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  • 1847
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purposes.”

“You are, upon my honor, as mysterious in your words as in your actions, monsieur,” said Monk. “Just now I did not perfectly understand you when you said that you were not willing to throw upon me the responsibility of the work we were accomplishing.”

“I had reason to say so, my lord.”

“And now you speak to me of the good cause. What do you mean by the words `the good cause’? We are defending at this moment, in England, five or six causes, which does not prevent every one from considering his own not only as the good cause, but as the best. What is yours, monsieur? Speak boldly, that we may see if, upon this point, to which you appear to attach a great importance, we are of the same opinion.”

Athos fixed upon Monk one of those penetrating looks which seem to convey to him to whom they are directed a challenge to conceal a single one of his thoughts; then, taking off his hat, he began in a solemn voice, while his interlocutor, with one hand upon his visage, allowed that long and nervous hand to compress his mustache and beard, while his vague and melancholy eye wandered about the recesses of the vaults.

CHAPTER 26

Heart and Mind

“My lord,” said the Comte de la Fere, “you are a noble Englishman, you are a loyal man; you are speaking to a noble Frenchman, to a man of heart. The gold contained in these two casks before us, I have told you was mine. I was wrong — it is the first lie I have pronounced in my life, a temporary lie, it is true. This gold is the property of King Charles II., exiled from his country, driven from his palaces, the orphan at once of his father and his throne, and deprived of everything, even of the melancholy happiness of kissing on his knees the stone upon which the hands of his murderers have written that simple epitaph which will eternally cry out for vengeance upon them: — `Here lies Charles I.'”

Monk grew slightly pale, and an imperceptible shudder crept over his skin and raised his gray mustache.

“I,” continued Athos, “I, Comte de la Fere, the last, only faithful friend the poor abandoned prince has left, I have offered him to come hither to find the man upon whom now depends the fate of royalty and of England; and I have come, and placed myself under the eye of this man, and have placed myself naked and unarmed in his hands, saying: — `My lord, here are the last resources of a prince whom God made your master, whom his birth made your king; upon you, and you alone, depend his life and his future. Will you employ this money in consoling England for the evils it must have suffered from anarchy; that is to say, will you aid, and if not aid, will you allow King Charles II. to act? You are master, you are king, all-powerful master and king, for chance sometimes defeats the work of time and God. I am here alone with you, my lord: if divided success alarms you, if my complicity annoys you, you are armed, my lord, and here is a grave ready dug; if, on the contrary, the enthusiasm of your cause carries you away, if you are what you appear to be, if your hand in what it undertakes obeys your mind, .and your mind your heart, here are the means of ruining forever the cause of your enemy, Charles Stuart. Kill, then, the man you have before you, for that man will never return to him who has sent him without bearing with him the deposit which Charles I., his father, confided to him, and keep the gold which may assist in carrying on the civil war. Alas! my lord, it is the fate of this unfortunate prince. He must either corrupt or kill, for everything resists him, everything repulses him, everything is hostile to him; and yet he is marked with the divine seal, and he must, not to belie his blood, reascend the throne, or die upon the sacred soil of his country.’

“My lord, you have heard me. To any other but the illustrious man who listens to me, I would have said: `My lord, you are poor; my lord, the king offers you this million as an earnest of an immense bargain; take it, and serve Charles II. as I served Charles I., and I feel assured that God, who listens to us, who sees us, who alone reads in your heart, shut from all human eyes, — I am assured God will give you a happy eternal life after a happy death.’ But to General Monk, to the illustrious man of whose standard I believe I have taken measure, I say: `My lord, there is for you in the history of peoples and kings a brilliant place, an immortal, imperishable glory, if alone, without any other interest but the good of your country and the interests of justice, you become the supporter of your king. Many others have been conquerors and glorious usurpers; you, my lord, you will be content with being the most virtuous, the most honest, and the most incorruptible of men: you will have held a crown in your hand, and instead of placing it upon your own brow, you will have deposited it upon the head of him for whom it was made. Oh, my lord, act thus, and you will leave to posterity the most enviable of names, in which no human creature can rival you.'”

Athos stopped. During the whole time that the noble gentleman was speaking, Monk had not given one sign of either approbation or disapprobation; scarcely even, during this vehement appeal, had his eyes been animated with that fire which bespeaks intelligence. The Comte de la Fere looked at him sorrowfully, and on seeing that melancholy countenance, felt discouragement penetrate to his very heart. At length Monk appeared to recover, and broke the silence.

“Monsieur,” said he, in a mild, calm tone, “in reply to you, I will make use of your own words. To any other but yourself I would reply by expulsion, imprisonment, or still worse, for, in fact, you tempt me and you force me at the same time. But you are one of those men, monsieur, to whom it is impossible to refuse the attention and respect they merit; you are a brave gentleman, monsieur — I say so, and I am a judge. You just now spoke of a deposit which the late king transmitted through you to his son — are you, then, one of those Frenchmen who, as I have heard, endeavored to carry off Charles I. from Whitehall?”

“Yes, my lord, it was I who was beneath the scaffold during the execution; I, who had not been able to redeem it, received upon my brow the blood of the martyred king. I received, at the same time, the last word of Charles I., it was to me he said, `Remember!’ and in saying, `Remember!’ he alluded to the money at your feet, my lord.”

“I have heard much of you, monsieur,” said Monk, “but I am happy to have, in the first place, appreciated you by my own observations, and not by my remembrances. I will give you, then, explanations that I have given to no other, and you will appreciate what a distinction I make between you and the persons who have hitherto been sent to me.”

Athos bowed, and prepared to absorb greedily the words which fell, one by one, from the mouth of Monk, — those words rare and precious as the dew in the desert.

“You spoke to me,” said Monk, “of Charles II.; but pray, monsieur, of what consequence to me is that phantom of a king? I have grown old in a war and in a policy which are nowadays so closely linked together, that every man of the sword must fight in virtue of his rights or his ambition with a personal interest, and not blindly behind an officer, as in ordinary wars. For myself, I perhaps desire nothing, but I fear much. In the war of to-day rests the liberty of England, and, perhaps, that of every Englishman. How can you expect that I, free in the position I have made for myself, should go willingly and hold out my hands to the shackles of a stranger? That is all Charles is to me. He has fought battles here which he has lost, he is therefore a bad captain; he has succeeded in no negotiation, he is therefore a bad diplomatist; he has paraded his wants and his miseries in all the courts of Europe, he has therefore a weak and pusillanimous heart. Nothing noble, nothing great, nothing strong has hitherto emanated from that genius which aspires to govern one of the greatest kingdoms of the earth. I know this Charles, then, under none but bad aspects, and you would wish me, a man of good sense, to go and make myself gratuitously the slave of a creature who is inferior to me in military capacity, in politics, and in dignity! No, monsieur. When some great and noble action shall have taught me to value Charles, I shall perhaps recognize his rights to a throne from which we have cast the father because he wanted the virtues which his son has hitherto lacked, but, in fact of rights, I only recognize my own; the revolution made me a general, my sword will make me protector, if I wish it. Let Charles show himself, let him present himself, let him enter the competition open to genius, and, above all, let him remember that he is of a race from whom more will be expected than from any other. Therefore, monsieur, say no more about him. I neither refuse nor accept: I reserve myself — I wait.”

Athos knew Monk to be too well informed of all concerning Charles to venture to urge the discussion further; it was neither the time nor the place. “My lord,” then said he, “I have nothing to do but to thank you.”

“And why, monsieur? Because you have formed a correct opinion of me, or because I have acted according to your judgment? Is that, in truth, worthy of thanks? This gold which you are about to carry to Charles will serve me as a test for him, by seeing the use he will make of it. I shall have an opinion which now I have not.”

“And yet does not your honor fear to compromise yourself by allowing such a sum to be carried away for the service of your enemy?”

“My enemy, say you? Eh, monsieur, I have no enemies. I am in the service of the parliament, which orders me to fight General Lambert and Charles Stuart — its enemies, and not mine. I fight them. If the parliament, on the contrary, ordered me to unfurl my standards on the port of London, and to assemble my soldiers on the banks to receive Charles II. —- “

“You would obey?” cried Athos, joyfully.

“Pardon me,” said Monk, smiling, “I was going — I, a gray-headed man — in truth, how could I forget myself? was going to speak like a foolish young man.”

“Then you would not obey?” said Athos.

“I do not say that either, monsieur. The welfare of my country before everything. God, who has given me the power, has, no doubt, willed that I should have that power for the good of all, and He has given me, at the same time, discernment. If the parliament were to order such a thing, I should reflect.”

