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List Of Contents | Contents of Ten Years Later, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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confessor.

"_Coram isto?_" inquired the Spanish cardinal. (8)

"Speak in Spanish," said the Franciscan, showing the liveliest attention.

"You are aware, monseigneur," said the cardinal, continuing the
conversation in Castilian, "that the condition of the marriage of the
Infanta with the king of France was the absolute renunciation of the
rights of the said Infanta, as well as of King Louis XIV., to all claim
to the crown of Spain."  The Franciscan made a sign in the affirmative.

"The consequence is," continued the cardinal, "that the peace and
alliance between the two kingdoms depend upon the observance of that
clause of the contract."  A similar sign from the Franciscan.  "Not only
France and Spain," continued the cardinal, "but the whole of Europe even,
would be violently rent asunder by the faithlessness of either party."
Another movement of the dying man's head.

"It further results," continued the speaker, "that the man who might be
able to foresee events, and to render certain that which is no more than
a vague idea floating in the mind of man, that is to say, the idea of a
future good or evil, would preserve the world from a great catastrophe;
and the event, which has no fixed certainty even in the brain of him who
originated it, could be turned to the advantage of our order."

"_Pronto_, _pronto!_" murmured the Franciscan, in Spanish, who suddenly
became paler, and leaned upon the priest.  The cardinal approached the
ear of the dying man, and said, "Well, monseigneur, I know that the king
of France has determined that, at the very first pretext, a death for
instance, either that of the king of Spain, or that of a brother of the
Infanta, France will, arms in hand, claim the inheritance, and I have in
my possession, already prepared, the plan of policy agreed upon by Louis
XIV. for this occasion."

"And this plan?" said the Franciscan.

"Here it is," returned the cardinal.

"In whose handwriting is it?"

"My own."

"Have you anything further to say to me?"

"I think I have said a good deal, my lord," replied the cardinal.

"Yes, you have rendered the order a great service.  But how did you
procure the details, by the aid of which you have constructed your plan?"

"I have the under-servants of the king of France in my pay, and I obtain
from them all the waste papers, which have been saved from being burnt."

"Very ingenious," murmured the Franciscan, endeavoring to smile; "you
will leave this hotel, cardinal, in a quarter of an hour, and a reply
shall be sent you."  The cardinal withdrew.

"Call Grisart, and desire the Venetian Marini to come," said the sick man.

While the confessor obeyed, the Franciscan, instead of striking out the
cardinal's name, as he had done the baron's, made a cross at the side of
it.  Then, exhausted by the effort, he fell back on his bed, murmuring
the name of Dr. Grisart.  When he returned to his senses, he had drunk
about half of the potion, of which the remainder was left in the glass,
and he found himself supported by the physician, while the Venetian and
the confessor were standing close to the door.  The Venetian submitted to
the same formalities as his two predecessors, hesitated as they had done
at the sight of the two strangers, but his confidence restored by the
order of the general, he revealed that the pope, terrified at the power
of the order, was weaving a plot for the general expulsion of the
Jesuits, and was tampering with the different courts of Europe in order
to obtain their assistance.  He described the pontiff's auxiliaries, his
means of action, and indicated the particular locality in the Archipelago
where, by a sudden surprise, two cardinals, adepts of the eleventh year,
and, consequently, high in authority, were to be transported, together
with thirty-two of the principal affiliated members of Rome.  The
Franciscan thanked the Signor Marini.  It was by no means a slight
service he had rendered the society by denouncing this pontifical
project.  The Venetian thereupon received directions to set off in a
quarter of an hour, and left as radiant as if he already possessed the
ring, the sign of the supreme authority of the society.  As, however, he
was departing, the Franciscan murmured to himself: "All these men are
either spies, or a sort of police, not one of them a general; they have
all discovered a plot, but not one of them a secret.  It is not by means
of ruin, or war, or force, that the Society of Jesus is to be governed,
but by that mysterious influence moral superiority alone confers.  No,
the man is not yet found, and to complete the misfortune, Heaven strikes
me down, and I am dying.  Oh! must the society indeed fall with me for
want of a column to support it?  Must death, which is waiting for me,
swallow up with me the future of the order; that future which ten years
more of my own life would have rendered eternal? for that future, with
the reign of the new king, is opening radiant and full of splendor."
These words, which had been half-reflected, half-pronounced aloud, were
listened to by the Jesuit confessor with a terror similar to that with
which one listens to the wanderings of a person attacked by fever, whilst
Grisart, with a mind of higher order, devoured them as the revelations of
an unknown world, in which his looks were plunged without ability to
comprehend.  Suddenly the Franciscan recovered himself.

