D’Artagnan took advantage of this to go and ask Grimaud how he was. Monk requested Athos to conduct him to the chamber he lived in.
This chamber was still full of smoke and rubbish. More than fifty balls had passed through the windows and mutilated the walls. They found a table, inkstand, and materials for writing. Monk took up a pen, wrote a single line, signed it, folded the paper, sealed the letter with the seal of his ring, and handed over the missive to Athos, saying, “Monsieur, carry, if you please, this letter to King Charles II., and set out immediately, if nothing detains you here any longer.”
“And the casks?” said Athos.
“The fisherman who brought me hither will assist you in transporting them on board. Depart, if possible, within an hour.”
“Yes, general,” said Athos.
“Monsieur D’Artagnan!” cried Monk, from the window. D’Artagnan ran up precipitately.
“Embrace your friend and bid him adieu, sir; he is returning to Holland.”
“To Holland!” cried D’Artagnan; “and I?”
“You are at liberty to follow him, monsieur; but I request you to remain,” said Monk. “Will you refuse me?”
“Oh, no, general; I am at your orders.”
D’Artagnan embraced Athos, and only had time to bid him adieu. Monk watched them both. Then he took upon himself the preparations for the departure, the transportation of the casks on board, and the embarking of Athos; then, taking D’Artagnan by the arm, who was quite amazed and agitated, he led him towards Newcastle. Whilst going along, the general leaning on his arm, D’Artagnan could not help murmuring to himself, — “Come, come, it seems to me that the shares of the firm of Planchet and Company are rising.”
D’Artagnan, although he flattered himself with better success, had, nevertheless, not too well comprehended his situation. It was a strange and grave subject for him to reflect upon — this voyage of Athos into England; this league of the king with Athos, and that extraordinary combination of his design with that of the Comte de la Fere. The best way was to let things follow their own train. An imprudence had been committed, and, whilst having succeeded, as he had promised, D’Artagnan found that he had gained no advantage by his success. Since everything was lost, he could risk no more.
D’Artagnan followed Monk through his camp. The return of the general had produced a marvelous effect, for his people had thought him lost. But Monk, with his austere look and icy demeanor, appeared to ask of his eager lieutenants and delighted soldiers the cause of all this joy. Therefore, to the lieutenants who had come to meet him, and who expressed the uneasiness with which they had learnt his departure, —
“Why is all this?” said he; “am I obliged to give you an account of myself?”