List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

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

"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

"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

"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

"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.

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: