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one by one, keeping his eyes all the time on Mordaunt's hands,
who, however, knowing that it was useless, attempted no re-
sistance. At last they stood face to face in the very room
where ten minutes before Mordaunt had been talking to Crom-

Porthos came up behind, and unhooking the lamp on the


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staircase re-lit that in the room. Athos and Aramis entered
last and locked the door after them.

"Oblige me by taking a seat," said d*Artagnan, pushing a
chair towards Mordaunt, who sat down, pale but calm. Aramis,
Porthos, and d'Artagnan drew their chairs near hinL Athos
alone kept away, and sat in the furthest corner of the room,
as if determined to be merely a spectator of the proceedings.
He seemed to be quite overcome. Porthos rubbed his hands
in feverish impatience. Aramis bit his lips till the blood came.

D'Artagnan alone was calm, at least in appearance.

**M. Mordaunt," he said, "since after rtmning after one an-
other so long, chance has at last brought us together, let us
have a little light conversation, if you please.



Though Mordaunt had been so completely taken by surprise,
and had mounted the stairs under the impression of utter con-
fusion, when once seated he recovered himself, as it were, and
prepared to seize any possible opportunity of escaping. His
eye wandered to a long, stout sword on his flank, and he in-
stinctively slipped it round within reach of his right hand.^

D'Artagnan was waiting for a reply to his remark, and said
nothing. Aramis muttered to himself, "We shall hear nothing
but the usual commonplaces."

Porthos champed his moustache, muttering, "A good deal of
ceremony here about crushing a viper." Athos shrank into
his corner, pale and motionless as a bas-relief.

The silence, however, could not last forever. So d'Artagnan

"Sir," he said, with desperate politeness, "it seems to me that
you change your costume almost as rapidly as I have seen the
Italian mummers do, whom the Cardinal Mazarin brought oyer
from Bergamo, and whom he doubtless took you to see, during
your travels in France."
. Mordaunt did not reply.

•Just now," d'Artagnan continued, "you are jiisguised— I
mean to say, attired— as a murderer, and now — ^"

"And now I look very much like a man who is going to be
murdered." ^^ ^^ _,

"Oh, sir," answered d'Artagnan, "how can you talk hke that,
when you are in the company of gentlemen, and have such an
excellent sword at your side?" ,

"No sword is good enough to be of any use against four
swords and four daggers." ,

"Well, that is scarcely the question. I had the honor of


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asking you why you altered your costume. Surely the mask
and beard suited you very well, and as to the ax, I do not
think it would be out of keeping even at this moment"

"Because, remembering the scene at Armentieres, I thought
I should find four axes for one, as I was to meet four execu-

"Sir," replied d*Artagnan, in the calmest manner possible,
"you are very young; I shall therefore overlook your frivolous
remarks. What took place at Armentieres, has no connec-
tion whatever with the present occasion. We could scarcely
have requested your moUier to take a sword and fight with

"Loho! It's only a duel then?" cried Mordaunt, as if dis-
posed to reply at once to the provocation.

Porthos rose^ always ready for this kind of exercise.

"Pardon me," said d'Artagnan. "D6 not let us be in a hurry.
We will arrange the matter rather better. Confess, Monsieur
Mordaunt, that you are anxious to kill some of us."

"All," replied Mordaunt.

"Then, my dear sir, I am convinced that these gentlemen
return your kind wishes, and will be delighted to kill you also.
Of course they will do so as honorable gentle^n, and the best
proof I can furnish is this "

So saying, he threw his hat on the ground, pushed back his
chair to the wall, and bowed to Mordaunt with true French

"At your service, sir," he continued. "My sword is shorter
than yours, it's true, but bah! I hope the arm will make up
for the sword." ^, , . , , ,

"Halt!" cried Porthos, coming forward. "I begin, and thats

"Allow me, Porthos," said Aramis.

Athos did not move. You might have taken him for a statue.

"Gentlemen," said d'Artagnan, "you shall have your turn.
M. Mordaunt dislikes you sufficiently not to refuse you after-
wards. You can see it in his eye. So pray keep your places,
like Athos, whose calmness is most laudaWe. Besides, we will
have no words about it. I have a particular business to settle
with this gentleman, and I shall and will begin."

Porthos and Aramis drew back disappointed; and, drawing
his sword, d'Artagnan turned to his adversary.

"Sir, I am waiting for you."

