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55. The Scotchman. (continued)
"My lord," said Athos, "in a position so precarious as ours we must examine the earth and not the heavens. Have you studied our Scotch troops and have you confidence in them?"
"The Scotch?" inquired Winter. "What Scotch?"
"Ours, egad!" exclaimed Athos. "Those in whom the king has confided -- Lord Leven's Highlanders."
"No," said Winter, then he paused; "but tell me, can you not perceive the russet tint which marks the heavens?"
"Not the least in the world," said Aramis and Athos at once.
"Tell me," continued Winter, always possessed by the same idea, "is there not a tradition in France that Henry IV., the evening before the day he was assassinated, when he was playing at chess with M. de Bassompiere, saw clots of blood upon the chessboard?"
"Yes," said Athos, "and the marechal has often told me so himself."
"Then it was so," murmured Winter, "and the next day Henry IV. was killed."
"But what has this vision of Henry IV. to do with you, my lord?" inquired Aramis.
"Nothing; and indeed I am mad to trouble you with such things, when your coming to my tent at such an hour announces that you are the bearers of important news."
"Yes, my lord," said Athos, "I wish to speak to the king."
"To the king! but the king is asleep."
"I have something important to reveal to him."
"Can it not be put off till to-morrow?"
"He must know it this moment, and perhaps it is already too late."
"Come, then," said Lord Winter.
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