Chapter 62: What Raoul Had Guessed

  1. 61: Wounds Upon Wounds
  2. Louise de la Valliere
  3. 63: Three Guests at Supper

After Raoul’s departure, and the two exclamations which had followed him, Athos and d’Artagnan found themselves alone, face to face. Athos immediately resumed the earnest manner which had possessed him when d’Artagnan arrived.

“Well,” Athos said, “what have you come to announce to me, my friend?”

“I?” inquired d’Artagnan.

“Yes; I do not see you in this way without some reason for it,” said Athos, smiling.

“The deuce!” said d’Artagnan.

“I will place you at your ease. The King is furious, is he not?”

“Well, I must say he is not altogether pleased.”

“And you have come-”

“By his direction; yes.”

“To arrest me, then?”

“My dear friend, you have hit the very mark.”

“Oh, I expected it! Come!”

“Oh! oh! The devil!” said d’Artagnan; “what a hurry you are in!”

“I am afraid of delaying you,” said Athos, smiling.

“I have plenty of time. Are you not curious, besides, to know how things went on between the King and me?”

“If you will be good enough to tell me, I will listen with the greatest pleasure,” said Athos, pointing out to d’Artagnan a large chair, in which the latter stretched himself in an easy attitude.

“Well, I will do so willingly enough,” continued d’Artagnan, “for the conversation is rather interesting. In the first place, the King sent for me.”

“As soon as I had left?”

“You were just going down the last steps of the staircase, as the musketeers told me. I arrived. My dear Athos, the King was not red in the face merely, he was positively purple. I was not aware, of course, of what had passed; only I saw a sword broken in two lying on the floor. ‘Captain d’Artagnan,’ cried the King, as soon as he saw me. ‘Sire,’ I replied. ‘I abandon M. de la Fere; he is an insolent man.’ ‘An insolent man!’ I exclaimed, in such a tone that the King stopped suddenly short. ‘Captain d’Artagnan,’ resumed the King, with his teeth clinched, ‘you will listen to me and obey me.’ ‘That is my duty, Sire.’ ‘I have wished to spare that gentleman, of whom I retain some kind recollections, the affront of having him arrested in my presence.’ ‘Ah! ah!’ I said quietly. ‘But you will take a carriage.’ At this I made a slight movement. ‘If you object to arrest him yourself,’ continued the King, ‘send me my captain of the Guards.’ ‘Sire,’ I replied, ‘there is no necessity for the captain of the Guards, since I am on duty.’ ‘I should not like to annoy you,’ said the King, kindly, ‘for you have always served me well, M. d’Artagnan.’ ‘You do not annoy me, Sire,’ I replied; ‘I am on duty, that is all.’ ‘But,’ said the King, in astonishment, ‘I believe the count is your friend?’ ‘If he were my father, Sire, it would not make me less on duty than I am.’ The King looked at me; he saw how unmoved my face was, and seemed satisfied. ‘You will arrest M. le Comte de la Fere, then?’ he inquired. ‘Most certainly, Sire, if you give me the order to do so.’ ‘Very well; I order you to do so.’ I bowed and replied, ‘Where is the count, Sire?’ ‘You will look for him.’ ‘And I am to arrest him wherever he may be?’ ‘Yes; but at his own house if possible. If he has started for his own estate, leave Paris at once, and arrest him on his way thither.’ I bowed; but as I did not move, he said, ‘Well?’ ‘I am waiting, Sire.’ ‘What are you waiting for?’ ‘For the signed order.’ The King seemed annoyed; for in point of fact it was the exercise of a fresh act of authority,- a repetition of the arbitrary act, if indeed it is to be considered as such. He took his pen slowly, and in no very good temper; then he wrote, ‘Order for M. le Chevalier d’Artagnan, captain of my Musketeers, to arrest M. le Comte de la Fere, wherever he is to be found.’ He then turned towards me; but I was looking on without moving a muscle of my face. In all probability he thought he perceived something like bravado in my tranquil manner, for he signed hurriedly; and then handing me the order, he said, ‘Go!’ I obeyed; and here I am.”

Athos pressed his friend’s hand. “Well, let us set off,” he said.

“Oh! surely,” said d’Artagnan, “you must have some trifling matters to arrange before you leave your apartments in this manner?”

“I? Not at all.”

“Why not?”

“Why, you know, d’Artagnan, I have always been a very simple traveller on this earth, ready to go to the end of the world by order of my sovereign, ready to quit it at the summons of my Maker. What does a man who is thus prepared require in such a case?- a portmanteau or a shroud. I am ready at this moment, as I have always been, dear friend, and can accompany you at once.”

“But Bragelonne-”

“I have brought him up in the same principles I laid down for my own guidance; and you observed that as soon as he perceived you he guessed, that very moment, the motive of your visit. We have thrown him off his guard for a moment; but do not be uneasy,- he is sufficiently prepared for my disgrace not to be too much alarmed at it. So, let us go.”

“Very well, let us go,” said d’Artagnan, quietly.

“As I broke my sword in the King’s presence, and threw the pieces at his feet, I presume that will dispense with the necessity of delivering it over to you.”

“You are quite right; and besides that, what the devil do you suppose I could do with your sword?”

“Am I to walk behind or before you?” inquired Athos, laughing.

“You will walk arm-in-arm with me,” replied d’Artagnan, as he took the count’s arm to descend the staircase; and in this manner they arrived at the landing. Grimaud, whom they had met in the anteroom, looked at them, as they went out together in this manner, with some little uneasiness; his experience of affairs was quite sufficient to give him good reason to suspect that there was something wrong.

“Ah! is that you, Grimaud?” said Athos, kindly. “We are going-”

“To take a turn in my carriage,” interrupted d’Artagnan, with a friendly nod of the head.

Grimaud thanked d’Artagnan by a grimace, which was evidently intended for a smile, and accompanied the two friends to the door. Athos entered first into the carriage; d’Artagnan followed him, without saying a word to the coachman. The departure had taken place so quietly that it excited no disturbance or attention even in the neighborhood. When the carriage had reached the quays, “You are taking me to the Bastille, I perceive,” said Athos.

“I?” said d’Artagnan. “I take you wherever you may choose to go; nowhere else, I can assure you.”

“What do you mean?” said the count, surprised.

“Pardieu!” said d’Artagnan, “you quite understand that I undertook the mission with no other object in view than that of carrying it out exactly as you liked. You did not think that I would have you thrown into prison like that, brutally, without reflection. If I had not anticipated that, I should have let the captain of the Guards undertake it.”

“And so-” said Athos.

“And so, I repeat, we will go wherever you may choose.”

“My dear friend,” said Athos, embracing d’Artagnan, “how like you that is!”

“Well, it seems simple enough to me. The coachman will take you to the barrier of the Cours-la-Reine; you will find a horse there which I have ordered to be kept ready for you; with that horse you will be able to do three posts without stopping; and I, on my side, will take care not to return to the King, to tell him that you have gone away, until it will be impossible to overtake you. In the mean time you will have reached Havre, and from Havre you will go to England, where you will find the charming residence which my friend M. Monk gave me,- to say nothing of the hospitality which King Charles will not fail to show you. Well, what do you think of this project?”

“Take me to the Bastille,” said Athos, smiling.

“You are an obstinate-headed fellow, dear Athos,” returned d’Artagnan; “reflect for a few moments.”

“Upon what?”

“That you are no longer twenty years of age. Believe me,- I speak according to my own knowledge and experience,- a prison is certain death for men of our time of life. No, no; I will never allow you to languish in prison. Why, the very thought of it turns my head.”

“Dear d’Artagnan,” Athos replied, “happily God made me as strong in body as in mind; and rely upon it, I shall be strong up to my last breath.”

“But this is not force; it is folly.”

“No, d’Artagnan, it is the highest order of reasoning. Do not suppose that I should in the slightest degree in the world discuss the question with you, whether you would not be ruined in endeavoring to save me. I should have done precisely as you have arranged, if flight had seemed proper to me; I should therefore have accepted from you what without any doubt you would have accepted from me. No! I know you too well even to breathe a word upon the subject.”

“Ah, if you would only let me do it,” said d’Artagnan, “how I would send the King running after you!”

“He is the King, dear friend.”

“Oh, that is all the same to me; and King though he be, I would plainly tell him, ‘Sire! imprison, exile, kill every one in France and Europe; order me to arrest, and even poniard whom you like,- even were it Monsieur, your own brother; but do not touch one of the four musketeers, or, if so, mordioux!’”

“My dear friend,” replied Athos, quietly, “I should like to persuade you of one thing; namely, that I wish to be arrested,- that I desire above all things that my arrest should take place.” D’Artagnan made a movement of his shoulders. “What does that mean? It is so. If you were to let me escape, it would be only to return of my own accord, and constitute myself a prisoner. I wish to prove to this young man, who is dazzled by the power and splendor of his crown, that he can be regarded as the first among men only by proving himself to be the most generous and the wisest among them. He may punish, imprison, or torture me,- it matters not. He abuses his opportunities, and I wish him to learn the bitterness of remorse, while Heaven teaches him what a chastisement is.”

“Well,” replied d’Artagnan, “I know only too well that when you have once said ‘No,’ you mean ‘No.’ I do not insist any longer. You wish to go to the Bastille?”

“I do wish to go there.”

“Let us go, then! To the Bastille!” cried d’Artagnan to the coachman; and throwing himself back in the carriage, he gnawed the ends of his mustache with a fury which to Athos, who knew him well, signified a resolution either already taken or in course of formation. A profound silence ensued in the carriage, which continued to roll on, but neither faster nor slower than before.

Athos took the musketeer by the hand. “You are not angry with me, d’Artagnan?” he said.

“I? Oh, no! certainly not, of course not! What you do from heroism, I should have done from obstinacy.”

“But you are quite of opinion, are you not, that Heaven will avenge me, d’Artagnan?”

“And I know some persons on earth who will lend a helping hand,” said the captain.

  1. 61: Wounds Upon Wounds
  2. Louise de la Valliere
  3. 63: Three Guests at Supper