by the cries and gestures of the
boatmen, my horse sprang into the water. I cannot swim, and
dared not throw myself into the river. Instead of aiding the
movements of my horse, I paralyzed them; and I was just
going to drown myself with the best grace in the world, when
you arrived just in time to pull me out of the water;
therefore, sir, if you will agree, henceforward we are
friends until death."
"Sir," replied Raoul, bowing, "I am entirely at your
service, I assure you."
"I am called the Count de Guiche," continued the young man;
"my father is the Marechal de Grammont; and now that you
know who I am, do me the honor to inform me who you are."
"I am the Viscount de Bragelonne," answered Raoul, blushing
at being unable to name his father, as the Count de Guiche
"Viscount, your countenance, your goodness and your courage
incline me toward you; my gratitude is already due. Shake
hands -- I crave your friendship."
"Sir," said Raoul, returning the count's pressure of the
hand, "I like you already, from my heart; pray regard me as
a devoted friend, I beseech you."
And now, where are you going, viscount?" inquired De Guiche.
"To join the army, under the prince, count."
"And I, too!" exclaimed the young man, in a transport of
joy. "Oh, so much the better, we will fire the first shot
"It is well; be friends," said the tutor; "young as you both
are, you were perhaps born under the same star and were
destined to meet. And now," continued he, "you must change
your clothes; your servants, to whom I gave directions the
moment they had left the ferryboat, ought to be already at
the inn. Linen and wine are both being warmed; come."
The young men had no objection to this proposition; on the
contrary, they thought it very timely.
They mounted again at once, whilst looks of admiration
passed between them. They were indeed two elegant horsemen,
with figures slight and upright, noble faces, bright and
proud looks, loyal and intelligent smiles.
De Guiche might have been about eighteen years of age, but
he was scarcely taller than Raoul, who was only fifteen.
The halt at Noyon was but brief, every one there being
wrapped in profound sleep. Raoul had desired to be awakened
should Grimaud arrive, but Grimaud did not arrive.
Doubtless, too, the horses on their part appreciated the
eight hours of repose and the abundant stabling which was
granted them. The Count de Guiche was awakened at five
o'clock in the morning by Raoul, who came to wish him
good-day. They breakfasted in haste, and at six o'clock had
already gone ten miles.
The young count's conversation was most interesting to
Raoul, therefore he listened much, whilst the count talked
well and long. Brought up in Paris, where Raoul had been but
once; at the court, which Raoul had never seen; his follies
as page; two duels, which he had already found the means of
fighting, in spite of the edicts against them and, more
especially, in spite of his tutor's vigilance -- these
things excited the greatest curiosity in Raoul. Raoul had
only been at M. Scarron's house; he named to Guiche the
people whom he had seen there. Guiche knew everybody --
Madame de Neuillan, Mademoiselle d'Aubigne, Mademoiselle de
Scudery, Mademoiselle Paulet, Madame de Chevreuse. He
criticised everybody humorously. Raoul trembled, lest he
should laugh among the rest at Madame de Chevreuse, for whom
he entertained deep and genuine sympathy, but either
instinctively, or from affection for the duchess, he said
everything in her favor. His praises increased Raoul's
friendship twofold. Then came the question of gallantry and
love affairs. Under this head, also, Bragelonne had much
more to hear than to tell. He listened attentively and
fancied that he discovered through three or four rather
frivolous adventures, that the count, like himself, had a
secret to hide in the depths of his heart.
De Guiche, as we have said before, had been educated at the
court, and the intrigues of this court were not unknown to
him. It was the same court of which Raoul had so often heard
the Comte de la Fere speak, except that its aspect had much
changed since the period when Athos had himself been part of
it; therefore everything which the Count de Guiche related
was new to his traveling companion. The young count, witty
and caustic, passed all the world in review; the queen
herself was not spared, and Cardinal Mazarin came in for his
share of ridicule.
The day passed away as rapidly as an hour. The count's
tutor, a man of the world and a bon vivant, up to his eyes
in learning, as his pupil described him, often recalled the
profound erudition, the witty and caustic satire of Athos to
Raoul; but as regarded grace, delicacy, and nobility of
external appearance, no one in these points was to be
compared to the Comte de la Fere.
The horses, which were more kindly used than on the previous
day, stopped at Arras at four o'clock in the evening. They
were approaching the scene of war; and as bands of Spaniards
sometimes took advantage of the night to make expeditions
even as far as the neighborhood of Arras, they determined to
remain in the town until the morrow. The French army held
all between Pont-a-Marc as far as Valenciennes, falling back
upon Douai. The prince was said to be in person at Bethune.
The enemy's army extended from Cassel to Courtray; and as
there was no species of violence or pillage it did not
commit, the poor people on the frontier quitted their
isolated dwellings and fled for refuge into the strong
cities which held out a shelter to them. Arras was
encumbered with fugitives. An approaching battle was much
spoken of, the prince having manoeuvred, until that
movement, only in order to await a reinforcement that had
just reached him.
The young men congratulated themselves on having arrived so
opportunely. The evening was employed in discussing the war;
the grooms polished their arms; the young men loaded the
pistols in case of a skirmish, and they awoke in despair,
having both dreamed that they had arrived too late to
participate in the battle. In the morning it was rumored
that Prince de Conde had evacuated Bethune and fallen back
on Carvin, leaving, however, a strong garrison in the former
But as there was nothing positively certain in this report,
the young warriors decided to continue their way toward
Bethune, free on the road to diverge to the right and march
to Carvin if necessary.
The count's tutor was well acquainted with the country; he
consequently proposed to take a crossroad, which lay between
that of Lens and that of Bethune. They obtained information
at Ablain, and a statement of their route was left for
Grimaud. About seven o'clock in the morning they set out. De
Guiche, who was young and impulsive, said to Raoul, "Here we
are, three masters and three servants. Our valets are well
armed and yours seems to be tough enough."
"I have never seen him put to the test," replied Raoul, "but
he is a Breton, which promises something."
"Yes, yes," resumed De Guiche; "I am sure he can fire a
musket when required. On my side I have two sure men, who
have been in action with my father. We therefore represent
six fighting men; if we should meet a little troop of
enemies, equal or even superior in number to our own, shall
we charge them, Raoul?"
"Certainly, sir," replied the viscount.
"Holloa! young people -- stop there!" said the tutor,
joining in the conversation. "Zounds! how you manoeuvre my
instructions, count! You seem to forget the orders I
received to conduct you safe and sound to his highness the
prince! Once with the army you may be killed at your good
pleasure; but until that time, I warn you that in my
capacity of general of the army I shall order a retreat and
turn my back on the first red coat we come across." De
Guiche and Raoul glanced at each other, smiling.
They arrived at Ablain without accident. There they inquired
and learned that the prince had in reality quitted Bethune
and stationed himself between Cambria and La Venthie.
Therefore, leaving directions at every place for Grimaud,
they took a crossroad which conducted the little troop by
the bank of a small stream flowing into the Lys. The country
was beautiful, intersected by valleys as green as the
emerald. Here and there they passed little copses crossing
the path which they were following. In anticipation of some
ambuscade in each of these little woods the tutor placed his
two servants at the head of the band, thus forming the
advance guard. Himself and the two young men represented the
body of the army, whilst Olivain, with his rifle upon his
knee and his eyes upon the watch, protected the rear.
They had observed for some time before them, on the horizon,
a rather thick wood; and when they had arrived at a distance
of a hundred steps from it, Monsieur d'Arminges took his
usual precautions and sent on in advance the count's two
grooms. The servants had just disappeared under the trees,
followed by the tutor, and the young men were laughing and
talking about a hundred yards off. Olivain was at the same
distance in the rear, when suddenly there resounded five or
six musket-shots. The tutor cried halt; the young men
obeyed, pulling up their steeds, and at the same moment the
two valets were seen returning at a gallop.
