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a great fright, have I not? but it is your own fault; you were
my tutor, why did you not teach me to swim better?"

"Oh, sir!" replied the old man, **had any misfortune hap-
pened to you, I should never have shown myself to the marshal
again."

"I am the Count de Guiche," continued the young man; "my
father is the Marshal de Grammont; and now that you know
who I am, do me the honor of informing me who you are."

"I am the Viscount de Bragelonne," answered Raoul, blush-
ing at being unable to name his father, as the other had done.

"Viscount, your countenance, your goodness, and your cour-
age incline me towards you; my gratitude is already due to you
— shake hands; — I ask your friendship."

**Sir," said Raoul, returning the count's pressure of the hand,
"I like you already from my heart; pray regard me as a de-
voted friend, I beseech you."

"And now, where are you going, Viscount?" inquired de
Guiche.

"To the army under the prince. Count."

"And I too!" exclaimed the young man, in a transport of
joy. "Oh, so much the better; we shall fire off the first pis-
tol shots together."

"It is well — be friends," said the tutor; "young as you both
are, you were perhaps born under the same star, and were
destined to meet. And now," continued he, "you must change
your clothes; your servants, to whom I gave directions the
moment they had left the ferry-boat, ought to be already at
the inn. Linen and wine are both being warmed-;;-come." ^

The young men had no objection to make to this proposition;
on the contrary, they thought it an excellent one. They mounted
again at once, while looks of admiration passed between them.



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118 TWENTY YEARS AFTER.

They were indeed, two elegant horsemen, with figures slight and
upright — ^two noble faces, with open foreheads — bright and
proud looks — loyal and intelligent smiles.

De Guiche might have been about eighteen years of age, but
he was scarcely taller than Raoul, who was only fifteen.



CHAPTER XXX.

SKIRMISHING.

The halt at Noyon was short, everyone there being wrapt
in profound sleep. ^ Raoul had desired to be awakened should
Grimaud have arrived — ^but Grimaud did not arrive. Doubt-
less, too, the horses, on their parts, appreciated the eight hours
of repose, and the abundant stabling which was granted to
them. The Count de Guiche was awakened at five o'clock in the
morning by Raoul, who came to wish him a good day. They
had breakfast in haste, and at six o'clock had already gone ten
miles.

The young count's conversation was most interesting to
Raoul; therefore the count alone talked much. He criticised
everybody humorously. Raoul trembled lest he should laugh
among the rest at Mdme. de Chevreuse, for whom he enter-
tained deep and genuine sympathy, but either instinctively, or
from affection for the Duchesse de Chevreuse, he said every-
thing possible in her favor. His praises increased Raoul's
friendship for him twofold. The Queen herself was not spared,
and Cardinal Mazarin came in for his share of ridicule.

The day passed away as rapidly as one hour. The count's
tutor, a man of the world, and a "bonvivant," up to his eyes in
learning, as his pupil described him, often recalled the pro-
found erudition, the witty and caustic satire, of Athos to Raoul;
but as regarded grace, delicacy, and nobility of external ap-
pearance, no one in these points was to be compared to the
Count de la Fere.

The horses, which were better cared for than on the previous
day, stopped at Arras at four o'clock in the evening. They were
approaching the scene of war ; and as bands of Spaniards some-
times took advantage of the night to make expeditions, even
as far as the neighborhood of Arras, they determined to remain
in this town until the morrow. The French army held all
between Pont-a-Mare as far as Valenciennes, falling back upon
Douai. The prince was said to be in person at Bethune.

The enemy's army extended from Cassel to Courtray; and
as there was no species of violence or pillage which it did not
commit, the poor people on the frontier quitted their isolated
dwellings, and fled for refuge into the strong cities which held
out snelter to them. Arras was encumbered with fugitives. An

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TWENTY YEARS AFTER, 119

approaching battle was much spoken of, the prince having ma-
noeuvred until that moment, only in order to await a reinforce-
ment which had just reached him.

The young men congratulated themselves on having arrived
so opportunely. The evening was employed in discussing the
war; the grooms polished the arms; the young men loaded the
pistols in case of a skirmish, and they awoke in despair, having
both dreamt they arrived too late to participate in the battle.
In the morning it was rumored that Prince Conde had evac-
uated Bethune, and fallen back upon Carvin, leaving, however,
a strong garrison in the former city.

