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

There was, at this moment, a great rolling movement in the crowd, which
stopped for a moment the march of the condemned.  The people of a bold
and resolute mien, whom D'Artagnan had observed, by dint of pressing,
pushing, and lifting themselves up, had succeeded in almost touching the
hedge of archers.  The _cortege_ resumed its march.  All at once, to
cries of "_Vive Colbert!_" those men, of whom D'Artagnan never lost
sight, fell upon the escort, which in vain endeavored to stand against
them.  Behind these men was the crowd.  Then commenced, amidst a
frightful tumult, as frightful a confusion.  This time there was
something more than cries of expectation or cries of joy, there were
cries of pain.  Halberds struck men down, swords ran through them,
muskets were discharged at them.  The confusion became then so great that
D'Artagnan could no longer distinguish anything.  Then, from this chaos,
suddenly surged something like a visible intention, like a will
pronounced.  The condemned had been torn from the hands of the guards,
and were being dragged towards the house of L'Image-de-Notre-Dame.  Those
who dragged them shouted, "_Vive Colbert!_"  The people hesitated, not
knowing which they ought to fall upon, the archers or the aggressors.
What stopped the people was, that those who cried "_Vive Colbert!_" began
to cry, at the same time, "No halter! no halter! to the fire! to the
fire! burn the thieves! burn the extortioners!"  This cry, shouted with
an _ensemble_, obtained enthusiastic success.  The populace had come to
witness an execution, and here was an opportunity offered them of
performing one themselves.  It was this that must be most agreeable to
the populace: therefore, they ranged themselves immediately on the party
of the aggressors against the archers, crying with the minority, which
had become, thanks to them, the most compact majority: "Yes, yes: to the
fire with the thieves!  _Vive Colbert!_"

"_Mordioux!_" exclaimed D'Artagnan, "this begins to look serious."

One of the men who remained near the chimney approached the window, a
firebrand in his hand.  "Ah, ah!" said he, "it gets warm."  Then, turning
to his companion: "There is the signal," added he; and he immediately
applied the burning brand to the wainscoting.  Now, this _cabaret_ of the
Image-de-Notre-Dame was not a very newly built house, and therefore, did
not require much entreating to take fire.  In a second the boards began
to crackle, and the flames arose sparkling to the ceiling.  A howling
from without replied to the shouts of the incendiaries.  D'Artagnan, who
had not seen what passed, from being engaged at the window, felt, at the
same time, the smoke which choked him and the fire that scorched him.
"_Hola!_" cried he, turning round, "is the fire here?  Are you drunk or
mad, my masters?"

The two men looked at each other with an air of astonishment.  "In what?"
asked they of D'Artagnan; "was it not a thing agreed upon?"

"A thing agreed upon that you should burn my house!" vociferated
D'Artagnan, snatching the brand from the hand of the incendiary, and
striking him with it across the face.  The second wanted to assist his
comrade, but Raoul, seizing him by the middle, threw him out of the
window, whilst D'Artagnan pushed his man down the stairs.  Raoul, first
disengaged, tore the burning wainscoting down, and threw it flaming into
the chamber.  At a glance D'Artagnan saw there was nothing to be feared
from the fire, and sprang to the window.  The disorder was at its
height.  The air was filled with simultaneous cries of "To the fire!"
"To the death!"  "To the halter!"  "To the stake!"  "_Vive Colbert!_"
"_Vive le roi!_"  The group which had forced the culprits from the hands
of the archers had drawn close to the house, which appeared to be the
goal towards which they dragged them.  Menneville was at the head of this
group, shouting louder than all the others, "To the fire! to the fire!
_Vive Colbert!_"  D'Artagnan began to comprehend what was meant.  They
wanted to burn the condemned, and his house was to serve as a funeral

"Halt, there!" cried he, sword in hand, and one foot upon the window.
"Menneville, what do you want to do?"

"Monsieur d'Artagnan," cried the latter; "give way, give way!"

"To the fire! to the fire with the thieves!  _Vive Colbert!_"

These cries exasperated D'Artagnan.  "_Mordioux!_" said he.  "What! burn
the poor devils who are only condemned to be hung? that is infamous!"

Before the door, however, the mass of anxious spectators, rolled back
against the walls, had become more thick, and closed up the way.
Menneville and his men, who were dragging along the culprits, were within
ten paces of the door.

