The Man in the Iron Mask
Alexandre Dumas, Pere
Part 6 out of 12
"How much more easy," thought he, "it will be to be the brother of that
woman than her gallant, if she evinces towards me a coldness that my
brother could not have for her, but which is imposed upon me as a duty."
The only visit he dreaded at this moment was that of the queen; his heart
- his mind - had just been shaken by so violent a trial, that, in spite
of their firm temperament, they would not, perhaps, support another
shock. Happily the queen did not come. Then commenced, on the part of
Anne of Austria, a political dissertation upon the welcome M. Fouquet had
given to the house of France. She mixed up hostilities with compliments
addressed to the king, and questions as to his health, with little
maternal flatteries and diplomatic artifices.
"Well, my son," said she, "are you convinced with regard to M. Fouquet?"
"Saint-Aignan," said Philippe, "have the goodness to go and inquire after
At these words, the first Philippe had pronounced aloud, the slight
difference that there was between his voice and that of the king was
sensible to maternal ears, and Anne of Austria looked earnestly at her
son. Saint-Aignan left the room, and Philippe continued:
"Madame, I do not like to hear M. Fouquet ill-spoken of, you know I do
not - and you have even spoken well of him yourself."
"That is true; therefore I only question you on the state of your
sentiments with respect to him."
"Sire," said Henrietta, "I, on my part, have always liked M. Fouquet. He
is a man of good taste, - a superior man."
"A superintendent who is never sordid or niggardly," added Monsieur; "and
who pays in gold all the orders I have on him."
"Every one in this thinks too much of himself, and nobody for the state,"
said the old queen. "M. Fouquet, it is a fact, M. Fouquet is ruining the
"Well, mother!" replied Philippe, in rather a lower key, "do you likewise
constitute yourself the buckler of M. Colbert?"
"How is that?" replied the old queen, rather surprised.
"Why, in truth," replied Philippe, "you speak that just as your old
friend Madame de Chevreuse would speak."
"Why do you mention Madame de Chevreuse to me?" said she, "and what sort
of humor are you in to-day towards me?"
Philippe continued: "Is not Madame de Chevreuse always in league against
somebody? Has not Madame de Chevreuse been to pay you a visit, mother?"
"Monsieur, you speak to me now in such a manner that I can almost fancy I
am listening to your father."
"My father did not like Madame de Chevreuse, and had good reason for not
liking her," said the prince. "For my part, I like her no better than
_he_ did, and if she thinks proper to come here as she formerly did, to
sow divisions and hatreds under the pretext of begging money - why - "
"Well! what?" said Anne of Austria, proudly, herself provoking the storm.
"Well!" replied the young man firmly, "I will drive Madame de Chevreuse
out of my kingdom - and with her all who meddle with its secrets and
He had not calculated the effect of this terrible speech, or perhaps he
wished to judge the effect of it, like those who, suffering from a
chronic pain, and seeking to break the monotony of that suffering, touch
their wound to procure a sharper pang. Anne of Austria was nearly
fainting; her eyes, open but meaningless, ceased to see for several
seconds; she stretched out her arms towards her other son, who supported
and embraced her without fear of irritating the king.
"Sire," murmured she, "you are treating your mother very cruelly."
"In what respect, madame?" replied he. "I am only speaking of Madame de
Chevreuse; does my mother prefer Madame de Chevreuse to the security of
the state and of my person? Well, then, madame, I tell you Madame de
Chevreuse has returned to France to borrow money, and that she addressed
herself to M. Fouquet to sell him a certain secret."
"A certain secret!" cried Anne of Austria.
"Concerning pretended robberies that monsieur le surintendant had
committed, which is false," added Philippe. "M. Fouquet rejected her
offers with indignation, preferring the esteem of the king to complicity
with such intriguers. Then Madame de Chevreuse sold the secret to M.
Colbert, and as she is insatiable, and was not satisfied with having
extorted a hundred thousand crowns from a servant of the state, she has
taken a still bolder flight, in search of surer sources of supply. Is
that true, madame?"
"You know all, sire," said the queen, more uneasy than irritated.
"Now," continued Philippe, "I have good reason to dislike this fury, who
comes to my court to plan the shame of some and the ruin of others. If
Heaven has suffered certain crimes to be committed, and has concealed
them in the shadow of its clemency, I will not permit Madame de Chevreuse
to counteract the just designs of fate."
The latter part of this speech had so agitated the queen-mother, that her
son had pity on her. He took her hand and kissed it tenderly; she did
not feel that in that kiss, given in spite of repulsion and bitterness of
the heart, there was a pardon for eight years of suffering. Philippe
allowed the silence of a moment to swallow the emotions that had just
developed themselves. Then, with a cheerful smile:
"We will not go to-day," said he, "I have a plan." And, turning towards
the door, he hoped to see Aramis, whose absence began to alarm him. The
queen-mother wished to leave the room.
"Remain where you are, mother," said he, "I wish you to make your peace
with M. Fouquet."
"I bear M. Fouquet no ill-will; I only dreaded his prodigalities."
"We will put that to rights, and will take nothing of the superintendent
but his good qualities."
"What is your majesty looking for?" said Henrietta, seeing the king's
eyes constantly turned towards the door, and wishing to let fly a little
poisoned arrow at his heart, supposing he was so anxiously expecting
either La Valliere or a letter from her.
"My sister," said the young man, who had divined her thought, thanks to
that marvelous perspicuity of which fortune was from that time about to
allow him the exercise, "my sister, I am expecting a most distinguished
man, a most able counselor, whom I wish to present to you all,
recommending him to your good graces. Ah! come in, then, D'Artagnan."
"What does your majesty wish?" said D'Artagnan, appearing.
"Where is monsieur the bishop of Vannes, your friend?"
"Why, sire - "
"I am waiting for him, and he does not come. Let him be sought for."
D'Artagnan remained for an instant stupefied; but soon, reflecting that
Aramis had left Vaux privately on a mission from the king, he concluded
that the king wished to preserve the secret. "Sire," replied he, "does
your majesty absolutely require M. d'Herblay to be brought to you?"
"Absolutely is not the word," said Philippe; "I do not want him so
particularly as that; but if he can be found - "
"I thought so," said D'Artagnan to himself.
"Is this M. d'Herblay the bishop of Vannes?"
"A friend of M. Fouquet?"
"Yes, madame; an old musketeer."
Anne of Austria blushed.
"One of the four braves who formerly performed such prodigies."
The old queen repented of having wished to bite; she broke off the
conversation, in order to preserve the rest of her teeth. "Whatever may
be your choice, sire," said she, "I have no doubt it will be excellent."
All bowed in support of that sentiment.
"You will find in him," continued Philippe, "the depth and penetration of
M. de Richelieu, without the avarice of M. de Mazarin!"
"A prime minister, sire?" said Monsieur, in a fright.
"I will tell you all about that, brother; but it is strange that M.
d'Herblay is not here!"
He called out:
"Let M. Fouquet be informed that I wish to speak to him - oh! before you,
before you; do not retire!"
M. de Saint-Aignan returned, bringing satisfactory news of the queen, who
only kept her bed from precaution, and to have strength to carry out the
king's wishes. Whilst everybody was seeking M. Fouquet and Aramis, the
new king quietly continued his experiments, and everybody, family,
officers, servants, had not the least suspicion of his identity, his air,
his voice, and manners were so like the king's. On his side, Philippe,
applying to all countenances the accurate descriptions and key-notes of
character supplied by his accomplice Aramis, conducted himself so as not
to give birth to a doubt in the minds of those who surrounded him.
Nothing from that time could disturb the usurper. With what strange
facility had Providence just reversed the loftiest fortune of the world
to substitute the lowliest in its stead! Philippe admired the goodness
of God with regard to himself, and seconded it with all the resources of
his admirable nature. But he felt, at times, something like a specter
gliding between him and the rays of his new glory. Aramis did not
appear. The conversation had languished in the royal family; Philippe,
preoccupied, forgot to dismiss his brother and Madame Henrietta. The
latter were astonished, and began, by degrees, to lose all patience.
Anne of Austria stooped towards her son's ear and addressed some words to
him in Spanish. Philippe was completely ignorant of that language, and
grew pale at this unexpected obstacle. But, as if the spirit of the
imperturbable Aramis had covered him with his infallibility, instead of
appearing disconcerted, Philippe rose. "Well! what?" said Anne of
"What is all that noise?" said Philippe, turning round towards the door
of the second staircase.
And a voice was heard saying, "This way, this way! A few steps more,
"The voice of M. Fouquet," said D'Artagnan, who was standing close to the
"Then M. d'Herblay cannot be far off," added Philippe.
But he then saw what he little thought to have beheld so near to him.
All eyes were turned towards the door at which M. Fouquet was expected to
enter; but it was not M. Fouquet who entered. A terrible cry resounded
from all corners of the chamber, a painful cry uttered by the king and
all present. It is given to but few men, even those whose destiny
contains the strangest elements, and accidents the most wonderful, to
contemplate such a spectacle similar to that which presented itself in
the royal chamber at that moment. The half-closed shutters only admitted
the entrance of an uncertain light passing through thick violet velvet
curtains lined with silk. In this soft shade, the eyes were by degrees
dilated, and every one present saw others rather with imagination than
with actual sight. There could not, however, escape, in these
circumstances, one of the surrounding details; and the new object which
presented itself appeared as luminous as though it shone out in full
sunlight. So it happened with Louis XIV., when he showed himself, pale
and frowning, in the doorway of the secret stairs. The face of Fouquet
appeared behind him, stamped with sorrow and determination. The queen-
mother, who perceived Louis XIV., and who held the hand of Philippe,
uttered a cry of which we have spoken, as if she beheld a phantom.
