List Of Contents | Contents of The Man in the Iron Mask, by Dumas, Pere
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"Five, my dear sir, five."

"Three or five, 'tis all the same to me, my dear monsieur; and I know
that you will make them most exquisitely."

"Yes, I know.  Once made they will be the most beautiful in the world, I
do not deny it; but that they may be the most beautiful in the word, they
must first be made; and to do this, captain, I am pressed for time."

"Oh, bah! there are two days yet; 'tis much more than you require,
Monsieur Percerin," said D'Artagnan, in the coolest possible manner.

Percerin raised his head with the air of a man little accustomed to be
contradicted, even in his whims; but D'Artagnan did not pay the least
attention to the airs which the illustrious tailor began to assume.

"My dear M. Percerin," he continued, "I bring you a customer."

"Ah! ah!" exclaimed Percerin, crossly.

"M. le Baron du Vallon de Bracieux de Pierrefonds," continued
D'Artagnan.  Percerin attempted a bow, which found no favor in the eyes
of the terrible Porthos, who, from his first entry into the room, had
been regarding the tailor askance.

"A very good friend of mine," concluded D'Artagnan.

"I will attend to monsieur," said Percerin, "but later."

"Later? but when?"

"When I have time."

"You have already told my valet as much," broke in Porthos,
discontentedly.

"Very likely," said Percerin; "I am nearly always pushed for time."

"My friend," returned Porthos, sententiously, "there is always time to be
found when one chooses to seek it."

Percerin turned crimson; an ominous sign indeed in old men blanched by
age.

"Monsieur is quite at liberty to confer his custom elsewhere."

"Come, come, Percerin," interposed D'Artagnan, "you are not in a good
temper to-day.  Well, I will say one more word to you, which will bring
you on your knees; monsieur is not only a friend of mine, but more, a
friend of M. Fouquet's."

"Ah! ah!" exclaimed the tailor, "that is another thing."  Then turning to
Porthos, "Monsieur le baron is attached to the superintendent?" he
inquired.

"I am attached to myself," shouted Porthos, at the very moment that the
tapestry was raised to introduce a new speaker in the dialogue.  Moliere
was all observation, D'Artagnan laughed, Porthos swore.

"My dear Percerin," said D'Artagnan, "you will make a dress for the
baron.  'Tis I who ask you."

"To you I will not say nay, captain."

"But that is not all; you will make it for him at once."

"'Tis impossible within eight days."

"That, then, is as much as to refuse, because the dress is wanted for the
_fete_ at Vaux."

"I repeat that it is impossible," returned the obstinate old man.

"By no means, dear Monsieur Percerin, above all if _I_ ask you," said a
mild voice at the door, a silvery voice which made D'Artagnan prick up
his ears.  It was the voice of Aramis.

"Monsieur d'Herblay!" cried the tailor.

"Aramis," murmured D'Artagnan.

"Ah! our bishop!" said Porthos.

"Good morning, D'Artagnan; good morning, Porthos; good-morning, my dear
friends," said Aramis.  "Come, come, M. Percerin, make the baron's dress;
and I will answer for it you will gratify M. Fouquet."  And he
accompanied the words with a sign, which seemed to say, "Agree, and
dismiss them."

It appeared that Aramis had over Master Percerin an influence superior
even to D'Artagnan's, for the tailor bowed in assent, and turning round
upon Porthos, said, "Go and get measured on the other side."

Porthos colored in a formidable manner.  D'Artagnan saw the storm coming,
and addressing Moliere, said to him, in an undertone, "You see before
you, my dear monsieur, a man who considers himself disgraced, if you
measure the flesh and bones that Heaven has given him; study this type
for me, Master Aristophanes, and profit by it."

Moliere had no need of encouragement, and his gaze dwelt long and keenly
on the Baron Porthos.  "Monsieur," he said, "if you will come with me, I
will make them take your measure without touching you."

"Oh!" said Porthos, "how do you make that out, my friend?"

"I say that they shall apply neither line nor rule to the seams of your
dress.  It is a new method we have invented for measuring people of
quality, who are too sensitive to allow low-born fellows to touch them.
We know some susceptible persons who will not put up with being measured,
a process which, as I think, wounds the natural dignity of a man; and if
perchance monsieur should be one of these - "

"_Corboeuf!_  I believe I am too!"

"Well, that is a capital and most consolatory coincidence, and you shall
have the benefit of our invention."

"But how in the world can it be done?" asked Porthos, delighted.

"Monsieur," said Moliere, bowing, "if you will deign to follow me, you
will see."

Aramis observed this scene with all his eyes.  Perhaps he fancied from
D'Artagnan's liveliness that he would leave with Porthos, so as not to
lose the conclusion of a scene well begun.  But, clear-sighted as he was,
Aramis deceived himself.  Porthos and Moliere left together: D'Artagnan
remained with Percerin.  Why?  From curiosity, doubtless; probably to
enjoy a little longer the society of his good friend Aramis.  As Moliere
and Porthos disappeared, D'Artagnan drew near the bishop of Vannes, a
proceeding which appeared particularly to disconcert him.