Menneville made a last effort.  "Passage! passage!" cried he, pistol in

"Burn them! burn them!" repeated the crowd.  "The Image-de-Notre-Dame is
on fire!  Burn the thieves! burn the monopolists in the Image-de-Notre-

There now remained no doubt, it was plainly D'Artagnan's house that was
their object.  D'Artagnan remembered the old cry, always so effective
from his mouth: "_A moi! mousquetaires!_" shouted he, with the voice of a
giant, with one of those voices which dominate over cannon, the sea, the
tempest.  "_A moi! mousquetaires!_"  And suspending himself by the arm
from the balcony, he allowed himself to drop amidst the crowd, which
began to draw back form a house that rained men.  Raoul was on the ground
as soon as he, both sword in hand.  All the musketeers on the Place heard
that challenging cry - all turned round at that cry, and recognized
D'Artagnan.  "To the captain, to the captain!" cried they, in their
turn.  And the crowd opened before them as though before the prow of a
vessel.  At that moment D'Artagnan and Menneville found themselves face
to face.  "Passage, passage!" cried Menneville, seeing that he was within
an arm's length from the door.

"No one passes here," said D'Artagnan.

"Take that, then!" said Menneville, firing his pistol almost within an
arm's length.  But before the cock fell, D'Artagnan had struck up
Menneville's arm with the hilt of his sword and passed the blade through
his body.

"I told you plainly to keep yourself quiet," said D'Artagnan to
Menneville, who rolled at his feet.

"Passage! passage!" cried the companions of Menneville, at first
terrified, but soon recovering, when they found they had only to do with
two men.  But those two men were hundred-armed giants; the swords flew
about in their hands like the burning _glaive_ of the archangel.  They
pierce with its point, strike with the flat, cut with the edge; every
stroke brings down a man.  "For the king!" cried D'Artagnan, to every man
he struck at, that is to say, to every man that fell.  This cry became
the charging word for the musketeers, who, guided by it, joined
D'Artagnan.  During this time the archers, recovering from the panic they
had undergone, charge the aggressors in the rear, and regular as mill
strokes, overturn or knock down all that opposed them.  The crowd, which
sees swords gleaming, and drops of blood flying in the air - the crowd
falls back and crushes itself.  At length cries for mercy and of
despair resound; that is, the farewell of the vanquished.  The two
condemned are again in the hands of the archers.  D'Artagnan approaches
them, seeing them pale and sinking: "Console yourselves, poor men," said
he, "you will not undergo the frightful torture with which these wretches
threatened you.  The king has condemned you to be hung: you shall only be
hung.  Go on, hang them, and it will be over."

There is no longer anything going on at the Image-de-Notre-Dame.  The
fire has been extinguished with two tuns of wine in default of water.
The conspirators have fled by the garden.  The archers are dragging the
culprits to the gibbets.  From this moment the affair did not occupy much
time.  The executioner, heedless about operating according to the rules
of the art, made such haste that he dispatched the condemned in a couple
of minutes.  In the meantime the people gathered around D'Artagnan, -
they felicitated, they cheered him.  He wiped his brow, streaming with
sweat, and his sword, streaming with blood.  He shrugged his shoulders at
seeing Menneville writhing at his feet in the last convulsions.  And,
while Raoul turned away his eyes in compassion, he pointed to the
musketeers the gibbets laden with their melancholy fruit.  "Poor devils!"
said he, "I hope they died blessing me, for I saved them with great
difficulty."  These words caught the ear of Menneville at the moment when
he himself was breathing his last sigh.  A dark, ironical smile flitted
across his lips; he wished to reply, but the effort hastened the snapping
of the chord of life - he expired.

"Oh! all this is very frightful!" murmured Raoul: "let us begone,
monsieur le chevalier."

"You are not wounded?" asked D'Artagnan.

"Not at all; thank you."

"That's well!  Thou art a brave fellow, _mordioux!_  The head of the
father, and the arm of Porthos.  Ah! if he had been here, good Porthos,
you would have seen something worth looking at."  Then as if by way of
remembrance -

"But where the devil can that brave Porthos be?" murmured D'Artagnan.

"Come, chevalier, pray come away," urged Raoul.

"One minute, my friend; let me take my thirty-seven and a half pistols,
and I am at your service.  The house is a good property," added
D'Artagnan, as he entered the Image-de-Notre-Dame, "but decidedly, even
if it were less profitable, I should prefer its being in another quarter."

Chapter LXIII:
How M. d'Eymeris's Diamond passed into the Hands of M. d'Artagnan.

Whilst this violent, noisy, and bloody scene was passing on the Greve,
several men, barricaded behind the gate of communication with the garden,
replaced their swords in their sheaths, assisted one among them to mount
a ready saddled horse which was waiting in the garden, and like a flock
of startled birds, fled in all directions, some climbing the walls,
others rushing out at the gates with all the fury of a panic.  He who
mounted the horse, and gave him the spur so sharply that the animal was

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: