in fact, stand in need of your company; but as I recognize that this company is not only honorable, but necessary, I accept it." "Do you desire we should take any people with us?" asked Monk. "General, I believe that would be useless, if you yourself do not see the necessity for it. Two men and a horse will suffice to transport the two casks on board the felucca which brought me hither." "But it will be necessary to pick, dig, and remove the earth, and split stones; you don't intend doing this work yourself, monsieur, do you?" "General, there is no picking or digging required. The treasure is buried in the sepulchral vault of the convent, under a stone in which is fixed a large iron ring, and under which there are four steps leading down. The two casks are there, placed end to end, covered with a coat of plaster in the form of a bier. There is, besides, an inscription, which will enable me to recognize the stone; and as I am not willing, in an affair of delicacy and confidence, to keep the secret from your honor, here is the inscription: - '_Hic jacet venerabilis, Petrus Gulielmus Scott, Canon Honorab. Conventus Novi Castelli. Obiit quarta et decima Feb. ann. Dom. MCCVIII. Requiescat in pace._'" Monk did not lose a single word. He was astonished either at the marvelous duplicity of this man and the superior style in which he played his part, or at the good loyal faith with which he presented his request, in a situation in which concerning a million of money, risked against the blow from a dagger, amidst an army that would have looked upon the theft as a restitution. "Very well," said he; "I shall accompany you; and the adventure appears to me so wonderful, that I shall carry the torch myself." And saying these words, he girded on a short sword, placed a pistol in his belt, disclosing in this movement, which opened his doublet a little, the fine rings of a coat of mail, destined to protect him from the first dagger- thrust of an assassin. After which he took a Scottish dirk in his left hand, and then turning to Athos, "Are you ready, monsieur?" said he. "I am." Athos, as if in opposition to what Monk had done, unfastened his poniard, which he placed upon the table; unhooked his sword-belt, which he laid close to his poniard; and, without affectation, opening his doublet as if to look for his handkerchief, showed beneath his fine cambric shirt his naked breast, without weapons either offensive or defensive. "This is truly a singular man," said Monk; "he is without any arms; he has an ambuscade placed somewhere yonder." "General," said he, as if he had divined Monk's thought, "you wish we should be alone; that is very right, but a great captain ought never to expose himself with temerity. It is night, the passage of the marsh may present dangers; be accompanied." "You are right," replied he, calling Digby. The aid-de-camp appeared. "Fifty men with swords and muskets," said he, looking at Athos. "That is too few if there is danger, too many if there is not." "I will go alone," said Monk; "I want nobody. Come, monsieur." Chapter XXV: The Marsh. Athos and Monk passed over, in going from the camp towards the Tweed, that part of the ground which Digby had traversed with the fishermen coming from the Tweed to the camp. The aspect of this place, the aspect of the changes man had wrought in it, was of a nature to produce a great effect upon a lively and delicate imagination like that of Athos. Athos looked at nothing but these desolate spots; Monk looked at nothing but Athos - at Athos, who, with his eyes sometimes directed towards heaven, and sometimes towards the earth, sought, thought, and sighed. Digby, whom the last orders of the general, and particularly the accent with which he had given them, had at first a little excited, Digby followed the pair at about twenty paces, but the general having turned round as if astonished to find his orders had not been obeyed, the aid-de- camp perceived his indiscretion, and returned to his tent. He supposed that the general wished to make, incognito, one of those reviews of vigilance which every experienced captain never fails to make on the eve of a decisive engagement: he explained to himself the presence of Athos in this case as an inferior explains all that is mysterious on the part of his leader. Athos might be, and, indeed, in the eyes of Digby, must be, a spy, whose information was to enlighten the general. At the end of a walk of about ten minutes among the tents and posts, which were closer together near the headquarters, Monk entered upon a little causeway which diverged into three branches. That on the left led to the river, that in the middle to Newcastle Abbey on the marsh, that on the right crossed the first lines of Monk's camp; that is to say, the lines nearest to Lambert's army. Beyond the river was an advanced post, belonging to Monk's army, which watched the enemy; it was composed of one hundred and fifty Scots. They had swum across the Tweed, and, in case of attack, were