Ten minutes had not passed away when he came back. He found Aramis seated between the superior of the Dominicans and the principal of the college of the Jesuits, exactly in the same situation as he had found him formerly in the auberge at Crevecoeur. This company did not at all terrify the musketeer. "What is it?" said Aramis, quietly. "You have apparently something to say to me, my friend."
"Wake up, Zephirine wake up, old lady, and listen to this." Zephirine, smitten affectionately on the ham, answered only with a short squeal like a bagpipe, and buried her snout deeper in the grass. "I like that," the old man went on. "To think of travelling down a river three days' journey, and putting up each night at the same auberge! Vieux drole d'Herodote!
In a country inn we invariably pass through the kitchen to reach the room set apart for guests, and it has often fallen to my lot to seek rest, shelter, and food in a poor auberge, where the kitchen is also the common room of the family and outsiders. A Beynac character that left on my memory a lasting impression was old Suzette. Suzette might have been any age between fifty and seventy.
We were later than we had meant, but there would be a moon to light us when the sun sank, and both we and our horses knew the roads well; or we could even sleep, if we were so minded, at the auberge where we had dined. So we were in no haste or hurry.
His helmet gone, his banner held aloft over his head, Pierre D'Aubusson was ever in the thickest of the fray unconquered, unconquerable; and pressing close behind him came the knights, each jealous for the glory of his "Auberge."
That those rumours of battle and defeat were true we had ample proof some few hours later, when a company of dragoons in buff and steel rode into the courtyard of the Auberge de Navarre, headed by a young spark of an officer, who confirmed the rumour and set the number of Montmorency's wounds at seventeen.
Provoked at this partiality, I resolved to chide the post-master, and accordingly addressed myself to a person who stood at the door of the auberge. He was a jolly figure, fat and fair, dressed in an odd kind of garb, with a gold laced cap on his head, and a cambric handkerchief pinned to his middle.
I ventured to ask a down-trodden daughter-in-law of the Ladies of the Cauldrons, whether a very young gentleman, and an older but still all-young woman, with two donkeys, had stopped at the auberge some hours earlier. The spiritless one shook her head. But no. The only other customers of the house thus far had been the postman and two soldiers. The party might have passed.
Still, as the shadows deepened, she spoke of valor and virtue, of loyalty, honor, and fame, and still they sat drinking in her words while the fire burned down and the red ash turned to gray. "By the sainted Ives!" cried Du Guesclin at last, "it is time that we spoke of what we are to do this night, for I cannot think that in this wayside auberge there are fit quarters for an honorable company."
When we reached the auberge again, we found the rejected guide still there, and more unstable than before. The general impression on his mind seemed to be that he had been wronged, and had forgiven us. In our absence he had been meditating upon the glacière, and his imagination had brought him to a very exalted idea of its wonders.