And immediately taking to his heels, he ran towards the camp, with the swiftness of the young men of his country, so renowned for their agility; but great as was his speed, the one who had first fired, having had time to reload, fired a second shot, so well aimed this time that the bullet struck his hat and carried it ten paces from him.
However, as DArtagnan had no other hat, he picked up this as he ran, and arrived at his quarters, very pale and quite out of breath. He sat down without saying a word to anybody, and began to reflect.
DArtagnan took his hat, examined the hole made by the bullet, and shook his head. The ball was not a musket-ball; it was an arque-buse-ball. The accuracy of the aim had first given him the idea that a particular kind of weapon had been employed. It could not, then, be a military ambuscade, as the ball was not of the regulation calibre.
It might be a kind remembrance of the cardinals.
But DArtagnan shook his head. For people against whom he had only to stretch out his hand, his Eminence had rarely recourse to such means.
It might be a vengeance of miladys.
That was the most probable.
At nine oclock the next morning the drums beat the salute. The Duc dOrléans was inspecting the posts. The guards ran to their arms, and DArtagnan took his place in the midst of his comrades.
Monsieur passed along the front of the line. Then all the superior officers approached him to pay him their compliments, M. des Essarts, captain of the guards, among the rest.
It seems the Rochellais had made a sortie during the night, and had retaken a bastion which the royal army had gained possession of two days before; the point was to ascertain, by reconnoitring, how the enemy guarded this bastion.
In fact, at the end of a few minutes, Monsieur raised his voice and said,
I want for this mission three of four volunteers, led by a trusty man.
As to the trusty man, I have him at hand, monseigneur, said M. des Essarts, pointing to DArtagnan; and as to the four or five volunteers, monseigneur has but to make his intentions known, and the men will not be wanting.
Four gallant men who will risk being killed with me! said DArtagnan, raising his sword.
Two of his comrades of the guards immediately sprang forward, and two soldiers having joined them, the number was deemed sufficient; so DArtagnan declined all others, as he was unwilling to injure the chances of those who came forward first.
It was not known whether, after taking the bastion, the Rochellais had evacuated it or left a garrison in it; so the object was to examine the place near enough to ascertain.
DArtagnan set out with his four companions, and followed the trench.
Screened by the revetment, they came within a hundred paces of the bastion. There, on turning round, DArtagnan perceived that the two soldiers had disappeared.
He thought that they had stayed behind from fear, and so he continued to advance.
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