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

infamous snare for me.  I have fallen into that snare; so much the worse
for me.  Now, you the tempter," said he to the king; "you the executor,"
said he to D'Artagnan; "remember what I am about to say to you: you have
my body, you may kill it, and I advise you to do so, for you shall never
have my mind or my will.  And now, ask me not a single word, as from this
moment I will not open my mouth even to cry out.  I have said."

And he pronounced these words with the savage, invincible resolution of
the most mortified Puritan.  D'Artagnan looked at his prisoner like a man
who knows the value of every word, and who fixes that value according to
the accent with which it has been pronounced.

"The fact is," said he, in a whisper to the king, "the general is an
obstinate man; he would not take a mouthful of bread, nor swallow a drop
of wine, during the two days of our voyage.  But as from this moment it
is your majesty who must decide his fate, I wash my hands of him."

Monk, erect, pale, and resigned, waited with his eyes fixed and his arms
folded.  D'Artagnan turned towards him.  "You will please to understand
perfectly," said he, "that your speech, otherwise very fine, does not
suit anybody, not even yourself.  His majesty wished to speak to you, you
refused an interview; why, now that you are face to face, that you are
here by a force independent of your will, why do you confine yourself to
the rigors which I consider useless and absurd?  Speak! what the devil!
speak, if only to say 'No.'"

Monk did not unclose his lips; Monk did not turn his eyes; Monk stroked
his mustache with a  thoughtful air, which announced that matters were
going on badly.

During all this time Charles II. had fallen into a profound reverie.  For
the first time he found himself face to face with Monk; with the man he
had so much desired to see; and, with that peculiar glance which God has
given to eagles and kings, he had fathomed the abyss of his heart.  He
beheld Monk, then, resolved positively to die rather than speak, which
was not to be wondered at in so considerable a man, the wound in whose
mind must at the moment have been cruel.  Charles II. formed, on the
instant, one of those resolutions upon which an ordinary man risks his
life, a general his fortune, and a king his kingdom.  "Monsieur," said he
to Monk, "you are perfectly right upon certain points; I do not,
therefore, ask you to answer me, but to listen to me."

There was a moment's silence, during which the king looked at Monk, who
remained impassible.

"You have made me just now a painful reproach, monsieur," continued the
king; "you said that one of my emissaries had been to Newcastle to lay a
snare for you, and that, parenthetically, cannot be understood by M.
d'Artagnan here, and to whom, before everything, I owe sincere thanks for
his generous, his heroic devotion."

D'Artagnan bowed with respect; Monk took no notice.

"For M. d'Artagnan - and observe, M. Monk, I do not say this to excuse
myself - for M. d'Artagnan," continued the king, "went to England of his
free will, without interest, without orders, without hope, like a true
gentleman as he is, to render a service to an unfortunate king, and to
add to the illustrious actions of an existence, already so well filled,
one glorious deed more."

D'Artagnan colored a little, and coughed to keep his countenance.  Monk
did not stir.

"You do not believe what I tell you, M. Monk," continued the king.  "I
can understand that, - such proofs of devotion are so rare, that their
reality may well be put in doubt."

"Monsieur would do wrong not to believe you, sire," cried D'Artagnan:
"for that which your majesty has said is the exact truth, and the truth
so exact that it seems, in going to fetch the general, I have done
something which sets everything wrong.  In truth, if it be so, I am in

"Monsieur d'Artagnan," said the king, pressing the hand of the musketeer,
"you have obliged me as much as if you had promoted the success of my
cause, for you have revealed to me an unknown friend, to whom I shall
ever be grateful, and whom I shall always love."  And the king pressed
his hand cordially.  "And," continued he, bowing to Monk, "an enemy whom
I shall henceforth esteem at his proper value."

The eyes of the Puritan flashed, but only once, and his countenance, for
an instant, illuminated by that flash, resumed its somber impassibility.

"Then, Monsieur d'Artagnan," continued Charles, "this is what was about
to happen: M. le Comte de la Fere, who you know, I believe, has set out
for Newcastle."

"What, Athos!" exclaimed D'Artagnan.

"Yes, that was his _nom de guerre_, I believe.  The Comte de la Fere had
then set out for Newcastle, and was going, perhaps, to bring the general
to hold a conference with me or with those of my party, when you
violently, as it appears, interfered with the negotiation."

"_Mordioux!_" replied D'Artagnan, "he entered the camp the very evening
in which I succeeded in getting into it with my fishermen - "

An almost imperceptible frown on the brow of Monk told D'Artagnan that he
had surmised rightly.

