Monk raised his eyes, and perceived there was, in fact, a house which the flames were beginning to devour. It had begun at a little shed belonging to the house, the roof of which had caught. The fresh evening breeze agitated the fire. The two travelers quickened their steps, hearing loud cries, and seeing, as they drew nearer, soldiers with their glittering arms pointed towards the house on fire. It was doubtless this menacing occupation which had made them neglect to signal the felucca. Monk stopped short for an instant, and, for the first time, formulated his thoughts into words. “Eh! but,” said he, “perhaps they are not my soldiers but Lambert’s.”
These words contained at once a sorrow, and apprehension, and a reproach perfectly intelligible to D’Artagnan. In fact, during the general’s absence, Lambert might have given battle, conquered, and dispersed the parliament’s army, and taken with his own the place of Monk’s army, deprived of its strongest support. At this doubt, which passed from the mind of Monk to his own, D’Artagnan reasoned in this manner: — “One of two things is going to happen; either Monk has spoken correctly, and there are no longer any but Lambertists in the country — that is to say, enemies, who would receive me wonderfully well, since it is to me they owe their victory; or nothing is changed, and Monk, transported with joy at finding his camp still in the same place, will not prove too severe in his settlement with me.” Whilst thinking thus, the two travelers advanced, and began to mingle with a little knot of sailors, who looked on with sorrow at the burning house, but did not dare to say anything on account of the threats of the soldiers. Monk addressed one of these sailors: — “What is going on here?” asked he.
“Sir,” replied the man, not recognizing Monk as an officer, under the thick cloak which enveloped him, “that house was inhabited by a foreign gentleman, and this foreigner became suspected by the soldiers. They wanted to get into his house under pretense of taking him to the camp; but he, without being frightened by their number, threatened death to the first who should cross the threshold of his door; and as there was one who did venture, the Frenchman stretched him on the earth with a pistol-shot.”
“Ah! he is a Frenchman, is he?” said D’Artagnan, rubbing his hands. “Good!”
“How good?” replied the fisherman.
“No, I don’t mean that. — What then — my tongue slipped.”
“What then, sir? — why, the other men became as enraged as so many lions: they fired more than a hundred shots at the house; but the Frenchman was sheltered by the wall, and every time they tried to enter by the door they met with a shot from his lackey, whose aim is deadly, d’ye see? Every time they threatened the window, they met with a pistol-shot from the master. Look and count — there are seven men down.”
“Ah! my brave countryman,” cried D’Artagnan, “wait a little, wait a little. I will be with you; and we will settle with this rabble.”