The Three Musketeers – Day 102 of 227

“Again!” said d’Artagnan, whose ears chafed terribly under the repetition of this word coiners.

“Pardon me, monseigneur, for saying such things, but they form my excuse. The authorities had terrified me, and you know that an innkeeper must keep on good terms with the authorities.”

“But once again, that gentleman—where is he? What has become of him? Is he dead? Is he living?”

“Patience, monseigneur, we are coming to it. There happened then that which you know, and of which your precipitate departure,” added the host, with an acuteness that did not escape d’Artagnan, “appeared to authorize the issue. That gentleman, your friend, defended himself desperately. His lackey, who, by an unforeseen piece of ill luck, had quarreled with the officers, disguised as stable lads—”

“Miserable scoundrel!” cried d’Artagnan, “you were all in the plot, then! And I really don’t know what prevents me from exterminating you all.”

“Alas, monseigneur, we were not in the plot, as you will soon see. Monsieur your friend (pardon for not calling him by the honorable name which no doubt he bears, but we do not know that name), Monsieur your friend, having disabled two men with his pistols, retreated fighting with his sword, with which he disabled one of my men, and stunned me with a blow of the flat side of it.”

“You villain, will you finish?” cried d’Artagnan, “Athos—what has become of Athos?”

“While fighting and retreating, as I have told Monseigneur, he found the door of the cellar stairs behind him, and as the door was open, he took out the key, and barricaded himself inside. As we were sure of finding him there, we left him alone.”

“Yes,” said d’Artagnan, “you did not really wish to kill; you only wished to imprison him.”

“Good God! To imprison him, monseigneur? Why, he imprisoned himself, I swear to you he did. In the first place he had made rough work of it; one man was killed on the spot, and two others were severely wounded. The dead man and the two wounded were carried off by their comrades, and I have heard nothing of either of them since. As for myself, as soon as I recovered my senses I went to Monsieur the Governor, to whom I related all that had passed, and asked, what I should do with my prisoner. Monsieur the Governor was all astonishment. He told me he knew nothing about the matter, that the orders I had received did not come from him, and that if I had the audacity to mention his name as being concerned in this disturbance he would have me hanged. It appears that I had made a mistake, monsieur, that I had arrested the wrong person, and that he whom I ought to have arrested had escaped.”

“But Athos!” cried d’Artagnan, whose impatience was increased by the disregard of the authorities, “Athos, where is he?”

“As I was anxious to repair the wrongs I had done the prisoner,” resumed the innkeeper, “I took my way straight to the cellar in order to set him at liberty. Ah, monsieur, he was no longer a man, he was a devil! To my offer of liberty, he replied that it was nothing but a snare, and that before he came out he intended to impose his own conditions. I told him very humbly—for I could not conceal from myself the scrape I had got into by laying hands on one of his Majesty’s Musketeers—I told him I was quite ready to submit to his conditions.

“‘In the first place,’ said he, ‘I wish my lackey placed with me, fully armed.’ We hastened to obey this order; for you will please to understand, monsieur, we were disposed to do everything your friend could desire. Monsieur Grimaud (he told us his name, although he does not talk much)—Monsieur Grimaud, then, went down to the cellar, wounded as he was; then his master, having admitted him, barricaded the door afresh, and ordered us to remain quietly in our own bar.”

“But where is Athos now?” cried d’Artagnan. “Where is Athos?”

“In the cellar, monsieur.”

“What, you scoundrel! Have you kept him in the cellar all this time?”

“Merciful heaven! No, monsieur! We keep him in the cellar! You do not know what he is about in the cellar. Ah! If you could but persuade him to come out, monsieur, I should owe you the gratitude of my whole life; I should adore you as my patron saint!”

“Then he is there? I shall find him there?”

“Without doubt you will, monsieur; he persists in remaining there. We every day pass through the air hole some bread at the end of a fork, and some meat when he asks for it; but alas! It is not of bread and meat of which he makes the greatest consumption. I once endeavored to go down with two of my servants; but he flew into terrible rage. I heard the noise he made in loading his pistols, and his servant in loading his musketoon. Then, when we asked them what were their intentions, the master replied that he had forty charges to fire, and that he and his lackey would fire to the last one before he would allow a single soul of us to set foot in the cellar. Upon this I went and complained to the governor, who replied that I only had what I deserved, and that it would teach me to insult honorable gentlemen who took up their abode in my house.”

“So that since that time—” replied d’Artagnan, totally unable to refrain from laughing at the pitiable face of the host.

“So from that time, monsieur,” continued the latter, “we have led the most miserable life imaginable; for you must know, monsieur, that all our provisions are in the cellar. There is our wine in bottles, and our wine in casks; the beer, the oil, and the spices, the bacon, and sausages. And as we are prevented from going down there, we are forced to refuse food and drink to the travelers who come to the house; so that our hostelry is daily going to ruin. If your friend remains another week in my cellar I shall be a ruined man.”

“And not more than justice, either, you ass! Could you not perceive by our appearance that we were people of quality, and not coiners—say?”

“Yes, monsieur, you are right,” said the host. “But, hark, hark! There he is!”

“Somebody has disturbed him, without doubt,” said d’Artagnan.

“But he must be disturbed,” cried the host; “Here are two English gentlemen just arrived.”


“Well, the English like good wine, as you may know, monsieur; these have asked for the best. My wife has perhaps requested permission of Monsieur Athos to go into the cellar to satisfy these gentlemen; and he, as usual, has refused. Ah, good heaven! There is the hullabaloo louder than ever!”

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