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List Of Contents | Contents of The Man in the Iron Mask, by Dumas, Pere
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large oak.

"Get in," said the same man, opening the carriage-door and letting down
the step.  The king obeyed, seated himself at the back of the carriage,
the padded door of which was shut and locked immediately upon him and his
guide.  As for the giant, he cut the fastenings by which the horses were
bound, harnessed them himself, and mounted on the box of the carriage,
which was unoccupied.  The carriage set off immediately at a quick trot,
turned into the road to Paris, and in the forest of Senart found a relay
of horses fastened to the trees in the same manner the first horses had
been, and without a postilion.  The man on the box changed the horses,
and continued to follow the road towards Paris with the same rapidity, so
that they entered the city about three o'clock in the morning.  They
carriage proceeded along the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, and, after having
called out to the sentinel, "By the king's order," the driver conducted
the horses into the circular inclosure of the Bastile, looking out upon
the courtyard, called La Cour du Gouvernement.  There the horses drew up,
reeking with sweat, at the flight of steps, and a sergeant of the guard
ran forward.  "Go and wake the governor," said the coachman in a voice of
thunder.

With the exception of this voice, which might have been heard at the
entrance of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, everything remained as calm in
the carriage as in the prison.  Ten minutes afterwards, M. de Baisemeaux
appeared in his dressing-gown on the threshold of the door.  "What is the
matter now?" he asked; "and whom have you brought me there?"

The man with the lantern opened the carriage-door, and said two or three
words to the one who acted as driver, who immediately got down from his
seat, took up a short musket which he kept under his feet, and placed its
muzzle on his prisoner's chest.

"And fire at once if he speaks!" added aloud the man who alighted from
the carriage.

"Very good," replied his companion, without another remark.

With this recommendation, the person who had accompanied the king in the
carriage ascended the flight of steps, at the top of which the governor
was awaiting him.  "Monsieur d'Herblay!" said the latter.

"Hush!" said Aramis.  "Let us go into your room."

"Good heavens! what brings you here at this hour?"

"A mistake, my dear Monsieur de Baisemeaux," Aramis replied, quietly.
"It appears that you were quite right the other day."

"What about?" inquired the governor.

"About the order of release, my dear friend."

"Tell me what you mean, monsieur - no, monseigneur," said the governor,
almost suffocated by surprise and terror.

"It is a very simple affair: you remember, dear M. de Baisemeaux, that an
order of release was sent to you."

"Yes, for Marchiali."

"Very good! we both thought that it was for Marchiali?"

"Certainly; you will recollect, however, that I would not credit it, but
that you compelled me to believe it."

"Oh!  Baisemeaux, my good fellow, what a word to make use of! - strongly
recommended, that was all."

"Strongly recommended, yes; strongly recommended to give him up to you;
and that you carried him off with you in your carriage."

"Well, my dear Monsieur de Baisemeaux, it was a mistake; it was
discovered at the ministry, so that I now bring you an order from the
king to set at liberty Seldon, - that poor Seldon fellow, you know."

"Seldon! are you sure this time?"

"Well, read it yourself," added Aramis, handing him the order.

"Why," said Baisemeaux, "this order is the very same that has already
passed through my hands."

"Indeed?"

"It is the very one I assured you I saw the other evening.  _Parbleu!_  I
recognize it by the blot of ink."

"I do not know whether it is that; but all I know is, that I bring it for
you."

"But then, what about the other?"

"What other?"

"Marchiali."

"I have got him here with me."

"But that is not enough for me.  I require a new order to take him back
again."

"Don't talk such nonsense, my dear Baisemeaux; you talk like a child!
Where is the order you received respecting Marchiali?"

Baisemeaux ran to his iron chest and took it out.  Aramis seized hold of
it, coolly tore it in four pieces, held them to the lamp, and burnt
them.  "Good heavens! what are you doing?" exclaimed Baisemeaux, in an
extremity of terror.

"Look at your position quietly, my good governor," said Aramis, with
imperturbable self-possession, "and you will see how very simple the
whole affair is.  You no longer possess any order justifying Marchiali's
release."

"I am a lost man!"

"Far from it, my good fellow, since I have brought Marchiali back to you,
and all accordingly is just the same as if he had never left."

"Ah!" said the governor, completely overcome by terror.

"Plain enough, you see; and you will go and shut him up immediately."

"I should think so, indeed."

"And you will hand over this Seldon to me, whose liberation is authorized
by this order.  Do you understand?"

