List Of Contents | Contents of The Man in the Iron Mask, by Dumas, Pere
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Duc de Beaufort being traveling in this country."

"You shall have the two best horses, Aramis; and again I recommend poor
Porthos strongly to your care."

"Oh!  I have no fear on that score.  One word more: do you think I am
maneuvering for him as I ought?"

"The evil being committed, yes; for the king would not pardon him, and
you have, whatever may be said, always a supporter in M. Fouquet, who
will not abandon you, he being himself compromised, notwithstanding his
heroic action."

"You are right.  And that is why, instead of gaining the sea at once,
which would proclaim my fear and guilt, that is why I remain upon French
ground.  But Belle-Isle will be for me whatever ground I wish it to be,
English, Spanish, or Roman; all will depend, with me, on the standard I
shall think proper to unfurl."

"How so?"

"It was I who fortified Belle-Isle; and, so long as I defend it, nobody
can take Belle-Isle from me.  And then, as you have said just now, M.
Fouquet is there.  Belle-Isle will not be attacked without the signature
of M. Fouquet."

"That is true.  Nevertheless, be prudent.  The king is both cunning and
strong."  Aramis smiled.

"I again recommend Porthos to you," repeated the count, with a sort of
cold persistence.

"Whatever becomes of me, count," replied Aramis, in the same tone, "our
brother Porthos will fare as I do - or _better_."

Athos bowed whilst pressing the hand of Aramis, and turned to embrace
Porthos with emotion.

"I was born lucky, was I not?" murmured the latter, transported with
happiness, as he folded his cloak round him.

"Come, my dear friend," said Aramis.

Raoul had gone out to give orders for the saddling of the horses.  The
group was already divided.  Athos saw his two friends on the point of
departure, and something like a mist passed before his eyes and weighed
upon his heart.

"It is strange," thought he, "whence comes the inclination I feel to
embrace Porthos once more?"  At that moment Porthos turned round, and he
came towards his old friend with open arms.  This last endearment was
tender as in youth, as in times when hearts were warm - life happy.  And
then Porthos mounted his horse.  Aramis came back once more to throw his
arms round the neck of Athos.  The latter watched them along the high-
road, elongated by the shade, in their white cloaks.  Like phantoms they
seemed to enlarge on their departure from the earth, and it was not in
the mist, but in the declivity of the ground that they disappeared.  At
the end of the perspective, both seemed to have given a spring with their
feet, which made them vanish as if evaporated into cloud-land.

Then Athos, with a very heavy heart, returned towards the house, saying
to Bragelonne, "Raoul, I don't know what it is that has just told me that
I have seen those two for the last time."

"It does not astonish me, monsieur, that you should have such a thought,"
replied the young man, "for I have at this moment the same, and think
also that I shall never see Messieurs du Vallon and d'Herblay again."

"Oh! you," replied the count, "you speak like a man rendered sad by a
different cause; you see everything in black; you are young, and if you
chance never to see those old friends again, it will because they no
longer exist in the world in which you have yet many years to pass.  But
I - "

Raoul shook his head sadly, and leaned upon the shoulder of the count,
without either of them finding another word in their hearts, which were
ready to overflow.

All at once a noise of horses and voices, from the extremity of the road
to Blois, attracted their attention that way.  Flambeaux-bearers shook
their torches merrily among the trees of their route, and turned round,
from time to time, to avoid distancing the horsemen who followed them.
These flames, this noise, this dust of a dozen richly caparisoned horses,
formed a strange contrast in the middle of the night with the melancholy
and almost funereal disappearance of the two shadows of Aramis and
Porthos.  Athos went towards the house; but he had hardly reached the
parterre, when the entrance gate appeared in a blaze; all the flambeaux
stopped and appeared to enflame the road.  A cry was heard of "M. le Duc
de Beaufort" - and Athos sprang towards the door of his house.  But the
duke had already alighted from his horse, and was looking around him.

"I am here, monseigneur," said Athos.

"Ah! good evening, dear count," said the prince, with that frank
cordiality which won him so many hearts.  "Is it too late for a friend?"

"Ah! my dear prince, come in!" said the count.

And, M. de Beaufort leaning on the arm of Athos, they entered the house,
followed by Raoul, who walked respectfully and modestly among the
officers of the prince, with several of whom he was acquainted.

Chapter XXVII:
Monsieur de Beaufort.

The prince turned round at the moment when Raoul, in order to leave him
alone with Athos, was shutting the door, and preparing to go with the
other officers into an adjoining apartment.

"Is that the young man I have heard M. le Prince speak so highly of?"
asked M. de Beaufort.

"It is, monseigneur."