Monsieur was bewildered, and kept turning his head in astonishment from
one to the other. Madame made a step forward, thinking she was looking
at the form of her brother-in-law reflected in a mirror. And, in fact,
the illusion was possible. The two princes, both pale as death - for we
renounce the hope of being able to describe the fearful state of Philippe
- trembling, clenching their hands convulsively, measured each other with
looks, and darted their glances, sharp as poniards, at each other.
Silent, panting, bending forward, they appeared as if about to spring
upon an enemy. The unheard-of resemblance of countenance, gesture,
shape, height, even to the resemblance of costume, produced by chance –
for Louis XIV. had been to the Louvre and put on a violet-colored dress –
the perfect analogy of the two princes, completed the consternation of
Anne of Austria. And yet she did not at once guess the truth. There are
misfortunes in life so truly dreadful that no one will at first accept
them; people rather believe in the supernatural and the impossible.
Louis had not reckoned on these obstacles. He expected that he had only
to appear to be acknowledged. A living sun, he could not endure the
suspicion of equality with any one. He did not admit that every torch
should not become darkness at the instant he shone out with his
conquering ray. At the aspect of Philippe, then, he was perhaps more
terrified than any one round him, and his silence, his immobility were,
this time, a concentration and a calm which precede the violent
explosions of concentrated passion.
But Fouquet! who shall paint his emotion and stupor in presence of this
living portrait of his master! Fouquet thought Aramis was right, that
this newly-arrived was a king as pure in his race as the other, and that,
for having repudiated all participation in this _coup d'etat_, so
skillfully got up by the General of the Jesuits, he must be a mad
enthusiast, unworthy of ever dipping his hands in political grand
strategy work. And then it was the blood of Louis XIII. which Fouquet
was sacrificing to the blood of Louis XIII.; it was to a selfish ambition
he was sacrificing a noble ambition; to the right of keeping he
sacrificed the right of having. The whole extent of his fault was
revealed to him at simple sight of the pretender. All that passed in the
mind of Fouquet was lost upon the persons present. He had five minutes
to focus meditation on this point of conscience; five minutes, that is to
say five ages, during which the two kings and their family scarcely found
energy to breathe after so terrible a shock. D'Artagnan, leaning against
the wall, in front of Fouquet, with his hand to his brow, asked himself
the cause of such a wonderful prodigy. He could not have said at once
why he doubted, but he knew assuredly that he had reason to doubt, and
that in this meeting of the two Louis XIV.s lay all the doubt and
difficulty that during late days had rendered the conduct of Aramis so
suspicious to the musketeer. These ideas were, however, enveloped in a
haze, a veil of mystery. The actors in this assembly seemed to swim in
the vapors of a confused waking. Suddenly Louis XIV., more impatient and
more accustomed to command, ran to one of the shutters, which he opened,
tearing the curtains in his eagerness. A flood of living light entered
the chamber, and made Philippe draw back to the alcove. Louis seized
upon this movement with eagerness, and addressing himself to the queen:
"My mother," said he, "do you not acknowledge your son, since every one
here has forgotten his king!" Anne of Austria started, and raised her
arms towards Heaven, without being able to articulate a single word.
"My mother," said Philippe, with a calm voice, "do you not acknowledge
your son?" And this time, in his turn, Louis drew back.
As to Anne of Austria, struck suddenly in head and heart with fell
remorse, she lost her equilibrium. No one aiding her, for all were
petrified, she sank back in her fauteuil, breathing a weak, trembling
sigh. Louis could not endure the spectacle and the affront. He bounded
towards D'Artagnan, over whose brain a vertigo was stealing and who
staggered as he caught at the door for support.
"_A moi! mousquetaire!_" said he. "Look us in the face and say which is
the paler, he or I!"
This cry roused D'Artagnan, and stirred in his heart the fibers of
obedience. He shook his head, and, without more hesitation, he walked
straight up to Philippe, on whose shoulder he laid his hand, saying,
"Monsieur, you are my prisoner!"
Philippe did not raise his eyes towards Heaven, nor stir from the spot,
where he seemed nailed to the floor, his eye intently fixed upon the king
his brother. He reproached him with a sublime silence for all
misfortunes past, all tortures to come. Against this language of the
soul the king felt he had no power; he cast down his eyes, dragging away
precipitately his brother and sister, forgetting his mother, sitting
motionless within three paces of the son whom she left a second time to
be condemned to death. Philippe approached Anne of Austria, and said to
her, in a soft and nobly agitated voice:
"If I were not your son, I should curse you, my mother, for having
rendered me so unhappy."
D'Artagnan felt a shudder pass through the marrow of his bones. He bowed
respectfully to the young prince, and said as he bent, "Excuse me,
monseigneur, I am but a soldier, and my oaths are his who has just left
"Thank you, M. d'Artagnan.... What has become of M. d'Herblay?"
"M. d'Herblay is in safety, monseigneur," said a voice behind them; "and
no one, while I live and am free, shall cause a hair to fall from his
"Monsieur Fouquet!" said the prince, smiling sadly.
"Pardon me, monseigneur," said Fouquet, kneeling, "but he who is just
gone out from hence was my guest."
"Here are," murmured Philippe, with a sigh, "brave friends and good
hearts. They make me regret the world. On, M. d'Artagnan, I follow you."
At the moment the captain of the musketeers was about to leave the room
with his prisoner, Colbert appeared, and, after remitting an order from
the king to D'Artagnan, retired. D'Artagnan read the paper, and then
crushed it in his hand with rage.
"What is it?" asked the prince.
"Read, monseigneur," replied the musketeer.
Philippe read the following words, hastily traced by the hand of the king:
"M. d'Artagnan will conduct the prisoner to the Ile Sainte-Marguerite.
He will cover his face with an iron vizor, which the prisoner shall never
raise except at peril of his life."
"That is just," said Philippe, with resignation; "I am ready."
"Aramis was right," said Fouquet, in a low voice, to the musketeer, "this
one is every whit as much a king as the other."
"More so!" replied D'Artagnan. "He wanted only you and me."
In Which Porthos Thinks He Is Pursuing a Duchy.
Aramis and Porthos, having profited by the time granted them by Fouquet,
did honor to the French cavalry by their speed. Porthos did not clearly
understand on what kind of mission he was forced to display so much
velocity; but as he saw Aramis spurring on furiously, he, Porthos,
spurred on in the same way. They had soon, in this manner, placed twelve
leagues between them and Vaux; they were then obliged to change horses,
and organize a sort of post arrangement. It was during a relay that
Porthos ventured to interrogate Aramis discreetly.
"Hush!" replied the latter, "know only that our fortune depends on our
As if Porthos had still been the musketeer, without a sou or a _maille_
of 1626, he pushed forward. That magic word "fortune" always means
something in the human ear. It means _enough_ for those who have
nothing; it means _too much_ for those who have enough.
"I shall be made a duke!" said Porthos, aloud. He was speaking to
"That is possible," replied Aramis, smiling after his own fashion, as
Porthos's horse passed him. Aramis felt, notwithstanding, as though his
brain were on fire; the activity of the body had not yet succeeded in
subduing that of the mind. All there is of raging passion, mental
toothache or mortal threat, raged, gnawed and grumbled in the thoughts of
the unhappy prelate. His countenance exhibited visible traces of this
rude combat. Free on the highway to abandon himself to every impression
of the moment, Aramis did not fail to swear at every start of his horse,
at every inequality in the road. Pale, at times inundated with boiling
sweats, then again dry and icy, he flogged his horses till the blood
streamed from their sides. Porthos, whose dominant fault was not
sensibility, groaned at this. Thus traveled they on for eight long
hours, and then arrived at Orleans. It was four o'clock in the
afternoon. Aramis, on observing this, judged that nothing showed pursuit
to be a possibility. It would be without example that a troop capable of
taking him and Porthos should be furnished with relays sufficient to
perform forty leagues in eight hours. Thus, admitting pursuit, which was
not at all manifest, the fugitives were five hours in advance of their
Aramis thought that there might be no imprudence in taking a little rest,
but that to continue would make the matter more certain. Twenty leagues
more, performed with the same rapidity, twenty more leagues devoured, and
no one, not even D'Artagnan, could overtake the enemies of the king.
Aramis felt obliged, therefore, to inflict upon Porthos the pain of
mounting on horseback again. They rode on till seven o'clock in the
evening, and had only one post more between them and Blois. But here a
diabolical accident alarmed Aramis greatly. There were no horses at the
post. The prelate asked himself by what infernal machination his enemies
had succeeded in depriving him of the means of going further, - he who
never recognized chance as a deity, who found a cause for every accident,
preferred believing that the refusal of the postmaster, at such an hour,
in such a country, was the consequence of an order emanating from above:
an order given with a view of stopping short the king-maker in the midst
of his flight. But at the moment he was about to fly into a passion, so
as to procure either a horse or an explanation, he was struck with the
recollection that the Comte de la Fere lived in the neighborhood.
"I am not traveling," said he; "I do not want horses for a whole stage.
Find me two horses to go and pay a visit to a nobleman of my acquaintance
who resides near this place."
"What nobleman?" asked the postmaster.
"M. le Comte de la Fere."
"Oh!" replied the postmaster, uncovering with respect, "a very worthy
nobleman. But, whatever may be my desire to make myself agreeable to
him, I cannot furnish you with horses, for all mine are engaged by M. le
Duc de Beaufort."
"Indeed!" said Aramis, much disappointed.
"Only," continued the postmaster, "if you will put up with a little
carriage I have, I will harness an old blind horse who has still his legs
left, and peradventure will draw you to the house of M. le Comte de la
"It is worth a louis," said Aramis.
"No, monsieur, such a ride is worth no more than a crown; that is what M.
Grimaud, the comte's intendant, always pays me when he makes use of that
carriage; and I should not wish the Comte de la Fere to have to reproach
me with having imposed on one of his friends."