"Let us finish this," he said; "death is approaching.  Oh! just now I was
dying resignedly, for I hoped... while now I sink in despair, unless
those who remain...  Grisart, Grisart, give me to live a single hour
longer."

Grisart approached the dying monk, and made him swallow a few drops, not
of the potion which was still left in the glass, but of the contents of a
small bottle he had upon his person.

"Call the Scotchman!" exclaimed the Franciscan; "call the Bremen
merchant.  Call, call quickly.  I am dying.  I am suffocated."

The confessor darted forward to seek assistance, as if there had been any
human strength which could hold back the hand of death, which was
weighing down the sick man; but, at the threshold of the door, he found
Aramis, who, with his finger on his lips, like the statue of Harpocrates,
the god of silence, by a look motioned him back to the end of the
apartment.  The physician and the confessor, after having consulted each
other by looks, made a movement as if to push Aramis aside, who, however,
with two signs of the cross, each made in a different manner, transfixed
them both in their places.

"A chief!" they both murmured.

Aramis slowly advanced into the room where the dying man was struggling
against the first attack of the agony which had seized him.  As for the
Franciscan, whether owing to the effect of the elixir, or whether the
appearance of Aramis had restored his strength, he made a movement, and
his eyes glaring, his mouth half open, and his hair damp with sweat, sat
up upon the bed.  Aramis felt that the air of the room was stifling; the
windows were closed; the fire was burning upon the hearth; a pair of
candles of yellow wax were guttering down in the copper candlesticks, and
still further increased, by their thick smoke, the temperature of the
room.  Aramis opened the window, and fixing upon the dying man a look
full of intelligence and respect, said to him: "Monseigneur, pray forgive
my coming in this manner, before you summoned me, but your state alarms
me, and I thought you might possibly die before you had seen me, for I
am but the sixth upon your list."

The dying man started and looked at the list.

"You are, therefore, he who was formerly called Aramis, and since, the
Chevalier d'Herblay?  You are the bishop of Vannes?"

"Yes, my lord."

"I know you, I have seen you."

"At the last jubilee, we were with the Holy Father together."

"Yes, yes, I remember; and you place yourself on the list of candidates?"

"Monseigneur, I have heard it said that the order required to become
possessed of a great state secret, and knowing that from modesty you had
in anticipation resigned your functions in favor of the person who should
be the depositary of such a secret, I wrote to say that I was ready to
compete, possessing alone a secret I believe to be important."

"Speak," said the Franciscan; "I am ready to listen to you, and to judge
the importance of the secret."

"A secret of the value of that which I have the honor to confide to you
cannot be communicated by word of mouth.  Any idea which, when once
expressed, has thereby lost its safeguard, and has become vulgarized by
any manifestation or communication of it whatever, no longer is the
property of him who gave it birth.  My words may be overheard by some
listener, or perhaps by an enemy; one ought not, therefore, to speak at
random, for, in such a case, the secret would cease to be one."

"How do you propose, then, to convey your secret?" inquired the dying
monk.

With one hand Aramis signed to the physician and the confessor to
withdraw, and with the other he handed to the Franciscan a paper enclosed
in a double envelope.

"Is not writing more dangerous still than language?"

"No, my lord," said Aramis, "for you will find within this envelope
characters which you and I alone can understand."  The Franciscan looked
at Aramis with an astonishment which momentarily increased.

"It is a cipher," continued the latter, "which you used in 1655, and
which your secretary, Juan Jujan, who is dead, could alone decipher, if
he were restored to life."

"You knew this cipher, then?"

"It was I who taught it him," said Aramis, bowing with a gracefulness
full of respect, and advancing towards the door as if to leave the room:
but a gesture of the Franciscan accompanied by a cry for him to remain,
restrained him.

"_Ecce homo!_" he exclaimed; then reading the paper a second time, he
called out, "Approach, approach quickly!"

Aramis returned to the side of the Franciscan, with the same calm
countenance and the same respectful manner, unchanged.  The Franciscan,
extending his arm, burnt by the flame of the candle the paper which

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