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Chapter 32: Captive and Jailers.
When they had entered the fort, and whilst the governor was making some preparations for the reception of his guests, "Come," said Athos, "let us have a word of explanation whilst we are alone."
"It is simply this," replied the musketeer. "I have conducted hither a prisoner, who the king commands shall not be seen. You came here, he has thrown something to you through the lattice of his window; I was at dinner with the governor, I saw the object thrown, and I saw Raoul pick it up. It does not take long to understand this. I understood it, and I thought you in intelligence with my prisoner. And then - "
"And then - you commanded us to be shot."
"Ma foi! I admit it; but, if I was the first to seize a musket, fortunately, I was the last to take aim at you."
"If you had killed me, D'Artagnan, I should have had the good fortune to die for the royal house of France, and it would be an honor to die by your hand - you, its noblest and most loyal defender."
"What the devil, Athos, do you mean by the royal house?" stammered D'Artagnan. "You don't mean that you, a well-informed and sensible man, can place any faith in the nonsense written by an idiot?"
"I do believe in it."
"With so much the more reason, my dear chevalier, from your having orders to kill all those who do believe in it," said Raoul.
"That is because," replied the captain of the musketeers - "because every calumny, however absurd it may be, has the almost certain chance of becoming popular."
"No, D'Artagnan," replied Athos, promptly; "but because the king is not willing that the secret of his family should transpire among the people, and cover with shame the executioners of the son of Louis XIII."
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