"As you please," said Aramis, "particularly as regards disobliging the
Comte de la Fere; only I think I have a right to give you a louis for
"Oh! doubtless," replied the postmaster with delight. And he himself
harnessed the ancient horse to the creaking carriage. In the meantime
Porthos was curious to behold. He imagined he had discovered a clew to
the secret, and he felt pleased, because a visit to Athos, in the first
place, promised him much satisfaction, and, in the next, gave him the
hope of finding at the same time a good bed and good supper. The master,
having got the carriage ready, ordered one of his men to drive the
strangers to La Fere. Porthos took his seat by the side of Aramis,
whispering in his ear, "I understand."
"Aha!" said Aramis, "and what do you understand, my friend?"
"We are going, on the part of the king, to make some great proposal to
"Pooh!" said Aramis.
"You need tell me nothing about it," added the worthy Porthos,
endeavoring to reseat himself so as to avoid the jolting, "you need tell
me nothing, I shall guess."
"Well! do, my friend; guess away."
They arrived at Athos's dwelling about nine o'clock in the evening,
favored by a splendid moon. This cheerful light rejoiced Porthos beyond
expression; but Aramis appeared annoyed by it in an equal degree. He
could not help showing something of this to Porthos, who replied - "Ay!
ay! I guess how it is! the mission is a secret one."
These were his last words in the carriage. The driver interrupted him by
saying, "Gentlemen, we have arrived."
Porthos and his companion alighted before the gate of the little chateau,
where we are about to meet again our old acquaintances Athos and
Bragelonne, the latter of whom had disappeared since the discovery of the
infidelity of La Valliere. If there be one saying truer than another, it
is this: great griefs contain within themselves the germ of consolation.
This painful wound, inflicted upon Raoul, had drawn him nearer to his
father again; and God knows how sweet were the consolations which flowed
from the eloquent mouth and generous heart of Athos. The wound was not
cicatrized, but Athos, by dint of conversing with his son and mixing a
little more of his life with that of the young man, had brought him to
understand that this pang of a first infidelity is necessary to every
human existence; and that no one has loved without encountering it.
Raoul listened, again and again, but never understood. Nothing replaces
in the deeply afflicted heart the remembrance and thought of the beloved
object. Raoul then replied to the reasoning of his father:
"Monsieur, all that you tell me is true; I believe that no one has
suffered in the affections of the heart so much as you have; but you are
a man too great by reason of intelligence, and too severely tried by
adverse fortune not to allow for the weakness of the soldier who suffers
for the first time. I am paying a tribute that will not be paid a second
time; permit me to plunge myself so deeply in my grief that I may forget
myself in it, that I may drown even my reason in it."
"Listen, monsieur. Never shall I accustom myself to the idea that
Louise, the chastest and most innocent of women, has been able to so
basely deceive a man so honest and so true a lover as myself. Never can
I persuade myself that I see that sweet and noble mask change into a
hypocritical lascivious face. Louise lost! Louise infamous! Ah!
monseigneur, that idea is much more cruel to me than Raoul abandoned –
Athos then employed the heroic remedy. He defended Louise against Raoul,
and justified her perfidy by her love. "A woman who would have yielded
to a king because he is a king," said he, "would deserve to be styled
infamous; but Louise loves Louis. Young, both, they have forgotten, he
his rank, she her vows. Love absolves everything, Raoul. The two young
people love each other with sincerity."
And when he had dealt this severe poniard-thrust, Athos, with a sigh, saw
Raoul bound away beneath the rankling wound, and fly to the thickest
recesses of the wood, or the solitude of his chamber, whence, an hour
after, he would return, pale, trembling, but subdued. Then, coming up to
Athos with a smile, he would kiss his hand, like the dog who, having been
beaten, caresses a respected master, to redeem his fault. Raoul redeemed
nothing but his weakness, and only confessed his grief. Thus passed away
the days that followed that scene in which Athos had so violently shaken
the indomitable pride of the king. Never, when conversing with his son,
did he make any allusion to that scene; never did he give him the details
of that vigorous lecture, which might, perhaps, have consoled the young
man, by showing him his rival humbled. Athos did not wish that the
offended lover should forget the respect due to his king. And when
Bragelonne, ardent, angry, and melancholy, spoke with contempt of royal
words, of the equivocal faith which certain madmen draw from promises
that emanate from thrones, when, passing over two centuries, with that
rapidity of a bird that traverses a narrow strait to go from one
continent to the other, Raoul ventured to predict the time in which kings
would be esteemed as less than other men, Athos said to him, in his
serene, persuasive voice, "You are right, Raoul; all that you say will
happen; kings will lose their privileges, as stars which have survived
their aeons lose their splendor. But when that moment comes, Raoul, we
shall be dead. And remember well what I say to you. In this world, all,
men, women, and kings, must live for the present. We can only live for
the future for God."
This was the manner in which Athos and Raoul were, as usual, conversing,
and walking backwards and forwards in the long alley of limes in the
park, when the bell which served to announce to the comte either the hour
of dinner or the arrival of a visitor, was rung; and, without attaching
any importance to it, he turned towards the house with his son; and at
the end of the alley they found themselves in the presence of Aramis and
The Last Adieux.
Raoul uttered a cry, and affectionately embraced Porthos. Aramis and
Athos embraced like old men; and this embrace itself being a question for
Aramis, he immediately said, "My friend, we have not long to remain with
"Ah!" said the comte.
"Only time to tell you of my good fortune," interrupted Porthos.
"Ah!" said Raoul.
Athos looked silently at Aramis, whose somber air had already appeared to
him very little in harmony with the good news Porthos hinted.
"What is the good fortune that has happened to you? Let us hear it,"
said Raoul, with a smile.
"The king has made me a duke," said the worthy Porthos, with an air of
mystery, in the ear of the young man, "a duke by _brevet_."
But the _asides_ of Porthos were always loud enough to be heard by
everybody. His murmurs were in the diapason of ordinary roaring. Athos
heard him, and uttered an exclamation which made Aramis start. The
latter took Athos by the arm, and, after having asked Porthos's
permission to say a word to his friend in private, "My dear Athos," he
began, "you see me overwhelmed with grief and trouble."
"With grief and trouble, my dear friend?" cried the comte; "oh, what?"
"In two words. I have conspired against the king; that conspiracy has
failed, and, at this moment, I am doubtless pursued."
"You are pursued! - a conspiracy! Eh! my friend, what do you tell me?"
"The saddest truth. I am entirely ruined."
"Well, but Porthos - this title of duke - what does all that mean?"
"That is the subject of my severest pain; that is the deepest of my
wounds. I have, believing in infallible success, drawn Porthos into my
conspiracy. He threw himself into it, as you know he would do, with all
his strength, without knowing what he was about; and now he is as much
compromised as myself - as completely ruined as I am."
"Good God!" And Athos turned towards Porthos, who was smiling
"I must make you acquainted with the whole. Listen to me," continued
Aramis; and he related the history as we know it. Athos, during the
recital, several times felt the sweat break from his forehead. "It was a
great idea," said he, "but a great error."
"For which I am punished, Athos."
"Therefore, I will not tell you my entire thought."
"Tell it, nevertheless."
"It is a crime."
"A capital crime; I know it is. _Lese majeste_."
"Porthos! poor Porthos!"
"What would you advise me to do? Success, as I have told you, was
"M. Fouquet is an honest man."
"And I a fool for having so ill-judged him," said Aramis. "Oh, the
wisdom of man! Oh, millstone that grinds the world! and which is one day
stopped by a grain of sand which has fallen, no one knows how, between
"Say by a diamond, Aramis. But the thing is done. How do you think of
"I am taking away Porthos. The king will never believe that that worthy
man has acted innocently. He never can believe that Porthos has thought
he was serving the king, whilst acting as he has done. His head would
pay my fault. It shall not, must not, be so."
"You are taking him away, whither?"
"To Belle-Isle, at first. That is an impregnable place of refuge. Then,
I have the sea, and a vessel to pass over into England, where I have many
"You? in England?"
"Yes, or else in Spain, where I have still more."
"But, our excellent Porthos! you ruin him, for the king will confiscate
all his property."
"All is provided for. I know how, when once in Spain, to reconcile
myself with Louis XIV., and restore Porthos to favor."
"You have credit, seemingly, Aramis!" said Athos, with a discreet air.
"Much; and at the service of my friends."
These words were accompanied by a warm pressure of the hand.
"Thank you," replied the comte.
"And while we are on this head," said Aramis, "you also are a malcontent;
you also, Raoul, have griefs to lay to the king. Follow our example;
pass over into Belle-Isle. Then we shall see, I guarantee upon my honor,
that in a month there will be war between France and Spain on the subject
of this son of Louis XIII., who is an Infante likewise, and whom France
detains inhumanly. Now, as Louis XIV. would have no inclination for a
war on that subject, I will answer for an arrangement, the result of
which must bring greatness to Porthos and to me, and a duchy in France to
you, who are already a grandee of Spain. Will you join us?"
"No; for my part I prefer having something to reproach the king with; it
is a pride natural to my race to pretend to a superiority over royal
races. Doing what you propose, I should become the obliged of the king;
I should certainly be the gainer on that ground, but I should be a loser
in my conscience. - No, thank you!"
"Then give me two things, Athos, - your absolution."
"Oh! I give it you if you really wished to avenge the weak and oppressed
against the oppressor."
"That is sufficient for me," said Aramis, with a blush which was lost in
the obscurity of the night. "And now, give me your two best horses to
gain the second post, as I have been refused any under the pretext of the
Duc de Beaufort being traveling in this country."
"You shall have the two best horses, Aramis; and again I recommend poor
Porthos strongly to your care."
"Oh! I have no fear on that score. One word more: do you think I am
maneuvering for him as I ought?"
"The evil being committed, yes; for the king would not pardon him, and
you have, whatever may be said, always a supporter in M. Fouquet, who
will not abandon you, he being himself compromised, notwithstanding his
"You are right. And that is why, instead of gaining the sea at once,
which would proclaim my fear and guilt, that is why I remain upon French
ground. But Belle-Isle will be for me whatever ground I wish it to be,
English, Spanish, or Roman; all will depend, with me, on the standard I
shall think proper to unfurl."
"It was I who fortified Belle-Isle; and, so long as I defend it, nobody
can take Belle-Isle from me. And then, as you have said just now, M.
Fouquet is there. Belle-Isle will not be attacked without the signature
of M. Fouquet."
"That is true. Nevertheless, be prudent. The king is both cunning and
strong." Aramis smiled.
"I again recommend Porthos to you," repeated the count, with a sort of
"Whatever becomes of me, count," replied Aramis, in the same tone, "our
brother Porthos will fare as I do - or _better_."
Athos bowed whilst pressing the hand of Aramis, and turned to embrace
Porthos with emotion.
"I was born lucky, was I not?" murmured the latter, transported with
happiness, as he folded his cloak round him.
"Come, my dear friend," said Aramis.
Raoul had gone out to give orders for the saddling of the horses. The
group was already divided. Athos saw his two friends on the point of
departure, and something like a mist passed before his eyes and weighed
upon his heart.
"It is strange," thought he, "whence comes the inclination I feel to
embrace Porthos once more?" At that moment Porthos turned round, and he
came towards his old friend with open arms. This last endearment was
tender as in youth, as in times when hearts were warm - life happy. And
then Porthos mounted his horse. Aramis came back once more to throw his
arms round the neck of Athos. The latter watched them along the high-
road, elongated by the shade, in their white cloaks. Like phantoms they
seemed to enlarge on their departure from the earth, and it was not in
the mist, but in the declivity of the ground that they disappeared. At
the end of the perspective, both seemed to have given a spring with their
feet, which made them vanish as if evaporated into cloud-land.
Then Athos, with a very heavy heart, returned towards the house, saying
to Bragelonne, "Raoul, I don't know what it is that has just told me that
I have seen those two for the last time."
"It does not astonish me, monsieur, that you should have such a thought,"
replied the young man, "for I have at this moment the same, and think
also that I shall never see Messieurs du Vallon and d'Herblay again."
"Oh! you," replied the count, "you speak like a man rendered sad by a
different cause; you see everything in black; you are young, and if you
chance never to see those old friends again, it will because they no
longer exist in the world in which you have yet many years to pass. But
I - "
Raoul shook his head sadly, and leaned upon the shoulder of the count,
without either of them finding another word in their hearts, which were
ready to overflow.
All at once a noise of horses and voices, from the extremity of the road
to Blois, attracted their attention that way. Flambeaux-bearers shook
their torches merrily among the trees of their route, and turned round,
from time to time, to avoid distancing the horsemen who followed them.
These flames, this noise, this dust of a dozen richly caparisoned horses,
formed a strange contrast in the middle of the night with the melancholy
and almost funereal disappearance of the two shadows of Aramis and
Porthos. Athos went towards the house; but he had hardly reached the
parterre, when the entrance gate appeared in a blaze; all the flambeaux
stopped and appeared to enflame the road. A cry was heard of "M. le Duc
de Beaufort" - and Athos sprang towards the door of his house. But the
duke had already alighted from his horse, and was looking around him.
"I am here, monseigneur," said Athos.
"Ah! good evening, dear count," said the prince, with that frank
cordiality which won him so many hearts. "Is it too late for a friend?"
"Ah! my dear prince, come in!" said the count.
And, M. de Beaufort leaning on the arm of Athos, they entered the house,
followed by Raoul, who walked respectfully and modestly among the
officers of the prince, with several of whom he was acquainted.
Monsieur de Beaufort.
The prince turned round at the moment when Raoul, in order to leave him
alone with Athos, was shutting the door, and preparing to go with the
other officers into an adjoining apartment.
"Is that the young man I have heard M. le Prince speak so highly of?"
asked M. de Beaufort.
"It is, monseigneur."
"He is quite the soldier; let him stay, count, we cannot spare him."
"Remain, Raoul, since monseigneur permits it," said Athos.
"_Ma foi!_ he is tall and handsome!" continued the duke. "Will you give
him to me, monseigneur, if I ask him of you?"
"How am I to understand you, monseigneur?" said Athos.
"Why, I call upon you to bid you farewell."
"Yes, in good truth. Have you no idea of what I am about to become?"
"Why, I suppose, what you have always been, monseigneur, - a valiant
prince, and an excellent gentleman."
"I am going to become an African prince, - a Bedouin gentleman. The king
is sending me to make conquests among the Arabs."
"What is this you tell me, monseigneur?"
"Strange, is it not? I, the Parisian _par essence_, I who have reigned
in the faubourgs, and have been called King of the Halles, - I am going
to pass from the Place Maubert to the minarets of Gigelli; from a
Frondeur I am becoming an adventurer!"
"Oh, monseigneur, if you did not yourself tell me that - "
"It would not be credible, would it? Believe me, nevertheless, and we
have but to bid each other farewell. This is what comes of getting into
"Yes. You smile. Ah, my dear count, do you know why I have accepted
this enterprise, can you guess?"
"Because your highness loves glory above - everything."
"Oh! no; there is no glory in firing muskets at savages. I see no glory
in that, for my part, and it is more probable that I shall there meet
with something else. But I have wished, and still wish earnestly, my
dear count, that my life should have that last _facet_, after all the
whimsical exhibitions I have seen myself make during fifty years. For,
in short, you must admit that it is sufficiently strange to be born the
grandson of a king, to have made war against kings, to have been reckoned
among the powers of the age, to have maintained my rank, to feel Henry
IV. within me, to be great admiral of France - and then to go and get
killed at Gigelli, among all those Turks, Saracens, and Moors."
"Monseigneur, you harp with strange persistence on that theme," said
Athos, in an agitated voice. "How can you suppose that so brilliant a
destiny will be extinguished in that remote and miserable scene?"
"And can you believe, upright and simple as you are, that if I go into
Africa for this ridiculous motive, I will not endeavor to come out of it
without ridicule? Shall I not give the world cause to speak of me? And
to be spoken of, nowadays, when there are Monsieur le Prince, M. de
Turenne, and many others, my contemporaries, I, admiral of France,
grandson of Henry IV., king of Paris, have I anything left but to get
myself killed? _Cordieu!_ I will be talked of, I tell you; I shall be
killed whether or not; if no there, somewhere else."
"Why, monseigneur, this is mere exaggeration; and hitherto you have shown
nothing exaggerated save in bravery."
"_Peste!_ my dear friend, there is bravery in facing scurvy, dysentery,
locusts, poisoned arrows, as my ancestor St. Louis did. Do you know
those fellows still use poisoned arrows? And then, you know me of old, I
fancy, and you know that when I once make up my mind to a thing, I
perform it in grim earnest."
"Yes, you made up your mind to escape from Vincennes."
"Ay, but you aided me in that, my master; and, _a propos_, I turn this
way and that, without seeing my old friend, M. Vaugrimaud. How is he?"
"M. Vaugrimaud is still your highness's most respectful servant," said
"I have a hundred pistoles here for him, which I bring as a legacy. My
will is made, count."
"Ah! monseigneur! monseigneur!"
"And you may understand that if Grimaud's name were to appear in my will
- " The duke began to laugh; then addressing Raoul, who, from the
commencement of this conversation, had sunk into a profound reverie,
"Young man," said he, "I know there is to be found here a certain De
Vouvray wine, and I believe - " Raoul left the room precipitately to
order the wine. In the meantime M. de Beaufort took the hand of Athos.
"What do you mean to do with him?" asked he.
"Nothing at present, monseigneur."
"Ah! yes, I know; since the passion of the king for La Valliere."
"That is all true, then, is it? I think I know her, that little La
Valliere. She is not particularly handsome, if I remember right?"
"No, monseigneur," said Athos.
"Do you know whom she reminds me of?"
"Does she remind your highness of any one?"
"She reminds me of a very agreeable girl, whose mother lived in the
"Ah! ah!" said Athos, smiling.
"Oh! the good old times," added M. de Beaufort. "Yes, La Valliere reminds me of
"Who had a son, had she not?" (3)
"I believe she had," replied the duke, with careless _naivete_ and a
complaisant forgetfulness, of which no words could translate the tone
and the vocal expression. "Now, here is poor Raoul, who is your son, I
"Yes, he is my son, monseigneur."
"And the poor lad has been cut out by the king, and he frets."
"Still better, monseigneur, he abstains."
"You are going to let the boy rust in idleness; it is a mistake. Come,
give him to me."
"My wish is to keep him at home, monseigneur. I have no longer anything
in the world but him, and as long as he likes to remain - "
"Well, well," replied the duke. "I could, nevertheless, have soon put
matters to rights again. I assure you, I think he has in him the stuff
of which marechals of France are made; I have seen more than one produced
from less likely rough material."
"That is very possible, monseigneur; but it is the king who makes
marechals of France, and Raoul will never accept anything of the king."
Raoul interrupted this conversation by his return. He preceded Grimaud,
whose still steady hands carried the plateau with one glass and a bottle
of the duke's favorite wine. On seeing his old _protege_, the duke
uttered an exclamation of pleasure.
"Grimaud! Good evening, Grimaud!" said he; "how goes it?"
The servant bowed profoundly, as much gratified as his noble interlocutor.
"Two old friends!" said the duke, shaking honest Grimaud's shoulder after
a vigorous fashion; which was followed by another still more profound and
delighted bow from Grimaud.
"But what is this, count, only one glass?"
"I should not think of drinking with your highness, unless your highness
permitted me," replied Athos, with noble humility.
"_Cordieu!_ you were right to bring only one glass, we will both drink
out of it, like two brothers in arms. Begin, count."
"Do me the honor," said Athos, gently putting back the glass.
"You are a charming friend," replied the Duc de Beaufort, who drank, and
passed the goblet to his companion. "But that is not all," continued he,
"I am still thirsty, and I wish to do honor to this handsome young man
who stands here. I carry good luck with me, vicomte," said he to Raoul;
"wish for something while drinking out of my glass, and may the black
plague grab me if what you wish does not come to pass!" He held the
goblet to Raoul, who hastily moistened his lips, and replied with the
"I have wished for something, monseigneur." His eyes sparkled with a
gloomy fire, and the blood mounted to his cheeks; he terrified Athos, if
only with his smile.
"And what have you wished for?" replied the duke, sinking back into his
fauteuil, whilst with one hand he returned the bottle to Grimaud, and
with the other gave him a purse.
"Will you promise me, monseigneur, to grant me what I wish for?"
"_Pardieu!_ That is agreed upon."
"I wished, monsieur le duc, to go with you to Gigelli."
Athos became pale, and was unable to conceal his agitation. The duke
looked at his friend, as if desirous to assist him to parry this
"That is difficult, my dear vicomte, very difficult," added he, in a
lower tone of voice.
"Pardon me, monseigneur, I have been indiscreet," replied Raoul, in a
firm voice; "but as you yourself invited me to wish - "
"To wish to leave me?" said Athos.
"Oh! monsieur - can you imagine - "
"Well, _mordieu!_" cried the duke, "the young vicomte is right! What can
he do here? He will go moldy with grief."
Raoul blushed, and the excitable prince continued: "War is a distraction:
we gain everything by it; we can only lose one thing by it - life - then
so much the worse!"
"That is to say, memory," said Raoul, eagerly; "and that is to say, so
much the better!"
He repented of having spoken so warmly when he saw Athos rise and open
the window; which was, doubtless, to conceal his emotion. Raoul sprang
towards the comte, but the latter had already overcome his emotion, and
turned to the lights with a serene and impassible countenance. "Well,
come," said the duke, "let us see! Shall he go, or shall he not? If he
goes, comte, he shall be my aide-de-camp, my son."
"Monseigneur!" cried Raoul, bending his knee.
"Monseigneur!" cried Athos, taking the hand of the duke; "Raoul shall do
just as he likes."
"Oh! no, monsieur, just as you like," interrupted the young man.
"_Par la corbleu!_" said the prince in his turn, "it is neither the comte
nor the vicomte that shall have his way, it is I. I will take him away.
The marine offers a superb fortune, my friend."
Raoul smiled again so sadly, that this time Athos felt his heart
penetrated by it, and replied to him by a severe look. Raoul
comprehended it all; he recovered his calmness, and was so guarded, that
not another word escaped him. The duke at length rose, on observing the
advanced hour, and said, with animation, "I am in great haste, but if I
am told I have lost time in talking with a friend, I will reply I have
gained - on the balance - a most excellent recruit."
"Pardon me, monsieur le duc," interrupted Raoul, "do not tell the king
so, for it is not the king I wish to serve."
"Eh! my friend, whom, then, will you serve? The times are past when you
might have said, 'I belong to M. de Beaufort.' No, nowadays, we all
belong to the king, great or small. Therefore, if you serve on board my
vessels, there can be nothing equivocal about it, my dear vicomte; it
will be the king you will serve."
Athos waited with a kind of impatient joy for the reply about to be made
to this embarrassing question by Raoul, the intractable enemy of the
king, his rival. The father hoped that the obstacle would overcome the
desire. He was thankful to M. de Beaufort, whose lightness or generous
reflection had thrown an impediment in the way of the departure of a son,
now his only joy. But Raoul, still firm and tranquil, replied: "Monsieur
le duc, the objection you make I have already considered in my mind. I
will serve on board your vessels, because you do me the honor to take me
with you; but I shall there serve a more powerful master than the king: I
shall serve God!"
"God! how so?" said the duke and Athos together.
"My intention is to make profession, and become a knight of Malta," added
Bragelonne, letting fall, one by one, words more icy than the drops which
fall from the bare trees after the tempests of winter. (4)
Under this blow Athos staggered and the prince himself was moved.
Grimaud uttered a heavy groan, and let fall the bottle, which was broken
without anybody paying attention. M. de Beaufort looked the young man in
the face, and read plainly, though his eyes were cast down, the fire of
resolution before which everything must give way. As to Athos, he was
too well acquainted with that tender, but inflexible soul; he could not
hope to make it deviate from the fatal road it had just chosen. He could
only press the hand the duke held out to him. "Comte, I shall set off in
two days for Toulon," said M. de Beaufort. "Will you meet me at Paris,
in order that I may know your determination?"
"I will have the honor of thanking you there, _mon prince_, for all your
kindness," replied the comte.
"And be sure to bring the vicomte with you, whether he follows me or does
not follow me," added the duke; "he has my word, and I only ask yours."
Having thrown a little balm upon the wound of the paternal heart, he
pulled the ear of Grimaud, whose eyes sparkled more than usual, and
regained his escort in the parterre. The horses, rested and refreshed,
set off with spirit through the lovely night, and soon placed a
considerable distance between their master and the chateau.
Athos and Bragelonne were again face to face. Eleven o'clock was
striking. The father and son preserved a profound silence towards each
other, where an intelligent observer would have expected cries and
tears. But these two men were of such a nature that all emotion
following their final resolutions plunged itself so deep into their
hearts that it was lost forever. They passed, then, silently and almost
breathlessly, the hour that preceded midnight. The clock, by striking,
alone pointed out to them how many minutes had lasted the painful journey
made by their souls in the immensity of their remembrances of the past
and fear of the future. Athos rose first, saying, "it is late, then....
Raoul rose, and in his turn embraced his father. The latter held him
clasped to his breast, and said, in a tremulous voice, "In two days, you
will have left me, my son - left me forever, Raoul!"
"Monsieur," replied the young man, "I had formed a determination, that of
piercing my heart with my sword; but you would have thought that
cowardly. I have renounced that determination, and _therefore_ we must
"You leave me desolate by going, Raoul."
"Listen to me again, monsieur, I implore you. If I do not go, I shall
die here of grief and love. I know how long a time I have to live thus.
Send me away quickly, monsieur, or you will see me basely die before your
eyes - in your house - this is stronger than my will - stronger than my
strength - you may plainly see that within one month I have lived thirty
years, and that I approach the end of my life."
"Then," said Athos, coldly, "you go with the intention of getting killed
in Africa? Oh, tell me! do not lie!"
Raoul grew deadly pale, and remained silent for two seconds, which were
to his father two hours of agony. Then, all at once: "Monsieur," said
he, "I have promised to devote myself to God. In exchange for the
sacrifice I make of my youth and liberty, I will only ask of Him one
thing, and that is, to preserve me for you, because you are the only tie
which attaches me to this world. God alone can give me the strength not
to forget that I owe you everything, and that nothing ought to stand in
my esteem before you."
Athos embraced his son tenderly, and said:
"You have just replied to me on the word of honor of an honest man; in
two days we shall be with M. de Beaufort at Paris, and you will then do
what will be proper for you to do. You are free, Raoul; adieu."
And he slowly gained his bedroom. Raoul went down into the garden, and
passed the night in the alley of limes.
Preparations for Departure.
Athos lost no more time in combating this immutable resolution. He gave
all his attention to preparing, during the two days the duke had granted
him, the proper appointments for Raoul. This labor chiefly concerned
Grimaud, who immediately applied himself to it with the good-will and
intelligence we know he possessed. Athos gave this worthy servant orders
to take the route to Paris when the equipments should be ready; and, not
to expose himself to the danger of keeping the duke waiting, or delaying
Raoul, so that the duke should perceive his absence, he himself, the day
after the visit of M. de Beaufort, set off for Paris with his son.
For the poor young man it was an emotion easily to be understood, thus to
return to Paris amongst all the people who had known and loved him.
Every face recalled a pang to him who had suffered so much; to him who
had loved so much, some circumstance of his unhappy love. Raoul, on
approaching Paris, felt as if he were dying. Once in Paris, he really
existed no longer. When he reached Guiche's residence, he was informed
that Guiche was with Monsieur. Raoul took the road to the Luxembourg,
and when arrived, without suspecting that he was going to the place where
La Valliere had lived, he heard so much music and respired so many
perfumes, he heard so much joyous laughter, and saw so many dancing
shadows, that if it had not been for a charitable woman, who perceived
him so dejected and pale beneath a doorway, he would have remained there
a few minutes, and then would have gone away, never to return. But, as
we have said, in the first ante-chamber he had stopped, solely for the
sake of not mixing himself with all those happy beings he felt were
moving around him in the adjacent salons. And as one of Monsieur's
servants, recognizing him, had asked him if he wished to see Monsieur or
Madame, Raoul had scarcely answered him, but had sunk down upon a bench
near the velvet doorway, looking at a clock, which had stopped for nearly
an hour. The servant had passed on, and another, better acquainted with
him, had come up, and interrogated Raoul whether he should inform M. de
Guiche of his being there. This name did not even arouse the
recollections of Raoul. The persistent servant went on to relate that De
Guiche had just invented a new game of lottery, and was teaching it to
the ladies. Raoul, opening his large eyes, like the absent man in
Theophrastus, made no answer, but his sadness increased two shades. With
his head hanging down, his limbs relaxed, his mouth half open for the
escape of his sighs, Raoul remained, thus forgotten, in the ante-chamber,
when all at once a lady's robe passed, rubbing against the doors of a
side salon, which opened on the gallery. A lady, young, pretty, and gay,
scolding an officer of the household, entered by that way, and expressed
herself with much vivacity. The officer replied in calm but firm
sentences; it was rather a little love pet than a quarrel of courtiers,
and was terminated by a kiss on the fingers of the lady. Suddenly, on
perceiving Raoul, the lady became silent, and pushing away the officer:
"Make your escape, Malicorne," said she; "I did not think there was any
one here. I shall curse you, if they have either heard or seen us!"
