A Conjugal Scene

As athos had foreseen, the cardinal soon came down. He opened the door of the room where the musketeers were, and found Porthos playing an earnest game at dice with Aramis. He cast a rapid glance round the room, and perceived that one of his men was missing.

“What has become of Monsieur Athos?” asked he.

“Monseigneur,” replied Porthos, “he has gone on as a scout, owing to some expressions dropped by our landlord making him fear the road was not safe.”

“And how have you been amusing yourself, M. Porthos?”

“I have won five pistoles from Aramis, monseigneur.”

“Well; now will you return with me?”

“We are at your Eminence’s orders.”

“To horse, then, gentlemen, for it is getting late.”

The attendant was at the door, holding the cardinal’s horse by the bridle. A short distance away a group of two men and three horses appeared in the shade; these were the two men who were to conduct milady to Fort de la Pointe, and superintend her embarkation.

The attendant confirmed to the cardinal what the two musketeers had already said regarding Athos. The cardinal made an approving gesture, and started to return with the same precautions he had used in coming.

Let us leave him to follow the road to the camp, protected by his attendant and the two musketeers, and return to Athos.

For a hundred paces he maintained the gait with which he started, but when once out of sight, he turned his horse to the right, made a circuit and came back to within twenty paces, where, shielded by a coppice, he might watch the passage of the little troop. Having recognized his companions’ laced hats and the golden fringe of the cardinal’s cloak, he waited till the horsemen had turned the angle of the road, and having lost them from sight, he returned at a gallop to the tavern, which was opened to him without hesitation.

The landlord recognized him.

“My officer,” said Athos, “has forgotten to give a piece of very important information to the lady, and has sent me back to repair his forgetfulness.”

“Go up,” said the host; “she is still in her room.”

Athos availed himself of the permission, mounted the stairs with his lightest step, gained the landing, and through the open door saw milady putting on her hat.

He went straight into the chamber and closed the door behind him.

At the noise he made in bolting it milady turned round.

Athos was standing before the door, enveloped in his cloak, with his hat pulled down over his eyes. On seeing that figure, mute and motionless like a statue, milady was startled.

“Who are you, and what do you want?” cried she.

“There now!” murmured Athos; “it is certainly she!”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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