"And for my part, gentlemen, I admire you. You are dis-
puting which shall fight me first, and you do not consult me
who am most concerned in the matter. I hate you all, but not
equally. I claim the right to choose my opponent. If you
refuse this right, you may kill me, for I shall not fight

"It is but fair,* said Porthos and Aramis, hoping he would
choose one of them. «, , , •

"Well, then," said Mordaunt, "I choose for my adversary


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the man who, not thinking himself worthy to be called Count
de la Fere, calls himself Athos/'

Athos sprang up, but after an instant of motionless silence,
he said, to the astonishment of his friends, "M. Mordaunt, a
duel between us is impossible. Give this honor to somebody
else." And he sat down.

"Ah!" said Mordaunt with a sneer, ** Kerens one who shows
the white feather.**

"Zounds!** cried d'Artagnan, bounding towards him, "who
says that Athos is afraid?**

"Let him go on, d*Artagnan,** said Athos, with a smile of
sadness and contempt

"It is your decision, Athos?** resumed the Gascon.

"Yes, irrevocably.'*

"You hear, sir,** said d'Artagnan, turning to Mordaunt,
"choose one of us to replace the Count de la Fere.**

"As long as I don*t fight with him, it is the same to me
with whom I fight. Put your names into a hat, and draw

Aramis opened the chosen paper. It fell to d'Artagnan.

The Gascon uttered a cry of joy, and turning to Mordaunt, —

"I hope, sir,** said he, "you have no objection to make.*'

"None whatever,** replied the other, drawing his sword and
resting the point on his boot.

The moment that d*Artagnan saw that his wish was accom-
plished, and his man would not escape him, he recovered his
usual tranquility. He turned up his cuffs neatly, and rubbed
the sole of his right boot on the floor, but did not fail, how-
ever, to remark that Mordaunt was looking about him in a
singular manner.

"You are ready, sir?" he said at last.

"I was waiting for you, sir," said Mordaunt, raising his head
and casting at his opponent a look impossible to describe.

"Well, then," said the Gascon "take care of yourself, for I
am not a bad hand at the rapier. *

"Nor I either."

"So much the better. That sets my mind at rest. Defend

"One minute," said the young man; "give me your word,
gentlemen, that you will not attack me otherwise than one after
the other."

"Is it to have the pleasure of insulting us that you say that,
little serpent?"

"No, but to set my mind at rest, as you said just now."

"It is for something else than that, I imagine," muttered
d'Artagnan, shaking his head doubtfully.

"On the honor of gentlemen," said Aramis and Porthos.

"In that case, gentlemen, have the kindness to retire into
the comers, and leave us room. We shall want it."

"Yes, gentlemen," said d'Artagnan, "we must not leave this


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person the slightest pretext for behaving badly, which, with all
due respect, I fancy he is anxious to do."

This new show made no impression on Mordaunt. The
space was cleared, the two lamps placed on Cromweirs desk,
in order that the combatants might have as much light as
possible; and the swords crossed.

D^Artagnan was too good a swordsman to trifle with his
opponent He made a rapid and brilliant feint which Mordaunt

"Aha!" he cried, with a smile of satisfaction.

And without losing a minute, thinking he saw an opening,
he thrust right in, and forced Mordaunt to parry a counter-
quart so fine that the points of the weapons might have been
held within a wedding ring.

This time it was Mordaunt who smiled

**Ah, sir," said d'Artagnan, *Vou have a wicked smile. It
must have been the devil who taught it to you."

Mordaunt replied by trying his opponent's weapon with an
amount of strength which the Gascon was astonished to find
in a form apparently so weak; but, thanks to a parry no less
skillful than that which Mordaunt had just achieved, he suc-
ceeded in meeting his sword, which slid along his own with-
out touching his breast.

Mordaunt rapidly sprang back a step.

"Ah, you lose ground, you are turning? Well, as you please.
I even gain something by it, for I no longer see that wicked
smile of yours. You have no idea what a false look you have,
particularly when you are afraid. Look at my eyes and you
will see what your looking-glass never showed you, a frank,
and honorable countenance."

To this flow of words, not perhaps in the best taste, but char-
acteristic of d'Artagnan, whose principal object was to divert
his opponent's attention, Mordaunt did not reply, but, con-
tinuing to turn around, he succeeded in changing places with

He smiled more and more, and his smile began to make the
Gascon anxious.

