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List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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an interview with your honor, for an affair of importance."

"Monsieur," replied Monk, in French, "you speak our language well for a
son of the continent.  I ask your pardon - for doubtless the question is
indiscreet - do you speak French with the same purity?"

"There is nothing surprising, my lord, in my speaking English tolerably;
I resided for some time in England in my youth, and since then I have
made two voyages to this country."  These words were spoken in French,
and with a purity of accent that bespoke not only a Frenchman, but a
Frenchman from the vicinity of Tours.

"And what part of England have you resided in, monsieur?"

"In my youth, London, my lord; then, about 1635, I made a pleasure trip
to Scotland; and lastly, in 1648, I lived for some time at Newcastle,
particularly in the convent, the gardens of which are now occupied by
your army."

"Excuse me, monsieur; but you must comprehend that these questions are
necessary on my part - do you not?"

"It would astonish me, my lord, if they were not asked."

"Now, then, monsieur, what can I do to serve you?  What do you wish?"

"This, my lord; - but, in the first place, are we alone?"

"Perfectly so, monsieur, except, of course, the post which guards us."
So saying, Monk pulled open the canvas with his hand, and pointed to the
soldier placed at ten paces from the tent, and who, at the first call,
could have rendered assistance in a second.

"In that case, my lord," said the gentleman, in as calm a tone as if he
had been for a length of time in habits of intimacy with his
interlocutor, "I have made up my mind to address myself to you, because I
believe you to be an honest man.  Indeed, the communication I am about to
make to you will prove to you the esteem in which I hold you."

Monk, astonished at this language, which established between him and the
French gentleman equality at least,  raised his piercing eye to the
stranger's face, and with a sensible irony conveyed by the inflection of
his voice alone, for not a muscle of his face moved, - "I thank you,
monsieur," said he; "but, in the first place, to whom have I the honor of
speaking?"

"I sent you my name by your sergeant, my lord."

"Excuse him, monsieur, he is a Scotsman, - he could not retain it."

"I am called the Comte de la Fere, monsieur," said Athos, bowing.

"The Comte de la Fere?" said Monk, endeavoring to recollect the name.
"Pardon me, monsieur, but this appears to be the first time I have ever
heard that name.  Do you fill any post at the court of France?"

"None; I am a simple gentleman."

"What dignity?"

"King Charles I. made me a knight of the Garter, and Queen Anne of
Austria has given me the cordon of the Holy Ghost.  These are my only
dignities."

"The Garter! the Holy Ghost!  Are you a knight of those two orders,
monsieur?"

"Yes."

"And on what occasions have such favors been bestowed upon you?"

"For services rendered to their majesties."

Monk looked with astonishment at this man, who appeared to him so simple
and so great at the same time.  Then, as if he had renounced endeavoring
to penetrate this mystery of a simplicity and grandeur upon which the
stranger did not seem disposed to give him any other information than
that which he had already received, - "Did you present yourself yesterday
at our advanced posts?"

"And was sent back?  Yes, my lord."

"Many officers, monsieur, would permit no one to enter their camp,
particularly on the eve of a probable battle.  But I differ from my
colleagues, and like to leave nothing behind me.  Every advice is good
to me; all danger is sent to me by God, and I weigh it in my hand with
the energy He has given me.  So, yesterday, you were only sent back on
account of the council I was holding.  To-day I am at liberty, - speak."

"My lord, you have done much better in receiving me, for what I have to
say has nothing to do with the battle you are about to fight with General
Lambert, or with your camp; and the proof is, that I turned away my head
that I might not see your men, and closed my eyes that I might not count
your tents.  No, I came to speak to you, my lord, on my own account."

"Speak then, monsieur," said Monk.

"Just now," continued Athos, "I had the honor of telling your lordship
that for a long time I lived in Newcastle; it was in the time of Charles
I., and when the king was given up to Cromwell by the Scots."

"I know," said Monk, coldly.

"I had at that time a large sum in gold, and on the eve of the battle,
from a presentiment perhaps of the turn which things would take on the
morrow, I concealed it in the principal vault of the covenant of
Newcastle, in the tower whose summit you now see silvered by the
moonbeams.  My treasure has then remained interred there, and I have come
to entreat your honor to permit me to withdraw it before, perhaps, the
battle turning that way, a mine or some other war engine has destroyed
the building and scattered my gold, or rendered it so apparent that the
soldiers will take possession of it."