"A dress for you, also, is it not, my friend?"

Aramis smiled.  "No," said he.

"You will go to Vaux, however?"

"I shall go, but without a new dress.  You forget, dear D'Artagnan, that
a poor bishop of Vannes is not rich enough to have new dresses for every
_fete_."

"Bah!" said the musketeer, laughing, "and do we write no more poems now,
either?"

"Oh!  D'Artagnan," exclaimed Aramis, "I have long ago given up all such
tomfoolery."

"True," repeated D'Artagnan, only half convinced.  As for Percerin, he
was once more absorbed in contemplation of the brocades.

"Don't you perceive," said Aramis, smiling, "that we are greatly boring
this good gentleman, my dear D'Artagnan?"

"Ah! ah!" murmured the musketeer, aside; "that is, I am boring you, my
friend."  Then aloud, "Well, then, let us leave; I have no further
business here, and if you are as disengaged as I, Aramis - "

"No, not I - I wished - "

"Ah! you had something particular to say to M. Percerin?  Why did you not
tell me so at once?"

"Something particular, certainly," repeated Aramis, "but not for you,
D'Artagnan.  But, at the same time, I hope you will believe that I can
never have anything so particular to say that a friend like you may not
hear it."

"Oh, no, no!  I am going," said D'Artagnan, imparting to his voice an
evident tone of curiosity; for Aramis's annoyance, well dissembled as it
was, had not a whit escaped him; and he knew that, in that impenetrable
mind, every thing, even the most apparently trivial, was designed to some
end; an unknown one, but an end that, from the knowledge he had of his
friend's character, the musketeer felt must be important.

On his part, Aramis saw that D'Artagnan was not without suspicion, and
pressed him.  "Stay, by all means," he said, "this is what it is."  Then
turning towards the tailor, "My dear Percerin," said he, - "I am even
very happy that you are here, D'Artagnan."

"Oh, indeed," exclaimed the Gascon, for the third time, even less
deceived this time than before.

Percerin never moved.  Aramis roused him violently, by snatching from his
hands the stuff upon which he was engaged.  "My dear Percerin," said he,
"I have, near hand, M. Lebrun, one of M. Fouquet's painters."

"Ah, very good," thought D'Artagnan; "but why Lebrun?"

Aramis looked at D'Artagnan, who seemed to be occupied with an engraving
of Mark Antony.  "And you wish that I should make him a dress, similar to
those of the Epicureans?" answered Percerin.  And while saying this, in
an absent manner, the worthy tailor endeavored to recapture his piece of
brocade.

"An Epicurean's dress?" asked D'Artagnan, in a tone of inquiry.

"I see," said Aramis, with a most engaging smile, "it is written that our
dear D'Artagnan shall know all our secrets this evening.  Yes, friend,
you have surely heard speak of M. Fouquet's Epicureans, have you not?"

"Undoubtedly.  Is it not a kind of poetical society, of which La
Fontaine, Loret, Pelisson, and Moliere are members, and which holds its
sittings at Saint-Mande?"

"Exactly so.  Well, we are going to put our poets in uniform, and enroll
them in a regiment for the king."

"Oh, very well, I understand; a surprise M. Fouquet is getting up for the
king.  Be at ease; if that is the secret about M. Lebrun, I will not
mention it."

"Always agreeable, my friend.  No, Monsieur Lebrun has nothing to do with
this part of it; the secret which concerns him is far more important than
the other."

"Then, if it is so important as all that, I prefer not to know it," said
D'Artagnan, making a show of departure.

"Come in, M. Lebrun, come in," said Aramis, opening a side-door with his
right hand, and holding back D'Artagnan with his left.

"I'faith, I too, am quite in the dark," quoth Percerin.

Aramis took an "opportunity," as is said in theatrical matters.

"My dear M. de Percerin," Aramis continued, "you are making five dresses
for the king, are you not?  One in brocade; one in hunting-cloth; one in
velvet; one in satin; and one in Florentine stuffs."

"Yes; but how - do you know all that, monseigneur?" said Percerin,
astounded.

"It is all very simple, my dear monsieur; there will be a hunt, a
banquet, concert, promenade and reception; these five kinds of dress are
required by etiquette."

"You know everything, monseigneur!"

"And a thing or two in addition," muttered D'Artagnan.

"But," cried the tailor, in triumph, "what you do not know, monseigneur 
prince of the church though you are - what nobody will know - what only
the king, Mademoiselle de la Valliere, and myself do know, is the color
of the materials and nature of the ornaments, and the cut, the
_ensemble_, the finish of it all!"

"Well," said Aramis, "that is precisely what I have come to ask you, dear
Percerin."

"Ah, bah!" exclaimed the tailor, terrified, though Aramis had pronounced

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