“Is the general at the camp?” asked Athos.
“No doubt he is, monsieur; as when he left you he was going back.”
“Well, wait for me a moment; I am going thither to render an account of the fidelity with which you fulfilled your duty, and to get my sword, which I left upon the table in the tent.”
“This happens very well,” said the sergeant, “for we were about to request you to do so.”
Athos fancied he could detect an air of equivocal bonhomie upon the countenance of the sergeant; but the adventure of the vault might have excited the curiosity of the man, and it was not surprising that he allowed some of the feelings which agitated his mind to appear in his face. Athos closed the doors carefully, confiding the keys to Grimaud, who had chosen his domicile beneath the shed itself, which led to the cellar where the casks had been deposited. The sergeant escorted the Comte de la Fere to the camp. There a fresh guard awaited him, and relieved the four men who had conducted Athos.
This fresh guard was commanded by the aid-de-camp Digby, who, on their way, fixed upon Athos looks so little encouraging, that the Frenchman asked himself whence arose, with regard to him, this vigilance and this severity, when the evening before he had been left perfectly free. He nevertheless continued his way to the headquarters, keeping to himself the observations which men and things forced him to make. He found in the general’s tent, to which he had been introduced the evening before, three superior officers: these were Monk’s lieutenant and two colonels. Athos perceived his sword; it was still on the table where he left it. Neither of the officers had seen Athos, consequently neither of them knew him. Monk’s lieutenant asked, at the appearance of Athos, if that were the same gentleman with whom the general had left the tent.
“Yes, your honor,” said the sergeant; “it is the same.”
“But,” said Athos, haughtily, “I do not deny it, I think; and now, gentlemen, in turn, permit me to ask you to what purpose these questions are asked, and particularly some explanations upon the tone in which you ask them?”
“Monsieur,” said the lieutenant, “if we address these questions to you, it is because we have a right to do so, and if we make them in a particular tone, it is because that tone, believe me, agrees with the circumstances.”
“Gentlemen,” said Athos, “you do not know who I am; but I must tell you that I acknowledge no one here but General Monk as my equal. Where is he? Let me be conducted to him, and if he has any questions to put to me, I will answer him and to his satisfaction, I hope. I repeat, gentlemen, where is the general?”
“Eh! good God! you know better than we do where he is,” said the lieutenant.
“Monsieur,” said Athos; “I do not understand you.”
“You will understand me — and, in the first place, do not speak so loudly.”