"Come, come," said d'Artagnan, "we must finish with this,"
and in his turn he pressed Mordaunt hard, who continued to
lose ground, but evidently on purpose, and without letting
his sword leave the line for a moment. However, as they
were fighting in a room, and had not space to go on like that
forever, Mordaunt's foot at last touched the wall, against which
he rested his left hand.

"Ah! this time you cannot break away, my fine friend," ex-
claimed d'Artagnan. "Gentlemen, did you ever see a scorpion
pinned to a wall? No. Well, then you shall see it now."

In a second d'Artagnan had made three terrible thrusts at
Mordaunt, all of which touched but only pricked him. The
three friends looked on panting and astonished. At last d*Ar-


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tagnati, having got up too close, stepped back to prepare a
fourth thrust, but the moment when, after a fine, quick feint,
he was attacking as sharply as lightning, the wall seemed to
give way, Mordaunt disappeared through the opening, and d*Ar-
tagnan's sword, caught between the panels, shivered like glass.
D'Artagnan sprang back for the wall had closed again.

Mordaunt, while defending himself, had manoeuvred so as
to reach the secret door by which Cromwell had left, had felt
for the handle with his left hand, turned it, and disappeared.

The Gascon uttered a furious imprecation, which was an-
swered by a wild, menacing, blood-curdling laugh on the other
side of the iron panel.

"Help me, gentlemen," cried d'Artagnan, **We must break
in this door.**

"He escapes us," growled Porthos, pushing his huge shoulder
against the hinges, but in vain. "S'blood, he escapes us."

"So much the better," muttered Athos.

"I thought as much," said d'Artagnan, wasting his strength
in useless efforts. "Zounds, I thought as much, when the
wretch kept moving around the room. I thought he was up to
some trick."

"It's a misfortune which his friend, the devil, sends us," said

"It's a piece of good fortune sent from Heaven," said Athos,
evidently pleased.

"Really!" said d*Artagnan, abandoning the attempt to burst
open the panel after several ineffectual attempts, "Athos, I
cannot imagine how you can talk to us in that way. You can-
not understand, the position we are in. In this kind of game,
not to kill, is to let one's self be killed. This wretched fellow
will be sending us a hundred Iron-sided beasts who will pick
us off like berries in this place. Come, come, we must be off.
If we stay here five minutes more, there's an end of us."

"Yes, you are right."

"But where shall we go?" asked Porthos.

"To the hotel, to be sure, to get our baggage and horses;
and from there, if it please God, to France, where, at least, I
understand the architecture of the houses."

So, suiting the action to the word, d'Artagnan thrust the re-
mains of his sword into his scabbard, picked up his hat, and
ran down the stairs followed by the othera.


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MoRDAUNT glided through the subterranean passage, and
going to the neighboring house, stopped to take breath.

''Kjood," said he, "a mere trifle. Scratches, that is all. Now
to my work.**

He walked on at a quick pace, till he reached a neighbor-
ing cavalry-barrack, where he happened to be known. Here
he borrowed a horse, the best in the stables, and in a quarter
of an hour was at Greenwich.

** 'Tis well,** said he, as he reached the river bank. "I am
half an hour before them. Now,'* he added, rising in the
stirrup, and looking about him, "which, I wonder, is the

At this moment, as if to reply to his words, a man l3dng on
a heap of cables rose and advanced a few steps towards him.

Mordaunt drew a handkerchief from his pocket, and tying a
knot at each corner — ^the signal agreed upon — waved it in the
air, and the man came up to him. He was wrapped in a large
hooded cape, which concealed his form and partly his face.

"Do you wish to go on the water, sir?" said the sailor.

"Yes, just so. Along the Isle of Dogs.**

"And perhaps you have a preference for one boat more
than another. You would like one that sails rapidly **

"As lightning,'' interrupted Mordaunt.

"Then mine is the boat you want, sir. I'm your man.**

"I begin to think so, particularly if you have not forgotten
a certain signal.**

"Here it is, sir,** and the sailor took from his coat a hand-
kerchief, tied at each corner.

"Good; quite right!** cried Mordaunt, springing off his horse.
"There is no time to lose; now have my horse taken to the
nearest inn, and conduct me to your vessel."

"But," asked the sailor, "where are your companions? I
thought there were four of you."

"Listen to me sir; I'm not the man you take me for; you
are in Captain Rogers* post, are you not? under orders from
General Cromwell? Mine^ also, are from him!"

"Indeed, sir, I recogmze you; you are Captain Mordaunt.
Don't be afraid, you are with a friend. I am Captain Groslow.
The general remembered that I had formerly been a naval
officer, and he gave me the command of this expedition; has
anything new occurred?"