"Yes, yes," muttered he; "I thought I knew his person; I even fancied
I knew his voice.  Unlucky wretch that I am!  Oh! sire, pardon me!  I
thought I had so successfully steered my bark."

"There is nothing ill in it, sir," said the king, "except that the
general accuses me of having laid a snare for him, which is not the
case.  No, general, those are not the arms which I contemplated employing
with you, as you will soon see.  In the meanwhile, when I give you my
word upon the honor of a gentleman, believe me, sir, believe me!  Now,
Monsieur d'Artagnan, a word with you, if you please."

"I listen on my knees, sire."

"You are truly at my service, are you not?"

"Your majesty has seen that I am, too much so."

"That is well; from a man like you one word suffices.  In addition to
that word you bring actions.  General, have the goodness to follow me.
Come with us, M. d'Artagnan"

D'Artagnan, considerably surprised, prepared to obey.  Charles II. went
out, Monk followed him, D'Artagnan followed Monk.  Charles took the path
by which D'Artagnan had come to his abode; the fresh sea breezes soon
caressed the faces of the three nocturnal travelers, and, at fifty paces
from the little gate which Charles opened, they found themselves upon the
down in the face of the ocean, which, having ceased to rise, reposed upon
the shore like a wearied monster.  Charles II. walked pensively along,
his head hanging down and his hand beneath his cloak.  Monk followed him,
with crossed arms and an uneasy look.  D'Artagnan came last, with his
hand on the hilt of his sword.

"Where is the boat in which you came, gentlemen?" said Charles to the

"Yonder, sire; I have seven men and an officer waiting me in that little
bark which is lighted by a fire."

"Yes, I see; the boat is drawn upon the sand; but you certainly did not
come from Newcastle in that frail bark?"

No, sire; I freighted a felucca, at my own expense, which is at anchor
within cannon-shot of the downs.  It was in that felucca we made the

"Sir," said the king to Monk, "you are free."

However firm his will, Monk could not suppress an exclamation.  The king
added an affirmative motion of his head, and continued: "We shall waken a
fisherman of the village, who will put his boat to sea immediately, and
will take you back to any place you may command him.  M. d'Artagnan here
will escort your honor.  I place M. d'Artagnan under the safeguard of
your loyalty, M. Monk."

Monk allowed a murmur of surprise to escape him, and D'Artagnan a
profound sigh.  The king, without appearing to notice either, knocked
against the deal trellis which inclosed the cabin of the principal
fisherman inhabiting the down.

"Hey!  Keyser!" cried he, "awake!"

"Who calls me?" asked the fisherman.

"I, Charles the king."

"Ah, my lord!" cried Keyser, rising ready dressed from the sail in which
he slept, as people sleep in a hammock.  "What can I do to serve you?"

"Captain Keyser," said Charles, "you must set sail immediately.  Here is
a traveler who wishes to freight your bark, and will pay you well; serve
him well."  And the king drew back a few steps to allow Monk to speak to
the fisherman.

"I wish to cross over into England," said Monk, who spoke Dutch enough to
make himself understood.

"This minute," said the _patron_, "this very minute, if you wish it."

"But will that be long?" said Monk.

"Not half an hour, your honor.  My eldest son is at this moment preparing
the boat, as we were going out fishing at three o'clock in the morning."

"Well, is all arranged?" asked the king, drawing near.

"All but the price," said the fisherman; "yes, sire."

"That is my affair," said Charles, "the gentleman is my friend."

Monk started and looked at Charles on hearing this word.

"Very well, my lord," replied Keyser.  And at that moment they heard
Keyser's son, signaling form the shore with the blast of a bull's horn.

"Now, gentlemen," said the king, "depart."

"Sire," said D'Artagnan, "will it please your majesty to grant me a few
minutes?  I have engaged men, and I am going without them; I must give
them notice."

"Whistle to them," said Charles, smiling.

D'Artagnan, accordingly, whistled, whilst the _patron_ Keyser replied to
his son; and four men, led by Menneville, attended the first summons.

"Here is some money in account," said D'Artagnan, putting into their
hands a purse containing two thousand five hundred livres in gold.  "Go
and wait for me at Calais, you know where."  And D'Artagnan heaved a
profound sigh, as he let the purse fall into the hands of Menneville.

"What, are you leaving us?" cried the men.

"For a short time," said D'Artagnan, "or for a long time, who knows?  But
with 2,500 livres, and the 2,500 you have already received, you are paid
according to our agreement.  We are quits, then, my friend."

"But the boat?"

"Do not trouble yourself about that."

"Our things are on board the felucca."

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: