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List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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"Oh, monsieur, your thirty-seven and a half pistoles are all counted out
ready for you, upstairs in my chamber; but there are in that chamber
thirty customers, who are sucking the staves of a little barrel of Oporto
which I tapped for them this very morning.  Give me a minute, - only a
minute?"

"So be it; so be it."

"I will go," said Raoul, in a low voice, to D'Artagnan; "this hilarity is
vile!"

"Monsieur," replied D'Artagnan, sternly, "you will please to remain where
you are.  The soldier ought to familiarize himself with all kinds of
spectacles.  There are in the eye, when it is young, fibers which we must
learn how to harden; and we are not truly generous and good save from the
moment when the eye has become hardened, and the heart remains tender.
Besides, my little Raoul, would you leave me alone here?  That would be
very wrong of you.  Look, there is yonder in the lower court a tree, and
under the shade of that tree we shall breathe more freely than in this
hot atmosphere of spilt wine."

From the spot on which they had placed themselves the two new guests of
the Image-de-Notre-Dame heard the ever-increasing hubbub of the tide of
people, and lost neither a cry nor a gesture of the drinkers, at tables
in the _cabaret_, or disseminated in the chambers.  If D'Artagnan had
wished to place himself as a _vidette_ for an expedition, he could not
have succeeded better.  The tree under which he and Raoul were seated
covered them with its already thick foliage; it was a low, thick chestnut-
tree, with inclined branches, that cast their shade over a table so
dilapidated the drinkers had abandoned it.  We said that from this post
D'Artagnan saw everything.  He observed the goings and comings of the
waiters; the arrival of fresh drinkers; the welcome, sometimes friendly,
sometimes hostile, given to the newcomers by others already installed.
He observed all this to amuse himself, for the thirty-seven and a half
pistoles were a long time coming.  Raoul recalled his attention to it.
"Monsieur," said he, "you do not hurry your tenant, and the condemned
will soon be here.  There will then be such a press we shall not be able
to get out."

"You are right," said the musketeer; "_Hola!_ oh! somebody there!
_Mordioux!_"  But it was in vain he cried and knocked upon the wreck of
the old table, which fell to pieces beneath his fist; nobody came.
D'Artagnan was preparing to go and seek the _cabaretier_ himself, to
force him to a definite explanation, when the door of the court in which
he was with Raoul, a door which communicated with the garden situated at
the back, opened, and a man dressed as a cavalier, with his sword in the
sheath, but not at his belt, crossed the court without closing the door;
and having cast an oblique glance at D'Artagnan and his companion,
directed his course towards the _cabaret_ itself, looking about in all
directions with his eyes capable of piercing walls of consciences.
"Humph!" said D'Artagnan, "my tenants are communicating.  That, no doubt,
now, is some amateur in hanging matters."  At the same moment the cries
and disturbance in the upper chambers ceased.  Silence, under such
circumstances, surprises more than a twofold increase of noise.
D'Artagnan wished to see what was the cause of this sudden silence.  He
then perceived that this man, dressed as a cavalier, had just entered the
principal chamber, and was haranguing the tipplers, who all listened to
him with the greatest attention.  D'Artagnan would perhaps have heard his
speech but for the dominant noise of the popular clamors, which made a
formidable accompaniment to the harangue of the orator.  But it was soon
finished, and all the people the _cabaret_ contained came out, one after
the other, in little groups, so that there only remained six in the
chamber; one of these six, the man with the sword, took the _cabaretier_
aside, engaging him in discourse more or less serious, whilst the others
lit a great fire in the chimney-place - a circumstance rendered strange
by the fine weather and the heat.

"It is very singular," said D'Artagnan to Raoul, "but I think I know
those faces yonder."

"Don't you think you can smell the smoke here?" said Raoul.

"I rather think I can smell a conspiracy," replied D'Artagnan.

He had not finished speaking, when four of these men came down into the
court, and without the appearance of any bad design, mounted guard at the
door of communication, casting, at intervals, glances at D'Artagnan,
which signified many things.

"_Mordioux!_" said D'Artagnan, in a low voice," there is something going
on.  Are you curious, Raoul?"

"According to the subject, chevalier."

"Well, I am as curious as an old woman.  Come a little more in front; we
shall get a better view of the place.  I would lay a wager that view will
be something curious."

"But you know, monsieur le chevalier, that I am not willing to become a
passive and indifferent spectator of the death of the two poor devils."

"And I, then - do you think I am a savage?  We will go in again, when it
is time to do so.  Come along!"  And they made their way towards the
front of the house, and placed themselves near the window which, still
more strangely than the rest, remained unoccupied.  The two last
drinkers, instead of looking out at this window, kept up the fire.  On
seeing D'Artagnan and his friend enter: - "Ah! ah! a reinforcement,"
murmured they.

D'Artagnan jogged Raoul's elbow.  "Yes, my braves, a reinforcement," said
he; "_cordieu!_ there is a famous fire.  Whom are you going to cook?"

The two men uttered a shout of jovial laughter, and, instead of
answering, threw on more wood.  D'Artagnan could not take his eyes off
them.

"I suppose," said one of the fire-makers, "they sent you to tell us the
time - did not they?"

"Without doubt they have," said D'Artagnan, anxious to know what was
going on; "why should I be here else, if it were not for that?"

"Then place yourself at the window, if you please, and observe."
D'Artagnan smiled in his mustache, made a sign to Raoul, and placed
himself at the window.


Chapter LXII:
Vive Colbert!

The spectacle which the Greve now presented was a frightful one.  The
heads, leveled by the perspective, extended afar, thick and agitated as
the ears of corn in a vast plain.  From time to time a fresh report, or a
distant rumor, made the heads oscillate and thousands of eyes flash.  Now
and then there were great movements.  All those ears of corn bent, and
became waves more agitated than those of the ocean, which rolled from the
extremities to the center, and beat, like the tides, against the hedge of
archers who surrounded the gibbets.  Then the handles of the halberds
were let fall upon the heads and shoulders of the rash invaders; at
times, also, it was the steel as well as the wood, and, in that case, a
large empty circle was formed around the guard; a space conquered upon
the extremities, which underwent, in their turn the oppression of the
sudden movement, which drove them against the parapets of the Seine.
From the window, that commanded a view of the whole Place, D'Artagnan
saw, with interior satisfaction, that such of the musketeers and guards
as found themselves involved in the crowd, were able, with blows of their
fists and the hilts of theirs swords, to keep room.  He even remarked
that they had succeeded, by that _esprit de corps_ which doubles the
strength of the soldier, in getting together in one group to the amount
of about fifty men; and that, with the exception of a dozen stragglers
whom he still saw rolling here and there, the nucleus was complete, and
within reach of his voice.  But it was not the musketeers and guards that
drew the attention of D'Artagnan.  Around the gibbets, and particularly
at the entrances to the arcade of Saint-Jean, moved a noisy mass, a busy
mass; daring faces, resolute demeanors were to be seen here and there,
mingled with silly faces and indifferent demeanors; signals were
exchanged, hands given and taken.  D'Artagnan remarked among the groups,
and those groups the most animated, the face of the cavalier whom he had
seen enter by the door of communication from his garden, and who had gone
upstairs to harangue the drinkers.  That man was organizing troops and
giving orders.

"_Mordioux!_" said D'Artagnan to himself, "I was not deceived; I know
that man, - it is Menneville.  What the devil is he doing here?"

A distant murmur, which became more distinct by degrees, stopped this
reflection, and drew his attention another way.  This murmur was
occasioned by the arrival of the culprits; a strong picket of archers
preceded them, and appeared at the angle of the arcade.  The entire crowd
now joined as if in one cry; all the cries united formed one immense
howl.  D'Artagnan saw Raoul was becoming pale, and he slapped him roughly
on the shoulder.  The fire-keepers turned round on hearing the great cry,
and asked what was going on.  "The condemned are arrived," said
D'Artagnan.  "That's well," replied they, again replenishing the fire.
D'Artagnan looked at them with much uneasiness; it was evident that these
men who were making such a fire for no apparent purpose had some strange
intentions.  The condemned appeared upon the Place.  They were walking,
the executioner before them, whilst fifty archers formed a hedge on their
right and their left.  Both were dressed in black; they appeared pale,
but firm.  They looked impatiently over the people's heads, standing on
tip-toe at every step.  D'Artagnan remarked this.  "_Mordioux!_" cried
he, "they are in a great hurry to get a sight of the gibbet!"  Raoul drew
back, without, however, having the power to leave the window.  Terror
even has its attractions.

"To the death! to the death!" cried fifty thousand voices.

"Yes; to the death!" howled a hundred frantic others, as if the great
mass had given them the reply.

"To the halter! to the halter!" cried the great whole; "_Vive le roi!_"

"Well," said D'Artagnan, "this is droll; I should have thought it was M.
Colbert who had caused them to be hung."

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