"I thought, perhaps, that the King's death "

"It has only hastened their flight; in ten minutes they will.


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perhaps, be here. I am going to embark with you. I wish to
aid in me deed of vengeance. All is ready, I suppose?"


"The cargo on board?"

"Yes—and we are carrying port wine to Antwerp, remeni-

** 'Tis well. Look alive — ^they are coming."

They then went down to the Thames. A boat was fastened
to the shore by a chain fixed to a stake. Groslow jtunped in,
followed by Mordaunt, and in five minutes they were quite
away from that world of houses which then crowded the out-
skirts of London; and Mordaunt could discern the little vessel
riding at anchor near the Isle of Dogs. When they reached
the side of this lugger, Mordaunt, dexterous in his eager desire
for vengeance, seized a rope, and climbed up the sides of the
vessel with a coolness and agility very rare among landsmen.
He went with Groslow to the captain's cabin of planks, for
the chief apartment had been given up by Captain Rogers to
the passengers, accommodated at the other end of the boat

"They will have nothing to do with this side of the ship,
then," said Mordaunt.

"That's a capital arrangement. Return to Greenwich, and
bring them here. I shall hide in your cabin. You have a long

"That in which we came."

"It appeared light, and well-constructed. Fasten it astern
with a painter; put the oars into it, so that it may follow in
the track, and that there will be nothing to do except to cut
adrift. Put a good supply of rum and biscuit in it for the sear
men; should the night happen to be stormy, they will not be
sorry to find something to console themselves with."

"All shall be done. Do you wish to see the powder maga-

"No; when you return, I will put the match myself, but be
careful to conceal your face, so that you cannot be recognized
by them."

"Never fear."

"There's ten o'clock striking, at Greenwich."

Groslow, then having given the sailor on duty an order to
be on the watch with more than usual attention, went down
into the long boat, and soon reached Greenwich. The wind
was chilly, and the jetty was deserted as he approached it;
but he had no sooner landed, than he heard a noise of horses
galloping upon the paved road.

These horsemen were our friends, or rather a vanguard,
composed of d'Artagnan and Athos. As soon as they arrived
at the spot where Groslow stood, they stopped, as if guess-
ing that he was the man they wanted. Athos alighted, and
calmly opened the handkerchief tied at each corner, and un-
folded it; whilst d'Artagnan, ever cautious, remained on horse-


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back, one hand upon his pistol, leaning anxiously forward.

On seeing the appointed signal, Groslow, who had, at first,
crept behind one of the cannon planted on that spot, walked
straight up to the gentlemen. He was so well wrapt up in
his cloak that it would have been impossible to have seen his
face even if the night had not been so dark as to render any
precaution superfluous; nevertheless, the keen glance of Athos
perceived that it was not Rogers who stood before themt.

"What do you want with us?" he asked of Groslow.

"I wish to inform you, my lord," replied Groslow, with an
Irish accent, feigned of course, "that if you are looking for
Captain Rogers you will not find him. He fell ^own this
morning and broke his leg; but I am his cousin; he told me
eiverything, and desired me to look out for, and to conduct yovL
to any place named by the four gentlemen who should bring
me a handkerchief tied at each corner, like that one which
you hold, and one which I have in my pocket."

And he drew out the handkerchief.

"Was that all he said?" inquired Athos.

**No, my lord; he said you had engaged to pay seventy-five
English pounds if I landed you safe and sound at Boulogne,
or any other port you choose, in France."

"What do you think of all this?" said Atiios, in a low tone
to d'Artagnan."

**It seems a likely story to me. Besides, we can blow out
his brains if he proves false," said the Gascon; "and you, Athos,
you know something of everything, and can be our captain.
I dare say you know how to navigate, should he fail us.

"My dear friend, you guess well; my father destined me for
the navy, and I have some vague notions about navigaticMu"

"You seel" cried d*Artagnan.

They then summoned their friends, who, with the servants,
promptly joined then»— leaving behind them Parry, who was
to take their horses back to London; and they all proceeded
instantly to the shore, and placed themselves in the boat, which,
rowed by Groslow, began rapidly to clear the coast

"At last!" exclaimed Porthos, "we are afloat"

"Alas!" said Athos, "we depart alone."

"Yes; but all four together, and without a scratch; which
is a consolation."

"We are not yet arrived at our destination," observed the
prudent d'Artagnan; "beware of stoppages."

