"My dear Athos, we are enveloped in a network of spies. And do you believe he knew you again, Kitty?"
"I pulled down my hood as soon as I saw him, but perhaps it was too late."
"Go down, Athos — he mistrusts you less than me — and see if he be still at his door."
Athos went down and returned immediately.
"He has gone," said he, "and the house door is shut."
"He has gone to make his report, and to say that all the pigeons are at this moment in the dovecot."
"Well, then, let us all fly," said Athos, "and leave nobody here but Planchet to bring us news."
"A minute. Aramis, whom we have sent for!"
"That's true," said Athos; "we must wait for Aramis."
At that moment Aramis entered.
The matter was all explained to him, and the friends gave him to understand that among all his high connections he must find a place for Kitty.
Aramis reflected for a minute, and then said, coloring, "Will it be really rendering you a service, d'Artagnan?"
"I shall be grateful to you all my life."
"Very well. Madame de Bois-Tracy asked me, for one of her friends who resides in the provinces, I believe, for a trustworthy maid. If you can, my dear d'Artagnan, answer for Mademoiselle-"
"Oh, monsieur, be assured that I shall be entirely devoted to the person who will give me the means of quitting Paris."
"Then," said Aramis, "this falls out very well."
He placed himself at the table and wrote a little note which he sealed with a ring, and gave the billet to Kitty.
"And now, my dear girl," said d'Artagnan, "you know that it is not good for any of us to be here. Therefore let us separate. We shall meet again in better days."
"And whenever we find each other, in whatever place it may be," said Kitty, "you will find me loving you as I love you today."
"Dicers' oaths!" said Athos, while d'Artagnan went to conduct Kitty downstairs.
An instant afterward the three young men separated, agreeing to meet again at four o'clock with Athos, and leaving Planchet to guard the house.
Aramis returned home, and Athos and d'Artagnan busied themselves about pledging the sapphire.
As the Gascon had foreseen, they easily obtained three hundred pistoles on the ring. Still further, the Jew told them that if they would sell it to him, as it would make a magnificent pendant for earrings, he would give five hundred pistoles for it.
Athos and d'Artagnan, with the activity of two soldiers and the knowledge of two connoisseurs, hardly required three hours to purchase the entire equipment of the Musketeer. Besides, Athos was very easy, and a noble to his fingers' ends. When a thing suited him he paid the price demanded, without thinking to ask for any abatement. D'Artagnan would have remonstrated at this; but Athos put his hand upon his shoulder, with a smile, and d'Artagnan understood that it was all very well for such a little Gascon gentleman as himself to drive a bargain, but not for a man who had the bearing of a prince. The Musketeer met with a superb Andalusian horse, black as jet, nostrils of fire, legs clean and elegant, rising six years. He examined him, and found him sound and without blemish. They asked a thousand livres for him.
He might perhaps have been bought for less; but while d'Artagnan was discussing the price with the dealer, Athos was counting out the money on the table.
Grimaud had a stout, short Picard cob, which cost three hundred livres.
But when the saddle and arms for Grimaud were purchased, Athos had not a sou left of his hundred and fifty pistoles. d'Artagnan offered his friend a part of his share which he should return when convenient.
But Athos only replied to this proposal by shrugging his shoulders.
"How much did the Jew say he would give for the sapphire if be purchased it?" said Athos.
"Five hundred pistoles."
"That is to say, two hundred more — a hundred pistoles for you and a hundred pistoles for me. Well, now, that would be a real fortune to us, my friend; let us go back to the Jew's again."
"What! will you — "
"This ring would certainly only recall very bitter remembrances; then we shall never be masters of three hundred pistoles to redeem it, so that we really should lose two hundred pistoles by the bargain. Go and tell him the ring is his, d'Artagnan, and bring back the two hundred pistoles with you."
"Ready money is needful for the present time, and we must learn how to make sacrifices. Go, d'Artagnan, go; Grimaud will accompany you with his musketoon."
A half hour afterward, d'Artagnan returned with the two thousand livres, and without having met with any accident.
It was thus Athos found at home resources which he did not expect.