List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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of those they were going to face.  This time they were to embark on board
a large vessel which awaited them at Gravesend, and Charles II., always
delicate in small affairs, had sent one of his yachts, with twelve men of
his Scots guard, to do honor to the ambassador he was sending to France.
At midnight the yacht had deposited its passengers on board the vessel,
and at eight o'clock in the morning, the vessel landed the ambassador and
his friend on the wharf at Boulogne.  Whilst the comte, with Grimaud, was
busy procuring horses to go straight to Paris, D'Artagnan hastened to the
hostelry where, according to his orders, his little army was to wait for
him.  These gentlemen were at breakfast upon oysters, fish, and spiced
brandy, when D'Artagnan appeared.  They were all very gay, but not one of
them had yet exceeded the bounds of reason.  A hurrah of joy welcomed the
general.  "Here I am," said D'Artagnan, "the campaign is ended.  I am
come to bring each his supplement of pay, as agreed upon."  Their eyes
sparkled.  "I will lay a wager there are not, at this moment, a hundred
crowns remaining in the purse of the richest among you."

"That is true!" cried they in chorus.

"Gentlemen," said D'Artagnan, "then, this is the last order.  The treaty
of commerce has been concluded, thanks to our _coup-de-main_ which made
us masters of the most skillful financier of England, for now I am at
liberty to confess to you that the man we had to carry off was the
treasurer of General Monk."

This word treasurer produced a certain effect on his army.  D'Artagnan
observed that the eyes of Menneville alone did not evince perfect faith.
"This treasurer," he continued, "I conveyed to a neutral territory,
Holland; I forced him to sign the treaty; I have even reconducted him to
Newcastle, and he was obliged to be satisfied with our proceedings
towards him - the deal coffer being always carried without jolting, and
being lined softly, I asked a gratification for you.  Here it is."  He
threw a respectable-looking purse upon the cloth; and all involuntarily
stretched out their hands.  "One moment, my lambs," said D'Artagnan; "if
there are profits, there are also charges."

"Oh! oh!" murmured they.

"We are about to find ourselves, my friends, in a position which would
not be tenable for people without brains.  I speak plainly; we are
between the gallows and the Bastile."

"Oh! Oh!" said the chorus.

"That is easily understood.  It was necessary to explain to General Monk
the disappearance of his treasurer.  I waited, for that purpose, till the
unhoped-for moment of the restoration of King Charles II., who is one of
my friends."

This army exchanged a glance of satisfaction in reply to the sufficiently
proud look of D'Artagnan.  "The king being restored, I restored to Monk
his man of business, a little plucked, it is true, but, in short, I
restored him.  Now, General Monk, when he pardoned me, for he has
pardoned me, could not help repeating these words to me, which I charge
every one of you to engrave deeply there, between the eyes, under the
vault of the cranium: - 'Monsieur, the joke has been a good one, but I
don't naturally like jokes; if ever a word of what you have done' (you
understand me, Menneville) 'escapes from your lips, or the lips of your
companions, I have, in my government of Scotland and Ireland, seven
hundred and forty-one wooden gibbets, of strong oak, clamped with iron,
and freshly greased every week.  I will make a present of one of these
gibbets to each of you, and observe well, M. d'Artagnan,' added he
(observe it also, M. Menneville), 'I shall still have seven hundred and
thirty left for my private pleasure.  And still further  '"

"Ah! ah!" said the auxiliaries, "is there still more?"

"A mere trifle.  'Monsieur d'Artagnan, I send to the king of France the
treaty in question, with a request that he will cast into the Bastile
provisionally, and then send to me, all who have taken part in this
expedition; and that is a prayer with which the king will certainly
comply.'"

A cry of terror broke from all corners of the table.

"There! there! there!" said D'Artagnan, "this brave M. Monk has forgotten
one thing, and that is he does not know the name of any one of you; I
alone know you, and it is not I, you well may believe, who will betray
you.  Why should I?  As for you - I cannot suppose you will be silly
enough to denounce yourselves, for then the king, to spare himself the
expense of feeding and lodging you, will send you off to Scotland, where
the seven hundred and forty-one gibbets are to be found.  That is all,
messieurs; I have not another word to add to what I have had the honor to
tell you.  I am sure you have understood me perfectly well, have you not,
M. Menneville?"

"Perfectly," replied the latter.

"Now the crowns!" said D'Artagnan.  "Shut the doors," he cried, and
opened the bag upon the table, from which rolled several fine gold
crowns.  Every one made a movement towards the floor.

