Planchet, emboldened by the first exploit, sprang upon Lubin; and being strong and vigorous, he soon got him on the broad of his back, and placed his knee upon his breast.
"Go on with your affair, monsieur," cried Planchet; "I have finished mine."
Seeing this, the gentleman drew his sword, and sprang upon d'Artagnan; but he had too strong an adversary. In three seconds d'Artagnan had wounded him three times, exclaiming at each thrust, "One for Athos, one for Porthos; and one for Aramis!"
At the third hit the gentleman fell like a log. D'Artagnan believed him to be dead, or at least insensible, and went toward him for the purpose of taking the order; but the moment he extended his hand to search for it, the wounded man, who had not dropped his sword, plunged the point into d'Artagnan's breast, crying, "One for you!"
"And one for me — the best for last!" cried d'Artagnan, furious, nailing him to the earth with a fourth thrust through his body.
This time the gentleman closed his eyes and fainted. D'Artagnan searched his pockets, and took from one of them the order for the passage. It was in the name of Comte de Wardes.
Then, casting a glance on the handsome young man, who was scarcely twenty-five years of age, and whom he was leaving in his gore, deprived of sense and perhaps dead, he gave a sigh for that unaccountable destiny which leads men to destroy each other for the interests of people who are strangers to them and who often do not even know that they exist. But he was soon aroused from these reflections by Lubin, who uttered loud cries and screamed for help with all his might.
Planchet grasped him by the throat, and pressed as hard as he could. "Monsieur," said he, "as long as I hold him in this manner, he can't cry, I'll be bound; but as soon as I let go he will howl again. I know him for a Norman, and Normans are obstinate."
In fact, tightly held as he was, Lubin endeavored still to cry out.
"Stay!" said d'Artagnan; and taking out his handkerchief, he gagged him.
"Now," said Planchet, "let us bind him to a tree."
This being properly done, they drew the Comte de Wardes close to his servant; and as night was approaching, and as the wounded man and the bound man were at some little distance within the wood, it was evident they were likely to remain there till the next day.
"And now," said d'Artagnan, "to the Governor's."
"But you are wounded, it seems," said Planchet.
"Oh, that's nothing! Let us attend to what is more pressing first, and then we will attend to my wound; besides, it does not seem very dangerous."
And they both set forward as fast as they could toward the country house of the worthy functionary.
The Comte de Wardes was announced, and d'Artagnan was introduced.
"You have an order signed by the cardinal?" said the governor.
"Yes, monsieur," replied d'Artagnan; "here it is."
"Ah, ah! It is quite regular and explicit," said the governor.
"Most likely," said d'Artagnan; "I am one of his most faithful servants."
"It appears that his Eminence is anxious to prevent someone from crossing to England?"
"Yes; a certain d'Artagnan, a Bearnese gentleman who left Paris in company with three of his friends, with the intention of going to London."
"Do you know him personally?" asked the governor.
"Describe him to me, then."
"Nothing more easy."
And d'Artagnan gave, feature for feature, a description of the Comte de Wardes.
"Is he accompanied?"
"Yes; by a lackey named Lubin."
"We will keep a sharp lookout for them; and if we lay hands on them his Eminence may be assured they will be reconducted to Paris under a good escort."
"And by doing so, Monsieur the Governor," said d'Artagnan, "you will deserve well of the cardinal."
"Shall you see him on your return, Monsieur Count?"
"Without a doubt."
"Tell him, I beg you, that I am his humble servant."
"I will not fail."
Delighted with this assurance the governor countersigned the passport and delivered it to d'Artagnan. D'Artagnan lost no time in useless compliments. He thanked the governor, bowed, and departed. Once outside, he and Planchet set off as fast as they could; and by making a long detour avoided the wood and reentered the city by another gate.
The vessel was quite ready to sail, and the captain was waiting on the wharf. "Well?" said he, on perceiving d'Artagnan.
"Here is my pass countersigned," said the latter.
"And that other gentleman?
"He will not go today," said d'Artagnan; "but here, I'll pay you for us two."
"In that case let us go," said the shipmaster.
"Let us go," repeated d'Artagnan.
He leaped with Planchet into the boat, and five minutes after they were on board. It was time; for they had scarcely sailed half a league, when d'Artagnan saw a flash and heard a detonation. It was the cannon which announced the closing of the port.
He had now leisure to look to his wound. Fortunately, as d'Artagnan had thought, it was not dangerous. The point of the sword had touched a rib, and glanced along the bone. Still further, his shirt had stuck to the wound, and he had lost only a few drops of blood.
D'Artagnan was worn out with fatigue. A mattress was laid upon the deck for him. He threw himself upon it, and fell asleep.
On the morrow, at break of day, they were still three or four leagues from the coast of England. The breeze had been so light all night, they had made but little progress. At ten o'clock the vessel cast anchor in the harbor of Dover, and at half past ten d'Artagnan placed his foot on English land, crying, "Here I am at last!"