himwho, besides, in a skirmish was more embarrassing than usefuland set forward again in the hope of sleeping at Amiens. They arrived at midnight, and alighted at the inn of the Golden Lily.
The host had the appearance of as honest a man as any on earth. He received the travellers with his candlestick in one hand and his cotton nightcap in the other.
Grimaud can take care of the horses, said Planchet. If you are willing, gentlemen, I will sleep across your doorway, and you will then be certain that nobody can come to you.
And what will you sleep upon? said DArtagnan.
Here is my bed, replied Planchet, producing a bundle of straw.
At four oclock in the morning a terrible noise was heard in the stables. Grimaud had tried to waken the stable-boys, and the stable-boys were beating him. When the window was opened the poor lad was seen lying senseless, with his head split by a blow with a fork-handle.
Planchet went down into the yard, and proceeded to saddle the horses. But the horses were all used up. Mousquetons horse, which had travelled for five or six hours without a rider the day before, alone might have been able to pursue the journey. But, by an inconceivable error, a veterinary surgeon, who had been sent for, as it appeared, to bleed one of the hosts horses, had bled Mousquetons.
This began to be annoying. All these successive accidents were, perhaps, the result of chance, but they might, quite as probably, be the fruits of a plot. Athos and DArtagnan went out, while Planchet was sent to inquire if there were not three horses for sale in the neighbourhood. At the door stood two horses, fresh, strong, and fully equipped. These were just what they wanted. He asked where their owners were, and was informed that they had passed the night in the inn, and were then settling with the master.
Athos went down to pay the reckoning, while DArtagnan and Planchet stood at the street door. The host was in a low room at the back, to which Athos was requested to go.
Athos entered without the least mistrust, and took out two pistoles to pay the bill. The host was alone, seated before his desk, one of the drawers of which was partly open. He took the money which Athos offered to him, and after turning and turning it over and over in his hands, suddenly cried out that it was bad, and that he would have him and his companions arrested as counterfeiters.
You scoundrel! cried Athos, stepping towards him, Ill cut your ears off!
But the host stooped, took two pistols from the half-open drawer, pointed them at Athos, and called out for help.
At the same instant four men, armed to the teeth, entered by side doors, and rushed upon Athos.
I am taken! shouted Athos with all the power of his lungs. Go on, DArtagnan! spur! spur! And he fired two pistols.
DArtagnan and Planchet did not require twice bidding. They unfastened the two horses that were waiting at the door, leaped upon them, buried their spurs in their sides, and set off at full gallop.
And both, with free use of the spur, arrived at St. Omer without drawing bridle. At St. Omer they breathed their horses with their bridles passed under their arms, for fear of accident, and ate a hasty morsel standing in the road, after which they departed again.
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