to recross it in the same manner, giving the alarm; but as there was no post at that spot, and as Lambert's soldiers were not so prompt at taking to the water as Monk's were, the latter appeared not to have as much uneasiness on that side. On this side of the river, at about five hundred paces from the old abbey, the fishermen had taken up their abode amidst a crowd of small tents raised by soldiers of the neighboring clans, who had with them their wives and children. All this confusion, seen by the moon's light, presented a striking _coup d'oeil_; the half shadow enlarged every detail, and the light, that flatterer which only attaches itself to the polished side of things, courted upon each rusty musket the point still left intact, and upon every rag of canvas the whitest and least sullied part. Monk arrived then with Athos, crossing this spot, illumined with a double light, the silver splendor of the moon, and the red blaze of the fires at the meeting of these three causeways; there he stopped, and addressing his companion, - "Monsieur," said he, "do you know your road?" "General, if I am not mistaken, the middle causeway leads straight to the abbey." "That is right; but we shall want lights to guide us in the vaults." Monk turned round. "Ah! I thought Digby was following us!" said he. "So much the better; he will procure us what we want." "Yes, general, there is a man yonder who has been walking behind us for some time." "Digby!" cried Monk. "Digby! come here, if you please." But instead of obeying, the shadow made a motion of surprise, and, retreating instead of advancing, it bent down and disappeared along the jetty on the left, directing its course towards the lodging of the fishermen. "It appears not to be Digby," said Monk. Both had followed the shadow which had vanished. But it was not so rare a thing for a man to be wandering about at eleven o'clock at night, in a camp in which are reposing ten or eleven thousand men, as to give Monk and Athos any alarm at his disappearance. "As it is so," said Monk, "and we must have a light, a lantern, a torch, or something by which we may see where to see our feet; let us seek this light." "General, the first soldier we meet will light us." "No," said Monk, in order to discover if there were not any connivance between the Comte de la Fere and the fisherman. "No, I should prefer one of these French sailors who came this evening to sell me their fish. They leave to-morrow, and the secret will be better kept by them; whereas, if a report should be spread in the Scottish army, that treasures are to be found in the abbey of Newcastle, my Highlanders will believe there is a million concealed beneath every slab, and they will not leave stone upon stone in the building." "Do as you think best, general," replied Athos, in a natural tone of voice, making evident that soldier or fisherman was the same to him, and that he had no preference. Monk approached the causeway behind which had disappeared the person he had taken for Digby, and met a patrol who, making the tour of the tents, was going towards headquarters; he was stopped with his companion, gave the password, and went on. A soldier, roused by the noise, unrolled his plaid, and looked up to see what was going forward. "Ask him," said Monk to Athos, "where the fishermen are; if I were to speak to him, he would know me." Athos went up to the soldier, who pointed out the tent to him; immediately Monk and Athos turned towards it. It appeared to the general that at the moment they came up, a shadow like that they had already seen, glided into this tent; but on drawing nearer he perceived he must have been mistaken, for all of them were asleep _pele mele_, and nothing was seen but arms and legs joined, crossed, and mixed. Athos, fearing lest he should be suspected of connivance with some of his compatriots, remained outside the tent. "_Hola!_" said Monk, in French, "wake up here." Two or three of the sleepers got up. "I want a man to light me," continued Monk. "Your honor may depend on us," said a voice which made Athos start. "Where do you wish us to go?" "You shall see. A light! come, quickly!" "Yes, your honor. Does it please your honor that I should accompany you?" "You or another; it is of very little consequence, provided I have a light." "It is strange!" thought Athos; "what a singular voice that man has!" "Some fire, you fellows!" cried the fisherman; "come, make haste!" Then addressing his companion nearest to him in a low voice: - "Get ready a light, Menneville," said he, "and hold yourself ready for anything." One of the fishermen struck light from a stone, set fire to some tinder, and by the aid of a match lit a lantern. The light immediately spread all over the tent. "Are you ready, monsieur?" said Monk to Athos, who had turned away, not to expose his face to the light. "Yes, general," replied he. "Ah! the French gentleman!" said the leader of the fishermen to himself.
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