List Of Contents | Contents of The Man in the Iron Mask, by Dumas, Pere
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in this quarter is not expected to be a palace.  Come on."

Raoul nimbly preceded him, and entered first.  Two cries were heard
simultaneously - we may say three.  One of these cries dominated the
others; it emanated from a woman.  Another proceeded from the mouth of
Raoul; it was an exclamation of surprise.  He had no sooner uttered it
than he shut the door sharply.  The third was from fright; it came from

"I ask your pardon!" added he; "madame is dressing."

Raoul had, no doubt, seen that what Planchet said was true, for he turned
round to go downstairs again.

"Madame - " said Athos.  "Oh! pardon me, Planchet, I did not know that
you had upstairs - "

"It is Truchen," added Planchet, blushing a little.

"It is whoever you please, my good Planchet; but pardon my rudeness."

"No, no; go up now, gentlemen."

"We will do no such thing," said Athos.

"Oh! madame, having notice, has had time - "

"No, Planchet; farewell!"

"Eh, gentlemen! you would not disoblige me by thus standing on the
staircase, or by going away without having sat down."

"If we had known you had a lady upstairs," replied Athos, with his
customary coolness, "we would have asked permission to pay our respects
to her."

Planchet was so disconcerted by this little extravagance, that he forced
the passage, and himself opened the door to admit the comte and his son.
Truchen was quite dressed: in the costume of the shopkeeper's wife, rich
yet coquettish; German eyes attacking French eyes.  She left the
apartment after two courtesies, and went down into the shop - but not
without having listened at the door, to know what Planchet's gentlemen
visitors would say of her.  Athos suspected that, and therefore turned
the conversation accordingly.  Planchet, on his part, was burning to give
explanations, which Athos avoided.  But, as certain tenacities are
stronger than others, Athos was forced to hear Planchet recite his idyls
of felicity, translated into a language more chaste than that of Longus.
So Planchet related how Truchen had charmed the years of his advancing
age, and brought good luck to his business, as Ruth did to Boaz.

"You want nothing now, then, but heirs to your property."

"If I had one he would have three hundred thousand livres," said Planchet.

"Humph! you must have one, then," said Athos, phlegmatically, "if only to
prevent your little fortune being lost."

This word _little fortune_ placed Planchet in his rank, like the voice of
the sergeant when Planchet was but a _piqueur_ in the regiment of
Piedmont, in which Rochefort had placed him.  Athos perceived that the
grocer would marry Truchen, and, in spite of fate, establish a family.
This appeared the more evident to him when he learned that the young man
to whom Planchet was selling the business was her cousin.  Having heard
all that was necessary of the happy prospects of the retiring grocer,
"What is M. d'Artagnan about?" said he; "he is not at the Louvre."

"Ah! monsieur le comte, Monsieur d'Artagnan has disappeared."

"Disappeared!" said Athos, in surprise.

"Oh! monsieur, we know what that means."

"But _I_ do not know."

"Whenever M. d'Artagnan disappears it is always for some mission or some
great affair."

"Has he said anything to you about it?"


"You were acquainted with his departure for England formerly, were you

"On account of the speculation." said Planchet, heedlessly.

"The speculation!"

"I mean - " interrupted Planchet, quite confused.

"Well, well; neither your affairs nor those of your master are in
question; the interest we take in him alone has induced me to apply to
you.  Since the captain of the musketeers is not here, and as we cannot
learn from you where we are likely to find M. d'Artagnan, we will take
our leave of you.  _Au revoir_, Planchet, _au revoir_.  Let us be gone,

"Monsieur le comte, I wish I were able to tell you - "

"Oh, not at all; I am not the man to reproach a servant with discretion."

This word "servant" struck rudely on the ears of the _demi-millionnaire_
Planchet, but natural respect and _bonhomie_ prevailed over pride.
"There is nothing indiscreet in telling you, monsieur le comte, M.
d'Artagnan came here the other day - "


"And remained several hours consulting a geographical chart."

"You are right, then, my friend; say no more about it."

"And the chart is there as a proof," added Planchet, who went to fetch
from the neighboring wall, where it was suspended by a twist, forming a
triangle with the bar of the window to which it was fastened, the plan
consulted by the captain on his last visit to Planchet.  This plan, which
he brought to the comte, was a map of France, upon which the practiced
eye of that gentleman discovered an itinerary, marked out with small
pins; wherever a pin was missing, a hole denoted its having been there.
Athos, by following with his eye the pins and holes, saw that D'Artagnan
had taken the direction of the south, and gone as far as the
Mediterranean, towards Toulon.  It was near Cannes that the marks and the
punctured places ceased.  The Comte de la Fere puzzled his brains for
some time, to divine what the musketeer could be going to do at Cannes,
and what motive could have led him to examine the banks of the Var.  The
reflections of Athos suggested nothing.  His accustomed perspicacity was
at fault.  Raoul's researches were not more successful than his father's.

