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to his horse, and gesticulated like a man who is rubbing

"Ah I" said the host to himself, "this man seems dumb. And
where will your worship drink?"

"There," answered the traveler, pointing to a table.

"I was mistaken," said the host; "he's not quite dumb. And
what else does your worship wish for?"

"Have you seen a young man pass on a chestnut horse,
followed by a groom?

"The Viscount de Bragelonne?"

"Just so."

"Then you are called M. Grimaud?"

The traveler nodded.

"Well, then," said the host, "your young master has been
here a quarter of an hour ago; he will dine at Mazingarbe,
and sleep at Cambrin, which is two miles and a half from

"Thank you."

Grimaud was drinking his wine silently, and had just placed
his glass on the table to be filled a second time, when a fearful


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scream resounded from the room occupied by the monk and
the dying man. Grimaud sprang up.

"What is that?" said he; "whence that scream?"

"From the wounded man's room," replied the host; "the
executioner of Bethune, who has just been brought in here,
assassinated by the Spaniards, and who is now being confessed
by an Augustine friar."

"The former ex-headman of Bethune?" muttered Grimaud;
"a man between fifty-five and sixty, tall, strong, swarthy, black
hair and beard?"

"That is he— do you know him?" asked the host

"I have seen him once," replied Grimaud, a cloud darken-
ing his countenance at the picture called up by his recollections.

At this instant a second scream, less piercing than the first,
but followed by prolonged groaning, was heard.

"We must see what it is, said Grimaud.

If Grimaud was slow in speaking, we know that he was
quick in action; he sprang to the door and shook it violently,
but it was bolted on the other side.

"Open the door," cried the host, "open it instantly, monk!"

No reply.

"Unfasten it, or I will break in the panel," said Grimaud.

The same silence, and then, ere the host could oppose his
design^ Grimaud seized on some pincers which he perceived
lying m a comer, and had forced the bolt. The room was in-
undated with blood, streaming through the mattresses upon
which lay the wounded man, speechless, — ^the monk had dis-

"The monk!" cried the host; "where is the monk?"

Grimaud sprang towards the open window which looked into
the court-yard.

"He has escaped by this means," exclaimed he.

"Do you think so?" said the host, bewildered; **boy, see if
the mule belonging to the monk is still in the stable."

"There's no mule," replied the person to whom this question
was addressed.

The host held up his hand, and looked around him suspi-
ciously, whilst Grimaud knit his brows and approached the
wounded man, whose worn, hard features awoke in his mind
such awful recollections of the past.

"There can be no longer any doubt but that it is himself,"
he said.

"Does he still live?" inquired the inn-keeper.

Making no reply, Grimaud opened the poor man's jacket to
feel if the heart beat, while the host approached in his turn;
but in a moment they both fell back, the host uttering a cry of
horror, and Grimaud becoming pallid. The blade of a dagger
was buried up to the hilt in the left side of the executioner.

"Run — run for help!" cried Grimaud, "and I will remain
beside him here."


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The host quitted the room in agitation; and as for his wife,
she had Hed at the sound of her husband's cries.



Grimaud was left alone with the executioner, who in a few
moments opened his eyes.

"Help, help," he murmured; "oh, God! have I not a single
friend m the world who will aid me either to live or to die?"

"Take courage,** said Grimaud; "they are going to find help."

"Who are you?" asked, the wounded man, fixing his half-
opened eyes on Grimaud.

"An old acquaintance," replied Grimaud.

**You?" and the wounded man sought to recall the features
of the person who was before him to his mind.

"One night, twenty years ago, my master fetched you from
Bethune, and conducted you to Armentieres."

"I know you well, now," said the executioner; "you are one
of the four grooms. Where do you come from now?"

"I was passing on the road and drew up at this inn to rest
my horse. They were relating to me how the executioner of
Bethune was here, and wounded, when you uttered two pierc-
ing cries, upon hearing which, we ran to the door and forced it

"And the monk?" exclaimed the executioner; "did you see
the monk who was shut in with me?"

"No, he was no longer here; he appears to have fled by
that window. Was it he who stabbed you?"

"Yes," said the executioner.

Grimaud moved, as if to leave the room.

"What are you going to do?" asked the wounded man.

"He must be apprehended."

"Do not attempt it; he has avenged himself, and has done
well. Now I may hope that God will forgive me, since my
crime has been expiated."

