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List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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strand of a league or more, the sea covers at high tide, and which, at
the reflux, appears gray and desolate, strewed with polypi and seaweed,
with pebbles sparse and white, like bones in some vast old cemetery.  But
the soldier, the politician, and the ambitious man, had no longer the
sweet consolation of looking towards heaven to read there a hope or a
warning.  A red sky signifies nothing to such people but wind and
disturbance.  White and fleecy clouds upon the azure only say that the
sea will be smooth and peaceful.  D'Artagnan found the sky blue, the
breeze embalmed with saline perfumes, and he said: "I will embark with
the first tide, if it be but in a nutshell."

At Le Croisic as at Piriac, he had remarked enormous heaps of stone lying
along the shore.  These gigantic walls, diminished every tide by the
barges for Belle-Isle, were, in the eyes of the musketeer, the
consequence and the proof of what he had well divined at Piriac.  Was it
a wall that M. Fouquet was constructing?  Was it a fortification that he
was erecting?  To ascertain that, he must make fuller observations.
D'Artagnan put Furet into a stable; supped, went to bed, and on the
morrow took a walk upon the port or rather upon the shingle.  Le Croisic
has a port of fifty feet; it has a look-out which resembles an enormous
_brioche_ (a kind of cake) elevated on a dish.  The flat strand is the
dish.  Hundreds of barrowsful of earth amalgamated with pebbles, and
rounded into cones, with sinuous passages between, are look-outs and
_brioches_ at the same time.  It is so now, and it was so two hundred
years ago, only the _brioche_ was not so large, and probably there were
to be seen to trellises of lath around the _brioche_, which constitute an
ornament, planted like _gardes-fous_ along the passages that wind towards
the little terrace.  Upon the shingle lounged three or four fishermen
talking about sardines and shrimps.  D'Artagnan, with his eyes animated
by a rough gayety, and a smile upon his lips, approached these fishermen.

"Any fishing going on to-day?" said he.

"Yes, monsieur," replied one of them, "we are only waiting for the tide."

"Where do you fish, my friends?"

"Upon the coasts, monsieur."

"Which are the best coasts?"

"Ah, that is all according.  The tour of the isles, for example?"

"Yes, but they are a long way off, those isles, are they not?"

"Not very; four leagues."

"Four leagues!  That is a voyage."

The fishermen laughed in M. Agnan's face.

"Hear me, then," said the latter with an air of simple stupidity; "four
leagues off you lose sight of land, do you not?"

"Why, not always."

"Ah, it is a long way - too long, or else I would have asked you to take
me aboard, and to show me what I have never seen."

"What is that?"

"A live sea-fish."

"Monsieur comes from the province?" said a fisherman.

"Yes, I come from Pairs."

The Breton shrugged his shoulders; then:

"Have you ever seen M. Fouquet in Paris?" asked he.

"Often," replied D'Artagnan.

"Often!" repeated the fishermen, closing their circle round the
Parisian.  "Do you know him?"

"A little; he is the intimate friend of my master."

"Ah!" said the fishermen, in astonishment.

"And," said D'Artagnan, "I have seen all his chateaux of Saint Mande, of
Vaux, and his hotel in Paris."

"Is that a fine place?"

"Superb."

"It is not so fine a place as Belle-Isle," said the fisherman.

"Bah!" cried M. d'Artagnan, breaking into a laugh so loud that he angered
all his auditors.

"It is very plain that you have never seen Belle-Isle," said the most
curious of the fishermen.  "Do you know that there are six leagues of it,
and that there are such trees on it as cannot be equaled even at Nates-
sur-le-Fosse?"

"Trees in the sea!" cried D'Artagnan; "well, I should like to see them."

"That can be easily done; we are fishing at the Isle de Hoedic - come
with us.  From that place you will see, as a Paradise, the black trees of
Belle-Isle against the sky; you will see the white line of the castle,
which cuts the horizon of the sea like a blade."

"Oh," said D'Artagnan, "that must be very beautiful.  But do you know
there are a hundred belfries at M. Fouquet's chateau of Vaux?"

The Breton raised his head in profound admiration, but he was not
convinced.  "A hundred belfries!  Ah, that may be; but Belle-Isle is
finer than that.  Should you like to see Belle-Isle?"

"Is that possible?" asked D'Artagnan.

"Yes, with permission of the governor."

"But I do not know the governor."

"As you know M. Fouquet, you can tell your name."

"Oh, my friends, I am not a gentleman."

"Everybody enters Belle-Isle," continued the fisherman in his strong,
pure language, "provided he means no harm to Belle-Isle or its master."

A slight shudder crept over the body of the musketeer.  "That is true,"
thought he.  Then recovering himself, "If I were sure," said he, "not to
be sea-sick."

"What, upon _her?_" said the fisherman, pointing with pride to his pretty
round-bottomed bark

"Well, you almost persuade me," cried M. Agnan; "I will go and see Belle-
Isle, but they will not admit me."

"We shall enter, safe enough."

"You!  What for?"

"Why, _dame!_ to sell fish to the corsairs."

"Ha!  Corsairs - what do you mean?"

"Well, I mean that M. Fouquet is having two corsairs built to chase the
Dutch and the English, and we sell our fish to the crews of those little
vessels."

"Come, come!" said D'Artagnan to himself - "better and better.  A
printing-press, bastions, and corsairs!  Well, M. Fouquet is not an enemy
to be despised, as I presumed to fancy.  He is worth the trouble of
travelling to see him nearer."

"We set out at half-past five," said the fisherman gravely.

"I am quite ready, and I will not leave you now."  So D'Artagnan saw the
fishermen haul their barks to meet the tide with a windlass.  The sea
rose; M. Agnan allowed himself to be hoisted on board, not without
sporting a little fear and awkwardness, to the amusement of the young
beach-urchins who watched him with their large intelligent eyes.  He laid
himself down upon a folded sail, not interfering with anything whilst the
bark prepared for sea; and, with its large square sail, it was fairly out
within two hours.  The fishermen, who prosecuted their occupation as they
proceeded, did not perceive that their passenger had  not become pale,
neither groaned nor suffered; that in spite of that horrible tossing and
rolling of the bark, to which no hand imparted direction, the novice
passenger had preserved his presence of mind and his appetite.  They
fished, and their fishing was sufficiently fortunate.  To lines bated
with prawn, soles came, with numerous gambols, to bite.  Two nets had
already been broken by the immense weight of congers and haddocks; three
sea-eels plowed the hold with their slimy folds and their dying
contortions.  D'Artagnan brought them good luck; they told him so.  The
soldier found the occupation so pleasant, that he put his hand to the
work - that is to say, to the lines - and uttered roars of joy, and
_mordioux_ enough to have astonished his musketeers themselves, every
time that a shock given to his line by the captured fish required the
play of the muscles of his arm, and the employment of his best
dexterity.  The party of pleasure had made him forget his diplomatic
mission.  He was struggling with a very large conger, and holding fast
with one hand to the side of the vessel, in order to seize with the other
the gaping jowl of his antagonist, when the master said to him, "Take
care they don't see you from Belle-Isle!"

These words produced the same effect upon D'Artagnan as the hissing of
the first bullet on a day of battle; he let go of both line and conger,
which, dragging each other, returned again to the water.  D'Artagnan
perceived, within half a league at most, the blue and marked profile of
the rocks of Belle-Isle, dominated by the majestic whiteness of the
castle.  In the distance, the land with its forests and verdant plains;
cattle on the grass.  This was what first attracted the attention of the
musketeer.  The sun darted its rays of gold upon the sea, raising a
shining mist round this enchanted isle.  Little could be seen of it,
owing to this dazzling light, but the salient points; every shadow was
strongly marked, and cut with bands of darkness the luminous fields and
walls.  "Eh! eh!" said D'Artagnan, at the aspect of those masses of black
rocks, "these are fortifications which do not stand in need of any
engineer to render a landing difficult.  How the devil can a landing be
effected on that isle which God has defended so completely?"

"This way," replied the patron of the bark, changing the sail, and
impressing upon the rudder a twist which turned the boat in the direction
of a pretty little port, quite coquettish, round, and newly battlemented.

"What the devil do I see yonder?" said D'Artagnan.

"You see Locmaria," replied the fisherman.

"Well, but there?"

"That is Bangor."

"And further on?"

"Sauzon, and then Le Palais."

"_Mordioux!_  It is a world.  Ah! there are some soldiers."

"There are seventeen hundred men in Belle-Isle, monsieur," replied the
fisherman, proudly.  "Do you know that the least garrison is of twenty
companies of infantry?"

"_Mordioux!_" cried D'Artagnan, stamping with his foot.  "His majesty was
right enough."

They landed.


Chapter LXIX:
In which the Reader, no Doubt, will be as astonished as D'Artagnan was to
meet an Old Acquaintance.

There is always something in a landing, if it be only from the smallest
sea-boat - a trouble and a confusion which do not leave the mind the
liberty of which it stands in need in order to study at the first glance
the new locality presented to it.  The moveable bridges, the agitated
sailors, the noise of the water on the pebbles, the cries and
importunities of those who wait upon the shores, are multiplied details
of that sensation which is summed up in one single result - hesitation.
It was not, then, till after standing several minutes on the shore that

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