At nine oclock DArtagnan was at the Hôtel des Gardes. DArtagnan had his sword, and placed two pistols in his belt; then mounted and departed quietly. It was quite dark, and no one saw him go out.
DArtagnan crossed the quays, went out by the gate of La Conférence, and went along the road, much more beautiful then than it is now, leading to St. Cloud.
DArtagnan reached St. Cloud; but instead of following the highway, he turned behind the château, reached a sort of retired lane, and found himself soon in front of the pavilion named. It was situated in a very private spot. A high wall, at the angle of which was the pavilion, ran along one side of this lane, and on the other a hedge protected from passers by a little garden, at the rear of which stood a small cottage.
He was now on the place appointed, and as no signal had been given him by which to announce his presence, he waited.
His eyes were fixed upon the little pavilion situated at the angle of the wall, all the windows of which were closed with shutters, except one on the first story.
Through this window shone a mild light, silvering the trembling folige of two or three linden trees that formed a group outside the park.
The clock on St. Cloud struck half-past ten.It struck eleven!
At that moment he noticed the trees, on the leaves of which the light still shone; and as one of them drooped over the road, he thought that from its branches he might succeed in looking into the pavilion.
The tree was easy to climb. Besides, DArtagnan was scarcely twenty, and consequently had not yet forgotten his schoolboy habits. In an instant he was among the branches, and his eyes penetrated through the clear glass into the interior of the pavilion.
One of the panes of glass was broken, the door of the room had been burst in, and hung, split in two, on its hinges; a table, which had been covered with an elegant supper, was overturned; the decanters, broken in pieces, and the crushed fruits, strewed the floor; everything in the apartment gave evidence of a violent and desperate struggle.
He hastened down into the street, with his heart throbbing frightfully.
The little soft light continued to shine in the calm of the night. DArtagnan then perceived a thing that he had not before remarked, for nothing had led him to this scrutinythat the ground, trampled here and hoof-marked there, presented confused traces of men and horses. Besides, the wheels of a carriage, which appeared to have come from Paris, had made a deep impression in the soft earth, not extending beyond the pavilion, but turning again towards Paris.
At length DArtagnan, in following up his researches, found near the wall a womans torn glove. Yet this glove, wherever it had not touched the muddy ground, was of irreproachable freshness. It was one of those perfumed gloves that lovers like to snatch from a pretty hand.
Then DArtagnan became almost wild. He ran along the highway, retraced his steps, and coming to the ferry, closely questioned the boatman.
About seven oclock in the evening, the boatman said, he had taken over a young woman, enveloped in a black mantle, who appeared to be very anxious not to be recognized.
There was then, as there is now, a crowd of pretty young women who came to St. Cloud, and who had good reasons for not being seen, and yet DArtagnan did not for an instant doubt that it was Madame Bonacieux whom the boatman had noticed.
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