"Gently!" cried D'Artagnan.  "Let no one stoop, and then I shall not be
out in my reckoning."  He found it all right, gave fifty of those
splendid crowns to each man, and received as many benedictions as he
bestowed pieces.  "Now," said he, "if it were possible for you to reform
a little, if you could become good and honest citizens - "

"That is rather difficult," said one of the troop.

"What then, captain?" said another.

"Because I might be able to find you again, and, who knows what other
good fortune?"  He made a sign to Menneville, who listened to all he said
with a composed air.  "Menneville," said he, "come with me.  Adieu, my
brave fellows!  I need not warn you to be discreet."

Menneville followed him, whilst the salutations of the auxiliaries were
mingled with the sweet sound of the money clinking in their pockets.

"Menneville," said D'Artagnan, when they were once in the street, "you
were not my dupe; beware of being so.  You did not appear to have any
fear of the gibbets of Monk, or the Bastile of his majesty, King Louis
XIV., but you will do me the favor of being afraid of me.  Then listen;
at the smallest word that shall escape you, I will kill you as I would a
fowl.  I have absolution from our holy father, the pope, in my pocket."

"I assure you I know absolutely nothing, my dear M. d'Artagnan, and that
your words have all been to me so many articles of faith."

"I was quite sure you were an intelligent fellow," said the musketeer; "I
have tried you for a length of time.  These fifty crowns which I give you
above the rest will prove the esteem  I have for you.  Take them."

"Thanks, Monsieur d'Artagnan," said Menneville.

"With that sum you can really become an honest man," replied D'Artagnan,
in the most serious tone possible.  "It would be disgraceful for a mind
like yours, and a name you no longer dare to bear, to sink forever under
the rust of an evil life.  Become a gallant man, Menneville, and live for
a year upon those hundred gold crowns: it is a good provision; twice the
pay of a high officer.  In a year come to me, and, _Mordioux!_  I will
make something of you."

Menneville swore, as his comrades had sworn, that he would be as silent
as the grave.  And yet some one must have spoken; and as, certainly, it
was not one of the nine companions, and quite as certainly, it was not
Menneville, it must have been D'Artagnan, who, in his quality of a
Gascon, had his tongue very near to his lips.  For, in short, if it were
not he, who could it be?  And how can it be explained that the secret of
the deal coffer pierced with holes should come to our knowledge, and in
so complete a fashion that we have, as has been seen, related the history
of it in all its most minute details; details which, besides, throw a
light as new as unexpected upon all that portion of the history of
England which has been left, up to the present day, completely in
darkness by the historian of our neighbors?


Chapter XXXVIII:
In which it is seen that the French Grocer had already been established
in the Seventeenth Century.

His accounts once settled, and his recommendations made, D'Artagnan
thought of nothing but returning to Paris as soon as possible.  Athos, on
his part, was anxious to reach home and to rest a little.  However whole
the character and the man may remain after the fatigues of a voyage, the
traveler perceives with pleasure, at the close of the day - even though
the day has been a fine one - that night is approaching, and will bring a
little sleep with it.  So, from Boulogne to Paris, jogging on, side by
side, the two friends, in some degree absorbed each in his individual
thoughts, conversed of nothing sufficiently interesting for us to repeat
to our readers.  Each of them given up to his personal reflections, and
constructing his future after his own fashion, was, above all, anxious to
abridge the distance by speed.  Athos and D'Artagnan arrived at the gates
of Paris on the evening of the fourth day after leaving Boulogne.

"Where are you going, my friend?" asked Athos.  "I shall direct my course
straight to my hotel."

"And I straight to my partner's."

"To Planchet's?"

"Yes; at the Pilon d'Or."

"Well, but shall we not meet again?"

"If you remain in Paris, yes; for I shall stay here."

"No: after having embraced Raoul, with whom I have appointed a meeting at
my hotel, I shall set out immediately for La Fere."

"Well, adieu, then, dear and true friend."

"_Au revoir!_  I should rather say, for why can you not come and live
with me at Blois?  You are free, you are rich, I shall purchase for you,
if you like, a handsome estate in the vicinity of Cheverny or of
Bracieux.  On the one side you will have the finest woods in the world,
which join those of Chambord; on the other, admirable marshes.  You who
love sporting, and who, whether you admit it or not, are a poet, my dear
friend, you will find pheasants, rail and teal, without counting sunsets
and excursions on the water, to make you fancy yourself Nimrod and Apollo
themselves.  While awaiting the purchase, you can live at La Fere, and we

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