The young men, impatient to learn the cause of the firing,
spurred on toward the servants. The tutor followed them.
"Were you stopped?" eagerly inquired the two youths.
"No," replied the servants, "it is even probable that we
have not been seen; the shots were fired about a hundred
paces in advance of us, in the thickest part of the wood,
and we returned to ask your advice."
"My advice is this," said Monsieur d'Arminges, "and if needs
be, my will, that we beat a retreat. There may be an
ambuscade concealed in this wood."
"Did you see nothing there?" asked the count.
"I thought I saw," said one of the servants, "horsemen
dressed in yellow, creeping along the bed of the stream.
"That's it," said the tutor. "We have fallen in with a party
of Spaniards. Come back, sirs, back."
The two youths looked at each other, and at this moment a
pistol-shot and cries for help were heard. Another glance
between the young men convinced them both that neither had
any wish to go back, and as the tutor had already turned his
horse's head, they both spurred forward, Raoul crying:
"Follow me, Olivain!" and the Count de Guiche: "Follow,
Urban and Planchet!" And before the tutor could recover from
his surprise they had both disappeared into the forest.
Whilst they spurred their steeds they held their pistols
ready also. In five minutes they arrived at the spot whence
the noise had proceeded, and then restraining their horses,
they advanced cautiously.
"Hush," whispered De Guiche, "these are cavaliers."
"Yes, three on horseback and three who have dismounted."
"Can you see what they are doing?"
"Yes, they appear to be searching a wounded or dead man."
"It is some cowardly assassination," said De Guiche.
"They are soldiers, though," resumed De Bragelonne.
"Yes, skirmishers; that is to say, highway robbers."
"At them!" cried Raoul. "At them!" echoed De Guiche.
"Oh! gentlemen! gentlemen! in the name of Heaven!" cried the
But he was not listened to, and his cries only served to
arouse the attention of the Spaniards.
The men on horseback at once rushed at the two youths,
leaving the three others to complete the plunder of the dead
or wounded travelers; for on approaching nearer, instead of
one extended figure, the young men discovered two. De Guiche
fired the first shot at ten paces and missed his man; and
the Spaniard, who had advanced to meet Raoul, aimed in his
turn, and Raoul felt a pain in the left arm, similar to that
of a blow from a whip. He let off his fire at but four
paces. Struck in the breast and extending his arms, the
Spaniard fell back on the crupper, and the terrified horse,
turning around, carried him off.
Raoul at this moment perceived the muzzle of a gun pointed
at him, and remembering the recommendation of Athos, he,
with the rapidity of lightning, made his horse rear as the
shot was fired. His horse bounded to one side, losing its
footing, and fell, entangling Raoul's leg under its body.
The Spaniard sprang forward and seized the gun by its
muzzle, in order to strike Raoul on the head with the butt.
In the position in which Raoul lay, unfortunately, he could
neither draw his sword from the scabbard, nor his pistols
from their holsters. The butt end of the musket hovered over
his head, and he could scarcely restrain himself from
closing his eyes, when with one bound Guiche reached the
Spaniard and placed a pistol at his throat. "Yield!" he
cried, "or you are a dead man!" The musket fell from the
soldier's hands, who yielded on the instant. Guiche summoned
one of his grooms, and delivering the prisoner into his
charge, with orders to shoot him through the head if he
attempted to escape, he leaped from his horse and approached
"Faith, sir," said Raoul, smiling, although his pallor
betrayed the excitement consequent on a first affair, "you
are in a great hurry to pay your debts and have not been
long under any obligation to me. Without your aid,"
continued he, repeating the count's words "I should have
been a dead man -- thrice dead."
"My antagonist took flight," replied De Guiche "and left me
at liberty to come to your assistance. But are you seriously
wounded? I see you are covered with blood!"
