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List Of Contents | Contents of Ten Years Later, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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Baisemeaux replied merely by a nod of the head, while Aramis, with a
respect, arising perhaps from the sight of such misfortune, saluted the
prisoner profoundly.  They left the room, Baisemeaux closing the door
behind them.

"Well," said Baisemeaux, as they descended the staircase, "what do you
think of it all?"

"I have discovered the secret, my dear governor," he said.

"Bah! what is the secret, then?"

"A murder was committed in that house."

"Nonsense."

"But attend; the valet and nurse died the same day."

"Well."

"And by poison.  What do you think?"

"That is very likely to be true."

"What! that that young man is an assassin?"

"Who said that?  What makes you think that poor young fellow could be an
assassin?"

"The very thing I was saying.  A crime was committed in his house," said
Aramis, "and that was quite sufficient; perhaps he saw the criminals, and
it was feared that he might say something."

"The deuce! if I only thought that - "

"Well?"

"I would redouble the surveillance."

"Oh, he does not seem to wish to escape."

"You do not know what prisoners are."

"Has he any books?"

"None; they are strictly prohibited, and under M. de Mazarin's own hand."

"Have you the writing still?"

"Yes, my lord; would you like to look at it as you return to take your
cloak?"

"I should, for I like to look at autographs."

"Well, then, this one is of the most unquestionable authenticity; there
is only one erasure."

"Ah, ah! an erasure; and in what respect?"

"With respect to a figure.  At first there was written: 'To be boarded at
fifty francs.'"

"As princes of the blood, in fact?"

"But the cardinal must have seen his mistake, you understand; for he
canceled the zero, and has added a one before the five.  But, by the by
- "

"What?"

"You do not speak of the resemblance."

"I do not speak of it, dear M. de Baisemeaux, for a very simple reason 
because it does not exist."

"The deuce it doesn't."

"Or, if it does exist, it is only in your own imagination; but, supposing
it were to exist elsewhere, I think it would be better for you not to
speak of about it."

"Really."

"The king, Louis XIV. - you understand - would be excessively angry with
you, if he were to learn that you contributed in any way to spread the
report that one of his subjects has the effrontery to resemble him."

"It is true, quite true," said Baisemeaux, thoroughly alarmed; "but I
have not spoken of the circumstance to any one but yourself, and you
understand, monseigneur, that I perfectly rely on your discretion."

"Oh, be easy."

"Do you still wish to see the note?"

"Certainly."

While engaged in this manner in conversation, they had returned to the
governor's apartments; Baisemeaux took from the cupboard a private
register, like the one he had already shown Aramis, but fastened by a
lock, the key which opened it being one of a small bunch which Baisemeaux
always carried with him.  Then placing the book upon the table, he opened
it at the letter "M," and showed Aramis the following note in the column
of observations: "No books at any time; all linen and clothes of the
finest and best quality to be procured; no exercise; always the same
jailer; no communications with any one.  Musical instruments; every
liberty and every indulgence which his welfare may require; to be boarded
at fifteen francs.  M. de Baisemeaux can claim more if the fifteen francs
be not sufficient."

"Ah," said Baisemeaux, "now I think of it, I shall claim it."

Aramis shut the book.  "Yes," he said, "it is indeed M. de Mazarin's
handwriting; I recognize it well.  Now, my dear governor," he continued,
as if this last communication had exhausted his interest, "let us now
turn over to our own little affairs."

"Well, what time for repayment do you wish me to take?  Fix it yourself."

"There need not be any particular period fixed; give me a simple
acknowledgement for one hundred and fifty thousand francs."

"When to be made payable?"

"When I require it; but, you understand, I shall only wish it when you
yourself do."

"Oh, I am quite easy on that score," said Baisemeaux, smiling; "but I
have already given you two receipts."

"Which I now destroy," said Aramis; and after having shown the two
receipts to Baisemeaux, he destroyed them.  Overcome by so great a mark
of confidence, Baisemeaux unhesitatingly wrote out an acknowledgement of
a debt of one hundred and fifty thousand francs, payable at the pleasure
of the prelate.  Aramis, who had, by glancing over the governor's
shoulder, followed the pen as he wrote, put the acknowledgement into his
pocket without seeming to have read it, which made Baisemeaux perfectly
easy.  "Now," said Aramis, "you will not be angry with me if I were to
carry off one of your prisoners?"

"What do you mean?"

"By obtaining his pardon, of course.  Have I not already told you that I
took a great interest in poor Seldon?"

"Yes, quite true, you did so."

"Well?"