The brow of Athos became clouded. “Then I may positively say that your honor is not inclined to favor King Charles II.?”

“You continue to question me, monsieur le comte; allow me to do so in turn, if you please.”

“Do, monsieur; and may God inspire you with the idea of replying to me as frankly as I shall reply to you.”

“When you shall have taken this money back to your prince, what advice will you give him?”

Athos fixed upon Monk a proud and resolute look.

“My lord,” said he, “with this million, which others would perhaps employ in negotiating, I would advise the king to raise two regiments, to enter Scotland, which you have just pacified: to give to the people the franchises which the revolution promised them, and in which it has not, in all cases, kept its word. I should advise him to command in person this little army, which would, believe me, increase, and to die, standard in hand, and sword in its sheath, saying, `Englishmen! I am the third king of my race you have killed; beware of the justice of God!'”

Monk hung down his head, and mused for an instant. “If he succeeded,” said he, “which is very improbable, but not impossible — for everything is possible in this world — what would you advise him to do?”

“To think that by the will of God he lost his crown but by the good will of men he recovered it.”

An ironical smile passed over the lips of Monk.

“Unfortunately, monsieur,” said he, “kings do not know how to follow good advice.”

“Ah, my lord, Charles II. is not a king,” replied Athos, smiling in his turn, but with a very different expression from Monk.

“Let us terminate this, monsieur le comte, — that is your desire, is it not?”

Athos bowed.

“I shall give orders to have these two casks transported whither you please. Where are you lodging, monsieur?”

“In a little hamlet at the mouth of the river, your honor.”

“Oh, I know the hamlet; it consists of five or six houses, does it not?”

“Exactly. Well, I inhabit the first, — two net-makers occupy it with me; it is their bark which brought me ashore.”

“But your own vessel, monsieur?”

“My vessel is at anchor, a quarter of a mile at sea, and waits for me.”

“You do not think, however, of setting out immediately?”

“My lord, I shall try once more to convince your honor.”

“You will not succeed,” replied Monk; “but it is of consequence that you should depart from Newcastle without leaving of your passage the least suspicion that might prove injurious to me or you. To-morrow my officers think Lambert will attack me. I, on the contrary, am convinced that he will not stir; it is in my opinion impossible. Lambert leads an army devoid of homogeneous principles, and there is no possible army with such elements. I have taught my soldiers to consider my authority subordinate to another, therefore after me, round me, and beneath me they still look for something. It would result that if I were dead, whatever might happen, my army would not be demoralized all at once; it results, that if I choose to absent myself, for instance, as it does please me to do sometimes, there would not be in the camp the shadow of uneasiness or disorder. I am the magnet — the sympathetic and natural strength of the English. All those scattered irons that will be sent against me I shall attract to myself. Lambert, at this moment, commands eighteen thousand deserters, but I have never mentioned that to my officers, you may easily suppose. Nothing is more useful to an army than the expectation of a coming battle; everybody is awake — everybody is on guard. I tell you this that you may live in perfect security. Do not be in a hurry, then, to cross the seas; within a week there will be something fresh, either a battle or an accomodation. Then, as you have judged me to be a honorable man, and confided your secret to me, I have to thank you for this confidence, and I shall come and pay you a visit or send for you. Do not go before I send you word. I repeat the request.”

“I promise you, general,” cried Athos, with a joy so great, that in spite of all his circumspection, he could not prevent its sparkling in his eyes.

Monk surprised this flash, and immediately extinguished it by one of those silent smiles which always caused his interlocutors to know they had made no inroad on his mind.

“Then, my lord, it is a week that you desire me to wait?”

“A week? yes, monsieur.”

“And during these days what shall I do?”

“If there should be a battle, keep at a distance from it, I beseech you. I know the French delight in such amusements, — you might take a fancy to see how we fight, and you might receive some chance shot. Our Scotchmen are very bad marksmen, and I do not wish that a worthy gentleman like you should return to France wounded. Nor should I like to be obliged myself, to send to your prince his million left here by you, for then it would be said, and with some reason, that I paid the Pretender to enable him to make war against the parliament. Go, then, monsieur, and let it be done as has been agreed upon.”

“Ah, my lord,” said Athos, “what joy it would give me to be the first that penetrated to the noble heart which beats beneath that cloak!”

“You think, then, that I have secrets,” said Monk, without changing the half cheerful expression of his countenance. “Why, monsieur, what secret can you expect to find in the hollow head of a soldier? But it is getting late, and our torch is almost out; let us call our man.”

“Hola!” cried Monk in French, approaching the stairs; “hola! fisherman!”

The fisherman, benumbed by the cold night air, replied in a hoarse voice, asking what they wanted of him.

“Go to the post,” said Monk, “and order a sergeant, in the name of General Monk, to come here immediately.”

This was a commission easily performed; for the sergeant, uneasy at the general’s being in that desolate abbey, had drawn nearer by degrees, and was not much further off than the fisherman. The general’s order was therefore heard by him, and he hastened to obey it.

“Get a horse and two men,” said Monk.

“A horse and two men?” repeated the sergeant.

“Yes,” replied Monk. “Have you any means of getting a horse with a pack-saddle or two paniers?”

“No doubt, at a hundred paces off, in the Scotch camp.”

“Very well.”

“What shall I do with the horse, general?”

“Look here.”

The sergeant descended the three steps which separated him from Monk, and came into the vault.

“You see,” said Monk, “that gentleman yonder?”

“Yes, general.”

“And you see these two casks?”

“Perfectly.”

“They are two casks, one containing powder, and the other balls; I wish these casks to be transported to the little hamlet at the mouth of the river, and which I intend to occupy to-morrow with two hundred muskets. You understand that the commission is a secret one, for it is a movement that may decide the fate of the battle.”

“Oh, general!” murmured the sergeant.

“Mind, then! Let these casks be fastened on to the horse, and let them be escorted by two men and you to the residence of this gentleman, who is my friend. But take care that nobody knows it.”

“I would go by the marsh if I knew the road,” said the sergeant.

“I know one myself,” said Athos; “it is not wide, but it is solid, having been made upon piles; and with care we shall get over safely enough.”

“Do everything this gentleman shall order you to do.”

“Oh! oh! the casks are heavy,” said the sergeant, trying to lift one.

“They weigh four hundred pounds each, if they contain what they ought to contain, do they not, monsieur?”

“Thereabouts,” said Athos.

The sergeant went in search of the two men and the horse. Monk, left alone with Athos, affected to speak to him on nothing but indifferent subjects while examining the vault in a cursory manner. Then, hearing the horse’s steps, —

“I leave you with your men, monsieur,” said he, “and return to the camp. You are perfectly safe.”

“I shall see you again, then, my lord?” asked Athos.

“That is agreed upon, monsieur, and with much pleasure.”

Monk held out his hand to Athos.

“Ah! my lord, if you would!” murmured Athos.

“Hush! monsieur, it is agreed that we shall speak no more of that.” And bowing to Athos, he went up the stairs, meeting about half-way his men, who were coming down. He had not gone twenty paces, when a faint but prolonged whistle was heard at a distance. Monk listened, but seeing nothing and hearing nothing, he continued his route, Then he remembered the fisherman, and looked about for him; but the fisherman had disappeared. If he had, however, looked with more attention, he might have seen that man, bent double, gliding like a serpent along the stones and losing himself in the mist that floated over the surface of the marsh. He might have equally seen, had he attempted to pierce that mist, a spectacle that might have attracted his attention; and that was the rigging of the vessel, which had changed place, and was now nearer the shore. But Monk saw nothing; and thinking he had nothing to fear, he entered the deserted causeway which led to his camp. It was then that the disappearance of the fisherman appeared strange, and that a real suspicion began to take possession of his mind. He had just placed at the orders of Athos the only post that could protect him. He had a mile of causeway to traverse before he could regain his camp. The fog increased with such intensity that he could scarcely distinguish objects at ten paces’ distance. Monk then thought he heard the sound of an oar over the marsh on the right. “Who goes there?” said he.

But nobody answered; then he cocked his pistol, took his sword in his hand, and quickened his pace without, however, being willing to call anybody. Such a summons, for which there was no absolute necessity, appeared unworthy of him.

CHAPTER 27

The Next Day

It was seven o’clock in the morning, the first rays of day lightened the pools of the marsh, in which the sun was reflected like a red ball, when Athos, awaking and opening the window of his bed-chamber, which looked out upon the banks of the river, perceived, at fifteen paces’ distance from him, the sergeant and the men who had accompanied him the evening before, and who, after having deposited the casks at his house, had returned to the camp by the causeway on the right.

Why had these men come back after having returned to the camp? That was the question which first presented itself to Athos. The sergeant, with his head raised, appeared to be watching the moment when the gentleman should appear, to address him. Athos, surprised to see these men, whom he had seen depart the night before, could not refrain from expressing his astonishment to them.

“There is nothing surprising in that, monsieur,” said the sergeant; “for yesterday the general commanded me to watch over your safety, and I thought it right to obey that order.”

“Is the general at the camp?” asked Athos.

“No doubt he is, monsieur; as when he left you he was going back.”

“Well, wait for me a moment; I am going thither to render an account of the fidelity with which you fulfilled your duty, and to get my sword, which I left upon the table in the tent.”

“That happens very well,” said the sergeant, “for we were about to request you to do so.”

Athos fancied he could detect an air of equivocal bonhomie upon the countenance of the sergeant; but the adventure of the vault might have excited the curiosity of the man, and it was not surprising that he allowed some of the feelings which agitated his mind to appear in his face. Athos closed the doors carefully, confiding the keys to Grimaud, who had chosen his domicile beneath the shed itself, which led to the cellar where the casks had been deposited. The sergeant escorted the Comte de la Fere to the camp. There a fresh guard awaited him, and relieved the four men who had conducted Athos.

This fresh guard was commanded by the aid-de-camp Digby, who, on their way, fixed upon Athos looks so little encouraging, that the Frenchman asked himself whence arose, with regard to him, this vigilance and this severity, when the evening before he had been left perfectly free. He nevertheless continued his way to the headquarters, keeping to himself the observations which men and things forced him to make. He found in the general’s tent, to which he had been introduced the evening before, three superior officers: these were Monk’s lieutenant and two colonels. Athos perceived his sword; it was still on the table where he left it. Neither of the officers had seen Athos, consequently neither of them knew him. Monk’s lieutenant asked, at the appearance of Athos, if that were the same gentleman with whom the General had left the tent.

“Yes, your honor,” said the sergeant; “it is the same.”

“But,” said Athos haughtily, “I do not deny it, I think; and now, gentlemen, in turn, permit me to ask you to what purpose these questions are asked, and particularly some explanation upon the tone in which you ask them?”

“Monsieur,” said the lieutenant, “if we address these questions to you, it is because we have a right to do so, and if we make them in a particular tone, it is because that tone, believe me, agrees with the circumstances.”

“Gentlemen,” said Athos, “you do not know who I am; but I must tell you I acknowledge no one here but General Monk as my equal. Where is he? Let me be conducted to him, and if he has any questions to put to me, I will answer him and to his satisfaction, I hope. I repeat, gentlemen, where is the general?”

“Eh! good God! you know better than we do where he is,” said the lieutenant.

“I?”

“Yes, you.”

“Monsieur,” said Athos, “I do not understand you.”

“You will understand me — and, in the first place, do not speak so loud.”

Athos smiled disdainfully.

“We don’t ask you to smile,” said one of the colonels warmly; “we require you to answer.”

“And I, gentlemen, declare to you that I will not reply until I am in the presence of the general.”

“But,” replied the same colonel who had already spoken, “you know very well that is impossible.”

“This is the second time I have received this strange reply to the wish I express,” said Athos. “Is the general absent?”

This question was made with such apparent good faith, and the gentleman wore an air of such natural surprise, that the three officers exchanged a meaning look. The lieutenant, by a tacit convention with the other two, was spokesman.”

“Monsieur, the general left you last night on the borders of the monastery.”

“Yes, monsieur.”

“And you went —- “

“It is not for me to answer you, but for those who have accompanied me. They were your soldiers, ask them.”

“But if we please to question you?”

“Then it will please me to reply, monsieur, that I do not recognize any one here, that I know no one here but the general, and that it is to him alone I will reply.”

“So be it, monsieur; but as we are the masters, we constitute ourselves a council of war, and when you are before judges you must reply.”

The countenance of Athos expressed nothing but astonishment and disdain, instead of the terror the officers expected to read in it at this threat.

“Scotch or English judges upon me, a subject of the king of France; upon me, placed under the safeguard of British honor! You are mad, gentlemen!” said Athos, shrugging his shoulders.

The officers looked at each other. “Then, monsieur,” said one of them, “do you pretend not to know where the general is?”

“To that, monsieur, I have already replied.”

“Yes, but you have already replied an incredible thing.”

“It is true, nevertheless, gentlemen. Men of my rank are not generally liars. I am a gentleman, I have told you, and when I have at my side the sword which, by an excess of delicacy, I left last night upon the table whereon it still lies, believe me, no man says that to me which I am unwilling to hear. I am at this moment disarmed; if you pretend to be my judges, try me; if you are but my executioners, kill me.”

“But, monsieur —- ” asked the lieutenant, in a more courteous voice, struck with the lofty coolness of Athos.

“Sir, I came to speak confidentially with your general about affairs of importance. It was not an ordinary welcome that he gave me. The accounts your soldiers can give you may convince you of that. If, then, the general received me in that manner, he knew my titles to his esteem. Now, you do not suspect, I should think that I should reveal my secrets to you, and still less his.”

“But these casks, what do they contain?”

“Have you not put that question to your soldiers? What was their reply?”

“That they contained powder and ball.”

“From whom had they that information? They must have told you that.”

“From the general; but we are not dupes.”

“Beware, gentlemen, it is not to me you are now giving the lie, it is to your leader.”

The officers again looked at each other. Athos continued: “Before your soldiers the general told me to wait a week, and at the expiration of that week he would give me the answer he had to make me. Have I fled away? No, I wait.”

“He told you to wait a week!” cried the lieutenant.

“He told me that so clearly, sir, that I have a sloop at the mouth of the river, which I could with ease have joined yesterday, and embarked. Now, if I have remained, it was only in compliance with the desire of your general, his honor having requested me not to depart without a last audience, which fixed at a week hence. I repeat to you, then, I am waiting.”

The lieutenant turned towards the other officers, and said, in a low voice: “If this gentleman speaks truth, there may still be some hope. The general may be carrying out some negotiations so secret, that he thought it imprudent to inform even us. Then the time limited for his absence would be a week.” Then, turning towards Athos: “Monsieur,” said he, “your declaration is of the most serious importance; are you willing to repeat it under the seal of an oath?”

“Sir,” replied Athos, “I have always lived in a world where my simple word was regarded as the most sacred of oaths.”

“This time, however, monsieur, the circumstance is more grave than any you may have been placed in. The safety of the whole army is at stake. Reflect, the general has disappeared, and our search for him has been vain. Is this disappearance natural? Has a crime been committed? Are we not bound to carry our investigations to extremity? Have we any right to wait with patience? At this moment, everything, monsieur, depends upon the words you are about to pronounce.”

“Thus questioned, gentlemen, I no longer hesitate,” said Athos. “Yes, I came hither to converse confidentially with General Monk, and ask him for an answer regarding certain interests; yes, the general being, doubtless, unable to pronounce before the expected battle, begged me to remain a week in the house I inhabit, promising me that in a week I should see him again. Yes, all this is true, and I swear it by the God who is the absolute master of my life and yours.” Athos pronounced these words with so much grandeur and solemnity, that the three officers were almost convinced. Nevertheless, one of the colonels made a last attempt.

“Monsieur,” said he, “although we may be now persuaded of the truth of what you say, there is yet a strange mystery in all this. The general is too prudent a man to have thus abandoned his army on the eve of a battle without having at least given notice of it to one of us. As for myself, I cannot believe but that some strange event has been the cause of this disappearance. Yesterday some foreign fishermen came to sell their fish here; they were lodged yonder among the Scots; that is to say, on the road the general took with this gentleman, to go to the abbey, and to return from it. It was one of those fishermen that accompanied the general with a light. And this morning, bark and fishermen have all disappeared, carried away by the night’s tide.”

“For my part,” said the lieutenant, “I see nothing in that that is not quite natural, for these people were not prisoners.”

“No, but I repeat it was one of them who lighted the general and this gentleman to the abbey, and Digby assures us that the general had strong suspicions concerning those people. Now, who can say whether these people were not connected with this gentleman; and that, the blow being struck, the gentleman, who is evidently brave, did not remain to reassure us by his presence, and to prevent our researches being made in a right direction?”

This speech made an impression upon the other two officers.

“Sir,” said Athos, “permit me to tell you, that your reasoning, though specious in appearance, nevertheless wants consistency, as regards me. I have remained, you say, to divert suspicion. Well! on the contrary, suspicions arise in me as well as in you; and I say, it is impossible, gentlemen, that the general, on the eve of a battle, should leave his army without saying anything to at least one of his officers. Yes, there is some strange event connected with this; instead of being idle and waiting, you must display all the activity and all the vigilance possible. I am your prisoner, gentlemen, upon parole or otherwise. My honor is concerned in ascertaining what has become of General Monk, and to such a point, that if you were to say to me, `Depart!’ I should reply `No, I will remain!’ And if you were to ask my opinion, I should add: `Yes, the general is the victim of some conspiracy, for, if he had intended to leave the camp he would have told me so.’ Seek then, search the land, search the sea; the general has not gone of his own good will.”

The lieutenant made a sign to the other two officers.

“No, monsieur,” said he, “no; in your turn you go too far. The general has nothing to suffer from these events, and, no doubt, has directed them. What Monk is now doing he has often done before. We are wrong in alarming ourselves; his absence will, doubtless, be of short duration; therefore, let us beware, lest by a pusillanimity which the general would consider a crime, of making his absence public, and by that means demoralize the army. The general gives a striking proof of his confidence in us; let us show ourselves worthy of it. Gentlemen, let the most profound silence cover all this with an impenetrable veil; we will detain this gentleman, not from mistrust of him with regard to the crime, but to assure more effectively the secret of the general’s absence by keeping among ourselves; therefore, until fresh orders, the gentleman will remain at headquarters.”

“Gentlemen,” said Athos, “you forget that last night the general confided to me a deposit over which I am bound to watch. Give me whatever guard you like, chain me if you like, but leave me the house I inhabit for my prison. The general, on his return, would reproach you, I swear on the honor of a gentleman, for having displeased him in this.”

“So be it, monsieur,” said the lieutenant; “return to your abode.”

Then they placed over Athos a guard of fifty men, who surrounded his house, without losing sight of him for a minute.

The secret remained secure, but hours, days passed away without the general’s returning, or without anything being heard of him.

CHAPTER 28

Smuggling

Two days after the events we have just related, and while General Monk was expected every minute in the camp to which he did not return, a little Dutch felucca, manned by eleven men, cast anchor upon the coast of Scheveningen, nearly within cannon-shot of the port. It was night, the darkness was great, the tide rose in the darkness; it was a capital time to land passengers and merchandise.

The road of Scheveningen forms a vast crescent; it is not very deep and not very safe; therefore, nothing is seen stationed there but large Flemish hoys, or some of those Dutch barks which fishermen draw up on the sand on rollers, as the ancients did, according to Virgil. When the tide is rising, and advancing on land, it is not prudent to bring the vessels too close inshore, for, if the wind is fresh, the prows are buried in the sand; and the sand of that coast is spongy; it receives easily, but does not yield so well. It was on this account, no doubt, that a boat was detached from the bark as soon as the latter had cast anchor, and came with eight sailors, amidst whom was to be seen an object of an oblong form, a sort of large pannier or bale.

The shore was deserted; the few fishermen inhabiting the down were gone to bed. The only sentinel that guarded the coast (a coast very badly guarded, seeing that a landing from large ships was impossible), without having been able to follow the example of the fishermen, who were gone to bed, imitated them so far, that he slept at the back of his watch-box as soundly as they slept in their beds. The only noise to be heard, then, was the whistling of the night breeze among the bushes and the brambles of the downs. But the people who were approaching were doubtless mistrustful people, for this real silence and apparent solitude did not satisfy them. Their boat, therefore, scarcely as visible as a dark speck upon the ocean, glided along noiselessly, avoiding the use of their oars for fear of being heard, and gained the nearest land.

Scarcely had it touched the ground when a single man jumped out of the boat, after having given a brief order, in a manner which denoted the habit of commanding. In consequence of this order, several muskets immediately glittered in the feeble light reflected from that mirror of the heavens, the sea; and the oblong bale of which we spoke, containing no doubt some contraband object, was transported to land, with infinite precautions. Immediately after that, the man who had landed first set off at a rapid pace diagonally towards the village of Scheveningen, directing his course to the nearest point of the wood. When there, he sought for that house already described as the temporary residence — and a very humble residence — of him who was styled by courtesy king of England.

All were asleep there, as everywhere else, only a large dog, of the race of those which the fishermen of Scheveningen harness to little carts to carry fish to the Hague, began to bark formidably as soon as the stranger’s steps were audible beneath the windows. But the watchfulness, instead of alarming the newly-landed man, appeared, on the contrary, to give him great joy, for his voice might perhaps have proved insufficient to rouse the people of the house, whilst, with an auxiliary of that sort, his voice became almost useless. The stranger waited, then, till these reiterated and sonorous barkings should, according to all probability, have produced their effect, and then he ventured a summons. On hearing his voice, the dog began to roar with such violence that another voice was soon heard from the interior, quieting the dog. With that the dog was quieted.

“What do you want?” asked that voice, at the same time weak, broken, and civil.

“I want his majesty King Charles II., king of England,” said the stranger.

“What do you want with him?”

“I want to speak to him.”

“Who are you?”

“Ah! Mordioux! you ask too much; I don’t like talking through doors.”

“Only tell me your name.”

“I don’t like to declare my name in the open air, either; besides, you may be sure I shall not eat your dog, and I hope to God he will be as reserved with respect to me.”

“You bring news, perhaps, monsieur, do you not?” replied the voice, patient and querulous as that of an old man.

“I will answer for it, I bring you news you little expect. Open the door, then, if you please, hein!”

“Monsieur,” persisted the old man, “do you believe, upon your soul and conscience, that your news is worth waking the king?”

“For God’s sake, my dear monsieur, draw your bolts; you will not be sorry, I swear, for the trouble it will give you. I am worth my weight in gold, parole d’honneur!”

“Monsieur, I cannot open the door till you have told me your name.”

“Must I, then?”

“It is by the order of my master, monsieur.”

“Well, my name is — but, I warn you, my name will tell you absolutely nothing.”

“Never mind, tell it, notwithstanding.”

“Well, I am the Chevalier d’Artagnan.”

The voice uttered an exclamation.

“Oh! good heavens!” said a voice on the other side of the door. “Monsieur d’Artagnan. What happiness! I could not help thinking I knew that voice.”

“Humph!” said D’Artagnan. “My voice is known here! That’s flattering.”

“Oh! yes, we know it,” said the old man, drawing the bolts; “and here is the proof.” And at these words he let in D’Artagnan, who, by the light of the lantern he carried in his hand, recognized his obstinate interlocutor.

“Ah! Mordioux!” cried he: “why, it is Parry! I ought to have known that.”

“Parry, yes, my dear Monsieur d’Artagnan, it is I. What joy to see you once again!”

“You are right there, what joy!” said D’Artagnan, pressing the old man’s hand. “There, now you’ll go and inform the king, will you not?”

“But the king is asleep, my dear monsieur.”

“Mordioux! then wake him. He won’t scold you for having disturbed him, I will promise you.”

“You come on the part of the count, do you not?”

“The Comte de la Fere?”

“From Athos?”

“Ma foi! no; I come on my own part. Come, Parry, quick! The king — I want the king.”

Parry did not think it his duty to resist any longer; he knew D’Artagnan of old; he knew that, although a Gascon, his words never promised more than they could stand to. He crossed a court and a little garden, appeased the dog, that seemed most anxious to taste of the musketeer’s flesh, and went to knock at the window of a chamber forming the ground-floor of a little pavilion. Immediately a little dog inhabiting that chamber replied to the great dog inhabiting the court.

“Poor king!” said D’Artagnan to himself, “these are his body-guards. It is true he is not the worse guarded on that account.”

“What is wanted with me?” asked the king, from the back of the chamber.

“Sire, it is M. le Chevalier d’Artagnan, who brings you some news.”

A noise was immediately heard in the chamber, a door was opened, and a flood of light inundated the corridor and the garden. The king was working by the light of a lamp. Papers were lying about upon his desk, and he had commenced the foul copy of a letter which showed, by the numerous erasures, the trouble he had had in writing it.

“Come in, monsieur le chevalier,” said he, turning around. Then perceiving the fisherman, “What do you mean, Parry? Where is M. le Chevalier d’Artagnan?” asked Charles.

“He is before you, sire,” said M. d’Artagnan.

“What, in that costume?”

“Yes; look at me, sire; do you not remember having seen me at Blois, in the ante-chambers of King Louis XIV.?”

“Yes, monsieur, and I remember I was much pleased with you.”

D’Artagnan bowed. “It was my duty to behave as I did, the moment I knew that I had the honor of being near your majesty.”

“You bring me news, do you say?”

“Yes, sire.”

“From the king of France?”

