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"I was blind; Athos made me see clearly; that's all Come
here."

The two friends went near him.

"Do you see that street? There stand the horses. Go out
by the door, turn to the right, jump into your saddles, all will
be right; d(jn't be uneasy at anything except mistaking the sig-
nal. That will be the signal when I call out, *Lord have mercy !' "

"But give us your word that you will come too, d'Artagnan,"
said Athos.

"I swear I will, by Heaven!"

" 'Tis settled," said Aramis, **at the shout, we go out, upset
all that stands in our way, run to our horses, jump into our
saddles, spur them— is that all?"

"Exactly."

"See Aramis, as I have told you, d'Artagnan is the best of us
all," said Athos.

"Very true," replied the Gascon, "but I always run away from
compliments. Don't forget the signal." And he went out
whistling.

The soldiers were playing or sleeping; two of them were
singing in a corner, out of tune, the psalm — "By the rivers of
Babylon."

D'Ajrtagnan called the sergeant. "My dear friend. General
Cromwell has sent M. Mordaunt to fetch me. Guard the pris-
oners well, I beg of you."

The sergeant made a sign, as much as to say he did not un- ^
derstand French, and d'Artagnan tried to make him comprehend
by signs and gestures. Then he went into the stable; he
found the five horses and his own, among others, saddled. He
gave his instructions, and Porthos and Mousqueton went to
their post according to his directions.

Then d'Artagnan, being alone, struck a light and lighted a
small bit of tinder, mounted his horse, and stopped at the
door, in the midst of the soldiers. There, caressing, as he pre-
tended, the animal with his hand, he put this bit of tinder, while
burning, into his ear.

It was necessary to be as good a horseman as he was to
risk such a scheme; for hardly had the animal felt the burning
tinder than he uttered a cry of pain, and reared and jumped as
if he had been mad.

The soldiers, whom he nearly trampled upon, ran away from
him.

"Help! help!" cried d'Artagnan; "stop, my horse has the
blind staggers."



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256 TWENTY YEARS AFTER.

In an instant blood came from the horse's eyes, and he was
white with foam.

"Help! help!" cried d'Artagnan. "What I will you let me be
killed? Lord have mercy!"

Scarcely had he uttered this cry than the door opened, and
Athos and Aramis rushed out The coast, owing to the Gas-
con's stratagem, was clear.

**The prisoners are escaping!** yelled the sergeant^

"Stop! stop!** cried d'Artagnan, giving rein to his famous
steed, who, darting forth, overturned several men.

" Stop ! stop ! " cried the soldiers, and ran for their arms.

But the prisoners were on their saddles, and lost no time,
hastening to the nearest gate.

In the middle of the street they saw Grimaud and Blaisois
coming to find their master. With one wave of his hand,
Athos madfe Grimaud, who followed the little troop, under-
stand everything, and they passed on like a whirlwind, d*Ar-
tagnan still directing them from behind with his voice.

They passed through the gate like apparitions, without the
guards thinking of detaining them, and reached the open
country.

All this while the soldiers were calling out, **Stop! Stop!"
and the sergeant, who began to see that he was the victim of
an artifice, was almost in a frenzy of despair; whilst all this
was going on, a cavalier in full gallop was seen approaching. It
was Mordaunt with the order in his hand.

"The prisoners!** he exclaimed, jumping off bis horse.

The sergeant had not the courage to reply; he showed him
the open door and the empty room. Mordaunt darted to the
steps, understood all, uttered a scream as if his entrails were
torn out, and fell fainting on the stone steps.



CHAPTER LVn.

UNDER THE MOST TRYING CIRCUMSTANCES NOBLE NATURES NEVER
LOSE COURAGE, NOR GOOD STOMACHS, APPETITE.

The little troop, without looking behind them, or exchanging
a single word, fled at a rapid gallop, crossing on foot a little
stream, and leaving Durham on their left. At last they came
in sight of a small wood, and spurring their horses afresh,
they rode in the direction of it. •

As soon as they had disappeared behind a green curtain suffi-
ciently thick to conceal them from the sight of any who might be
in pursuit of them, they drew up to hold a council together. The
two grooms held the horses, that they might take rest without
being unsaddled, and Grimaud was posted as sentinel.

"Come, first of all,** said Athos to d'Artagnan, "my friend.



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TWENTY YEARS AFTER. 257

that 1 may shake hands with you— you, our rescuer; you, the
true hero among us all."

"Athos is right, and you win my admiration," said Aramis,
in his turn pressing his hand; "to what are you not equal?
with superior intelligence, and an infallible eye; an arm of
iron, and an enterprising mind."

"Now," said the Gascon, "that is all well, I accept for Por-
thos and myself, everything, thanks and embracing we have
plenty of time to lose."

The two friends, recalled by d'Artagnan to what was also
due to Porthos, pressed his hand in their turn.

"And now," said Athos, "it is not our plan to run by haz-
ard, and like madmen; but we must arrange some plan. What
shall we do?" ^

"We are going to reach the nearest sea-port, unite our lit-
tle resources, hire a vessel, and return to France. As for me, I
will give my last sou for it. Life is the greatest treasure, and
spealang candidly, ours is only held by a thread."

"What do you say to this, du Vallon?"

"I," said Porthos, "I am entirely of d*Artagnan*s opinion;
England is a measly place."

A glance was exchanged betwen Athos and Aramis.

"Go, then, my friends," said the former, sighing.

**How, go then?" exclaimed d*Artagnan. "Let us go, you
mean."

"No, my friend," said Athos, "you must leave us. You can,
and you ought, to return to France; your mission is accom-
plished, but ours is not."

"Your mission is not accomplished!" exclainiied d'Artagnan,
looking in astonishment at Athos.

"No, my good fellow," replied Athos, in his gentle, but de-
cided voice, "we came here to defend King Charles; we have
but ill defended him; it remains for us to save him."

"To save the King?" said d'Artagnan, looking at Aramis as
he had looked at Athos.

Aramis contented himself by making a sign with his head.

D'Artagnan's countenance took an expression of the deep-
est compassion; he began to think he had to do with two
madmen.

"You cannot be speaking seriously, Athos?" said he; "the
King is surrounded by an army, which is conducting him to
London. This army is commanded by a butcher, or the son
of a butcher — it matters little — Colonel Harrison. His majesty,
I can assure you, is about to be tried on his arrival in Lon-
don ; I have heard enough from the lips of Mr. Oliver Crom-
well to know what to expect."

A second look was exchanged between Athos and Aramis.

"And when his trial is ended, there will be no delay in putting
the sentence into execution," continued d'Artagnan.



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2S8 TWENTY YEARS AFTER.

"And to what penalty do you think the King willl be con-
demned?" asked Athos.

"To the penalty of death, I much fear; they have gone too
far for him to pardon them, and there is nothing left to them
but one thing, and that is to kill him."

"There is the more reason why we must not abandon the
august head so threatened."

"Athos, you are becoming mad."

"Well, you know beforehand that you must perish!" said
^'Artagnan.

**We fear so, and our only regret is, to die so far from you
both."

"What will you do in a foreign land, an enemy's country?"

"I have traveled in England when young; I speak English
like an Englishman; and Aramis, too, knows something of the
language. Ah! if we had you, my friends! With you, d*Ar-
tagnan, with you, Porthos — all four, and reunited for the first
time in twenty years — ^we would dare, not only England, but the
three kingdoms together ! "

"And did you promise the Queen," resumed d'Artagnan,
petulantly, "to storm the Tower of London, kill a hundred
thousand soldiers, to fight victoriously against the wishes of
a nation and the ambition of a man, and that man Cromwell?
Do not exaggerate your duty. In Heaven's name, my dear
Athos, do not make a useless'' sacrifice. When I see you merely,
you look like a reasonable being; when you speak, I seem to
have to do with a madman. Come, Porthos, join me; say, frankly
what do you think of this business?"

"Nothing good," replied Porthos.

"Come," continued d'Artagnan, irritated, that instead of
listening to him, Athos seemed to be attending to his own
thoughts, "you have never found yourself the worse for my ad-
vice. Well, then, believe me, Athos, your mission is ended, and
ended nobly; return to France with us."

"Friend, said Athos, "our resolution is unchangeable."

"Then you have some other motive unknown to us?"

Athos smiled, and d'Artagnan struck his heels in anger, and
muttered the most convincing reasons that he could discover;
but to all these reasons Athos contented himself by replying
with a calm, sweet smile, and Aramis by nodding his head.

"Very well," cried d'Artagnan at last, furious; "very well,
since you wish it, let us leave our bones in this beggarly land,
where it is always cold; where the fine weather comes after a
fog, and a fog after a rain, and the rain after the deluge;
where the sun represents the moon, and the moon a cream
cheese; in truth, whether we die here or elsewhere^ matters
little, since we must die."

"But your future career, d'Artagnan ?— your ambition, Por-
thos?"

"Our future, our ambition!" replied d'Artagnan, with fever-



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TWENTY YEARS AETER. 2S9

ish volubility; **need we think of that since we are to save the
King? The King saved, we shall asseni)le our friends to-
gether ; we will head the Puritans ; re-conquer ^ England ; we
shall re-enter London and place him securely on his throne "

"And he will make us dukes and peers," said Porthos, whose
eyes sparkled with joy at this imaginary prospect

**Or he will forget us," added d'Artagnan sagely.

"Well! then," said Athos, offering his hand to d'Artagnan.

** Tis settled," replied d'Artagnan. **I find England a charm-
ing country, and I stay, but only on condition that I am not
forced to learn English,

"Well, then, now," said Athos, triumphantly, *I swear to
you, my friend, by the God who hears us, I believe that there is
a power watching over us, and we shall all four meet in
France."

"So be it!" said d'Artagnan, "but I— I confess I have quite a
contrary conviction."

"But which in the meantime saves the country," added Athos.

"Well, now that everything is decided," cried Porthos, rub-
bing his hands, "suppose we think of dinner 1 It seems to me
that in the most critical positions of our lives we have always
dined."

"Oh! yes, speak of dinner in a country where for a feast
they eat boiled mutton, and where as a treat they drink beer.
What the devil did you come to such a country for, Athos?
But, I forgot," added the Gascon, smiling, "pardon, I forgot
you are no longer Athos; but never mind, let us hear your
plan for dinner, Porthos."

"My plan!"

"Yes; have you a plan?"

"No! I am hungry, that is all."

"If that is all, I am hungry, too; but it is not everything to
be hungry; one must find something to eat, unless we browse
on the grass, like our horse s "

"But," suggested d'Artagnan, "have we not our friend Mous-
queton, he who managed for us so well at Chantilly, Por-
thos?"

"Indeed," said Porthos, "we have Mousqueton, but since he
has been steward, he has become very dull; never mindi, let us
call him," and to make sure that he would reply agreeably,
"Here! Houston/' called Porthos.

Mousqueton appeared, with a piteous face.

"What is the matter, my dear M. Mouston?" asked d'Ar-
tagnan. "Are you ill?"

"Sir, I am very hungry!" replied Mousqueton.

"Well, it is just for that reason that we have called you,
my good M. Mouston. Could you not procure us a few of
those nice little rabbits and some of those delicious partridges,

of which you used to make fricassees at the hotel ? Faith^

I do not remember the name of the hotel."



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260 TWENTY YEARS AFTER,

"At the hotel of >,"* said Porthos, "by my faith, nor do I

remember it either."

"It does not matter; and a few of those bottles of old Bur-
gundy wine, which cured your master so quickly of his sprain ! "

"Alas I sir," said Mousqueton, "I much fear that what you
ask for are very rare things in this frightful country, and I
think we should do better to go and seek hospitality from the
owner of a little house that we see at the extremity of the
wood."

"What! is there a house in the neighborhood?" asked d*Ar-
tagnan.

"Yes, sir!" replied Mousqueton.

"Well, let us, as you say, go and ask a dinner from the mas-
ter of the house. What is your opinion, gentlemen, and does not
M. Houston's suggestion appear to you full of sense .'*

"Oh! oh!" said Aramis, "suppose the master is a roundhead."

"So much the better," replied d*Artagnan; "we will inform
him of the capture of the King, and in honor of the news he
will kill for us his white hens."

"But if he should be a cavalier?" said Porthos.

"In that case, we will put on an air of mourning, and we will
pluck his black fowls."

"You are very happy," said Athos, laughing in spite of
himself at the sally of the irresistible Gascon; **f r you see the
bright side of everything."

"What would you have?" said d'Artagnan. "I come from
a land where there isn't a cloud in the sky,''

"It is not like this, then," said Porthos, stretching out his
hand to assure himself whether the freshness which he had
just felt on his cheek was not really caused by a drop of rain.

"Come, come," said d'Artagnan, "more reason why we should
start on a journey; halloa, Grimaud !"

Grimaud appeared.

"Well, Grimaud, my friend, have you seen anything?" asked
the Gascon.

"Nothing," replied Grimaud.

"Those idiots!" cried Porthos, "they have not even pursued
us. Oh! if we had been in their place!"

"Yes, they are wrong," said d'Artagnan. "I would willingly
have said two words to Mordaunt in this little Thebes. See
what a nice place for bringing down a man properly. "

"I think, decidedly, gentlemen," observed Aramis, "that the
son is not so sharp as his mother."