Malicorne hastened away. The young lady advanced behind Raoul, and
stretching her joyous face over him as he lay:
"Monsieur is a gallant man," said she, "and no doubt - "
She here interrupted herself by uttering a cry. "Raoul!" said she,
"Mademoiselle de Montalais!" said Raoul, paler than death.
He rose unsteadily, and tried to make his way across the slippery mosaic
of the floor; but she had comprehended that savage and cruel grief; she
felt that in the flight of Raoul there was an accusation of herself. A
woman, ever vigilant, she did not think she ought to let the opportunity
slip of making good her justification; but Raoul, though stopped by her
in the middle of the gallery, did not seem disposed to surrender without
a combat. He took it up in a tone so cold and embarrassed, that if they
had been thus surprised, the whole court would have no doubt about the
proceedings of Mademoiselle de Montalais.
"Ah! monsieur," said she with disdain, "what you are doing is very
unworthy of a gentleman. My heart inclines me to speak to you; you
compromise me by a reception almost uncivil; you are wrong, monsieur; and
you confound your friends with enemies. Farewell!"
Raoul had sworn never to speak of Louise, never even to look at those who
might have seen Louise; he was going into another world, that he might
never meet with anything Louise had seen, or even touched. But after the
first shock of his pride, after having had a glimpse of Montalais, the
companion of Louise - Montalais, who reminded him of the turret of Blois
and the joys of youth - all his reason faded away.
"Pardon me, mademoiselle; it enters not, it cannot enter into my thoughts
to be uncivil."
"Do you wish to speak to me?" said she, with the smile of former days.
"Well! come somewhere else; for we may be surprised."
"Oh!' said he.
She looked at the clock, doubtingly, then, having reflected:
"In my apartment," said she, "we shall have an hour to ourselves." And
taking her course, lighter than a fairy, she ran up to her chamber,
followed by Raoul. Shutting the door, and placing in the hands of her
_cameriste_ the mantle she had held upon her arm:
"You were seeking M. de Guiche, were you not?" said she to Raoul.
"I will go and ask him to come up here, presently, after I have spoken to
"Do so, mademoiselle."
"Are you angry with me?"
Raoul looked at her for a moment, then, casting down his eyes, "Yes,"
"You think I was concerned in the plot which brought about the rupture,
do you not?"
"Rupture!" said he, with bitterness. "Oh! mademoiselle, there can be no
rupture where there has been no love."
"You are in error," replied Montalais; "Louise did love you."
"Not with love, I know; but she liked you, and you ought to have married
her before you set out for London."
Raoul broke into a sinister laugh, which made Montalais shudder.
"You tell me that very much at your ease, mademoiselle. Do people marry
whom they like? You forget that the king then kept for himself as his
mistress her of whom we are speaking."
"Listen," said the young woman, pressing the hands of Raoul in her own,
"you were wrong in every way; a man of your age ought never to leave a
woman of hers alone."
"There is no longer any faith in the world, then," said Raoul.
"No, vicomte," said Montalais, quietly. "Nevertheless, let me tell you
that, if, instead of loving Louise coldly and philosophically, you had
endeavored to awaken her to love - "
"Enough, I pray you, mademoiselle," said Raoul. "I feel as though you
are all, of both sexes, of a different age from me. You can laugh, and
you can banter agreeably. I, mademoiselle, I loved Mademoiselle de - "
Raoul could not pronounce her name, - "I loved her well! I put my faith
in her - now I am quits by loving her no longer."
"Oh, vicomte!" said Montalais, pointing to his reflection in a looking-
"I know what you mean, mademoiselle; I am much altered, am I not? Well!
Do you know why? Because my face is the mirror of my heart, the outer
surface changed to match the mind within."
"You are consoled, then?" said Montalais, sharply.
"No, I shall never be consoled."
"I don't understand you, M. de Bragelonne."
"I care but little for that. I do not quite understand myself."
"You have not even tried to speak to Louise?"
"Who! I?" exclaimed the young man, with eyes flashing fire; "I! - Why do
you not advise me to marry her? Perhaps the king would consent now."
And he rose from his chair full of anger.
"I see," said Montalais, "that you are not cured, and that Louise has one
enemy the more."
"One enemy the more!"
"Yes; favorites are but little beloved at the court of France."
"Oh! while she has her lover to protect her, is not that enough? She has
chosen him of such a quality that her enemies cannot prevail against
her." But, stopping all at once, "And then she has you for a friend,
mademoiselle," added he, with a shade of irony which did not glide off
"Who! I? - Oh, no! I am no longer one of those whom Mademoiselle de la
Valliere condescends to look upon; but - "
This _but_, so big with menace and with storm; this _but_, which made the
heart of Raoul beat, such griefs did it presage for her whom lately he
loved so dearly; this terrible _but_, so significant in a woman like
Montalais, was interrupted by a moderately loud noise heard by the
speakers proceeding from the alcove behind the wainscoting. Montalais
turned to listen, and Raoul was already rising, when a lady entered the
room quietly by the secret door, which she closed after her.
"Madame!" exclaimed Raoul, on recognizing the sister-in-law of the king.
"Stupid wretch!" murmured Montalais, throwing herself, but too late,
before the princess, "I have been mistaken in an hour!" She had,
however, time to warn the princess, who was walking towards Raoul.
"M. de Bragelonne, Madame," and at these words the princess drew back,
uttering a cry in her turn.
"Your royal highness," said Montalais, with volubility, "is kind enough
to think of this lottery, and - "
The princess began to lose countenance. Raoul hastened his departure,
without divining all, but he felt that he was in the way. Madame was
preparing a word of transition to recover herself, when a closet opened
in front of the alcove, and M. de Guiche issued, all radiant, also from
that closet. The palest of the four, we must admit, was still Raoul.
The princess, however, was near fainting, and was obliged to lean upon
the foot of the bed for support. No one ventured to support her. This
scene occupied several minutes of terrible suspense. But Raoul broke
it. He went up to the count, whose inexpressible emotion made his knees
tremble, and taking his hand, "Dear count," said he, "tell Madame I am
too unhappy not to merit pardon; tell her also that I have loved in the
course of my life, and that the horror of the treachery that has been
practiced on me renders me inexorable towards all other treachery that
may be committed around me. This is why, mademoiselle," said he,
smiling to Montalais, "I never would divulge the secret of the visits of
my friend to your apartment. Obtain from Madame - from Madame, who is so
clement and so generous, - obtain her pardon for you whom she has just
surprised also. You are both free, love each other, be happy!"
The princess felt for a moment a despair that cannot be described; it was
repugnant to her, notwithstanding the exquisite delicacy which Raoul had
exhibited, to feel herself at the mercy of one who had discovered such an
indiscretion. It was equally repugnant to her to accept the evasion
offered by this delicate deception. Agitated, nervous, she struggled
against the double stings of these two troubles. Raoul comprehended her
position, and came once more to her aid. Bending his knee before her:
"Madame!" said he, in a low voice, "in two days I shall be far from
Paris; in a fortnight I shall be far from France, where I shall never be
"Are you going away, then?" said she, with great delight.
"With M. de Beaufort."
"Into Africa!" cried De Guiche, in his turn. "You, Raoul - oh! my friend
- into Africa, where everybody dies!"
And forgetting everything, forgetting that that forgetfulness itself
compromised the princess more eloquently than his presence, "Ingrate!"
said he, "and you have not even consulted me!" And he embraced him;
during which time Montalais had led away Madame, and disappeared herself.
Raoul passed his hand over his brow, and said, with a smile, "I have been
dreaming!" Then warmly to Guiche, who by degrees absorbed him, "My
friend," said he, "I conceal nothing from you, who are the elected of my
heart. I am going to seek death in yonder country; your secret will not
remain in my breast more than a year."
"Oh, Raoul! a man!"
"Do you know what is my thought, count? This is it - I shall live more
vividly, being buried beneath the earth, than I have lived for this month
past. We are Christians, my friend, and if such sufferings were to
continue, I would not be answerable for the safety of my soul."
De Guiche was anxious to raise objections.
"Not one word more on my account," said Raoul; "but advice to you, dear
friend; what I am going to say to you is of much greater importance."
"What is that?"
"Without doubt you risk much more than I do, because you love."
"It is a joy so sweet to me to be able to speak to you thus! Well, then,
De Guiche, beware of Montalais."
"What! of that kind friend?"
"She was the friend of - her you know of. She ruined her by pride."
"You are mistaken."
"And now, when she has ruined her, she would ravish from her the only
thing that renders that woman excusable in my eyes."
"What is that?"
"What do you mean by that?"
"I mean that there is a plot formed against her who is the mistress of
the king - a plot formed in the very house of Madame."
"Can you think so?"
"I am certain of it."
"Take her as the least dangerous of the enemies I dread for - the other!"
"Explain yourself clearly, my friend; and if I can understand you - "
"In two words. Madame has been long jealous of the king."
"I know she has - "
"Oh! fear nothing - you are beloved - you are beloved, count; do you feel
the value of these three words? They signify that you can raise your
head, that you can sleep tranquilly, that you can thank God every minute
of you life. You are beloved; that signifies that you may hear
everything, even the counsel of a friend who wishes to preserve your
happiness. You are beloved, De Guiche, you are beloved! You do not
endure those atrocious nights, those nights without end, which, with arid
eye and fainting heart, others pass through who are destined to die. You
will live long, if you act like the miser who, bit by bit, crumb by
crumb, collects and heaps up diamonds and gold. You are beloved! - allow
me to tell you what you must do that you may be beloved forever."
De Guiche contemplated for some time this unfortunate young man, half mad
with despair, till there passed through his heart something like remorse
at his own happiness. Raoul suppressed his feverish excitement, to
assume the voice and countenance of an impassible man.
"They will make her, whose name I should wish still to be able to
pronounce - they will make her suffer. Swear to me that you will not
second them in anything - but that you will defend her when possible, as
I would have done myself."
"I swear I will," replied De Guiche.