"I believe," said Raoul, "that I have got something like a
scratch on the arm. If you will help me to drag myself from
under my horse I hope nothing need prevent us continuing our
Monsieur d'Arminges and Olivain had already dismounted and
were attempting to raise the struggling horse. At last Raoul
succeeded in drawing his foot from the stirrup and his leg
from under the animal, and in a second he was on his feet
"Nothing broken?" asked De Guiche.
"Faith, no, thank Heaven!" replied Raoul; "but what has
become of the poor wretches whom these scoundrels were
"I fear we arrived too late. They have killed them, I think,
and taken flight, carrying off their booty. My servants are
examining the bodies."
"Let us go and see whether they are quite dead, or if they
can still be helped," suggested Raoul. "Olivain, we have
come into possession of two horses, but I have lost my own.
Take for yourself the better of the two and give me yours."
They approached the spot where the unfortunate victims lay.
Two men lay prone upon the ground, one bathed in blood and
motionless, with his face toward the earth; this one was
dead. The other leaned against a tree, supported there by
the two valets, and was praying fervently, with clasped
hands and eyes raised to Heaven. He had received a ball in
his thigh, which had broken the bone. The young men first
approached the dead man.
"He is a priest," said Bragelonne, "he has worn the tonsure.
Oh, the scoundrels! to lift their hands against a minister
"Come here, sir," said Urban, an old soldier who had served
under the cardinal duke in all his campaigns; "come here,
there is nothing to be done with him, whilst we may perhaps
be able to save the other."
The wounded man smiled sadly. "Save me! Oh, no!" said he,
"but help me to die, if you can."
"Are you a priest?" asked Raoul.
"I ask, as your unfortunate companion appeared to me to
belong to the church."
"He is the curate of Bethune, sir, and was carrying the holy
vessels belonging to his church, and the treasure of the
chapter, to a safe place, the prince having abandoned our
town yesterday; and as it was known that bands of the enemy
were prowling about the country, no one dared to accompany
the good man, so I offered to do so.
"And, sir," continued the wounded man, "I suffer much and
would like, if possible, to be carried to some house."
"Where you can be relieved?" asked De Guiche.
"No, where I can confess."
"But perhaps you are not so dangerously wounded as you
think," said Raoul.
"Sir," replied the wounded man, "believe me, there is no
time to lose; the ball has broken the thigh bone and entered
"Are you a surgeon?" asked De Guiche.
"No, but I know a little about wounds, and mine, I know, is
mortal. Try, therefore, either to carry me to some place
where I may see a priest or take the trouble to send one to
me here. It is my soul that must be saved; as for my body,
it is lost."
"To die whilst doing a good deed! It is impossible. God will
"Gentlemen, in the name of Heaven!" said the wounded man,
collecting all his forces, as if to get up, "let us not lose
time in useless words. Either help me to gain the nearest
village or swear to me on your salvation that you will send
me the first monk, the first cure, the first priest you may
meet. But," he added in a despairing tone, "perhaps no one
will dare to come for it is known that the Spaniards are
ranging through the country, and I shall die without
absolution. My God! my God! Good God! good God!" added the
wounded man, in an accent of terror which made the young men
shudder; "you will not allow that? that would be too
"Calm yourself, sir," replied De Guiche. "I swear to you,
you shall receive the consolation that you ask. Only tell us
where we shall find a house at which we can demand aid and a
village from which we can fetch a priest."
"Thank you, and God reward you! About half a mile from this,
on the same road, there is an inn, and about a mile further
on, after leaving the inn, you will reach the village of
Greney. There you must find the curate, or if he is not at
home, go to the convent of the Augustines, which is the last
house on the right, and bring me one of the brothers. Monk
or priest, it matters not, provided only that he has
received from holy church the power of absolving in articulo
"Monsieur d'Arminges," said De Guiche, "remain beside this
unfortunate man and see that he is removed as gently as
possible. The vicomte and myself will go and find a priest."
"Go, sir," replied the tutor; "but in Heaven's name do not
expose yourself to danger!"
"Do not fear. Besides, we are safe for to-day; you know the
axiom, `Non bis in idem.'"
"Courage, sir," said Raoul to the wounded man. "We are going
to execute your wishes."