"Stop!" replied Athos, "wait awhile, we have scarcely left
him two hours ago; he does not know yet in what direction we
came, nor where we are. We may say that he is not equal to
his mother when we put foot in France, if we are not poisoned
or killed before then."

"Meanwhile, let us dine," suggested Porthos.

And the four friends, guided by Mousqueton, took up the way



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TWENTY YEARS AFTER, 261

towards the house, already almost restored to their former
gaiety; for they were now, as Athos had said, all four united
and of one mind.



CHAPTER LVIII.

RESPECT TO FALLEN MAJESTY.

As our fugitives approached the house, they found the
ground cut up, as if a considerable body of horsemen had pre-
ceded them. Before the door, the traces were yet more appar-
ent; these horsemen, whoever they might be, had halted there.

"Egad!" cried d'Artagnan, **it is quite clear that the King
and his escort have been here."

He pushed open the door, and found the first room empty
and deserted.

"Well!" cried Porthos.

"I can see nobody," said d'Artagnan. "Aha, blood I"

At this word the three friends leapt from their horses, and
entered. D'Artagnan had already opened the door of the in-
ner room, and, from the expression of his face, it was clear
that he there beheld some extraordinary object.

The three friends drew near and discovered a young man
stretched on the ground, and bathed in a pool of blood. It
was evident that he had attempted to regain his bed, but
had not had the strength to do so.

The wounded man heaved a sigh. D'Artagnan took some water
in the hollow of his hand, and threw it upon his face. The
man opened his eyes, made an effort to raise his head, and fell
back again. The wound was in the top of his skull, and the
blood was flowing copiously.

Aramis dipped a cloth in some water, and applied it to the
gash. , Again the wounded man opened his eyes and looked
in astonishment at these strangers, who appeared to pity him.

**You are among friends," said Athos, in English; so cheer
up, and tell us, if you have the strength to do so, what has
happened."

"The King," muttered the wounded man, "the King is a pris-
oner."

"Make your mind easy," resumed Athos, "we are all faithful
servants of his majesty."

"Is what you tell me true?" asked the wounded man.

"On our honor as gentlemen."

"Then I may tell you all. I am the brother of Parry, his
majesty's valet."

Athos and Aramis remembered that this was the name by
which Winter had called the man whom, they had found in
the passage of the King's tent.



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262 TWENTY YEARS AFTER,

"We know him," said Athos; "he never left the King."

"Yes, that is he; well, he thought of me, when he saw that
the King was taken, and as they were passing before the house
here, he begged in the King's name that they would stop, as
the King was hungry. They brought him into this room, and
placed sentinels at the doors and windows. Parry knew this
room, as he had often been to see me when the King was at
Newcastle. He knew that there was a trap door communicating
with the cellar, from which one could get into the orchard.
He made me a sign, which I understood, but the King's guards
must have noticed it, and put themselves on their guard. I
went out, as if to fetch wood, passed through the subterranean
passage into the cellar, and while Parry was gently bolting the
door, pushed up the board, and beckoned to the King to fol-
low me. Alas! he would not But Parry clasped his hands
and implored hinij and at last he agreed. ^ I went on first, quite
delighted. The King was a few steps behind me, when suddenly
I saw something rise up in front of me, like a huge shadow.
I wanted to cry out to warn the King, but at the same moment
I felt a blow as if the house was falling on my head, and fell
insensible. When I came to myself again, I was stretched in the
same place. I dragged myself as far as the yard. The King and
his escort were gone."

"And now what can we do for you?" asked Athos.

"Help me to get onto the bed; that will ease me."

They^ helped him onto the bed, and, calling Grimaud to
dress his wound, returned to the outer room to consult, having
no appetite.

"Now," said Aramis, "we know how the matter stands. The
King and his escort have gone this way ; we had better take the
opposite direction, eh?"

Yes," said Porthos; "if we follow the escort we shall find
everything devoured, and die of hunger. What a confounded
country this England is I This is the first time I shall have lost
my dinner, and it's my best meal."

"What do you say about it, d'Artagnan?" said Athos.

"Just the contrary to Aramis."

"What! follow the escort?" cried Porthos, quite alarmed.

"No, but join them. They will never look for us among the
Puritans!"

"A good idea," said Athos, "they will think we want to leave
England, and will seek us in the ports. Meanwhile we shall reach
London with the King, and, once there, it is not difficult to con-
ceal one's self."

"I think I know what you want," replied Athos. "Winter
took us to the house of a Spaniard, who, he said, had been
naturalized in England by his new fellow-countrymen's
guineas."

"Well, we must take every precaution."

