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List Of Contents | Contents of Ten Years Later, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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golden ring, the stone of which had until that moment been turned inside,
and which bore engraved thereon the distinguishing mark of the Society of
Jesus.

Grisart uttered  loud exclamation.  "The general!" he cried.

"Silence," said the Franciscan., "you can now understand that the whole
truth is all important."

"Monseigneur, monseigneur," murmured Grisart, "send for the confessor,
for in two hours, at the next seizure, you will be attacked by delirium,
and will pass away in its course."

"Very well," said the patient, for a moment contracting his eyebrows, "I
have still two hours to live then?"

"Yes; particularly if you take the potion I will send you presently."

"And that will give me two hours of life?"

"Two hours."

"I would take it, were it poison, for those two hours are necessary not
only for myself, but for the glory of the order."

"What a loss, what a catastrophe for us all!" murmured the physician.

"It is the loss of one man - nothing more," replied the Franciscan, "for
Heaven will enable the poor monk, who is about to leave you, to find a
worthy successor.  Adieu, Monsieur Grisart; already even, through the
goodness of Heaven, I have met with you.  A physician who had not been
one of our holy order, would have left me in ignorance of my condition;
and, confident that existence would be prolonged a few days further, I
should not have taken the necessary precautions.  You are a learned man,
Monsieur Grisart, and that confers an honor upon us all; it would have
been repugnant to my feelings to have found one of our order of little
standing in his profession.  Adieu, Monsieur Grisart; send me the cordial
immediately."

"Give me your blessing, at least, monseigneur."

"In my mind, I do; go, go; in my mind, I do so, I tell you - _animo_,
Maitre Grisart, _viribus impossibile_."  And he again fell back on the
armchair, in an almost senseless state.  M. Grisart hesitated, whether he
should give him immediate assistance, or should run to prepare the
cordial he had promised.  He decided in favor of the cordial, for he
darted out of the room and disappeared down the staircase. (6)


Chapter LIII:
The State Secret.

A few moments after the doctor's departure, the confessor arrived.  He
had hardly crossed the threshold of the door when the Franciscan fixed a
penetrating look upon him, and, shaking his head, murmured - "A weak
mind, I see; may Heaven forgive me if I die without the help of this
living piece of human infirmity."  The confessor, on his side, regarded
the dying man with astonishment, almost with terror.  He had never beheld
eyes so burningly bright at the very moment they were about to close, nor
looks so terrible at the moment they were about to be quenched in death.
The Franciscan made a rapid and imperious movement of his hand.  "Sit
down, there, my father," he said, "and listen to me."  The Jesuit
confessor, a good priest, a recently initiated member of the order, who
had merely seen the beginning of its mysteries, yielded to the
superiority assumed by the penitent.

"There are several persons staying in this hotel," continued the
Franciscan.

"But," inquired the Jesuit, "I thought I had been summoned to listen to a
confession.  Is your remark, then, a confession?"

"Why do you ask?"

"In order to know whether I am to keep your words secret."

"My remarks are part of my confession; I confide them to you in your
character of a confessor."

"Very well," said the priest, seating himself on the chair which the
Franciscan had, with great difficulty, just left, to lie down on the bed.

The Franciscan continued, - "I repeat, there are several persons staying
in this inn."

"So I have heard."

"They ought to be eight in number."

The Jesuit made a sign that he understood him.  "The first to whom I wish
to speak," said the dying man, "is a German from Vienna, whose name is
Baron de Wostpur.  Be kind enough to go to him, and tell him the person
he expected has arrived."  The confessor, astounded, looked at his
penitent; the confession seemed a singular one.

"Obey," said the Franciscan, in a tone of command impossible to resist.
The good Jesuit, completely subdued, rose and left the room.  As soon as
he had gone, the Franciscan again took up the papers which a crisis of
the fever had already, once before, obliged him to put aside.

"The Baron de Wostpur?  Good!" he said; "ambitious, a fool, and
straitened in means."

He folded up the papers, which he thrust under his pillow.  Rapid
footsteps were heard at the end of the corridor.  The confessor returned,
followed by the Baron de Wostpur, who walked along with his head raised,
as if he were discussing with himself the possibility of touching the
ceiling with the feather in his hat.  Therefore, at the appearance of the
Franciscan, at his melancholy look, and seeing the plainness of the room,
he stopped, and inquired, - "Who has summoned me?"