"Explain yourself," said Grimaud.

"The women whom you and your masters made me kill—
My lady, as you called her, she — ^was his mother."

Grimaud started, and stared at the dying man in a dull and
stupid manner.

"His mother!" repeated he. "But does he know the secret

"I mistook him for a monk, and revealed it to him in con-

** Unhappy man,^ cried Grimaud, whose face was covered
with sweat; at the bare idea of the evil results which suck a


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revelation might cause; ** unhappy man, you named no one I

**I pronounced no name, for I knew none, except his mother's
maiden name, and he recognized her; but he Imows that his
uncle was among her judges."

Thus speaking, he fell back exhausted. Grimaud, wishing
to relieve him, advanced his hand toward the hilt of the

"Touch me not!" said the executioner; "if this dagger is
withdrawn, I shall die."

Grimaud remained with his hand extended; then, striking
his forehead, exclaimed: "Oh! if this man should ever dis-
cover the names of the others, my master is lost."

"Haste! haste to him, and warn him," cried the wounded
man, "if he still lives; warn his friends too. My death, be-
lieve me, will not be the end of this terrible adventure."

"Where was the monk going?" asked Grimaud.

"Towards Paris."

"Who stopped him?"

"Two young gentlemen, who were on their way to join the
army, and the name of one of whom I heard his companion
mention, the Viscount de Bragelonne."

"And it was tliis young man who brought the monk to you.
Then it was the will of God that it should be so, and this it is
which is so awful," continued Grimaud; "and yet that woman
deserved her fate; do you not think so?"

"On one's death-bed the crimes of others appear very small
in comparison with one's own," said the executioner; and he
fell back exhausted, and closed his eyes.

At this moment the host re-entered the room, followed not
only by a surgeon, but by many other persons, whom curiosity
had attracted to the spot. The surgeon approached the dying
man, who seemed to have fainted.

"We must first extract the steel from the side," said he,
shaking his head in a significant manner.

The prophecy which the wounded man had just uttered re-
curred to Grimaud, wha turned away his head. The weapon,
as we have already stated, was plunged into the body up to the
hilt, and as the surgeon, taking it by the end, drew it from the
wound, the wounded man opened his eyes, and fixed them in a
manner truly frightful. When, at last, the blade had been en-
tirely withdrawn, a red froth issued from the mouth of the
wounded man, and a stream of blood sprang from the wound,
when he at length drew breath; then, fixing his eyes on
Grimaud, with a singular expression, the dying man uttered the
last death rattle, and expired.

Then Grimaud, raising the dagger from the pool of blood
which was gliding along the room — to the horror of all pres-
ent — ^made a sign to the host to follow him, paid him with a
generosity worthy of his master, and again mounted his horse.


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Grimaud's first intentions had been to return to Paris, but he
remembered the anxiety which his prolonged absence might
occasion to Raoul, and, reflecting that there were now only
two miles between Raoul and himself, that a quarter of an
hour's ride would unite them, and that the going, returning,
and explanation would not occupy an hour, he put spurs to
his horse, and, ten minutes after, had reached the only inn of

Raoul was seated at table with the Count de Guiche and
his tutor, when all at once the door opened, and Grimaud
presented himself, travel-stained and dirty, still covered with
the blood of the unfortunate executioner.

** Grimaud, my good Grimaud!" exclaimed Raoul, "here you
are at last! Excuse me, sirs, this is not a servant, but a friend.
How did you leave the count?" continued he; "does he regret
me a little? Have you seen him since I left him? Answer,
for I have many things to tell you, too; indeed, the last three
days some odd adventures have happened, — ^but, what is the mat-
ter? how pale you are! — and blood, too! what is this?"

**It is the blood of the unfortunate man whom you left at
the inn, and who died in my arms."

**In your arms? — that man! But know you who he was?"

**I know that he was the ex-headman of Bethune."

"You knew him? and he is dead?"


"Well, sir," said d'Arminges, "it is a common lot, and even
a deathsman is not exempt from it. I had a bad opinion of
him the moment I saw^ his wound, and, since he asked for
a monk, you know that it was his own opinion, too, that death
must ensue."

At the mention of the monk, Grimaud turned pale.

"Come, come," continued d'Arminges, "to dinner," for, like
most men of his age and of his generation, he did not allow any
emotion to interfere with a repast.