"May Heaven prosper you!" replied the dying man, with an
accent of gratitude impossible to describe.
The two young men galloped off in the direction mentioned
and in ten minutes reached the inn. Raoul, without
dismounting, called to the host and announced that a wounded
man was about to be brought to his house and begged him in
the meantime to prepare everything needful. He desired him
also, should he know in the neighborhood any doctor or
chirurgeon, to fetch him, taking on himself the payment of
The host, who saw two young noblemen, richly clad, promised
everything they required, and our two cavaliers, after
seeing that preparations for the reception were actually
begun, started off again and proceeded rapidly toward
They had gone rather more than a league and had begun to
descry the first houses of the village, the red-tiled roofs
of which stood out from the green trees which surrounded
them, when, coming toward them mounted on a mule, they
perceived a poor monk, whose large hat and gray worsted
dress made them take him for an Augustine brother. Chance
for once seemed to favor them in sending what they were so
assiduously seeking. He was a man about twenty-two or
twenty-three years old, but who appeared much older from
ascetic exercises. His complexion was pale, not of that
deadly pallor which is a kind of neutral beauty, but of a
bilious, yellow hue; his colorless hair was short and
scarcely extended beyond the circle formed by the hat around
his head, and his light blue eyes seemed destitute of any
"Sir," began Raoul, with his usual politeness, "are you an
"Why do you ask me that?" replied the stranger, with a
coolness which was barely civil.
"Because we want to know," said De Guiche, haughtily.
The stranger touched his mule with his heel and continued
In a second De Guiche had sprung before him and barred his
passage. "Answer, sir," exclaimed he; "you have been asked
politely, and every question is worth an answer."
"I suppose I am free to say or not to say who I am to two
strangers who take a fancy to ask me."
It was with difficulty that De Guiche restrained the intense
desire he had of breaking the monk's bones.
"In the first place," he said, making an effort to control
himself, "we are not people who may be treated anyhow; my
friend there is the Viscount of Bragelonne and I am the
Count de Guiche. Nor was it from caprice we asked the
question, for there is a wounded and dying man who demands
the succor of the church. If you be a priest, I conjure you
in the name of humanity to follow me to aid this man; if you
be not, it is a different matter, and I warn you in the name
of courtesy, of which you appear profoundly ignorant, that I
shall chastise you for your insolence."
The pale face of the monk became so livid and his smile so
strange, that Raoul, whose eyes were still fixed upon him,
felt as if this smile had struck to his heart like an
"He is some Spanish or Flemish spy," said he, putting his
hand to his pistol. A glance, threatening and transient as
lightning, replied to Raoul.
"Well, sir," said De Guiche, "are you going to reply?"
"I am a priest," said the young man.
"Then, father," said Raoul, forcing himself to convey a
respect by speech that did not come from his heart, "if you
are a priest you have an opportunity, as my friend has told
you, of exercising your vocation. At the next inn you will
find a wounded man, now being attended by our servants, who
has asked the assistance of a minister of God."
"I will go," said the monk.
And he touched his mule.
"If you do not go, sir," said De Guiche, "remember that we
have two steeds able to catch your mule and the power of
having you seized wherever you may be; and then I swear your
trial will be summary; one can always find a tree and a
The monk's eye again flashed, but that was all; he merely
repeated his phrase, "I will go," -- and he went.
"Let us follow him," said De Guiche; "it will be the surest
"I was about to propose so doing," answered De Bragelonne.
In the space of five minutes the monk turned around to
ascertain whether he was followed or not.
"You see," said Raoul, "we have done wisely."
"What a horrible face that monk has," said De Guiche.
"Horrible!" replied Raoul, "especially in expression."
"Yes, yes," said De Guiche, "a strange face; but these monks
are subject to such degrading practices; their fasts make
them pale, the blows of the discipline make them hypocrites,
and their eyes become inflamed through weeping for the good
things of this life we common folk enjoy, but they have
"Well," said Raoul, "the poor man will get his priest, but,
by Heaven, the penitent appears to me to have a better
conscience than the confessor. I confess I am accustomed to
priests of a very different appearance."
"Ah!" exclaimed De Guiche, "you must understand that this is
one of those wandering brothers, who go begging on the high
road until some day a benefice falls down from Heaven on
them; they are mostly foreigners -- Scotch, Irish or Danish.
I have seen them before."
"No, but reasonably hideous."
"What a misfortune for the wounded man to die under the
hands of such a friar!"
"Pshaw!" said De Guiche. "Absolution comes not from him who
administers it, but from God. However, for my part, I would
rather die unshriven than have anything to say to such a
confessor. You are of my opinion, are you not, viscount? and
I see you playing with the pommel of your sword, as if you
had a great inclination to break the holy father's head."
"Yes, count, it is a strange thing and one which might
astonish you, but I feel an indescribable horror at the
sight of yonder man. Have you ever seen a snake rise up on
"Never," answered De Guiche.
"Well, it has happened to me to do so in our Blaisois
forests, and I remember that the first time I encountered
one with its eyes fixed upon me, curled up, swinging its
head and pointing its tongue, I remained fixed, pale and as
though fascinated, until the moment when the Comte de la
Fere ---- "
"Your father?" asked De Guiche.
"No, my guardian," replied Raoul, blushing.
"Very well ---- "
"Until the moment when the Comte de la Fere," resumed Raoul,
"said, `Come, Bragelonne, draw your sword;' then only I
rushed upon the reptile and cut it in two, just at the
moment when it was rising on its tail and hissing, ere it
sprang upon me. Well, I vow I felt exactly the same
sensation at sight of that man when he said, `Why do you ask
me that?' and looked so strangely at me."
"Then you regret that you did not cut your serpent in two
"Faith, yes, almost," said Raoul.
They had now arrived within sight of the little inn and
could see on the opposite side the procession bearing the
wounded man and guided by Monsieur d'Arminges. The youths
"There is the wounded man," said De Guiche, passing close to
the Augustine brother. "Be good enough to hurry yourself a
little, monsieur monk."
As for Raoul, he avoided the monk by the whole width of the
road and passed him, turning his head away in repulsion.
The young men rode up to the wounded man to announce that
they were followed by the priest. He raised himself to
glance in the direction which they pointed out, saw the
monk, and fell back upon the litter, his face illumined by
"And now," said the youths, "we have done all we can for
you; and as we are in haste to rejoin the prince's army we
must continue our journey. You will excuse us, sir, but we
are told that a battle is expected and we do not wish to
arrive the day after it."
"Go, my young sirs," said the sick man, "and may you both be
blessed for your piety. You have done for me, as you
promised, all that you could do. As for me I can only
repeat, may God protect you and all dear to you!"
"Sir," said De Guiche to his tutor, "we will precede you,
and you can rejoin us on the road to Cambrin."
The host was at his door and everything was prepared -- bed,
bandages, and lint; and a groom had gone to Lens, the
nearest village, for a doctor.
"Everything," said he to Raoul, "shall be done as you
desire; but you will not stop to have your wound dressed?"
"Oh, my wound -- mine -- 'tis nothing," replied the
viscount; "it will be time to think about it when we next
halt; only have the goodness, should you see a cavalier who
makes inquiries about a young man on a chestnut horse
followed by a servant, to tell him, in fact, that you have
seen me, but that I have continued my journey and intend to
dine at Mazingarbe and to stop at Cambrin. This cavalier is
"Would it not be safer and more certain if I should ask him
his name and tell him yours?" demanded the host.
"There is no harm in over-precaution. I am the Viscount de
Bragelonne and he is called Grimaud."
At this moment the wounded man arrived from one direction
and the monk from the other, the latter dismounting from his
mule and desiring that it should be taken to the stables
without being unharnessed.
"Sir monk," said De Guiche, "confess well that brave man;
and be not concerned for your expenses or for those of your
mule; all is paid."