But as there was nothing positively certain in this report, the
young men decided to continue their way towards Bethune,
free, on the road, to diverge to the right, and to march to
Carvin if necessary.

The count's tutor was well acquainted with tiie country: he
consequently proposed to take a cross road, which lay between
that of Lens and that of Bethune. They obtained information
at Ablain, and a statement of their route was left for Grimaud,
About seven o'clock in the morning they set out. De Guiche,
who was young and impulsive, said to Raoul, "Here we are,
three masters and three servants. Our valets are well armed,
and yours seems to be tough enough."

"I have never seen him put to the test," replied Raoul, "but
he is a Breton, which promises something."

"Yes, yes," resumed de Guiche ; "I am sure he can fire a mus-
ket when required. On my side, I have two very sure men, who
have been in action with my father. We, therefore, represent
six fighting men: if we should meet a little troop of enemies
equal or even superior in number to our own shall we charge
them, Raoul?"

"Certainly, sir," replied the viscount.

"Halloa! young people — stop there!" said the tutor, joining
in the conversation. "Zounds! how do you arrange my in-
structions, pray. Count? You seem to forget the orders I re-
ceived to conduct you safe and sound to his highness, the
prince! Once with the army you may be killed at your good
pleasure; but, until that time, I warn you that in my capacity
of general of the army, I shall order a retreat, and turn my
back on the first red coat I see."

De Guiche and Raoul glanced at each other, smiling.

They arrived at Ablain without accident. There they inquired
and learned that the prince had quitted Bethune, and placed
himself between Cambria and La Venthie. Therefore, leaving
directions at every place for Grimaud, they took a cross road,
which conducted the little troop upon the bank of a small
stream flowing into the Lys. The country was beautiful, inter-
sected by valleys green as emerald. Every here and there they
passed little copses crossing the path which they were follow-
ing. In the anticipation of ambuscade in these little wood% the



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12D TWENTY YEARS AFTER.

tutor placed his two servants at the head of the band, thus form-
ing the advancing guard. Himself and the two young men
represented the body of the army, while Olivain, with his rifle
on his knee, and his eye on the watch, protected the rear.

They had observed for some time before them on the hori-
zon a rather thick wood; and when they had arrived at a dis-
tance of a hundred steps from it, M. d*Arminges took his
usual precautions, and sent on in advance the count's two
grooms. The servants had just disappeared under the trees,
followed by the tutor, and the young men were laughing and
talking about a hundred yards off. Olivain was at the same dis-
tance in the rear, when suddenly there resounded five or six
musket-shots. The tutor cried halt; the young men obeyed,
pulling up their steeds, and at the same moment the two valets
were seen returning at a gallop.

The young men, impatient to hear the cause of the firing,
spurred on towards the servants. The tutor followed them be-
hind.

"Were you stopped?" eagerly inquired the two youths.

"No," replied the servants," it is even probable that we have
not been seen; the shots were fired about a hundred steps in
advance of us, almost in the thickest part of the wood, and we
returned to ask your advice."

"My advice," said M. d'Arminges, "and, if needs be, my will
is, that we beat a retreat. There may be an ambuscade con-
cealed in this wood."

"Did you see nothing there?" asked the count

*1 thought I saw," said one of the servants, "horsemen
dressed in yellow, creeping along the bed of the stream."

"That's it," said the tutor. "We have fallen in with a party
of Spaniards. Come back, sirs — ^back."

The two youths looked at each other, and at this moment a
pistol-shot and several cries for help were heard. Another
glance between the young men convinced them both that neither
had any wish to go back, and as the tutor had already turned
his horse's head they both spurred on forward, Raoul crying,
"Follow me, Olivain;" and Count de Guiche, "Follow, Urban
and Blanchet." And before the tutor could recover his sur-
prise, they both disappeared into the forest. - When they spurred
their steeds, they held their pistols ready also. Five minutes
after they arrived at the spot whence the noise had proceeded;
therefore, restraining their horses, they advanced cautiously.

"Hush," whispered de Guiche; "these are horsemen."

"Yes, three, but they have dismounted."

"Can you see what they are doing?"

"Yes, they appear to be searching a wounded or dead man.'*

"It is- some cowardly assassination," said de Guiche.

"They are soldiers, though," resumed de Bragelonne.

"Yes, deserters; that is to say, highway robbers."

-At them!" cried Raoul. "At them!" echoed de Guidic.