Monk was well acquainted with mankind; he saw in the physiognomy of this
gentleman all the energy, all the reason, all the circumspection
possible; he could therefore only attribute to a magnanimous confidence
the revelation the Frenchman had made him, and he showed himself
profoundly touched by it.

"Monsieur," said he, "you have augured well of me.  But is the sum worth
the trouble to which you expose yourself?  Do you even believe that it
can be in the same place where you left it?"

"It is there monsieur, I do not doubt."

"That is a reply to one question; but to the other.  I asked you if the
sum was so large as to warrant your exposing yourself thus."

"It is really large; yes, my lord, for it is a million I inclosed in two
barrels."

"A million!" cried Monk, at whom this time, in turn, Athos looked
earnestly and long.  Monk perceived this, and his mistrust returned.

"Here is a man," said he to himself, "who is laying a snare for me.  So
you wish to withdraw this money, monsieur," replied he, "as I understand?"

"If you please, my lord."

"To-day?"

"This very evening, and that on account of the circumstances I have
named."

"But, monsieur," objected Monk, "General Lambert is as near the abbey
where you have to act as I am.  Why, then, have you not addressed
yourself to him?"

"Because, my lord, when one acts in important matters, it is best to
consult one's instinct before everything.  Well, General Lambert does
not inspire with me so much confidence as you do."

"Be it so, monsieur.  I shall assist you in recovering your money, if,
however, it can still be there; for that is far from likely.  Since 1648
twelve years have rolled away, and many events have taken place."  Monk
dwelt upon this point to see if the French gentleman would seize the
evasions that were open to him, but Athos did not hesitate.

"I assure you, my lord," he said firmly, "that my conviction is, that the
two barrels have neither changed place nor master."  This reply had
removed one suspicion from the mind of Monk, but it had suggested
another.  Without doubt this Frenchman was some emissary sent to entice
into error the protector of the parliament; the gold was nothing but a
lure; and by the help of this lure they thought to excite the cupidity of
the general.  This gold might not exist.  It was Monk's business, then,
to seize the Frenchman in the act of falsehood and trick, and to draw
from the false step itself in which his enemies wished to entrap him, a
triumph for his renown.  When Monk was determined how to act, -

"Monsieur," said he to Athos, "without doubt you will do me the honor to
share my supper this evening?"

"Yes, my lord," replied Athos, bowing; "for you do me an honor of which I
feel myself worthy, by the inclination which drew me towards you."

"It is so much the more gracious on your part to accept my invitation
with such frankness, as my cooks are but few and inexperienced, and my
providers have returned this evening empty-handed; so that if it had not
been for a fisherman of your nation who strayed into our camp, General
Monk would have gone to bed without his supper to-day; I have, then, some
fresh fish to offer you, as the vendor assures me."

"My lord, it is principally for the sake of having the honor to pass an
hour with you."

After this exchange of civilities, during which Monk had lost nothing of
his circumspection, the supper, or what was to serve for one, had been
laid upon a deal table.  Monk invited the Comte de la Fere to be seated
at this table, and took his place opposite to him.  A single dish of
boiled fish, set before the two illustrious guests, was more tempting to
hungry stomachs than to delicate palates.

Whilst supping, that is, while eating the fish, washed down with bad ale,
Monk got Athos to relate to him the last events of the Fronde, the
reconciliation of M. de Conde with the king, and the probable marriage of
the infanta of Spain; but he avoided, as Athos himself avoided it, all
allusion to the political interests which united, or rather which
disunited at this time, England, France and Holland.

Monk, in this conversation, convinced himself of one thing, which he must
have remarked after the first words exchanged: that was, that he had to
deal with a man of high distinction.  He could not be an assassin, and it
was repugnant to Monk to believe him to be a spy; but there was
sufficient _finesse_ and at the same time firmness in Athos to lead Monk
to fancy he was a conspirator.  When they had quitted the table, "You
still believe in your treasure, then, monsieur?" asked Monk.

"Yes, my lord."

"Quite seriously?"

"Seriously."

"And you think you can find the place again where it was buried?"

"At the first inspection."

"Well, monsieur, from curiosity I shall accompany you.  And it is so much
the more necessary that I should accompany you, that you would find great
difficulties in passing through the camp without me or one of my
lieutenants."

"General, I would not suffer you to inconvenience yourself if I did not,

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