"That is your affair; do as you think proper.  I see you have an open
hand, and an arm that can reach a great way."

"Adieu, adieu."  And Aramis left, carrying with him the governor's best
wishes.


Chapter XXVI:
The Two Friends.

At the very time M. de Baisemeaux was showing Aramis the prisoners in the
Bastile, a carriage drew up at Madame de Belliere's door, and, at that
still early hour, a young woman alighted, her head muffled in a silk
hood.  When the servants announced Madame Vanel to Madame de Belliere,
the latter was engaged, or rather was absorbed, in reading a letter,
which she hurriedly concealed.  She had hardly finished her morning
toilette, her maid being still in the next room.  At the name - at the
footsteps of Marguerite Vanel, Madame de Belliere ran to meet her.  She
fancied she could detect in her friend's eyes a brightness which was
neither that of health nor of pleasure.  Marguerite embraced her, pressed
her hands, and hardly allowed her time to speak.  "Dearest," she said,
"have you forgotten me?  Have you quite given yourself up to the
pleasures of the court?"

"I have not even seen the marriage _fetes_."

"What are you doing with yourself, then?"

"I am getting ready to leave for Belliere."

"For Belliere?"

"Yes."

"You are becoming rustic in your tastes, then; I delight to see you so
disposed.  But you are pale."

"No, I am perfectly well."

"So much the better; I was becoming uneasy about you.  You do not know
what I have been told."

"People say so many things."

"Yes, but this is very singular."

"How well you know how to excite curiosity, Marguerite."

"Well, I was afraid of vexing you."

"Never; you have yourself always admired me for my evenness of temper."

"Well, then, it is said that - no, I shall never be able to tell you."

"Do not let us talk about it, then," said Madame de Belliere, who
detected the ill-nature that was concealed by all these prefaces, yet
felt the most anxious curiosity on the subject.

"Well, then, my dear marquise, it is said, for some time past, you no
longer continue to regret Monsieur de Belliere as you used to."

"It is an ill-natured report, Marguerite.  I do regret, and shall always
regret, my husband; but it is now two years since he died.  I am only
twenty-eight years old, and my grief at his loss ought not always to
control every action and thought of my life.  You, Marguerite, who are
the model of a wife, would not believe me if I were to say so."

"Why not?  Your heart is so soft and yielding," she said, spitefully.

"Yours is so, too, Marguerite, and yet I did not perceive that you
allowed yourself to be overcome by grief when your heart was wounded."
These words were in direct allusion to Marguerite's rupture with the
superintendent, and were also a veiled but direct reproach made against
her friend's heart.

As if she only awaited this signal to discharge her shaft, Marguerite
exclaimed, "Well, Elise, it is said you are in love."  And she looked
fixedly at Madame de Belliere, who blushed against her will.

"Women can never escape slander," replied the marquise, after a moment's
pause.

"No one slanders you, Elise."

"What! - people say that I am in love, and yet they do not slander me!"

"In the first place, if it be true, it is no slander, but simply a
scandal-loving report.  In the next place - for you did not allow me to
finish what I was saying - the public does not assert that you have
abandoned yourself to this passion.  It represents you, on the contrary,
as a virtuous but loving woman, defending yourself with claws and teeth,
shutting yourself up in your own house as in a fortress; in other
respects, as impenetrable as that of Danae, notwithstanding Danae's tower
was made of brass."

"You are witty, Marguerite," said Madame de Belliere, angrily.

"You always flatter me, Elise.  In short, however, you are reported to be
incorruptible and unapproachable.  You cannot decide whether the world is
calumniating you or not; but what is it you are musing about while I am
speaking to you?"

"I?"

"Yes; you are blushing and do not answer me."

"I was trying," said the marquise, raising her beautiful eyes brightened
with an indication of growing temper, "I was trying to discover to what
you could possibly have alluded, you who are so learned in mythological
subjects, in comparing me to Danae."

"You were trying to guess that?" said Marguerite, laughing.

"Yes; do you not remember that at the convent, when we were solving our
problems in arithmetic - ah! what I have to tell you is learned also, but
it is my turn - do you not remember, that if one of the terms were given,
we were to find the other?  Therefore do _you_ guess now?"

"I cannot conjecture what you mean."

"And yet nothing is more simple.  You pretend that I am in love, do you
not?"

"So it is said."

"Very well; it is not said, I suppose, that I am in love with an
abstraction.  There must surely be a name mentioned in this report."

"Certainly, a name is mentioned."

"Very well; it is not surprising, then, that I should try to guess this

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