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TWENTY YEARS AFTER, 121

"No, no ! in the name of Heaven/* cried the poor tutor.

But he was not listened to, and his cries only served to arouse
the attention of the Spaniards.

The men on horseback at once rushed at the two youths,
leaving the three others to complete the blunder of the two
travelers; for, on approaching nearer, instead of one extended
figure, the young men discovered two. De Guiche fired the first
shot at ten paces, and missed his man; and the Spaniard, who
had advanced to meet Raoul^ aimed in his turn, and Raoul
felt a pain in his left arm, similar to that of a blow from a
whip. He let off his fire at but four paces. Struck in the
breast, and extending his arms, the Spaniard fell back on fhe
crup of his horse which, turning round, carried him off.

Raoul, at this moment, perceived the muzzle of a gun pointed
at him, and remembering the reconmiendation of Athos, he,
with the rapidity of lightning, made his horse rear as the shot
was fired. His horse bounded to one side, losing its footing and
fell, entangling RaouFs leg under its body. The Spaniard
sprang forward, and seized the gun by its muzzle, in order to
strike Raoul on the head by the butt-end. In the position in
which Raoul lay, unfortunately, he could neither draw his sword
from the scabbard, nor his pistols from their holsters. The butt-
end of the musket hovered over his head, and he could scarcely
restrain himself from closing his eyes, when, with one bound, de
Guiche reached the Spaniard, and placed a pistol at his throat

"Yield!" he cried, "or you are a dead man.** The musket fell
from the soldier's hands, who yielded at the instant.

De Guiche summoned one of his grooms, and delivering the
prisoner into his charge, with orders to shoot him through the
head if he attempted to escape, he leaped from his horse and ap-
pi cached Raoul.

"Faith, sir,** said Raoul, smiling, although his pallor some-
what betrayed the excitement consequent on a first affair,
"you are in a great hurry to pay your debts, and havfe not been
long under any obligation to me. Without your aid,** continued
he, repeating the count*s words, "I should have been a dead
man — ^thrice dead.*'

"My antagonist took flight," replied de Guiche, "and left me
at liberty to come to your aid. But you are seriously wounded I
I see you are covered with blood !'*

"I believe," said Raoul, "that I have got something like a
scratch on the arm. If you will help me to drag myself from
under my horse, I hope nothing need prevent us continuing our
journey."

M. d*Arminges and Olivain had already dismounted, and
were attempting to raise the horse, which struggled in terror.
At last Raoul succeeded in drawing his foot from the stirrup,
and his leg from under the animal, and in a second he was on
his feet again.

"Nothing broken?** asked de Guiche.



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122 TWENTY YEARS AFTER.

"Faith, no, thank Heaven!" replied Raoul; "but what has
become of the poor wretches whom these scoundrels were
murdering?"

*'I fear we arrived too late. They had killed them and taken
flight, carrying off their booty. My two servants are examining
the bodies."

"Let us go and see whether they are quite dead, or if they can
be recovered," suggested Raoul. "Olivain, we have come into
possession of two horses, but I have lost my own; take the
best of the two for yourself and give me yours."

Saying this, they approached the spot where the victims lay.



CHAPTER XXXI.

THE REPULSIVE MONK.

Two men lay extended on the ground; one bathed in his
blood, and motionless, with his face towards the earth; he
was dead. The other leant against the tree, supported there by
the two valets, and was praying fervently, with clasped hands
and eyes raised to Heaven. He had received a ball in his thigh,
which had broken the upper part of it. The young men first
approached the dead man.

"He is a priest," said Bragelonne, "he has worn the tonsure.
Oh the scoundrels! to lift their hands against a minister of
God."

"Come here, sir," said Urban, an old soldier who had served
under the Cardinal-duke in all his campaigns. "Come here, there
is nothing to be done with him ; whilst we may perhaps be able
to save this one."

The wounded man smiled sadly. "Save me! oh no," said he;
**but help me to die, you can."

"Are you a priest?" asked Raoul.

"No, sir."

*T ask, as your unfortunate companion appeared to me to be-
long to the church."

"He is the priest of Bethune, sir, and was carrying the holy
vessels belonging to his church, and the treasure of the chapter,
to a safe place, the prince having abandoned our town yester-
day; and as it was known that bands of the enemy were prowl-
ing about the country, no one dared to accompany the good man,
so I offered to do so.

"And, sir," continued the wounded man, "I suffer much, and
would like, if possible, to be carried to some house."

