The Three Musketeers – Day 51 of 227

“Fortunately, Monsieur d’Artagnan is in our hands, and you shall be confronted with him.”

“By my faith, I ask no better,” cried Bonacieux; “I shall not be sorry to see the face of an acquaintance.”

“Bring in the Monsieur d’Artagnan,” said the commissary to the guards. The two guards led in Athos.

“Monsieur d’Artagnan,” said the commissary, addressing Athos, “declare all that passed yesterday between you and Monsieur.”

“But,” cried Bonacieux, “this is not Monsieur d’Artagnan whom you show me.”

“What! Not Monsieur d’Artagnan?” exclaimed the commissary.

“Not the least in the world,” replied Bonacieux.

“What is this gentleman’s name?” asked the commissary.

“I cannot tell you; I don’t know him.”

“How! You don’t know him?”


“Did you never see him?”

“Yes, I have seen him, but I don’t know what he calls himself.”

“Your name?” replied the commissary.

“Athos,” replied the Musketeer.

“But that is not a man’s name; that is the name of a mountain,” cried the poor questioner, who began to lose his head.

“That is my name,” said Athos, quietly.

“But you said that your name was d’Artagnan.”

“Who, I?”

“Yes, you.”

“Somebody said to me, ‘You are Monsieur d’Artagnan?’ I answered, ‘You think so?’ My guards exclaimed that they were sure of it. I did not wish to contradict them; besides, I might be deceived.”

“Monsieur, you insult the majesty of justice.”

“Not at all,” said Athos, calmly.

“You are Monsieur d’Artagnan.”

“You see, monsieur, that you say it again.”

“But I tell you, Monsieur Commissary,” cried Bonacieux, in his turn, “there is not the least doubt about the matter. Monsieur d’Artagnan is my tenant, although he does not pay me my rent—and even better on that account ought I to know him. Monsieur d’Artagnan is a young man, scarcely nineteen or twenty, and this gentleman must be thirty at least. Monsieur d’Artagnan is in Monsieur Dessessart’s Guards, and this gentleman is in the company of Monsieur de Treville’s Musketeers. Look at his uniform, Monsieur Commissary, look at his uniform!”

“That’s true,” murmured the commissary; “Pardieu, that’s true.”

At this moment the door was opened quickly, and a messenger, introduced by one of the gatekeepers of the Bastille, gave a letter to the commissary.

“Oh, unhappy woman!” cried the commissary.

“How? What do you say? Of whom do you speak? It is not of my wife, I hope!”

“On the contrary, it is of her. Yours is a pretty business.”

“But,” said the agitated mercer, “do me the pleasure, monsieur, to tell me how my own proper affair can become worse by anything my wife does while I am in prison?”

“Because that which she does is part of a plan concerted between you—of an infernal plan.”

“I swear to you, Monsieur Commissary, that you are in the profoundest error, that I know nothing in the world about what my wife had to do, that I am entirely a stranger to what she has done; and that if she has committed any follies, I renounce her, I abjure her, I curse her!”

“Bah!” said Athos to the commissary, “if you have no more need of me, send me somewhere. Your Monsieur Bonacieux is very tiresome.”

The commissary designated by the same gesture Athos and Bonacieux, “Let them be guarded more closely than ever.”

“And yet,” said Athos, with his habitual calmness, “if it be Monsieur d’Artagnan who is concerned in this matter, I do not perceive how I can take his place.”

“Do as I bade you,” cried the commissary, “and preserve absolute secrecy. You understand!”

Athos shrugged his shoulders, and followed his guards silently, while M. Bonacieux uttered lamentations enough to break the heart of a tiger.

They locked the mercer in the same dungeon where he had passed the night, and left him to himself during the day. Bonacieux wept all day, like a true mercer, not being at all a military man, as he himself informed us. In the evening, about nine o’clock, at the moment he had made up his mind to go to bed, he heard steps in his corridor. These steps drew near to his dungeon, the door was thrown open, and the guards appeared.

“Follow me,” said an officer, who came up behind the guards.

“Follow you!” cried Bonacieux, “follow you at this hour! Where, my God?”

“Where we have orders to lead you.”

“But that is not an answer.”

“It is, nevertheless, the only one we can give.”

“Ah, my God, my God!” murmured the poor mercer, “now, indeed, I am lost!” And he followed the guards who came for him, mechanically and without resistance.

He passed along the same corridor as before, crossed one court, then a second side of a building; at length, at the gate of the entrance court he found a carriage surrounded by four guards on horseback. They made him enter this carriage, the officer placed himself by his side, the door was locked, and they were left in a rolling prison. The carriage was put in motion as slowly as a funeral car. Through the closely fastened windows the prisoner could perceive the houses and the pavement, that was all; but, true Parisian as he was, Bonacieux could recognize every street by the milestones, the signs, and the lamps. At the moment of arriving at St. Paul—the spot where such as were condemned at the Bastille were executed—he was near fainting and crossed himself twice. He thought the carriage was about to stop there. The carriage, however, passed on.

Farther on, a still greater terror seized him on passing by the cemetery of St. Jean, where state criminals were buried. One thing, however, reassured him; he remembered that before they were buried their heads were generally cut off, and he felt that his head was still on his shoulders. But when he saw the carriage take the way to La Greve, when he perceived the pointed roof of the Hotel de Ville, and the carriage passed under the arcade, he believed it was over with him. He wished to confess to the officer, and upon his refusal, uttered such pitiable cries that the officer told him that if he continued to deafen him thus, he should put a gag in his mouth.

This measure somewhat reassured Bonacieux. If they meant to execute him at La Greve, it could scarcely be worth while to gag him, as they had nearly reached the place of execution. Indeed, the carriage crossed the fatal spot without stopping. There remained, then, no other place to fear but the Traitor’s Cross; the carriage was taking the direct road to it.

This time there was no longer any doubt; it was at the Traitor’s Cross that lesser criminals were executed. Bonacieux had flattered himself in believing himself worthy of St. Paul or of the Place de Greve; it was at the Traitor’s Cross that his journey and his destiny were about to end! He could not yet see that dreadful cross, but he felt somehow as if it were coming to meet him. When he was within twenty paces of it, he heard a noise of people and the carriage stopped. This was more than poor Bonacieux could endure, depressed as he was by the successive emotions which he had experienced; he uttered a feeble groan which night have been taken for the last sigh of a dying man, and fainted.

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