The Drop of Water

Rochefort had scarcely departed when Madame Bonacieux came back. She found milady with a smiling countenance.

“Come and sit down close to me,” said milady.

Milady arose and went to the door, opened it, looked down the corridor, and then returned and seated herself near Madame Bonacieux.

“That man,” said milady, lowering her voice, “is my brother!”

“Your brother!” cried Madame Bonacieux.

“Well, no one must know this secret, my dear, but yourself. If you reveal it to any one at all I shall be lost, and you also, perhaps.”

“O Heavens!”

“Listen to me. This is what has happened: My brother, who was coming to my assistance, to take me away by force if it were necessary, fell in with the cardinal’s emissary coming in search of me. He followed him. Reaching a solitary and retired part of the road, he drew his sword and required the messenger to deliver up to him the papers of which he was the bearer. The messenger resisted; my brother killed him.”

“Oh!” said Madame Bonacieux, with a shudder.

“Remember that was the only way. Then my brother determined to substitute cunning for force. He took the papers, and presented himself here as the cardinal’s emissary, and in an hour or two a carriage will come to take me away by order of his Eminence.”

“I understand. Your brother sends the carriage.”

“Exactly so.”

“But D’Artagnan is coming!”

“Do not be deceived. D’Artagnan and his friends are detained at the siege of Rochelle.”

“How do you know that?”

“My brother met some of the cardinal’s emissaries in the uniform of musketeers. You would have been summoned to the gate; you would have thought you went to meet friends; you would have been carried off and taken back again to Paris.”

“Dear lady,” said Madame Bonacieux, “pardon me for interrupting you, but what do you advise me to do? Good Heavens! You have more experience than I have. Speak! I will listen.”

“There would be a very simple way, very natural—”

“What? Say!”

“To wait, concealed in the neighbourhood, until you satisfied your-self who the men were who came to ask for you.”

“But where can I wait?”

“Oh, there is no difficulty in that. I shall stop and conceal myself at a few leagues from here, till my brother can rejoin me. Well, I will take you with me. We can conceal ourselves and wait together.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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