"Where you can be relieved?** asked de Quiche.

"No, where I can confess myself."

"But perhaps you are not so dangerously wounded as yoa
think;" said Raoul.



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TWENTY YEARS AFTER, 123

"Sir," replied the wounded man, "believe me there is no time
to lose; the ball has broken the thigh-bone, and entered the
intestines."

"Are you a surgeon?" asked de Guiche.

"'No, but I know a little about wounds, and mine is mortal. It
is my soul that must b^ saved; as for my body, that is lost"

"Calm yourself, sir," replied de Guiche. **I swear to you that
you shall receive the consolation that you ask. Only tell us
where we shall find a house at which we can demand aid, and
a village from which we can fetch a priest"

"Thank you, and God will reward you! about half a mile
from this, on the same road, there is an inn! and about a
mile further on, after leaving the inn, you will reach the village
of Greney. There you must find the curate; or if he is not at
home, go to the convent of the Augustins, which is the last
house on the right in the village, and bring me one of the
brothers. Monk or priest, it matters not"

"M. d'Arminges," said de Guiche, "remain beside this unfortu-
nate man, and see that he is removed as gently as possible.
The viscount and myself will go and find a priest."

"May Heaven prosper you!" replied the djdng man, with an
accent of gratitude impossible to describe.

The two young men galloped off in the direction mentioned
to them, and ten minutes after reached the inn. Raoul with-
out dismounting, called to the host, and announced that a
wounded man was about to be brought to his house, and begged
him in the meantime to prepare everything necessary for dress-
ing his wounds. He desired him also, should he know in the
neighborhood any doctor, surgeon, or operator, to fetch him,
taking on himself the payment of the messenger. Raoul had
already proceeded for more than a mile, and had begun to
descry the first houses of the village, the red-tiled roofs of
which stood out strongly from the green trees which surrounded
them, when, coming towards them, mounted on a mule, they
perceived a poor monk, whose large hat and grey worsted dress
made them mistake him for an Augustine brother. Chance
for once had seemed to favor them in sending what they were
seeking for. He was a man about twenty-two or twenty-three
years old, but who appeared to be aged by his ascetic exercises.
His complexion was pale, not of that pallor which to Italians
is a beauty, but a bilious, yellow hue ; his light, colorless
hair was short, and scarcely extended beyond the circle formed
by the hat round his head, and his light blue eyes seemed
entirely destitute of any expression.

"Sir," began Raoul, with his usual politeness, **are you an
ecclesiastic?"

"Why do you ask me that?" replied the stranger, with a
coolness which was barely civil.

"Because we want to know," said de Guiche, haughtily.



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124 TWENTY YEARS AFTER,

The stranger touched his mule with his heel, and continued
his way.

In a second de Guiche had sprung before him and barred his
passage. "Answer, sir," exclaimed he; **are you gorng to
reply?*'

"I am a priest," said the young man.

"Then, father," said Raoul, forcing himself to give a respect
to his speech which did not come from his heart, "if you are
a priest, then you have an opportunity, as my friend has told
you, of exercising your vocation. At the next inn you will
find a wounded man, who has asked the assistance of a min-
ister of God, attended on by our servants."

"I will go," said the monk.

And he touched the mule.

"If you do not go, sir," said de Guiche, "remember that we
have two steeds quite able to catch your mule, and the power of
having you seized wherever you may be; and then I swear
your trial will be short; one can always find a tree and a
rope."

The monk's eyes again flashed, but that was all ; he merely
repeated his phrase, "I will go," — ^and he went.

"Let us follow him," said de Guiche; "it will be the more sure
plan."

"I was about to propose doing so," answered Bragelonne.

In the space of five minutes the monk turned round to ascer-
tain whether he was followed or not.

"You see," said Raoul, "we have done wisely."

"What a horrible face that monk has," said de Guiche. .

"Horrible!" replied Raoul, "especially in expression."

"What a riiis fortune for that poor wounded fellow to die
under the hands of such a friar!

"Pshaw!" said de Guiche. "Absolution comes not from him
who administers it, but from God. However, let me tell you
that I would rather die unshriven than have anything to say
to such a confessor. You are of my opinion, are you not, Vis-
count? and I see you playing with the pommel of your pistol,
as if you had a great inclination to break his head."

"Yes, Count, it is a strange tiling, and one which might as-
tonish you; but I feel an indescribable horror at the sight of
that man. Have you ever seen a snake rise up in your path?"