"And," continued Raoul, "some day, when you shall have rendered her a
great service - some day when she shall thank you, promise me to say
these words to her - 'I have done you this kindness, madame, at the warm
request of M. de Bragelonne, whom you so deeply injured.'"
"I swear I will," murmured De Guiche.
"That is all. Adieu! I set out to-morrow, or the day after, for
Toulon. If you have a few hours to spare, give them to me."
"All! all!" cried the young man.
"And what are you going to do now?"
"I am going to meet M. le comte at Planchet's residence, where we hope to
find M. d'Artagnan."
"Yes, I wish to embrace him before my departure. He is a brave man, who
loves me dearly. Farewell, my friend; you are expected, no doubt; you
will find me, when you wish, at the lodgings of the comte. Farewell!"
The two young men embraced. Those who chanced to see them both thus,
would not have hesitated to say, pointing to Raoul, "That is the happy
Athos, during the visit made to the Luxembourg by Raoul, had gone to
Planchet's residence to inquire after D'Artagnan. The comte, on arriving
at the Rue des Lombards, found the shop of the grocer in great confusion;
but it was not the encumberment of a lucky sale, or that of an arrival of
goods. Planchet was not enthroned, as usual, on sacks and barrels. No.
A young man with a pen behind his ear, and another with an account-book
in his hand, were setting down a number of figures, whilst a third
counted and weighed. An inventory was being taken. Athos, who had no
knowledge of commercial matters, felt himself a little embarrassed by
material obstacles and the majesty of those who were thus employed. He
saw several customers sent away, and asked himself whether he, who came
to buy nothing, would not be more properly deemed importunate. He
therefore asked very politely if he could see M. Planchet. The reply,
quite carelessly given, was that M. Planchet was packing his trunks.
These words surprised Athos. "What! his trunks?" said he; "is M.
Planchet going away?"
"Yes, monsieur, directly."
"Then, if you please, inform him that M. le Comte de la Fere desires to
speak to him for a moment."
At the mention of the comte's name, one of the young men, no doubt
accustomed to hear it pronounced with respect, immediately went to inform
Planchet. It was at this moment that Raoul, after his painful scene with
Montalais and De Guiche, arrived at the grocer's house. Planchet left
his job directly he received the comte's message.
"Ah! monsieur le comte!" exclaimed he, "how glad I am to see you! What
good star brings you here?"
"My dear Planchet," said Athos, pressing the hand of his son, whose sad
look he silently observed, - "we are come to learn of you - But in what
confusion do I find you! You are as white as a miller; where have you
"Ah, _diable!_ take care, monsieur; don't come near me till I have well
"What for? Flour or dust only whiten."
"No, no; what you see on my arms is arsenic."
"Yes; I am taking my precautions against rats."
"Ay, I suppose in an establishment like this, rats play a conspicuous
"It is not with this establishment I concern myself, monsieur le comte.
The rats have robbed me of more here than they will ever rob me of again."
"What do you mean?"
"Why, you may have observed, monsieur, my inventory is being taken."
"Are you leaving trade, then?"
"Eh! _mon Dieu!_ yes. I have disposed of my business to one of my young
"Bah! you are rich, then, I suppose?"
"Monsieur, I have taken a dislike to the city; I don't know whether it is
because I am growing old, and as M. d'Artagnan one day said, when we grow
old we more often think of the adventures of our youth; but for some time
past I have felt myself attracted towards the country and gardening. I
was a countryman formerly." And Planchet marked this confession with a
rather pretentious laugh for a man making profession of humility.
Athos made a gesture of approval, and then added: "You are going to buy
an estate, then?"
"I have bought one, monsieur."
"Ah! that is still better."
"A little house at Fontainebleau, with something like twenty acres of
land round it."
"Very well, Planchet! Accept my compliments on your acquisition."
"But, monsieur, we are not comfortable here; the cursed dust makes you
cough. _Corbleu!_ I do not wish to poison the most worthy gentleman in
Athos did not smile at this little pleasantry which Planchet had aimed at
him, in order to try his strength in mundane facetiousness.
"Yes," said Athos, "let us have a little talk by ourselves - in your own
room, for example. You have a room, have you not?"
"Certainly, monsieur le comte."
"Upstairs, perhaps?" And Athos, seeing Planchet a little embarrassed,
wished to relieve him by going first.
"It is - but - " said Planchet, hesitating.
Athos was mistaken in the cause of this hesitation, and, attributing it
to a fear the grocer might have of offering humble hospitality, "Never
mind, never mind," said he, still going up, "the dwelling of a tradesman
in this quarter is not expected to be a palace. Come on."
Raoul nimbly preceded him, and entered first. Two cries were heard
simultaneously - we may say three. One of these cries dominated the
others; it emanated from a woman. Another proceeded from the mouth of
Raoul; it was an exclamation of surprise. He had no sooner uttered it
than he shut the door sharply. The third was from fright; it came from
"I ask your pardon!" added he; "madame is dressing."
Raoul had, no doubt, seen that what Planchet said was true, for he turned
round to go downstairs again.
"Madame - " said Athos. "Oh! pardon me, Planchet, I did not know that
you had upstairs - "
"It is Truchen," added Planchet, blushing a little.
"It is whoever you please, my good Planchet; but pardon my rudeness."
"No, no; go up now, gentlemen."
"We will do no such thing," said Athos.
"Oh! madame, having notice, has had time - "
"No, Planchet; farewell!"
"Eh, gentlemen! you would not disoblige me by thus standing on the
staircase, or by going away without having sat down."
"If we had known you had a lady upstairs," replied Athos, with his
customary coolness, "we would have asked permission to pay our respects
Planchet was so disconcerted by this little extravagance, that he forced
the passage, and himself opened the door to admit the comte and his son.
Truchen was quite dressed: in the costume of the shopkeeper's wife, rich
yet coquettish; German eyes attacking French eyes. She left the
apartment after two courtesies, and went down into the shop - but not
without having listened at the door, to know what Planchet's gentlemen
visitors would say of her. Athos suspected that, and therefore turned
the conversation accordingly. Planchet, on his part, was burning to give
explanations, which Athos avoided. But, as certain tenacities are
stronger than others, Athos was forced to hear Planchet recite his idyls
of felicity, translated into a language more chaste than that of Longus.
So Planchet related how Truchen had charmed the years of his advancing
age, and brought good luck to his business, as Ruth did to Boaz.
"You want nothing now, then, but heirs to your property."
"If I had one he would have three hundred thousand livres," said Planchet.
"Humph! you must have one, then," said Athos, phlegmatically, "if only to
prevent your little fortune being lost."
This word _little fortune_ placed Planchet in his rank, like the voice of
the sergeant when Planchet was but a _piqueur_ in the regiment of
Piedmont, in which Rochefort had placed him. Athos perceived that the
grocer would marry Truchen, and, in spite of fate, establish a family.
This appeared the more evident to him when he learned that the young man
to whom Planchet was selling the business was her cousin. Having heard
all that was necessary of the happy prospects of the retiring grocer,
"What is M. d'Artagnan about?" said he; "he is not at the Louvre."
"Ah! monsieur le comte, Monsieur d'Artagnan has disappeared."
"Disappeared!" said Athos, in surprise.
"Oh! monsieur, we know what that means."
"But _I_ do not know."
"Whenever M. d'Artagnan disappears it is always for some mission or some
"Has he said anything to you about it?"
"You were acquainted with his departure for England formerly, were you
"On account of the speculation." said Planchet, heedlessly.
"I mean - " interrupted Planchet, quite confused.
"Well, well; neither your affairs nor those of your master are in
question; the interest we take in him alone has induced me to apply to
you. Since the captain of the musketeers is not here, and as we cannot
learn from you where we are likely to find M. d'Artagnan, we will take
our leave of you. _Au revoir_, Planchet, _au revoir_. Let us be gone,
"Monsieur le comte, I wish I were able to tell you - "
"Oh, not at all; I am not the man to reproach a servant with discretion."
This word "servant" struck rudely on the ears of the _demi-millionnaire_
Planchet, but natural respect and _bonhomie_ prevailed over pride.
"There is nothing indiscreet in telling you, monsieur le comte, M.
d'Artagnan came here the other day - "
"And remained several hours consulting a geographical chart."
"You are right, then, my friend; say no more about it."
"And the chart is there as a proof," added Planchet, who went to fetch
from the neighboring wall, where it was suspended by a twist, forming a
triangle with the bar of the window to which it was fastened, the plan
consulted by the captain on his last visit to Planchet. This plan, which
he brought to the comte, was a map of France, upon which the practiced
eye of that gentleman discovered an itinerary, marked out with small
pins; wherever a pin was missing, a hole denoted its having been there.
Athos, by following with his eye the pins and holes, saw that D'Artagnan
had taken the direction of the south, and gone as far as the
Mediterranean, towards Toulon. It was near Cannes that the marks and the
punctured places ceased. The Comte de la Fere puzzled his brains for
some time, to divine what the musketeer could be going to do at Cannes,
and what motive could have led him to examine the banks of the Var. The
reflections of Athos suggested nothing. His accustomed perspicacity was
at fault. Raoul's researches were not more successful than his father's.
"Never mind," said the young man to the comte, who silently, and with his
finger, had made him understand the route of D'Artagnan; "we must confess
that there is a Providence always occupied in connecting our destiny with
that of M. d'Artagnan. There he is on the coast of Cannes, and you,
monsieur, will, at least, conduct me as far as Toulon. Be assured that
we shall meet with him more easily upon our route than on this map."
Then, taking leave of Planchet, who was scolding his shopmen, even the
cousin of Truchen, his successor, the gentlemen set out to pay a visit to
M. de Beaufort. On leaving the grocer's shop, they saw a coach, the
future depository of the charms of Mademoiselle Truchen and Planchet's
bags of crowns.
"Every one journeys towards happiness by the route he chooses," said
Raoul, in a melancholy tone.
"Road to Fontainebleau!" cried Planchet to his coachman.