"Never mind," said the young man to the comte, who silently, and with his
finger, had made him understand the route of D'Artagnan; "we must confess
that there is a Providence always occupied in connecting our destiny with
that of M. d'Artagnan.  There he is on the coast of Cannes, and you,
monsieur, will, at least, conduct me as far as Toulon.  Be assured that
we shall meet with him more easily upon our route than on this map."

Then, taking leave of Planchet, who was scolding his shopmen, even the
cousin of Truchen, his successor, the gentlemen set out to pay a visit to
M. de Beaufort.  On leaving the grocer's shop, they saw a coach, the
future depository of the charms of Mademoiselle Truchen and Planchet's
bags of crowns.

"Every one journeys towards happiness by the route he chooses," said
Raoul, in a melancholy tone.

"Road to Fontainebleau!" cried Planchet to his coachman.

Chapter XXX:
The Inventory of M. de Beaufort.

To have talked of D'Artagnan with Planchet, to have seen Planchet quit
Paris to bury himself in his country retreat, had been for Athos and his
son like a last farewell to the noise of the capital - to their life of
former days.  What, in fact, did these men leave behind them - one of
whom had exhausted the past age in glory, and the other, the present age
in misfortune?  Evidently neither of them had anything to ask of his
contemporaries.  They had only to pay a visit to M. de Beaufort, and
arrange with him the particulars of departure.  The duke was lodged
magnificently in Paris.  He had one of those superb establishments
pertaining to great fortunes, the like of which certain old men
remembered to have seen in all their glory in the times of wasteful
liberality of Henry III.'s reign.  Then, really, several great nobles
were richer than the king.  They knew it, used it, and never deprived
themselves of the pleasure of humiliating his royal majesty when they had
an opportunity.  It was this egotistical aristocracy Richelieu had
constrained to contribute, with its blood, its purse, and its duties, to
what was from his time styled the king's service.  From Louis XI. - that
terrible mower-down of the great - to Richelieu, how many families had
raised their heads!  How many, from Richelieu to Louis XIV., had bowed
their heads, never to raise them again!  But M. de Beaufort was born a
prince, and of a blood which is not shed upon scaffolds, unless by the
decree of peoples, - a prince who had kept up a grand style of living.
How did he maintain his horses, his people, and his table?  Nobody knew;
himself less than others.  Only there were then privileges for the sons
of kings, to whom nobody refused to become a creditor, whether from
respect or the persuasion that they would some day be paid.

Athos and Raoul found the mansion of the duke in as much confusion as
that of Planchet.  The duke, likewise, was making his inventory; that is
to say, he was distributing to his friends everything of value he had in
his house.  Owing nearly two millions - an enormous amount in those days
- M. de Beaufort had calculated that he could not set out for Africa
without a good round sum, and, in order to find that sum, he was
distributing to his old creditors plate, arms, jewels, and furniture,
which was more magnificent in selling it, and brought him back double.
In fact, how could a man to whom ten thousand livres were owing, refuse
to carry away a present worth six thousand, enhanced in estimation from
having belonged to a descendant of Henry IV.?  And how, after having
carried away that present, could he refuse ten thousand livres more to
this generous noble?  This, then, was what had happened.  The duke had no
longer a dwelling-house - that had become useless to an admiral whose
place of residence is his ship; he had no longer need of superfluous
arms, when he was placed amidst his cannons; no more jewels, which the
sea might rob him of; but he had three or four hundred thousand crowns
fresh in his coffers.  And throughout the house there was a joyous
movement of people who believed they were plundering monseigneur.  The
prince had, in a supreme degree, the art of making happy the creditors
most to be pitied.  Every distressed man, every empty purse, found in him
patience and sympathy for his position.  To some he said, "I wish I had
what _you_ have; I would give it you."  And to others, "I have but this
silver ewer; it is worth at least five hundred livres, - take it."  The
effect of which was - so truly is courtesy a current payment - that the
prince constantly found means to renew his creditors.  This time he used
no ceremony; it might be called a general pillage.  He gave up

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