"You are right, sir," said Raoul. "Come, Grimaud, order
some dinner for yourself, and when you have rested a little
we can talk."

"No, sir, no," said Grimaud; "I cannot stop a moment; I
must start for Paris again immediately. I can tell you but
one thing, sir, for a secret you wish to know is not my own.
You met this monk, you conducted him to the wounded man,
and you had time to observe him, you would know him again
were you to meet him?"

"Yes! yes!" exclaimed both the young men.

"Very well! if ever you meet him again, wherever it may be,
whether on the high road or in the street, or in a church, any-
where, put your foot on his neck and crush him without pity,
without mercy, as you would crush a viper; destroy him, and
leave him not till he is dead ; the lives of five men are not safe,
in my opinion, as long as he lives!"


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And without adding another word, Grimaud, profiting by
the astonishment and terror into which he had thrown his
auditors, rushed from the room. Ten minutes later the gal-
lop of a horse was heard on the road — it was Grimaud on the
way to Paris. When once in the saddle Grimaud reflected
upon two things ; firstly, that, at the pace he was going, his
horse would not carry him ten miles, and secondly, that he
had no money. But Grimaud's imagination was more prolific
than his speech, and, therefore, at the first halt he sold liis
steed, and with the money obtained from the purchaser he took



The second interview between the former Musketeers had
not been so pompous and stiff as the first. It was held at a
famous eating-house in the Rue de la Monnaie, of the sign of
the Hermitage; for the following Wednesday, at eight o'clock
in the evening precisely.

On that day, in fact, the four friends arrived punctually at
the said hour, each from his own abode. Porthos had been
trying a new horse; d'Artagnan came from being on guard at
the Louvre ; Aramis had been to visit one of his penitents in the
neighborhood; and Athos, whose domicile was established in
the Rue Guenegaud, found himself close at hand. They were
therefore somewhat surprised to meet altogether at the door
of the Hermitage.

The first words exchanged between the four friends, on ac-
count of the ceremony which each of them mingled with their
demonstration, were somewhat forced, and even the repast be-
gan with a kind of stiflFness. Athos perceived this embarrass-
ment, and by way of supplying a prompt remedy, called for
four bottles of champagne.

At this order, given in Athos' habitually calm manner, the
face of the Gascon relaxed, and Porthos' brow was smooth.
Aramis was astonished. He knew that Athos not only never
drank, but that more, he had a kind of repugnance to wine.
Tliis astonishment was doubled when he saw Athos fill a
bumper, and drink with his former gusto. His companions
following his example, in an instant the four bottles were
empty, and this excellent specific succeeded in dissipating even
the sUghtest cloud which might have rested on their spirits.
Now the four friends began to speak loud, scarcely waiting
till one had finished for another to begin, and to assume each
his favorite attitude on or at the table. Soon — strange fact
—Aramis unfastened two buttons of his doublet, seeing which,
Porthos unhooked his entirely.


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Battles, long journeys, blows given and received, sufficed
for the first subject of conversation; which then turned upon
the silent struggles sustained against him who was now called
the great Cardinal.

"Faith!" exclaimed d'Artagnan to his two friends, "you may
well wish ill to Mazarin ; for I assure you, on his side, he wishes
you no good."

"Pooh! really?" asked Athos. "If I thought that the fel-
low knew me by my name, I would be re-baptized, for fear I
should be thought to know him."

"He knows you better by your actions than by your name;
he is quite aware that two gentlemen greatly aided the escape
of M. de Beaufort, and he has instigated an active search for
them, I can answer for it. This morning he sent for me to
ask if I had obtained any information."

"And what did you reply?"

"That I had none yet; but that I was to dine to-day with two
gentlemen, who would be able to give me some."

"You told him that?" said Porthos, his broad smile spread-
ing over his honest face, "bravo! and you are not afraid?"

No," replied Athos; "it is not the search of Mazarin that I

"Now," said Aramis, "tell me a little what you do fear."

"Nothing for the present, at least in good earnest."

"And with regard to the past?" asked Porthos.

"Oh! the past is another thing," said Athos, sighing; "the
past and the future."

"Are you afraid for your young Raoul?" asked Aramis.

"Well," said d'Artagnan, "one is never killed in a first en-

"Nor in a second," said Aramis.