The Inventory of M. de Beaufort.
To have talked of D'Artagnan with Planchet, to have seen Planchet quit
Paris to bury himself in his country retreat, had been for Athos and his
son like a last farewell to the noise of the capital - to their life of
former days. What, in fact, did these men leave behind them - one of
whom had exhausted the past age in glory, and the other, the present age
in misfortune? Evidently neither of them had anything to ask of his
contemporaries. They had only to pay a visit to M. de Beaufort, and
arrange with him the particulars of departure. The duke was lodged
magnificently in Paris. He had one of those superb establishments
pertaining to great fortunes, the like of which certain old men
remembered to have seen in all their glory in the times of wasteful
liberality of Henry III.'s reign. Then, really, several great nobles
were richer than the king. They knew it, used it, and never deprived
themselves of the pleasure of humiliating his royal majesty when they had
an opportunity. It was this egotistical aristocracy Richelieu had
constrained to contribute, with its blood, its purse, and its duties, to
what was from his time styled the king's service. From Louis XI. - that
terrible mower-down of the great - to Richelieu, how many families had
raised their heads! How many, from Richelieu to Louis XIV., had bowed
their heads, never to raise them again! But M. de Beaufort was born a
prince, and of a blood which is not shed upon scaffolds, unless by the
decree of peoples, - a prince who had kept up a grand style of living.
How did he maintain his horses, his people, and his table? Nobody knew;
himself less than others. Only there were then privileges for the sons
of kings, to whom nobody refused to become a creditor, whether from
respect or the persuasion that they would some day be paid.
Athos and Raoul found the mansion of the duke in as much confusion as
that of Planchet. The duke, likewise, was making his inventory; that is
to say, he was distributing to his friends everything of value he had in
his house. Owing nearly two millions - an enormous amount in those days
- M. de Beaufort had calculated that he could not set out for Africa
without a good round sum, and, in order to find that sum, he was
distributing to his old creditors plate, arms, jewels, and furniture,
which was more magnificent in selling it, and brought him back double.
In fact, how could a man to whom ten thousand livres were owing, refuse
to carry away a present worth six thousand, enhanced in estimation from
having belonged to a descendant of Henry IV.? And how, after having
carried away that present, could he refuse ten thousand livres more to
this generous noble? This, then, was what had happened. The duke had no
longer a dwelling-house - that had become useless to an admiral whose
place of residence is his ship; he had no longer need of superfluous
arms, when he was placed amidst his cannons; no more jewels, which the
sea might rob him of; but he had three or four hundred thousand crowns
fresh in his coffers. And throughout the house there was a joyous
movement of people who believed they were plundering monseigneur. The
prince had, in a supreme degree, the art of making happy the creditors
most to be pitied. Every distressed man, every empty purse, found in him
patience and sympathy for his position. To some he said, "I wish I had
what _you_ have; I would give it you." And to others, "I have but this
silver ewer; it is worth at least five hundred livres, - take it." The
effect of which was - so truly is courtesy a current payment - that the
prince constantly found means to renew his creditors. This time he used
no ceremony; it might be called a general pillage. He gave up
everything. The Oriental fable of the poor Arab who carried away from
the pillage of palace a kettle at the bottom of which was concealed a bag
of gold, and whom everybody allowed to pass without jealousy, - this
fable had become a truth in the prince's mansion. Many contractors paid
themselves upon the offices of the duke. Thus, the provision department,
who plundered the clothes-presses and the harness-rooms, attached very
little value to things which tailors and saddlers set great store by.
Anxious to carry home to their wives presents given them by monseigneur,
many were seen bounding joyously along, under the weight of earthen jars
and bottles, gloriously stamped with the arms of the prince. M. de
Beaufort finished by giving away his horses and the hay from his lofts.
He made more than thirty happy with kitchen utensils; and thirty more
with the contents of his cellar. Still further; all these people went
away with the conviction that M. de Beaufort only acted in this manner to
prepare for a new fortune concealed beneath the Arabs' tents. They
repeated to each other, while pillaging his hotel, that he was sent to
Gigelli by the king to reconstruct his lost fortunes; that the treasures
of Africa would be equally divided between the admiral and the king of
France; that these treasures consisted in mines of diamonds, or other
fabulous stones; the gold and silver mines of Mount Atlas did not even
obtain the honor of being named. In addition to the mines to be worked –
which could not be begun till after the campaign - there would be the
booty made by the army. M. de Beaufort would lay his hands on all the
riches pirates had robbed Christendom of since the battle of Lepanto.
The number of millions from these sources defied calculation. Why, then,
should he, who was going in quest of such treasure, set any store by the
poor utensils of his past life? And reciprocally, why should they spare
the property of him who spared it so little himself?
Such was the position of affairs. Athos, with his piercing practiced
glance, saw what was going on at once. He found the admiral of France a
little exalted, for he was rising from a table of fifty covers, at which
the guests had drunk long and deeply to the prosperity of the expedition;
at the conclusion of which repast, the remains, with the dessert, had
been given to the servants, and the empty dishes and plates to the
curious. The prince was intoxicated with his ruin and his popularity at
one and the same time. He had drunk his old wine to the health of his
wine of the future. When he saw Athos and Raoul:
"There is my aide-de-camp being brought to me!" he cried. "Come hither,
comte; come hither, vicomte."
Athos tried to find a passage through the heaps of linen and plate.
"Ah! step over, step over!" said the duke, offering a full glass to
Athos. The latter drank it; Raoul scarcely moistened his lips.
"Here is your commission," said the prince to Raoul. "I had prepared it,
reckoning upon you. You will go before me as far as Antibes."
"Here is the order." And De Beaufort gave Raoul the order. "Do you know
anything of the sea?"
"Yes, monseigneur; I have traveled with M. le Prince."
"That is well. All these barges and lighters must be in attendance to
form an escort and carry my provisions. The army must be prepared to
embark in a fortnight at the very latest."
"That shall be done, monseigneur."
"The present order gives you the right to visit and search all the isles
along the coast; you will there make the enrolments and levies you may
want for me."
"Yes, monsieur le duc."
"And you are an active man, and will work freely, you will spend much
"I hope not, monseigneur."
"But I am sure you will. My intendant has prepared the orders of a
thousand livres, drawn upon the cities of the south; he will give you a
hundred of them. Now, dear vicomte, be gone."
Athos interrupted the prince. "Keep your money, monseigneur; war is to
be waged among the Arabs with gold as well as lead."
"I wish to try the contrary," replied the duke; "and then you are
acquainted with my ideas upon the expedition - plenty of noise, plenty of
fire, and, if so it must be, I shall disappear in the smoke." Having
spoken thus, M. de Beaufort began to laugh; but his mirth was not
reciprocated by Athos and Raoul. He perceived this at once. "Ah," said
he, with the courteous egotism of his rank and age, "you are such people
as a man should not see after dinner; you are cold, stiff, and dry when I
am all fire, suppleness, and wine. No, devil take me! I should always
see you fasting, vicomte, and you, comte, if you wear such a face as
that, you shall see me no more."
He said this, pressing the hand of Athos, who replied with a smile,
"Monseigneur, do not talk so grandly because you happen to have plenty of
money. I predict that within a month you will be dry, stiff, and cold,
in presence of your strong-box, and that then, having Raoul at your
elbow, fasting, you will be surprised to see him gay, animated, and
generous, because he will have some new crowns to offer you."
"God grant it may be so!" cried the delighted duke. "Comte, stay with
"No, I shall go with Raoul; the mission with which you charge him is a
troublesome and difficult one. Alone it would be too much for him to
execute. You do not observe, monseigneur, you have given him command of
the first order."
"And in your naval arrangements, too."
"That may be true. But one finds that such fine young fellows as your
son generally do all that is required of them."
"Monseigneur, I believe you will find nowhere so much zeal and
intelligence, so much real bravery, as in Raoul; but if he failed to
arrange your embarkation, you would only meet the fate that you deserve."
"Humph! you are scolding me, then."
"Monseigneur, to provision a fleet, to assemble a flotilla, to enroll
your maritime force, would take an admiral a year. Raoul is a cavalry
officer, and you allow him a fortnight!"
"I tell you he will do it."
"He may; but I will go and help him."
"To be sure you will; I reckoned upon you, and still further believe that
when we are once at Toulon you will not let him depart alone."
"Oh!" said Athos, shaking his head.
"Monseigneur, permit us to take our leave."
"Begone, then, and may my good luck attend you."
"Adieu! monseigneur; and may your own good luck attend you likewise."
"Here is an expedition admirably commenced!" said Athos to his son. "No
provisions - no store flotilla! What can be done, thus?"
"Humph!" murmured Raoul; "if all are going to do as I am, provisions will
not be wanted."
"Monsieur," replied Athos, sternly, "do not be unjust and senseless in
your egotism, or your grief, whichever you please to call it. If you set
out for this war solely with the intention of getting killed therein, you
stand in need of nobody, and it was scarcely worth while to recommend you
to M. de Beaufort. But when you have been introduced to the prime
commandant - when you have accepted the responsibility of a post in his
army, the question is no longer about _you_, but about all those poor
soldiers, who, as well as you, have hearts and bodies, who will weep for
their country and endure all the necessities of their condition.
Remember, Raoul, that officers are ministers as useful to the world as
priests, and that they ought to have more charity."
"Monsieur, I know it and have practiced it; I would have continued to do
so still, but - "
"You forget also that you are of a country that is proud of its military
glory; go and die if you like, but do not die without honor and without
advantage to France. Cheer up, Raoul! do not let my words grieve you; I
love you, and wish to see you perfect."
"I love your reproaches, monsieur," said the young man, mildly; "they
alone may cure me, because they prove to me that some one loves me still."
"And now, Raoul, let us be off; the weather is so fine, the heavens so
clear, those heavens which we always find above our heads, which you will
see more clear still at Gigelli, and which will speak to you of me there,
as they speak to me here of God."
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