"I," said the Franciscan, who turned towards the confessor, saying, "My
good father, leave us for a moment together; when this gentleman leaves,
you will return here."  The Jesuit left the room, and, doubtless, availed
himself of this momentary exile from the presence of the dying man to ask
the host for some explanation about this strange penitent, who treated
his confessor no better than he would a man servant.  The baron
approached the bed, and wished to speak, but the hand of the Franciscan
imposed silence upon him.

"Every moment is precious," said the latter, hurriedly.  "You have come
here for the competition, have you not?"

"Yes, my father."

"You hope to be elected general of the order?"

"I hope so."

"You know on what conditions only you can possibly attain this high
position, which makes one man the master of monarchs, the equal of
popes?"

"Who are you," inquired the baron, "to subject me to these
interrogations?"

"I am he whom you expected."

"The elector-general?"

"I am the elected."

"You are - "

The Franciscan did not give him time to reply; he extended his shrunken
hand, on which glittered the ring of the general of the order.  The baron
drew back in surprise; and then, immediately afterwards, bowing with the
profoundest respect, he exclaimed, - "Is it possible that you are here,
monseigneur; you, in this wretched room; you, upon this miserable bed;
you, in search of and selecting the future general, that is, your own
successor?"

"Do not distress yourself about that, monsieur, but fulfil immediately
the principal condition, of furnishing the order with a secret of
importance, of such importance that one of the greatest courts of Europe
will, by your instrumentality, forever be subjected to the order.  Well!
do you possess the secret which you promised, in your request, addressed
to the grand council?"

"Monseigneur - "

"Let us proceed, however, in due order," said the monk.  "You are the
Baron de Wostpur?"

"Yes, monseigneur."

"And this letter is from you?"

"Yes, monseigneur."

The general of the Jesuits drew a paper from his bundle, and presented it
to the baron, who glanced at it, and made a sign in the affirmative,
saying, "Yes, monseigneur, this letter is mine."

"Can you show me the reply which the secretary of the grand council
returned to you?"

"Here it is," said the baron, holding towards the Franciscan a letter
bearing simply the address, "To his excellency the Baron de Wostpur," and
containing only this phrase, "From the 15th to the 22nd May,
Fontainebleau, the hotel of the Beau Paon. - A. M. D. G." (7)

"Right," said the Franciscan, "and now speak."

"I have a body of troops, composed of 50,000 men; all the officers are
gained over.  I am encamped on the Danube.  I four days I can overthrow
the emperor, who is, as you are aware, opposed to the progress of our
order, and can replace him by whichever of the princes of his family the
order may determine upon."  The Franciscan listened, unmoved.

"Is that all?" he said.

"A revolution throughout Europe is included in my plan," said the baron.

"Very well, Monsieur de Wostpur, you will receive a reply; return to your
room, and leave Fontainebleau within a quarter of an hour."  The baron
withdrew backwards, as obsequiously as if he were taking leave of the
emperor he was ready to betray.

"There is no secret there," murmured the Franciscan, "it is a plot.
Besides," he added, after a moment's reflection, "the future of Europe
is no longer in the hands of the House of Austria."

And with a pencil he held in his hand, he struck the Baron de Wostpur's
name from the list.

"Now for the cardinal," he said; "we ought to get something more serious
from the side of Spain."

Raising his head, he perceived the confessor, who was awaiting his orders
as respectfully as a school-boy.

"Ah, ah!" he said, noticing his submissive air, "you have been talking
with the landlord."

"Yes, monseigneur; and to the physician."

"To Grisart?"

"Yes."

"He is here, then?"

"He is waiting with the potion he promised."

"Very well; if I require him, I will call; you now understand the great
importance of my confession, do you not?"

"Yes, monseigneur."

"Then go and fetch me the Spanish Cardinal Herrebia.  Make haste.  Only,
as you now understand the matter in hand, you will remain near me, for I
begin to feel faint."

"Shall I summon the physician?"

"Not yet, not yet... the Spanish cardinal, no one else.  Fly."

Five minutes afterwards, the cardinal, pale and disturbed, entered the
little room.

"I am informed, monseigneur, - "stammered the cardinal.

"To the point," said the Franciscan, in a faint voice, showing the
cardinal a letter which he had written to the grand council.  "Is that
your handwriting?"

"Yes, but - "

"And your summons?"

The cardinal hesitated to answer.  His purple revolted against the mean
garb of the poor Franciscan, who stretched out his hand and displayed the
ring, which produced its effect, greater in proportion to the greatness
of the person over whom the Franciscan exercised his influence.

"Quick, the secret, the secret!" said the dying man, leaning upon his

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