"Ah! my friend! cried Porthos; *^like the crows, you always
bring bad omens. Who could intercept us in such a night as
this— pitch dark— when one does not see more than twenty
yards before one?"

"Yes, but to-morrow morning "

"To-morrow we shall be at Boulogne; however, I like to
hear M. d'Artagnan confess that he's afraid."


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**I not only confess it, but am proud of it," returned the
Gascon; '"I am not such a rhinoceros as 'you are. Oho!
whafs that?"

"The 'Lightning/ " answered the captain, "our lugger."

"Lol weVe arrived!" said Athos.

They went on board, and the captain instantly conducted
them to the berth destined for them, a cabin which was to serve
for all purposes, and for the whole party; he then tried to
slip away imder pretext of giving orders to some one.

Stop a moment," cried d'Artagnan; "pray how many men
have you on board, captain?"

"I don't understand, was the reply.

^•Explain it, Athos."

Groslow, on the question being interpreted, answered:

"Three, without counting myself."

"Oh I" exclaimied d'Artagnan. "I begin to be more at my
ease; however, whilst you settle yourselves, I shall make the
round of the fcoat."

"As for me," said Porthos, "I will see to the supper."

"A very good deed, Porthos," replied the Gascon. "Athos,
lend me Grimaud, who in the society of his friend Parry, has,
perhaps, picked up a little English, and can act as my inter-

"Go, Grimaud," said Athos.

D'Artagnan, finding a lantern on the deck, took it up, and
with a pistol in his hand, he said to the captain, in English,
"Come" (being, with the usual English oath, the only English
word he knew*), and so saying, he descended to the lower deck,

This was divided into three compartments; one which was
covered by the floor of that room in which Porthos, Athos, and
Aramis were to pass the night; the second was to serve as
the sleeping room for the servants; the third, under the prow
of the ship, was underneath the temporary cabin in which Mor-
daunt was concealed.

"Oho!" cried d'Artagnan, as he went down the steps of the
hatchway, preceded by the lantern; "what a number of bar-
rels ! one would think one was in the cave of the Forty Mines.
What is there in them?" he added, putting his lantern on one
of' the bins.

The captain inclined to go upon deck again, but, controll-
ing himself, he answered :

"Port wine."

"Ah! port wine! 'tis a comfort," said the Gascon, "that we
shall not die of thirst; are they all full?"

Grimaud translated the question, and Groslow, who was wip-
ing the perspiration from off his forehead, answered :

^Some full, others empty."

D'Artagnan rapped the barrels with his knuckles, and hav-
ing ascertained that he spoke the truth, pushed his lantern,
greatly to ^c captain's alarm^ intp th^ interstices between


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the barrels, and finding that there was nothing concealed in
them, said:

"Come along," and he went towards the door of the second

"Stop!" said the Englishman. "I have the key of that
door;" and he opened the door, with a trembling hand, into
the second compartment, where Mousqueton and Blaisois were
just going to supper.

Here there was evidently nothing to seek, or to reprehend
and they passed rapidly to examine the third compartment.

This was the sailors' forecastle. Two or three hammocks
hung up on the ceiling, a table snd two benches, composed
all the furniture. D^Artagnan pulled up two or three old sails,
hung on the walls, and seeing nothing to suspect, regained, by
the hatchway, the deck of the vessel.

"And this room?" he asked, pointing to the captdn's cabin.

"That's my room," replied Groslow.

"Open the door."

The captain obeyed. D^Artagnan stretched out his arm, in
which he held the lantern, put his head in at the half-opened
door, and seeing that the cabin was nothing better than a shed,
he said:

"Good! if there is an army on board, it is not here that it is
hidden. Let us see what Porthos has found for supper." And
thanking the captain, he regained the state cabin, where his
friends were.

Porthos had found nothing; and fatigue had lyevailed over
hunger. He had fallen asleep, and was in a profound slumber
when d*Artagnan returned. Athos and Aramis were beginning
to close their eyes, which they half opened when their compan-
ion came in again.

"Well?" said Aramis. .

"All is well; we may sleep tranquilly."

On this assurance the two friends fell asleep; and d'Artag-
nan, who was very weary, bade good-night to Grimaud, and
laid himself down m his cloak, with a naked sword at his side,
in such a manner that his body might barricade the passage,
and that it should be impossible to enter the room without

Online LibraryAlexandre DumasTwenty years after → online text (page 30 of 38)