"Nor in the third," returned Porthos; "and even when one is
killed, one rises again, the proof of which is, that here we are ! "

"No," said Athos, "it is not Raoul about whom I am anxious,
for I trust he will conduct himself like a gentleman; and if
he is killed — well — ^he will die bravely; but hold — ^should such

misfortune happen — ^well " Athos passed his hand across

his pale brow.

"Well?" asked Aramis.

"Well, I shall look upon it as an expiation."

"Oh! ah!" said d*Artagnan; "I know what you* mean." .

"And I, too," added Aramis; "but you must not think of
that, Athos; what is past is past."

"I don't understand, said Porthos.

"Beheading the woman."

"Oh, yes!^ said Porthos; "true, I had forgotten it."

Athos looked at him intently.

"You have forgotten it, Porthos," said he.

"Faith? yes, it is so long ago," answered Porthos.

"This thing does not, then, weigh on your conscience?"


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"Faith! no."

"And you, d'Artagnan?"

"I — I own that when my mind returns to that terrible period,
I have no recollection of anything but the stiffened corpse of
that poor Constance Bonacieux. Yes, yes,'* murmured he, "I
have often felt regret for the victim, but never any remorse
for the assassin."

Athos shook his head doubtfully.

"Consider," said Aramis, "if you admit divine justice and its
participation in the beings of this world, that woman was
punished bv the will of Heaven. We are but the instruments —
that is all."

"But as to free will, Aramis?"

"How acts the judge? He has a free will, and he condemns
fearlessly. What does the executioner? he is master of his
arm, and yet he strikes without remorse."

"The executioner!" muttered Athos, as if arrested by some

"I know that is terrible," said d'Artagnan; "but when I
reflect that we have killed English, Rochellias, Spaniards, nay,
even French, who never did us any other harm but to aim at
us and to miss us, whose only fault was to cross swords with
us, and not to be able to ward us off quick enough — I can,
on my honor, find an excuse for my share for the murder of
that woman.'

"As for me," said Porthos, "now that you have reminded me
of it, Athos, I have the scene again before me, as if I was
there! My lady was there, as it were, in your place." (Athos
changed color.) "I — ^I was where d'Artagnan stands. I wore
a short sword, which cut like a Damascus — ^you remember it,
Aramis, for you "

"And you, Aramis?"

"Well, I think of it sometimes," said Aramis. "And I swear
to you all three, that had the executioner of Bethune — was he
not of Bethune? — ^yes, egad! of Bethune! — not been ther^ I
would have cut off the head of the infamous being without
remembering who I am, and even remembering it. She was a
bad woman.

"And then," resumed Aramis, with a tone of philosophical
indifference which he had assumed since he had belonged to
the Church, and in which there was more atheism than confi-
dence in God, "what is the use of thinking of all that? At
the last hour we must confess this action, and God knows
better than we can whether it is a crime, a fault, or a meritori-
ous action. / repent of it? Egad! no! By honor, and by the
holy cros«, I only regret it because she was a woman."

"The most satisfactory part of the matter," said d'Artagnan,
**is that there remains no trace of it."

"She left a son," observed Athos.

**0h! yes; I know that," said d'Artagnan, "and you men-


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tioned it to me; but who knows what has become of him? If
the serpent be dead, why not its brood? Do you think that
his uncle Winter would have brought up that young viper?
Winter probably condemned the son as he had done the

"Then," said Athos, "woe to Winter, for the child had done
no harm."

"May the devil take me if the child be not dead," said Por-
thos. "There is so much fog in that detestable country, at
least so d'Artagnan declares."

Just as this conclusion arrived at by Porthos was about prob-
ably to bring back hilarity to the faces now more or less
clouded, footsteps were heard on the stair, and some one
knocked at the door.

"Come in," cried Athos.

"Please your honors," said the host, "a person, in a great
hurry, wishes to speak to one of you."

"To which of us?" asked all the four friends.

"To him who is called the Count de la Pere."

"It is I," said Athos, "and what is the name of the person?"


"Ah!" exclaimed Athos, turning pale. "Returned already?
What has happened, then, to Bragelonne?"

"Let him enter," cried d*Artagnan, "let him come up."

But Grimaud had already mounted the staircase, and was
waiting on the last step ; so springing into the room, he mo-
tioned the host to leave it The door being closed, the four
friends waited in expectation. Grimaud's agitation, his pallor,
the sweat which covered his face, the dust which soiled his
clothes, all indicated that he was the messenger of some import-
ant and terrible news.

"Your honors," said he, "that woman had a child; that child
has become a man; the tigress had a cub, the tiger has roused
himself; he is ready to spring upon you — ^beware!"

Athos glanced around at his friends with a melancholy smile.
Porthos turned to look at his sword which was hung up against
the wall ; Aramis seized his knife • d'Artagnan rose.

"What do you mean, Grimaud? he exclaimed.

"That My lady*s son has left England; that he is in France
on his road to Paris, if he be not here already."

"The devil he is!" said Porthos. "Are you sure of it?"

"Certain!" replied Grimaud.

This announcement was received in silence. Grimaud was
so breathless, so exhausted, that he had fallen back upon a
chair. Athos filled a glass with champagne, and gave it to

"Well, and after all," said d'Artagnan, "supposing that he
lives, that he comes to Paris, we have seen many o&er srxoiu
Let him come."


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''Yes," echoed Porthos, stroking his sword, suspetided to the
wall, **we can wait for him, let him come."

"Moreover he is but a child," said Aramis.

Grimaud rose.

**A child!" he exclaimed. "Do you know what he has done
— ^this child? Disguised as a monk, he discovered the whole
history in confession from the executioner of Bethune, and
having confessed him, after having learnt everything from
him, he gave him absolution by planting this dagger into his
heart. See, it is fetill red and wet, for it is not thirty hours ago
since it was drawn from the wound."

And Grimaud threw the dagger on the table.

D'Artagnan, Porthos, and Aramis rose, and in one spon-
taneous motion rushed to their swords. Athos alone remained
seated, calm and thoughtful.

"And you say he is dressed as a monk, as an Augustine monk,
Grimaud? What sized man is he?"

"About my height," Grimaud said; "thin, pale, with light-blue
eyes, and light hair."

"He did not see Raoul, I hope?" asked Athos.

'"Yes, on the contrary, they met, and it was the viscount
himself who conducted him to the bed of the dying man."

Athos rose, in his turn, without speaking — ^went, and un-
hooked his sword.

"Heigh, sir," said d'Artagnan, trying to laugh; "do you
know we look very much like silly women ! How^ is it that we
four men who have faced armies without blinking, begin to
tremble at the sight of a boy!"

"Yes," said Athos, "but this boy comes in the name of

And they hastily quitted the inn.



The reader must now cross the river Seine with us, and fol-
low us to the door of the Carmelite Convent in the Rue St.
Jacques. It is eleven o'clock in the morning, and the pious
sisters have just finished saying a mass for the success of the
armies of ^ King Charles I. Leaving the church, a woman and
a girl dressed in black, a widow and an orphan, have re-entered
their cell.

The woman kneels on a painted wood and a short distance
from her stands the girl, leaning against a chair, weeping.

The woman must have been handsome, but the traces of
sorrow have aged her. The girl is lovely, and her tears only


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embellish her; the lady appears to be about forty years of age,
the girl about fourteen.

**0h, God!" prayed the kneeling supplicant, "protect my hus-
band, guard my son, and take my wretched life instead!"

"Oh, God!" murmured the girl, *'leave me my mother!"

The two women who thus knelt together in prayer were
the daughter and granddaughter of Henry IV., the wife and
daughter of Charles I.

They had just finished their double prayer, when a nun softly
tapped at the door of the cell.

"Enter, my sister," said the Queen.

"I trust your majesty will pardon this intrusion on her medi-
tations, but a foreign lord has arrived from England, and waits
in the parlor, demanding the honor of presenting a letter to
your majesty."

"Oh! a letter! a letter from the King, perhaps. News from
your father, do you hear, Henrietta — ^and the name of this

"Lord Winter."

"Lord Winter!" exclaimed the Queen, "the friend of my
husband. Oh, let him come in!"

And the Queen advanced to meet the messenger, whose hand
she seized affectionately, whilst he knelt down, and presented a
letter to her contained in a gold case.

"Ah! my lord," said the Queen, "you bring us three things
which we have not seen for a long time. Gold, a devoted friend,
and a letter from the King, our husband and master."

Winter bowed again, unable to reply from excess of emotion.

On their side the mother and daughter retired into the em-
brasure of a window to read eagerly the following letter:

Online LibraryAlexandre DumasTwenty years after → online text (page 14 of 38)