“Ma foi! no, sire,” replied D’Artagnan. “Your majesty must have seen yonder that the king of France is only occupied with his own majesty.”

Charles raised his eyes towards heaven.

“No, sire, no,” continued D’Artagnan. “I bring news entirely composed of personal facts. Nevertheless, I hope your majesty will listen to the facts and news with some favor.”

“Speak, monsieur.”

“If I am not mistaken, sire, your majesty spoke a great deal, at Blois, of the embarrassed state in which the affairs of England are.”

Charles colored. “Monsieur,” said he, “it was to the king of France I related —- “

“Oh! your majesty is mistaken,” said the musketeer, coolly; “I know how to speak to kings in misfortune. It is only when they are in misfortune that they speak to me; once fortunate, they look upon me no more. I have, then, for your majesty, not only the greatest respect, but, still more, the most absolute devotion; and that, believe me, with me, sire, means something. Now, hearing your majesty complain of fate, I found that you were noble and generous, and bore misfortune well.”

“In truth,” said Charles, much astonished, “I do not know which I ought to prefer, your freedoms or your respects.”

“You will choose presently, sire,” said D’Artagnan. “Then your majesty complained to your brother, Louis XIV., of the difficulty you experienced in returning to England and regaining your throne for want of men and money.”

Charles allowed a movement of impatience to escape him.

“And the principal object your majesty found in your way,” continued D’Artagnan, “was a certain general commanding the armies of the parliament, and who was playing yonder the part of another Cromwell. Did not your majesty say so?”

“Yes, but I repeat to you, monsieur, those words were for the king’s ears alone.”

“And you will see, sire, that it is very fortunate that they fell into those of his lieutenant of musketeers. That man so troublesome to your majesty was one General Monk, I believe; did I not hear his name correctly, sire?”

“Yes, monsieur, but once more, to what purpose are all these questions?”

“Oh! I know very well, sire, that etiquette will not allow kings to be questioned. I hope, however, presently you will pardon my want of etiquette. Your majesty added that, notwithstanding, if you could see him, confer with him, and meet him face to face, you would triumph, either by force or persuasion, over that obstacle — the only serious one, the only insurmountable one, the only real one you met with on your road.”

“All that is true, monsieur: my destiny, my future, my obscurity, or my glory depend upon that man; but what do you draw from that?”

“One thing alone, that if this General Monk is troublesome to the point your majesty describes, it would be expedient to get rid of him or to make an ally of him.”

“Monsieur, a king who has neither army nor money, as you have heard my conversation with my brother Louis, has no means of acting against a man like Monk.”

“Yes, sire, that was your opinion, I know very well; but, fortunately, for you, it was not mine.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“That, without an army and without a million, I have done — I, myself — what your majesty thought could alone be done with an army and a million.”

“How! What do you say? What have you done?”

“What have I done? Eh! well, sire, I went yonder to take this man who is so troublesome to your majesty.”

“In England?”

“Exactly, sire.”

“You went to take Monk in England?”

“Should I by chance have done wrong, sire?”

“In truth, you are mad, monsieur!”

“Not the least in the world, sire.”

“You have taken Monk?”

“Yes, sire.”

“Where?”

“In the midst of his camp.”

The king trembled with impatience.

“And having taken him on the causeway of Newcastle, I bring him to your majesty,” said D’Artagnan, simply.

“You bring him to me!” cried the king, almost indignant at what he considered a mystification.

“Yes, sire,” replied D’Artagnan, the same tone, “I bring him to you; he is down below yonder, in a large chest pierced with holes, so as to allow him to breathe.”

“Good God!”

“Oh! don’t be uneasy, sire, we have taken the greatest possible care of him. He comes in good state, and in perfect condition. Would your majesty please to see him, to talk with him, or to have him thrown into the sea?”

“Oh, heavens!” repeated Charles, “oh, heavens! do you speak the truth, monsieur? Are you not insulting me with some unworthy joke? You have accomplished this unheard-of act of audacity and genius — impossible!”

“Will your majesty permit me to open the window?” said D’Artagnan, opening it.

The king had not time to reply, yes on no. D’Artagnan gave a shrill and prolonged whistle, which he repeated three times through the silence of the night.

“There!” said he, “he will be brought to your majesty.”

CHAPTER 29

In which D’Artagnan begins to fear he has placed his Money and that of Planchet in the Sinking Fund

The king could not overcome his surprise, and looked sometimes at the smiling face of the musketeer, and sometimes at the dark window which opened into the night. But before he had fixed his ideas, eight of D’Artagnan’s men, for two had remained to take care of the bark, brought to the house, where Parry received him, that object of an oblong form, which, for the moment inclosed the destinies of England. Before he left Calais, D’Artagnan had had made in that city a sort of coffin, large and deep enough for a man to turn in it at his ease. The bottom and sides, properly upholstered, formed a bed sufficiently soft to prevent the rolling of the ship turning this kind of cage into a rat-trap. The little grating, of which D’Artagnan had spoken to the king, like the visor of a helmet, was placed opposite to the man’s face. It was so constructed that, at the least cry, a sudden pressure would stifle that cry, and, if necessary, him who had uttered that cry.

D’Artagnan was so well acquainted with his crew and his prisoner, that during the whole voyage he had been in dread of two things: either that the general would prefer death to this sort of imprisonment, and would smother himself by endeavoring to speak, or that his guards would allow themselves to be tempted by the offers of the prisoner, and put him, D’Artagnan, into the box instead of Monk.

D’Artagnan, therefore, had passed the two days and the two nights of the voyage close to the coffin, alone with the general, offering him wine and food, which the latter had refused, and constantly endeavoring to reassure him upon the destiny which awaited him at the end of this singular captivity. Two pistols on the table and his naked sword made D’Artagnan easy with regard to indiscretions from without.

When once at Scheveningen he had felt completely reassured. His men greatly dreaded any conflict with the lords of the soil. He had, besides, interested in his cause him who had morally served him as lieutenant, and whom we have seen reply to the name of Menneville. The latter, not being a vulgar spirit, had more to risk than the others, because he had more conscience. He believed in a future in the service of D’Artagnan, and consequently would have allowed himself to be cut to pieces, rather than violate the order given by his leader. Thus it was that, once landed, it was to him D’Artagnan had confided the care of the chest and the general’s breathing. It was he, too, he had ordered to have the chest brought by the seven men as soon as he should hear the triple whistle. We have seen that the lieutenant obeyed. The coffer once in the house, D’Artagnan dismissed his men with a gracious smile, saying, “Messieurs, you have rendered a great service to King Charles II., who in less than six weeks will be king of England. Your gratification will then be doubled. Return to the boat and wait for me.” Upon which they departed with such shouts of joy as terrified even the dog himself.

D’Artagnan had caused the coffer to be brought as far as the king’s ante-chamber. He then, with great care, closed the door of this ante-chamber, after which he opened the coffer, and said to the general:

“General, I have a thousand excuses to make to you; my manner of acting has not been worthy of such a man as you, I know very well; but I wished you to take me for the captain of a bark. And then England is a very inconvenient country for transports. I hope, therefore, you will take all that into consideration. But now, general, you are at liberty to get up and walk.” This said, he cut the bonds which fastened the arms and hands of the general. The latter got up, and then sat down with the countenance of a man who expects death. D’Artagnan opened the door of Charles’s study, and said, “Sire, here is your enemy, M. Monk; I promised myself to perform this service for your majesty. It is done; now order as you please. M. Monk,” added he, turning towards the prisoner, “you are in the presence of his majesty Charles II., sovereign lord of Great Britain.”

Monk raised towards the prince his coldly stoical look, and replied: “I know no king of Great Britain; I recognize even here no one worthy of bearing the name of gentleman: for it is in the name of King Charles II. that an emissary, whom I took for an honest man, came and laid an infamous snare for me. I have fallen into that snare; so much the worse for me. Now, you the tempter,” said he to the king, “you the executor,” said he to D’Artagnan; “remember what I am about to say to you; you have my body, you may kill it, and I advise you to do so, for you shall never have my mind or my will. And now, ask me not a single word, as from this moment I will not open my mouth even to cry out. I have said.”

And he pronounced these words with the savage, invincible resolution of the most mortified Puritan. D’Artagnan looked at his prisoner like a man, who knows the value of every word, and who fixes that value according to the accent with which it has been pronounced.

“The fact is,” said he, in a whisper to the king, “the general is an obstinate man; he would not take a mouthful of bread, nor swallow a drop of wine, during the two days of our voyage. But as from this moment it is your majesty who must decide his fate, I wash my hands of him.”

Monk, erect, pale, and resigned, waited with his eyes fixed and his arms folded. D’Artagnan turned towards him. “You will please to understand perfectly,” said he, “that your speech, otherwise very fine, does not suit anybody, not even yourself. His majesty wished to speak to you, you refused him an interview; why, now that you are face to face, that you are here by a force independent of your will, why do you confine yourself to rigors which I consider useless and absurd? Speak! what the devil! speak, if only to say `No.'”

Monk did not unclose his lips, Monk did not turn his eyes; Monk stroked his mustache with a thoughtful air, which announced that matters were going on badly.

During all this time Charles II. had fallen into a profound reverie. For the first time he found himself face to face with Monk; with the man he had so much desired to see; and, with that peculiar glance which God has given to eagles and kings, he had fathomed the abyss of his heart. He beheld Monk, then, resolved positively to die rather than speak, which was not to be wondered at in so considerable a man, the wound in whose mind must at the moment have been cruel. Charles II. formed, on the instant, one of those resolutions upon which an ordinary man risks his life, a general his fortune, and a king his kingdom. “Monsieur,” said he to Monk, “you are perfectly right upon certain points; I do not, therefore, ask you to answer me, but to listen to me.”

There was a moment’s silence, during which the king looked at Monk, who remained impassible.

“You have made me just now a painful reproach, monsieur,” continued the king; “you said that one of my emissaries had been to Newcastle to lay a snare for you, and that, parenthetically, cannot be understood by M. d’Artagnan, here, and to whom, before everything, I owe sincere thanks for his generous, his heroic devotion.”

D’Artagnan bowed with respect; Monk took no notice.

“For M. d’Artagnan — and observe, M. Monk, I do not say this to excuse myself — for M. d’Artagnan,” continued the king, “went to England of his free will, without interest, without orders, without hope, like a true gentleman as he is, to render a service to an unfortunate king, and to add to the illustrious actions of an existence, already so well filled, one glorious deed more.”

D’Artagnan colored a little, and coughed to keep his countenance. Monk did not stir.

“You do not believe what I tell you, M. Monk,” continued the king. “I can understand that, — such proofs of devotion are so rare, that their reality may well be put in doubt.”

“Monsieur would do wrong not to believe you, sire,” cried D’Artagnan: “for that which your majesty has said is the exact truth, and the truth so exact that it seems, in going to fetch the general, I have done something which sets everything wrong. In truth, if it be so, I am in despair.”

“Monsieur d’Artagnan,” said the king, pressing the hand of the musketeer, “you have obliged me as much as if you had promoted the success of my cause, for you have revealed to me an unknown friend, to whom I shall ever be grateful, and whom I shall always love.” And the king pressed his hand cordially. “And,” continued he, bowing to Monk, “an enemy whom I shall henceforth esteem at his proper value.”

The eyes of the Puritan flashed, but only once, and his countenance, for an instant, illuminated by that flash, resumed its somber impassibility.

“Then, Monsieur d’Artagnan,” continued Charles, “this is what was about to happen: M. le Comte de la Fere, whom you know, I believe, has set out for Newcastle.”

“What, Athos!” exclaimed D’Artagnan.

“Yes, that was his nom de guerre, I believe. The Comte de la Fere had then set out for Newcastle, and was going, perhaps, to bring the general to hold a conference with me or with those of my party, when you violently, as it appears, interfered with the negotiation.”

“Mordioux!” replied D’Artagnan, “he entered the camp the very evening in which I succeeded in getting into it with my fishermen —- “

An almost imperceptible frown on the brow of Monk told D’Artagnan that he had surmised rightly.

“Yes, yes,” muttered he; “I thought I knew his person; I even fancied I knew his voice. Unlucky wretch that I am! Oh! sire, pardon me! I thought I had so successfully steered my bark.”

“There is nothing ill in it, sir,” said the king, “except that the general accuses me of having laid a snare for him, which is not the case. No, general, those are not the arms which I contemplated employing with you as you will soon see. In the meanwhile, when I give you my word upon the honor of a gentleman, believe me, sir, believe me! Now, Monsieur d’Artagnan, a word with you, if you please.”

“I listen on my knees, sire.”

“You are truly at my service, are you not?”

“Your majesty has seen I am, too much so.”

“That is well; from a man like you one word suffices. In addition to that word you bring actions. General, have the goodness to follow me. Come with us, M. d’Artagnan.”

D’Artagnan, considerably surprised, prepared to obey. Charles II. went out, Monk followed him, D’Artagnan followed Monk. Charles took the path by which D’Artagnan had come to his abode; the fresh sea breezes soon caressed the faces of the three nocturnal travelers, and, at fifty paces from the little gate which Charles opened, they found themselves upon the down in the face of the ocean, which, having ceased to rise, reposed upon the shore like a wearied monster. Charles II. walked pensively along, his head hanging down and his hand beneath his cloak. Monk followed him, with crossed arms and an uneasy look. D’Artagnan came last, with his hand on the hilt of his sword.

“Where is the boat in which you came, gentlemen?” said Charles to the musketeer.

“Yonder, sire, I have seven men and an officer waiting me in that little bark which is lighted by a fire.”

“Yes, I see; the boat is drawn upon the sand, but you certainly did not come from Newcastle in that frail bark?”

“No, sire; I freighted a felucca, at my own expense, which is at anchor within cannon-shot of the downs. It was in that felucca we made the voyage.”

“Sir,” said the king to Monk, “you are free.”

However firm of his will, Monk could not suppress an exclamation. The king added an affirmative motion of his head, and continued: “We shall waken a fisherman of the village, who will put his boat to sea immediately, and will take you back to any place you may command him. M. d’Artagnan here will escort your honor. I place M. d’Artagnan under the safeguard of your loyalty, M. Monk.”

Monk allowed a murmur of surprise to escape him, and D’Artagnan a profound sigh. The king, without appearing to notice either, knocked against the deal trellis which inclosed the cabin of the principal fisherman inhabiting the down.

“Hey! Keyser!” cried he, “awake!”

“Who calls me?” asked the fisherman.

“I, Charles the king.”

“Ah, my lord!” cried Keyser, rising ready dressed from the sail in which he slept, as people sleep in a hammock. “What can I do to serve you?”

“Captain Keyser,” said Charles, “you must set sail immediately. Here is a traveler who wishes to freight your bark, and will pay you well; serve him well.” And the king drew back a few steps to allow Monk to speak to the fisherman.

“I wish to cross over into England,” said Monk, who spoke Dutch enough to make himself understood.

“This minute,” said the patron, “this very minute, if you wish it.”

“But will that be long?” said Monk.

“Not half an hour, your honor. My eldest son is at this moment preparing the boat, as we were going out fishing at three o’clock in the morning.”

“Well, is all arranged?” asked the king, drawing near.

“All but the price,” said the fisherman; “yes, sire.”

“That is my affair,” said Charles, “the gentleman is my friend.”

Monk started and looked at Charles on hearing this word.

“Very well, my lord,” replied Keyser. And at that moment they heard Keyser’s eldest son, signaling from the shore with the blast of a bull’s horn.

“Now, gentlemen,” said the king, “depart.”

“Sire,” said D’Artagnan, “will it please your majesty to grant me a few minutes? I have engaged men, and I am going without them; I must give them notice.”

“Whistle to them,” said Charles, smiling.

D’Artagnan, accordingly, whistled, whilst the patron Keyser replied to his son; and four men, led by Menneville, attended the first summons.

“Here is some money in account,” said D’Artagnan, putting into their hands a purse containing two thousand five hundred livres in gold. “Go and wait for me at Calais, you know where.” And D’Artagnan heaved a profound sigh, as he let the purse fall into the hands of Menneville.

“What, are you leaving us?” cried the men.

“For a short time,” said D’Artagnan, “or for a long time, who knows? But with 2,500 livres, and the 2,500 you have already received, you are paid according to our agreement. We are quits, then, my friend.”

“But the boat?”

“Do not trouble yourself about that.”

“Our things are on board the felucca.”

“Go and seek them, and then set off immediately.”

“Yes, captain.”

D’Artagnan returned to Monk, saying, — “Monsieur, I await your orders, for I understand we are to go together, unless my company be disagreeable to you.”

“On the contrary, monsieur,” said Monk.

“Come, gentlemen, on board,” cried Keyser’s son.

Charles bowed to the general with grace and dignity, saying, — “You will pardon me this unfortunate accident, and the violence to which you have been subjected, when you are convinced that I was not the cause of them.”

Monk bowed profoundly without replying. On his side, Charles affected not to say a word to D’Artagnan in private, but aloud, — “Once more, thanks, monsieur le chevalier,” said he, “thanks for your services. They will be repaid you by the Lord God, who, I hope, reserves trials and troubles for me alone.”

Monk followed Keyser, and his son embarked with them. D’Artagnan came after, muttering to himself, — “Poor Planchet! poor Planchet! I am very much afraid we have made a bad speculation.”

CHAPTER 30

The Shares of Planchet and Company rise again to Par

During the passage, Monk only spoke to D’Artagnan in cases of urgent necessity. Thus, when the Frenchman hesitated to come and take his meals, poor meals, composed of salt fish, biscuit, and Hollands gin, Monk called him, saying, — “To table, monsieur, to table!”

This was all. D’Artagnan, from being himself on all great occasions extremely concise, did not draw from the general’s conciseness a favorable augury of the result of his mission. Now, as D’Artagnan had plenty of time for reflection, he battered his brains during this time in endeavoring to find out how Athos had seen King Charles, how he had conspired his departure with him, and lastly, how he had entered Monk’s camp; and the poor lieutenant of musketeers plucked a hair from his mustache every time he reflected that the horseman who accompanied Monk on the night of the famous abduction must have been Athos.

At length, after a passage of two nights and two days, the patron Keyser touched at the point where Monk, who had given all the orders during the voyage, had commanded they should land. It was exactly at the mouth of the little river, near which Athos had chosen his abode.

Daylight was waning, a splendid sun, like a red steel buckler, was plunging the lower extremity of its disc beneath the blue line of the sea. The felucca was making fair way up the river, tolerably wide in that part, but Monk, in his impatience, desired to be landed, and Keyser’s boat set him and D’Artagnan upon the muddy bank, amidst the reeds. D’Artagnan, resigned to obedience, followed Monk exactly as a chained bear follows his master; but the position humiliated him not a little, and he grumbled to himself that the service of kings was a bitter one, and that the best of them was good for nothing. Monk walked with long and hasty strides; it might be thought that he did not yet feel certain of having reached English land. They had already begun to perceive distinctly a few of the cottages of the sailors and fishermen spread over the little quay of this humble port, when, all at once, D’Artagnan cried out, — “God pardon me, there is a house on fire!”

Monk raised his eyes, and perceived there was, in fact, a house which the flames were beginning to devour. It had begun at a little shed belonging to the house, the roof of which had caught. The fresh evening breeze agitated the fire. The two travelers quickened their steps, hearing loud cries, and seeing, as they drew nearer, soldiers with their glittering arms pointing towards the house on fire. It was doubtless this menacing occupation which had made them neglect to signal the felucca. Monk stopped short for an instant, and, for the first time, formulated his thoughts into words. “Eh! but,” said he, “perhaps they are not my soldiers, but Lambert’s.”

These words contained at once a sorrow, an apprehension, and a reproach perfectly intelligible to D’Artagnan. In fact, during the general’s absence, Lambert might have given battle, conquered, and dispersed the parliament’s army, and taken with his own the place of Monk’s army, deprived of its strongest support. At this doubt, which passed from the mind of Monk to his own, D’Artagnan reasoned in this manner: “One of two things is going to happen; either Monk has spoken correctly, and there are no longer any but Lambertists in the country — that is to say, enemies, who would receive me wonderfully well, since it is to me they owe their victory; or nothing is changed, and Monk, transported with joy at finding his camp still in the same place, will not prove too severe in his settlement with me.” Whilst thinking thus, the two travelers advanced, and began to mingle with a little knot of sailors, who looked on with sorrow at the burning house, but did not dare to say anything on account of the threats of the soldiers.

Monk addressed one of these sailors: — “What is going on here?” asked he.

“Sir,” replied the man, not recognizing Monk as an officer, under the thick cloak which enveloped him, “that house was inhabited by a foreigner, and this foreigner became suspected by the soldiers. They wanted to get into his house under pretense of taking him to the camp; but he, without being frightened by their number, threatened death to the first who should cross the threshold of his door, and as there was one who did venture, the Frenchman stretched him on the earth with a pistol-shot.”

“Ah! he is a Frenchman, is he?” said D’Artagnan, rubbing his hands. “Good!”

“How good?” replied the fisherman.

“No, I don’t mean that. — What then — my tongue slipped.”

“What then, sir — why, the other men became as enraged as so many lions: they fired more than a hundred shots at the house; but the Frenchman was sheltered by the wall, and every time they tried to enter by the door they met with a shot from his lackey, whose aim is deadly, d’ye see? Every time they threatened the window, they met with a pistol-shot from the master. Look and count — there are seven men down.

“Ah! my brave countryman,” cried D’Artagnan, “wait a little, wait a little. I will be with you, and we will settle with this rabble.”

“One instant, sir,” said Monk, “wait.”

“Long?”

“No; only the time to ask a question.” Then, turning towards the sailor, “My friend,” asked he with an emotion which, in spite of all his self-command, he could not conceal, “whose soldiers are these, pray tell me?”

“Whose should they be but that madman, Monk’s?”

“There has been no battle, then?”

“A battle, ah, yes! for what purpose? Lambert’s army is melting away like snow in April. All come to Monk, officers and soldiers. In a week Lambert won’t have fifty men left.”

The fisherman was interrupted by a fresh discharge directed against the house, and by another pistol-shot which replied to the discharge and struck down the most daring of the aggressors. The rage of the soldiers was at its height. The fire still continued to increase, and a crest of flame and smoke whirled and spread over the roof of the house. D’Artagnan could no longer contain himself. “Mordioux!” said he to Monk, glancing at him sideways: “you are a general, and allow your men to burn houses and assassinate people, while you look on and warm your hands at the blaze of the conflagration? Mordioux! you are not a man.”

“Patience, sir, patience!” said Monk, smiling.

“Patience! yes, until that brave gentleman is roasted — is that what you mean?” And D’Artagnan rushed forward.

“Remain where you are, sir,” said Monk, in a tone of command. And he advanced towards the house, just as an officer had approached it, saying to the besieged: “The house is burning, you will be roasted within an hour! There is still time — come, tell us what you know of General Monk, and we will spare your life. Reply, or by Saint Patrick —- “

The besieged made no answer; he was no doubt reloading his pistol.

“A reinforcement is expected,” continued the officer; “in a quarter of an hour there will be a hundred men around your house.”

“I reply to you,” said the Frenchman. “Let your men be sent away; I will come out freely and repair to the camp alone, or else I will be killed here!”

“Mille tonnerres!” shouted D’Artagnan; “why that’s the voice of Athos! Ah, canailles!” and the sword of D’Artagnan flashed from its sheath. Monk stopped him and advanced himself, exclaiming, in a sonorous voice: “Hola! what is going on here? Digby, whence this fire? why these cries?”

“The general!” cried Digby, letting the point of his sword fall.

“The general!” repeated the soldiers.

“Well, what is there so astonishing in that?” said Monk, in a calm tone. Then, silence being re-established — “Now,” said he, “who lit this fire?”

The soldiers hung their heads.

“What! do I ask a question, and nobody answers me?” said Monk. “What! do I find a fault, and nobody repairs it? The fire is still burning, I believe.”

Immediately the twenty men rushed forward, seizing pails, buckets, jars, barrels, and extinguishing the fire with as much ardor as they had, an instant before employed in promoting it. But already, and before all the rest, D’Artagnan had applied a ladder to the house crying, “Athos! it is I, D’Artagnan! Do not kill me my dearest friend!” And in a moment the count was clasped in his arms.

In the meantime, Grimaud, preserving his calmness, dismantled the fortification of the ground-floor, and after having opened the door, stood with his arms folded quietly on the sill. Only, on hearing the voice of D’Artagnan, he uttered an exclamation of surprise. The fire being extinguished, the soldiers presented themselves, Digby at their head.

“General,” said he, “excuse us; what we have done was for love of your honor, whom we thought lost.”

“You are mad, gentlemen. Lost! Is a man like me to be lost? Am I not permitted to be absent, according to my pleasure, without giving formal notice? Do you, by chance, take me for a citizen from the city? Is a gentleman, my friend, my guest, to be besieged, entrapped, and threatened with death, because he is suspected? What signifies that word, suspected? Curse me if I don’t have every one of you shot like dogs that the brave gentleman has left alive!”

“General,” said Digby, piteously, “there were twenty-eight of us, and see, there are eight on the ground.”

“I authorize M. le Comte de la Fere to send the twenty to join the eight,” said Monk, stretching out his hand to Athos. “Let them return to camp. Mr. Digby, you will consider yourself under arrest for a month.”

“General —- “

“That is to teach you, sir, not to act, another time, without orders.”

“I had those of the lieutenant, general.”

“The lieutenant has no such orders to give you, and he shall be placed under arrest, instead of you, if he has really commanded you to burn this gentleman.”

“He did not command that, general; he commanded us to bring him to the camp; but the count was not willing to follow us.”

“I was not willing that they should enter and plunder my house,” said Athos to Monk, with a significant look.

“And you were quite right. To the camp, I say.” The soldiers departed with dejected looks. “Now we are alone,” said Monk to Athos, “have the goodness to tell me, monsieur, why you persisted in remaining here, whilst you had your felucca —- “

“I waited for you, general,” said Athos. “Had not your honor appointed to meet me in a week?”

An eloquent look from D’Artagnan made it clear to Monk that these two men, so brave and so loyal, had not acted in concert for his abduction. He knew already it could not be so.

“Monsieur,” said he to D’Artagnan, “you were perfectly right. Have the kindness to allow me a moment’s conversation with M. le Comte de la Fere?”

D’Artagnan took advantage of this to go and ask Grimaud how he was. Monk requested Athos to conduct him to the chamber he lived in.

This chamber was still full of smoke and rubbish. More than fifty balls had passed through the windows and mutilated the walls. They found a table, inkstand, and materials for writing. Monk took up a pen, wrote a single line, signed it, folded the paper, sealed the letter with the seal of his ring, and handed over the missive to Athos, saying, “Monsieur, carry, if you please, this letter to King Charles II., and set out immediately, if nothing detains you here any longer.”

“And the casks?” said Athos.

“The fisherman who brought me hither will assist you in transporting them on board. Depart, if possible, within an hour.”

“Yes, general,” said Athos.

“Monsieur d’Artagnan!” cried Monk, from the window. D’Artagnan ran up precipitately

“Embrace your friend and bid him adieu, sir; he is returning to Holland.”

“To Holland!” cried D’Artagnan; “and I?”

“You are at liberty to follow him, monsieur, but I request you to remain,” said Monk. “Will you refuse me?”

“Oh, no, general; I am at your orders.”

D’Artagnan embraced Athos, and only had time to bid him adieu. Monk watched them both. Then he took upon himself the preparations for the departure, the transportation of the casks on board, and the embarking of Athos; then, taking D’Artagnan by the arm, who was quite amazed and agitated, he led him towards Newcastle. Whilst going along, the general leaning on his arm, D’Artagnan could not help murmuring to himself, — “Come, come, it seems to me that the shares of the firm of Planchet and Company are rising.”

CHAPTER 31

Monk reveals himself

D’Artagnan, although he flattered himself with better success, had, nevertheless, not too well comprehended his situation. It was a strange and grave subject for him to reflect upon — this voyage of Athos into England; this league of the king with Athos, and that extraordinary combination of his design with that of the Comte de la Fere. The best way was to let things follow their own train. An imprudence had been committed, and, whilst having succeeded, as he had promised, D’Artagnan found that he had gained no advantage by his success. Since everything was lost, he could risk no more.

D’Artagnan followed Monk through his camp. The return of the general had produced a marvelous effect, for his people had thought him lost. But Monk, with his austere look and icy demeanor, appeared to ask of his eager lieutenants and delighted soldiers the cause of all this joy. Therefore, to the lieutenants who had come to meet him, and who expressed the uneasiness with which they had learnt his departure, —

“Why is all this?” said he; “am I obliged to give you an account of myself?”

“But, your honor, the sheep may well tremble without the shepherd.”

“Tremble!” replied Monk, in his calm and powerful voice; “ah, monsieur, what a word! Curse me, if my sheep have not both teeth and claws; I renounce being their shepherd. Ah, you tremble, gentlemen, do you?”

“Yes, general, for you.”

“Oh! pray meddle with your own concerns. If I have not the wit God gave to Oliver Cromwell, I have that which He has sent to me: I am satisfied with it, however little it may be.”

The officer made no reply; and Monk, having imposed silence on his people, all remained persuaded that he had accomplished some important work or made some important trial. This was forming a very poor conception of his patience and scrupulous genius. Monk, if he had the good faith of the Puritans, his allies, must have returned fervent thanks to the patron saint who had taken him from the box of M. d’Artagnan. Whilst these things were going on, our musketeer could not help constantly repeating, —

“God grant that M. Monk may not have as much pride as I have; for I declare if any one had put me into a coffer with that grating over my mouth, and carried me packed up, like a calf, across the seas, I should cherish such a memory of my piteous looks in that coffer, and such an ugly animosity against him who had inclosed me in it, I should dread so greatly to see a sarcastic smile blooming upon the face of the malicious wretch, or in his attitude any grotesque imitation of my position in the box, that, Mordioux! I should plunge a good dagger into his throat in compensation for the grating, and would nail him down in a veritable bier, in remembrance of the false coffin in which I had been left to grow moldy for two days.”

And D’Artagnan spoke honestly when he spoke thus; for the skin of our Gascon was a very thin one. Monk, fortunately, entertained other ideas. He never opened his mouth to his timid conqueror concerning the past; but he admitted him very near to his person in his labors, took him with him to several reconnoiterings, in such a way as to obtain that which he evidently warmly desired, — a rehabilitation in the mind of D’Artagnan. The latter conducted himself like a past-master in the art of flattery: he admired all Monk’s tactics, and the ordering of his camp, he joked very pleasantly upon the circumvallations of Lambert’s camp, who had, he said, very uselessly given himself the trouble to inclose a camp for twenty thousand men, whilst an acre of ground would have been quite sufficient for the corporal and fifty guards who would perhaps remain faithful to him.

Monk, immediately after his arrival, had accepted the proposition made by Lambert the evening before, for an interview, and which Monk’s lieutenants had refused under the pretext that the general was indisposed. This interview was neither long nor interesting: Lambert demanded a profession of faith from his rival. The latter declared he had no other opinion than that of the majority. Lambert asked if it would not be more expedient to terminate the quarrel by an alliance than by a battle. Monk hereupon demanded a week for consideration. Now, Lambert could not refuse this: and Lambert, nevertheless, had come, saying that he should devour Monk’s army. Therefore, at the end of the interview, which Lambert’s party watched with impatience, nothing was decided — neither treaty nor battle — the rebel army, as M. d’Artagnan had foreseen, began to prefer the good cause to the bad one, and the parliament, rumpish as it was, to the pompous nothings of Lambert’s designs.

They remembered, likewise, the good feasts of London —the profusion of ale and sherry with which the citizens of London paid their friends the soldiers; — they looked with terror at the black war bread, at the troubled waters of the Tweed, — too salt for the glass, not enough so for the pot; and they said to themselves, “Are not the roast meats kept warm for Monk in London?” From that time nothing was heard of but desertion in Lambert’s army. The soldiers allowed themselves to be drawn away by the force of principles, which are, like discipline, the obligatory tie in everybody constituted for any purpose. Monk defended the parliament — Lambert attacked it. Monk had no more inclination to support parliament than Lambert, but he had it inscribed on his standards, so that all those of the contrary party were reduced to write upon theirs “Rebellion,” which sounded ill to puritan ears. They flocked, then, from Lambert to Monk, as sinners flock from Baal to God.

Monk made his calculations, at a thousand desertions a day Lambert had men enough to last twenty days; but there is in sinking things such a growth of weight and swiftness, which combine with each other, that a hundred left the first day, five hundred the second, a thousand the third. Monk thought he had obtained his rate. But from one thousand the deserters increased to two thousand, then to four thousand, and, a week after, Lambert, perceiving that he had no longer the possibility of accepting battle, if it were offered to him, took the wise resolution of decamping during the night, returning to London, and being beforehand with Monk in constructing a power with the wreck of the military party.

But Monk, free and without uneasiness, marched towards London as a conqueror, augmenting his army with all the floating parties on his way. He encamped at Barnet, that is to say, within four leagues of the capital, cherished by the parliament, which thought it beheld in him a protector, and awaited by the people, who were anxious to see him reveal himself, that they might judge him. D’Artagnan himself had not been able to fathom his tactics; he observed — he admired. Monk could not enter London with a settled determination without bringing about civil war. He temporized for a short time.

Suddenly, when least expected, Monk drove the military party out of London, and installed himself in the city amidst the citizens, by order of the parliament; then, at the moment when the citizens were crying out against Monk — at the moment when the soldiers themselves were accusing their leader — Monk, finding himself certain of a majority, declared to the Rump Parliament that it must abdicate — be dissolved — and yield its place to a government which would not be a joke. Monk pronounced this declaration, supported by fifty thousand swords, to which, that same evening, were