The hour having come, they went with their four lackeys to a spot behind the Luxembourg given up to the feeding of goats. Athos threw a piece of money to the goatkeeper to withdraw. The lackeys were ordered to act as sentinels.
A silent party soon drew near to the same enclosure, entered, and joined the Musketeers. Then, according to foreign custom, the presentations took place.
The Englishmen were all men of rank; consequently the odd names of their adversaries were for them not only a matter of surprise, but of annoyance.
"But after all," said Lord de Winter, when the three friends had been named, "we do not know who you are. We cannot fight with such names; they are names of shepherds."
"Which only gives us a greater desire to know the real ones," replied the Englishman.
"You played very willingly with us without knowing our names," said Athos, "by the same token that you won our horses."
"That is true, but we then only risked our pistoles; this time we risk our blood. One plays with anybody; but one fights only with equals."
"And that is but just," said Athos, and he took aside the one of the four Englishmen with whom he was to fight, and communicated his name in a low voice.
Porthos and Aramis did the same.
"Does that satisfy you?" said Athos to his adversary. "Do you find me of sufficient rank to do me the honor of crossing swords with me?"
"Yes, monsieur," said the Englishman, bowing.
"Well! now shall I tell you something?" added Athos, coolly.
"What?" replied the Englishman.
"Why, that is that you would have acted much more wisely if you had not required me to make myself known."
"Because I am believed to be dead, and have reasons for wishing nobody to know I am living; so that I shall be obliged to kill you to prevent my secret from roaming over the fields."
The Englishman looked at Athos, believing that he jested, but Athos did not jest the least in the world.