"Yes, and among others, that of changing our clothes."



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TWENTY YEARS AFTER. 26Z

"Changing our clothes!" exclaimed Porthos. "I don't see why;
we are very comfortable in those we have on."

"To prevent recognition," said d*Artagnan.

"But can you find your man?" said Aramis to Athos.

**Oh! to be sure, yes. He lives at the Bedford Tavern, Green
Hall Street Besides, I can find my way about the city with my
eyes shut"

Athos was right He went direct to the Bedford Tavern,
and the host, who recognized him, was delighted to see him
again with such worthy and ntmierous company.

Though it was scarcely daylight, our four travelers found
the town in a great bustle, owing to the reported approach of
Harrison and the King.

"Now," said d'Artagnan, "for the actual man. We must
cut off our hair, that the populace may not insult us. As we no
longer wear the sword of the gentleman, we may as well have
the head of the Puritan. This, as you know, is the important
point of distinction between the Covenanter and the Cavalier.

"We look hideous," said Athos.

"And smack of the Puritan to a frightful extent," said
Aramis.

"My head feels quite cold," said Porthos.

"And as for me, I feel anxious to snuffle a sermon," said
d'Artagnan.

"Now," said Athos, "that we cannot even recognize one an-
other, and have, therefore, no fear of others recognizing us,
let us go and see the King's entrance."

They had not been long in the crowd before loud cries an-
nounced the King's arrival. A carriage had been sent to meet
him; and the gigantic Porthos, who stood a head above all the
other heads, soon announced that he saw the royal equipage
approaching. D'Artagnan raised himself on tip-toe, and as the
carriage passed, saw Harrison at one window and Mordaunt at
itit other.

The next day, Athos, leaning out of his window, which
looked upon the most populous part of the city, heard the Act
of Parliament, which summoned the ex-king, Charles I., to the
bar, publicly cried.

"The Parliament, indeed!" cried Athos. "Parliament can
never have passed such an act as that."

"But," said Aramis, "if they dare to condemn their King,
it can only be to exile or imprisonment."

D'Artagnan whistled a little air of incredulity.

"We shall see," said Athos, "for we shall go to the sittings,
I presume."

"You will not have long to wait," said the landlord; "they
begin to-morrow."

"So, then, they drew up the indictment before the King was



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264 TWENTY YEARS AFTER.

**Of course," said d'Artagnan: **they began the day he was
sold."

"And you know," said Aramis, "that it was our friend Mor-
daunt who made, if not the bargain, at least the first overtures."

"And you know," added d'Artagnan, "that whenever I catch
him, I kill him, this M. Mordaunt."

"And I, too!" exclaimed Porthos.

"And I, too!" added Aramis.

"Touching unanimity!" cried d'Artagnan; "which well be-
comes good citizens like us. Let us take a turn round the town,
and imbibe a little fog."

-Yes," said Porthos, "it will be a change from the beer."



CHAPTER LIX.

THE TRIAL.

The next morning King Charles I. was brought by a strong
guard before the mgh court which was to judge him. All
London crowded to the doors of the house. The throng was
terrific; and it was not till after much pushing and some fight-
ing that our four friends reached their destination. When they
did so, they found the three lower rows of benches already oc-
cupied ; but, as they were not anxious to be too conspicuous, all,
with the exception of Porthos, who was anxious to display his
red doublet, were quite satisfied with their places, the more so
as chance had brought them to the centre of their row, so that
they were exactly opposite the arm-chair prepared for tiie royal
prisoner.

Towards eleven o'clock the King entered the hall, surrounded
by guards, but wearing his head covered, and with a calm ex-
pression turned to every side with a look of complete assur-
ance, as if he were there to preside at an assembly of submissive
subjects, rather than to reply to the accusations of a rebel
court.

The judges, being proud of having a monarch to humble, evi-
dently prepared to employ the right they had arrogated to them-
selves, and sent an officer to inform the King that it was
customary for the accused to uncover his head.

Charles, without replying a single word, turned his head in
another direction, and pulled his felt hat over it. Then, when
the officer was gone, he sat down in the arm'-chair opposite the
president, and lashed his boot with a little cane which he car-
ried in his hand. Parry, who accompanied him, stood behind
him.

D'Artagnan was looking at Athos, whose face betrayed all
those emotions whjch the King, possessing more power over



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TWENTY YEARS AFTER. 265

himself, had chased from his own. This agitation, in one so
cool and calm as Athos, frightened him.



Online LibraryAlexandre DumasTwenty years after → online text (page 27 of 38)