"He is quite the soldier; let him stay, count, we cannot spare him."

"Remain, Raoul, since monseigneur permits it," said Athos.

"_Ma foi!_ he is tall and handsome!" continued the duke.  "Will you give
him to me, monseigneur, if I ask him of you?"

"How am I to understand you, monseigneur?" said Athos.

"Why, I call upon you to bid you farewell."


"Yes, in good truth.  Have you no idea of what I am about to become?"

"Why, I suppose, what you have always been, monseigneur, - a valiant
prince, and an excellent gentleman."

"I am going to become an African prince, - a Bedouin gentleman.  The king
is sending me to make conquests among the Arabs."

"What is this you tell me, monseigneur?"

"Strange, is it not?  I, the Parisian _par essence_, I who have reigned
in the faubourgs, and have been called King of the Halles, - I am going
to pass from the Place Maubert to the minarets of Gigelli; from a
Frondeur I am becoming an adventurer!"

"Oh, monseigneur, if you did not yourself tell me that - "

"It would not be credible, would it?  Believe me, nevertheless, and we
have but to bid each other farewell.  This is what comes of getting into
favor again."

"Into favor?"

"Yes.  You smile.  Ah, my dear count, do you know why I have accepted
this enterprise, can you guess?"

"Because your highness loves glory above - everything."

"Oh! no; there is no glory in firing muskets at savages.  I see no glory
in that, for my part, and it is more probable that I shall there meet
with something else.  But I have wished, and still wish earnestly, my
dear count, that my life should have that last _facet_, after all the
whimsical exhibitions I have seen myself make during fifty years.  For,
in short, you must admit that it is sufficiently strange to be born the
grandson of a king, to have made war against kings, to have been reckoned
among the powers of the age, to have maintained my rank, to feel Henry
IV. within me, to be great admiral of France - and then to go and get
killed at Gigelli, among all those Turks, Saracens, and Moors."

"Monseigneur, you harp with strange persistence on that theme," said
Athos, in an agitated voice.  "How can you suppose that so brilliant a
destiny will be extinguished in that remote and miserable scene?"

"And can you believe, upright and simple as you are, that if I go into
Africa for this ridiculous motive, I will not endeavor to come out of it
without ridicule?  Shall I not give the world cause to speak of me?  And
to be spoken of, nowadays, when there are Monsieur le Prince, M. de
Turenne, and many others, my contemporaries, I, admiral of France,
grandson of Henry IV., king of Paris, have I anything left but to get
myself killed?  _Cordieu!_  I will be talked of, I tell you; I shall be
killed whether or not; if no there, somewhere else."

"Why, monseigneur, this is mere exaggeration; and hitherto you have shown
nothing exaggerated save in bravery."

"_Peste!_ my dear friend, there is bravery in facing scurvy, dysentery,
locusts, poisoned arrows, as my ancestor St. Louis did.  Do you know
those fellows still use poisoned arrows?  And then, you know me of old, I
fancy, and you know that when I once make up my mind to a thing, I
perform it in grim earnest."

"Yes, you made up your mind to escape from Vincennes."

"Ay, but you aided me in that, my master; and, _a propos_, I turn this
way and that, without seeing my old friend, M. Vaugrimaud.  How is he?"

"M. Vaugrimaud is still your highness's most respectful servant," said
Athos, smiling.

"I have a hundred pistoles here for him, which I bring as a legacy.  My
will is made, count."

"Ah! monseigneur! monseigneur!"

"And you may understand that if Grimaud's name were to appear in my will
- "  The duke began to laugh; then addressing Raoul, who, from the
commencement of this conversation, had sunk into a profound reverie,
"Young man," said he, "I know there is to be found here a certain De
Vouvray wine, and I believe - "  Raoul left the room precipitately to
order the wine.  In the meantime M. de Beaufort took the hand of Athos.

"What do you mean to do with him?" asked he.

"Nothing at present, monseigneur."

"Ah! yes, I know; since the passion of the king for La Valliere."

"Yes, monseigneur."

"That is all true, then, is it?  I think I know her, that little La
Valliere.  She is not particularly handsome, if I remember right?"

"No, monseigneur," said Athos.

"Do you know whom she reminds me of?"

"Does she remind your highness of any one?"

"She reminds me of a very agreeable girl, whose mother lived in the

"Ah! ah!" said Athos, smiling.

"Oh! the good old times," added M. de Beaufort.  "Yes, La Valliere reminds me of
that girl."

"Who had a son, had she not?" (3)

"I believe she had," replied the duke, with careless _naivete_ and a
complaisant forgetfulness, of which no words could translate the tone
and the vocal expression.  "Now, here is poor Raoul, who is your son, I

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