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List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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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 two other 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 XXVIII:
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 in shore, 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, gilded 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 with 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,

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