At daybreak D’Artagnan came to him, and asked him what was to be done.

“Wait!” replied Athos.

Some minutes later the mother-superior of the convent sent to inform the musketeers that the funeral would take place at noon.

At the hour appointed Lord Winter and the four friends repaired to the convent. The bells were tolling solemnly, the chapel was open, the grating of the choir was closed. In the centre of the choir the body of the victim, clothed in her novitiate dress, was exposed.

At the chapel door D’Artagnan felt his courage failing him again, and turned to look for Athos, but Athos had disappeared. He had returned to the hotel and found Planchet impatiently waiting for him.

Everything was as Athos had foreseen.

Planchet took the short cut, and by seven o’clock in the morning was at Armentières.

There was but one hotel, the Post. Planchet went and presented himself as a lackey out of a place, who was in search of a job. He had not chatted ten minutes with the people of the tavern before he knew that a lady had come there about eleven o’clock the night before alone, had taken a room, had sent for the steward, and told him that she wanted to stay some time in that neighbourhood.

Planchet did not need to know any more. He hastened to the rendezvous, found the three lackeys at their posts, placed them as sentinels at all the doors of the hotel, and came to find Athos, who was just hearing the last of the report when his friends returned.

All their faces were melancholy and anxious, even Aramis’s mild face.

“What is to be done?” asked D’Artagnan.

“Wait,” replied Athos.

Each one went to his own room.

At eight o’clock in the evening Athos ordered the horses to be saddled, and had Lord Winter and his friends notified to be prepared for the expedition.

In an instant all five were ready. Each examined his arms, and put them in order. Athos was last to come down, and found D’Artagnan already on horseback and impatient.

“Patience!” cried Athos; “one of us is still lacking.”

The four gentlemen looked round them in astonishment, for they vainly wondered who this some one lacking could be.

At this moment Planchet brought Athos’s horse. The musketeer leaped lightly into the saddle.

“Wait for me,” cried he; “I will be back.”

And he set off at a gallop.

In a quarter of an hour he returned, accompanied by a tall man, masked, and enveloped in a large red cloak.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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