The confusion in the lower hall was indescribable. Unexpected surpises like this demoralize resistance. Two of the bullets of Radoub's triple discharges had hit; one had killed the elder of the two brothers, Pique-en-bois, the other had killed Houzard, who was Monsieur de Quélen.
"They are upstairs!" cried the marquis.
This cry brought about the instant abandonment of the retirade; a flock of birds could not be scattered more quickly, and they each tried to rush first into the stairway. The marquis encouraged this flight.
"Be quick," he said. "It is courageous to escape now, let us all go up to the second story! there we will begin again."
He was the last to leave the retirade.
This bravery saved him.
Radoub, in ambush on the first landing of the staircase, his finger on the trigger of the blunderbuss was on the watch for the rout. Those who first appreared around the corner received the discharge full in the face, and fell as if struck by lightning. If the marquis had been one of them he would have been killed.
Before Radoub had time to seize a new weapon, the rest passed by, the marquis last, and slower than the others. They believed the room on the first floor to be filled with the enemy; they did not stop there, but went on to the second story to the hall of mirrors. There was the iron door, the sulphur slow match was there, and there it would be necessary to capitulate or die.
Gauvain, as surprised as they were by the gunshots from the stairway and not being able to explain the assistance which had come to him, without trying to understand had taken advantage of it, had leaped with his men over the retirade, and drove the besieged at the point of the sword up to the first story.
There he found Radoub.
Radoub saluted him and said,—
"0ne minute, commander. It was I who did this. I remembered Dol. I did as you did. I put the enemy between two fires."
"A good pupil," said Gauvain, with a smile.
After being in the dark for some time one's eyes become accustomed to it, like those of night birds; Gauvain noticed that Radoub was covered with blood.