Monk allowed a murmur of surprise to escape him, and D’Artagnan a profound sigh. The king, without appearing to notice either, knocked against the deal trellis which inclosed the cabin of the principal fisherman inhabiting the down.
“Hey! Keyser!” cried he, “awake!”
“Who calls me?” asked the fisherman.
“I, Charles the king.”
“Ah, my lord!” cried Keyser, rising ready dressed from the sail in which he slept, as people sleep in a hammock. “What can I do to serve you?”
“Captain Keyser,” said Charles, “you must set sail immediately. Here is a traveler who wishes to freight your bark, and will pay you well; serve him well.” And the king drew back a few steps to allow Monk to speak to the fisherman.
“I wish to cross over into England,” said Monk, who spoke Dutch enough to make himself understood.
“This minute,” said the patron, “this very minute, if you wish it.”
“But will that be long?” said Monk.
“Not half an hour, your honor. My eldest son is at this moment preparing the boat, as we were going out fishing at three o’clock in the morning.”
“Well, is all arranged?” asked the king, drawing near.
“All but the price,” said the fisherman; “yes, sire.”
“That is my affair,” said Charles, “the gentleman is my friend.”
Monk started and looked at Charles on hearing this word.
“Very well, my lord,” replied Keyser. And at that moment they heard Keyser’s son, signaling form the shore with the blast of a bull’s horn.
“Now, gentlemen,” said the king, “depart.”
“Sire,” said D’Artagnan, “will it please your majesty to grant me a few minutes? I have engaged men, and I am going without them; I must give them notice.”
“Whistle to them,” said Charles, smiling.
D’Artagnan, accordingly, whistled, whilst the patron Keyser replied to his son; and four men, led by Menneville, attended the first summons.
“Here is some money in account,” said D’Artagnan, putting into their hands a purse containing two thousand five hundred livres in gold. “Go and wait for me at Calais, you know where.” And D’Artagnan heaved a profound sigh, as he let the purse fall into the hands of Menneville.
“What, are you leaving us?” cried the men.
“For a short time,” said D’Artagnan, “or for a long time, who knows? But with 2,500 livres, and the 2,500 you have already received, you are paid according to our agreement. We are quits, then, my friend.”
“But the boat?”
“Do not trouble yourself about that.”
“Our things are on board the felucca.”
“Go and seek them, and then set off immediately.”
D’Artagnan returned to Monk, saying, — “Monsieur, I await your orders, for I understand we are to go together, unless my company be disagreeable to you.”