"Thanks, monsieur," said the monk, with one of those smiles
that made Bragelonne shudder.
"Come, count," said Raoul, who seemed instinctively to
dislike the vicinity of the Augustine; "come, I feel ill
here," and the two young men spurred on.
The litter, borne by two servants, now entered the house.
The host and his wife were standing on the steps, whilst the
unhappy man seemed to suffer dreadful pain and yet to be
concerned only to know if he was followed by the monk. At
sight of this pale, bleeding man, the wife grasped her
"Well, what's the matter?" asked the latter, "are you going
to be ill just now?"
"No, but look," replied the hostess, pointing to the wounded
man; "I ask you if you recognize him?"
"That man -- wait a bit."
"Ah! I see you know him," exclaimed the wife; "for you have
become pale in your turn."
"Truly," cried the host, "misfortune is coming on our house;
it is the former executioner of Bethune."
"The former executioner of Bethune!" murmured the young
monk, shrinking back and showing on his countenance the
feeling of repugnance which his penitent inspired.
Monsieur d'Arminges, who was at the door, perceived his
"Sir monk," said he, "whether he is now or has been an
executioner, this unfortunate being is none the less a man.
Render to him, then, the last service he can by any
possibility ask of you, and your work will be all the more
The monk made no reply, but silently wended his way to the
room where the two valets had deposited the dying man on a
bed. D'Arminges and Olivain and the two grooms then mounted
their horses, and all four started off at a quick trot to
rejoin Raoul and his companion. Just as the tutor and his
escort disappeared in their turn, a new traveler stopped on
the threshold of the inn.
"What does your worship want?" demanded the host, pale and
trembling from the discovery he had just made.
The traveler made a sign as if he wished to drink, and then
pointed to his horse and gesticulated like a man who is
"Ah, diable!" said the host to himself; "this man seems
dumb. And where will your worship drink?"
"There," answered the traveler, pointing to the table.
"I was mistaken," said the host, "he's not quite dumb. And
what else does your worship wish for?"
"To know if you have seen a young man pass, fifteen years of
age, mounted on a chestnut horse and followed by a groom?"
"The Viscount de Bragelonne?
"Then you are called Monsieur Grimaud?"
The traveler made a sign of assent.
"Well, then," said the host, "your young master was here a
quarter of an hour ago; he will dine at Mazingarbe and sleep
"How far is Mazingarbe?"
"Two miles and a half."
Grimaud was drinking his wine silently and had just placed
his glass on the table to be filled a second time, when a
terrific scream resounded from the room occupied by the monk
and the dying man. Grimaud sprang up.
"What is that?" said he; "whence comes that cry?"
"From the wounded man's room," replied the host.
"What wounded man?"
"The former executioner of Bethune, who has just been
brought in here, assassinated by Spaniards, and who is now
being confessed by an Augustine friar."
"The old executioner of Bethune," muttered Grimaud; "a man
between fifty-five and sixty, tall, strong, swarthy, black
hair and beard?"
"That is he, except that his beard has turned gray and his
hair is white; do you know him?" asked the host.
"I have seen him once," replied Grimaud, a cloud darkening
his countenance at the picture so suddenly summoned to the
bar of recollection.
At this instant a second cry, less piercing than the first,
but followed by prolonged groaning, was heard.
The three listeners looked at one another in alarm.
"We must see what it is," said Grimaud.
"It sounds like the cry of one who is being murdered,"
murmured the host.
"Mon Dieu!" said the woman, crossing herself.
If Grimaud was slow in speaking, we know that he was quick
to act; he sprang to the door and shook it violently, but it
was bolted on the other side.
"Open the door!" cried the host; "open it instantly, sir
"Unfasten it, or I will break it in!" said Grimaud.
The same silence, and then, ere the host could oppose his
design, Grimaud seized a pair of pincers he perceived in a
corner and forced the bolt. The room was inundated with
blood, dripping from the mattresses upon which lay the
wounded man, speechless; the monk had disappeared.