"I - I - "

"You do understand, I see," said Aramis.  "Very good."  Baisemeaux
clapped his hands together.

"But why, at all events, after having taken Marchiali away from me, do
you bring him back again?" cried the unhappy governor, in a paroxysm of
terror, and completely dumbfounded.

"For a friend such as you are," said Aramis - "for so devoted a servant,
I have no secrets;" and he put his mouth close to Baisemeaux's ear, as he
said, in a low tone of voice, "you know the resemblance between that
unfortunate fellow, and - "

"And the king? - yes!"

"Very good; the first use that Marchiali made of his liberty was to
persist - Can you guess what?"

"How is it likely I should guess?"

"To persist in saying that he was king of France; to dress himself up in
clothes like those of the king; and then pretend to assume that he was
the king himself."

"Gracious heavens!"

"That is the reason why I have brought him back again, my dear friend.
He is mad and lets every one see how mad he is."

"What is to be done, then?"

"That is very simple; let no one hold any communication with him.  You
understand that when his peculiar style of madness came to the king's
ears, the king, who had pitied his terrible affliction, and saw that all
his kindness had been repaid by black ingratitude, became perfectly
furious; so that, now - and remember this very distinctly, dear Monsieur
de Baisemeaux, for it concerns you most closely - so that there is now, I
repeat, sentence of death pronounced against all those who may allow him
to communicate with any one else but me or the king himself.  You
understand, Baisemeaux, sentence of death!"

"You need not ask me whether I understand."

"And now, let us go down, and conduct this poor devil back to his dungeon
again, unless you prefer he should come up here."

"What would be the good of that?"

"It would be better, perhaps, to enter his name in the prison-book at
once!"

"Of course, certainly; not a doubt of it."

"In that case, have him up."

Baisemeaux ordered the drums to be beaten and the bell to be rung, as a
warning to every one to retire, in order to avoid meeting a prisoner,
about whom it was desired to observe a certain mystery.  Then, when the
passages were free, he went to take the prisoner from the carriage, at
whose breast Porthos, faithful to the directions which had been given
him, still kept his musket leveled.  "Ah! is that you, miserable wretch?"
cried the governor, as soon as he perceived the king.  "Very good, very
good."  And immediately, making the king get out of the carriage, he led
him, still accompanied by Porthos, who had not taken off his mask, and
Aramis, who again resumed his, up the stairs, to the second Bertaudiere,
and opened the door of the room in which Philippe for six long years had
bemoaned his existence.  The king entered the cell without pronouncing a
single word: he faltered in as limp and haggard as a rain-struck lily.
Baisemeaux shut the door upon him, turned the key twice in the lock, and
then returned to Aramis.  "It is quite true," he said, in a low tone,
"that he bears a striking resemblance to the king; but less so than you
said."

"So that," said Aramis, "you would not have been deceived by the
substitution of the one for the other?"

"What a question!"

"You are a most valuable fellow, Baisemeaux," said Aramis; "and now, set
Seldon free."

"Oh, yes.  I was going to forget that.  I will go and give orders at
once."

"Bah! to-morrow will be time enough."

"To-morrow! - oh, no.  This very minute."

"Well; go off to your affairs, I will go away to mine.  But it is quite
understood, is it not?"

"What 'is quite understood'?"

"That no one is to enter the prisoner's cell, expect with an order from
the king; an order which I will myself bring."

"Quite so.  Adieu, monseigneur."

Aramis returned to his companion.  "Now, Porthos, my good fellow, back
again to Vaux, and as fast as possible."

"A man is light and easy enough, when he has faithfully served his king;
and, in serving him, saved his country," said Porthos.  "The horses will
be as light as if our tissues were constructed of the wind of heaven.  So
let us be off."  And the carriage, lightened of a prisoner, who might
well be - as he in fact was - very heavy in the sight of Aramis, passed
across the drawbridge of the Bastile, which was raised again immediately
behind it.


Chapter XVIII:
A Night at the Bastile.

Pain, anguish, and suffering in human life are always in proportion to
the strength with which a man is endowed.  We will not pretend to say
that Heaven always apportions to a man's capability of endurance the
anguish with which he afflicts him; for that, indeed, would not be true,
since Heaven permits the existence of death, which is, sometimes, the
only refuge open to those who are too closely pressed - too bitterly
afflicted, as far as the body is concerned.  Suffering is in proportion
to the strength which has been accorded; in other words, the weak suffer
more, where the trial is the same, than the strong.  And what are the

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