"Never," answered de Guiche.

"Well, it has happened to me to do so in our Blaisois for-
ests, and I remember that the first time I encountered one
with its eyes fixed upon me, curled up, swinging its head,
and pointing its tongue, that I remained fixed, pale, and as if
fascinated, until the moment when the Count de la Fere "

"Your father?" asked de Guiche.

"No, my guardian," replied Raoul, blushing.

"Very well "

"Until the moment when the Count de la Fere," resumed



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TWENTY YEARS AFTER, 125

Raoul, "said, 'Come, Bragelonne, draw your sword;* then only
I rushed upon the reptile, and cut it in two; just at the moment
when it was rising on its tail and hissing ere it sprang upon
me. Well, I vow I felt exactly the same sensation at the sight
of that man when he said, 'Why do you ask me that?' and
looked at me."

"Then you regret that you did not cut your servant in two
morsels?

"Faith, yes, almost," said Raoul.

They had now arrived in sight of the little inn, and could
see on the opposite side the procession bearing the wounded
man, and guided by M. d'Arminges. The youths rode up to
the wounded man to announce that they were followed by
the priest He raised himself to glance in the direction which
was pointed out, saw the monk, and fell back upon the litter,
his face being lighted up by joy.

"And now, said the youths, "we have done all we can for
you; and as we are in haste to join the prince's army we must
continue our journey. You will excuse us, sir, but we are
told that a battle is expected, and we do not wish to arrive the
day after it."

"Go, my young sirs," said the sick man; "and may you both
be blessed for your piety. God protect you and all dear to
you!"

"Sir," said de Guiche to his tutor, "we will precede you, and
you can rejoin us on the road to Cambrin."

The host was at his door, and everything was prepared,
bed, bandages, and lint

"Everything," said he to Raoul, "shall be done as you desire,
but will you not stop to have your wound dressed?

"Oh, my wound — ^mine — ^it is nothing," replied the viscount;
"it will be time to think about it when we next halt; only
have the goodness, should you see a horseman pass who should
make inquiries about a young gentleman mounted on a chest-
nut horse, and followed by a servant, to tell him, in fact, that
you have seen me, but that I have continued my journey, and
intend to dine at Mazingarbe, and to stop at Cambrin. This
cavalier is my attendant. '

"Would it not be safer and more sure that I should ask him
his name and tell him yours?" demanded the host

"There is no harm in over-precaution. I am the Viscount
'de Bragelonne, and he is called Grimaud."

At this moment the wounded man passed on one side, and
the monk on the other, the latter dismounting from his mule
and desiring that it should be taken to the stables without
being unharnessed.

"Come, Count," said Raoul, who seemed instinctively to dis-
Hke the vicinity of the Augustine; "come, I feel ill here," and
the two young men spurred on.

The litter, borne by two servants, now entered the house.



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126 TWENTY YEARS AFTER,

The host and his wife were standing on the steps of the
staircase, while the unhappy man seemed to suffer dreadful
pain, and yet only to be anxious to know if he was followed
by the monk. At the sight of this pale, bleeding man, the wife
grasped her husband's arm.

"Well, what's the matter?" asked the latter; "are you going
to be ill just now?"

**No, but look," replied the hostess, pointing to the wounded
man; **I ask you if you recognize him?"

**In truth," cried the host, "misfortune has come upon our
house; it is the executioner of Bethune!"

"The former executioner of Bethune!" murmured the young
monk, shrinking back, and showing on his countenance the
feeling of repugnance which his penitent inspired.

M. d*Arminges, who was at the door, perceived his hes-
itation.

"Sir monk," said he, "whether he is now or has been an
executioner, this unfortunate being is no less a man. Render
to him, then, the last service he will ask from you, and your
work will be all the more meritorious."

The monk made no reply, but silently wended his^ way to
the room where the two valets had deposited the dying man
on a bed. D*Arminges and Olivain, and the two grooms, then
mounted their horses, and all four started off at a quick trot
to rejoin Raoul and his companion. Just as the tutor and his
escort disappeared in their turn, a new traveler stepped on the
threshold of the inn.

"What does your worship want?" demanded the host, pale
and trembling from the discovery he had just made.

The traveler made a sign as if he wished to drink, pointed



Online LibraryAlexandre DumasTwenty years after → online text (page 13 of 38)