46 THE BASTION SAINT-GERVAIS
On arriving at the lodgings of his three friends, d'Artagnan found them assembled in the same chamber. Athos was meditating; Porthos was twisting his mustache; Aramis was saying his prayers in a charming little Book of Hours, bound in blue velvet.
"Pardieu, gentlemen," said he. "I hope what you have to tell me is worth the trouble, or else, I warn you, I will not pardon you for making me come here instead of getting a little rest after a night spent in taking and dismantling a bastion. Ah, why were you not there, gentlemen? It was warm work."
"We were in a place where it was not very cold," replied Porthos, giving his mustache a twist which was peculiar to him.
"Hush!" said Athos.
"Oh, oh!" said d'Artagnan, comprehending the slight frown of the Musketeer. "It appears there is something fresh aboard."
"Aramis," said Athos, "you went to breakfast the day before yesterday at the inn of the Parpaillot, I believe?"
"How did you fare?"
"For my part, I ate but little. The day before yesterday was a fish day, and they had nothing but meat."
"What," said Athos, "no fish at a seaport?"
"They say," said Aramis, resuming his pious reading, "that the dyke which the cardinal is making drives them all out into the open sea."
"But that is not quite what I mean to ask you, Aramis," replied Athos. "I want to know if you were left alone, and nobody interrupted you."
"Why, I think there were not many intruders. Yes, Athos, I know what you mean: we shall do very well at the Parpaillot."
"Let us go to the Parpaillot, then, for here the walls are like sheets of paper."
D'Artagnan, who was accustomed to his friend's manner of acting, and who perceived immediately, by a word, a gesture, or a sign from him, that the circumstances were serious, took Athos's arm, and went out without saying anything. Porthos followed, chatting with Aramis.
On their way they met Grimaud. Athos made him a sign to come with them. Grimaud, according to custom, obeyed in silence; the poor lad had nearly come to the pass of forgetting how to speak.
They arrived at the drinking room of the Parpaillot. It was seven o'clock in the morning, and daylight began to appear. The three friends ordered breakfast, and went into a room in which the host said they would not be disturbed.
Unfortunately, the hour was badly chosen for a private conference. The morning drum had just been beaten; everyone shook off the drowsiness of night, and to dispel the humid morning air, came to take a drop at the inn. Dragoons, Swiss, Guardsmen, Musketeers, light-horsemen, succeeded one another with a rapidity which might answer the purpose of the host very well, but agreed badly with the views of the four friends. Thus they applied very curtly to the salutations, healths, and jokes of their companions.
"I see how it will be," said Athos: "we shall get into some pretty quarrel or other, and we have no need of one just now. D'Artagnan, tell us what sort of a night you have had, and we will describe ours afterward."
"Ah, yes," said a light-horseman, with a glass of brandy in his hand, which he sipped slowly. "I hear you gentlemen of the Guards have been in the trenches tonight, and that you did not get much the best of the Rochellais."
D'Artagnan looked at Athos to know if he ought to reply to this intruder who thus mixed unasked in their conversation.
"Well," said Athos, "don't you hear Monsieur de Busigny, who does you the honor to ask you a question? Relate what has passed during the night, since these gentlemen desire to know it."
"Have you not taken a bastion?" said a Swiss, who was drinking rum out of beer glass.
"Yes, monsieur," said d'Artagnan, bowing, "we have had that honor. We even have, as you may have heard, introduced a barrel of powder under one of the angles, which in blowing up made a very pretty breach. Without reckoning that as the bastion was not built yesterday all the rest of the building was badly shaken."
"And what bastion is it?" asked a dragoon, with his saber run through a goose which he was taking to be cooked.
"The bastion St. Gervais," replied d'Artagnan, "from behind which the Rochellais annoyed our workmen."
"Was that affair hot?"
"Yes, moderately so. We lost five men, and the Rochellais eight or ten."
"Balzempleu!" said the Swiss, who, notwithstanding the admirable collection of oaths possessed by the German language, had acquired a habit of swearing in French.
"But it is probable," said the light-horseman, "that they will send pioneers this morning to repair the bastion."
"Yes, that's probable," said d'Artagnan.
"Gentlemen," said Athos, "a wager!"
"Ah, wooi, a vager!" cried the Swiss.
"What is it?" said the light-horseman.
"Stop a bit," said the dragoon, placing his saber like a spit upon the two large iron dogs which held the firebrands in the chimney, "stop a bit, I am in it. You cursed host! a dripping pan immediately, that I may not lose a drop of the fat of this estimable bird."
"You was right," said the Swiss; "goose grease is kood with basdry."
"There!" said the dragoon. "Now for the wager! We listen, Monsieur Athos."
"Yes, the wager!" said the light-horseman.
"Well, Monsieur de Busigny, I will bet you," said Athos, "that my three companions, Messieurs Porthos, Aramis, and d'Artagnan, and myself, will go and breakfast in the bastion St. Gervais, and we will remain there an hour, by the watch, whatever the enemy may do to dislodge us."
Porthos and Aramis looked at each other; they began to comprehend.
"But," said d'Artagnan, in the ear of Athos, "you are going to get us all killed without mercy."
"We are much more likely to be killed," said Athos, "if we do not go."
"My faith, gentlemen," said Porthos, turning round upon his chair and twisting his mustache, "that's a fair bet, I hope."
"I take it," said M. de Busigny; "so let us fix the stake."
"You are four gentlemen," said Athos, "and we are four; an unlimited dinner for eight. Will that do?"
"Capitally," replied M. de Busigny.
"Perfectly," said the dragoon.
"That shoots me," said the Swiss.
The fourth auditor, who during all this conversation had played a mute part, made a sign of the head in proof that he acquiesced in the proposition.
"The breakfast for these gentlemen is ready," said the host.
"Well, bring it," said Athos.
The host obeyed. Athos called Grimaud, pointed to a large basket which lay in a corner, and made a sign to him to wrap the viands up in the napkins.
Grimaud understood that it was to be a breakfast on the grass, took the basket, packed up the viands, added the bottles, and then took the basket on his arm.
"But where are you going to eat my breakfast?" asked the host.
"What matter, if you are paid for it?" said Athos, and he threw two pistoles majestically on the table.