List Of Contents | Contents of The Man in the Iron Mask, by Dumas, Pere
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gain an opportunity for talking freely."

D'Artagnan made a sign to a soldier, who brought the gentlemen some guns,
and then returned to the fort.

"And now," said the musketeer, "answer me the question put to you by that
black-looking Saint-Mars: what did you come to do at the Lerin Isles?"

"To bid you farewell."

"Bid me farewell!  What do you mean by that?  Is Raoul going anywhere?"

"Yes."

"Then I will lay a wager it is with M. de Beaufort."

"With M. de Beaufort it is, my dear friend.  You always guess correctly."

"From habit."

Whilst the two friends were commencing their conversation, Raoul, with
his head hanging down and his heart oppressed, seated himself on a mossy
rock, his gun across his knees, looking at the sea - looking at the
heavens, and listening to the voice of his soul; he allowed the sportsmen
to attain a considerable distance from him.  D'Artagnan remarked his
absence.

"He has not recovered the blow?" said he to Athos.

"He is struck to death."

"Oh! your fears exaggerate, I hope.  Raoul is of a tempered nature.
Around all hearts as noble as his, there is a second envelope that forms
a cuirass.  The first bleeds, the second resists."

"No," replied Athos, "Raoul will die of it."

"_Mordioux!_" said D'Artagnan, in a melancholy tone.  And he did not add
a word to this exclamation.  Then, a minute after, "Why do you let him
go?"

"Because he insists on going."

"And why do you not go with him?"

"Because I could not bear to see him die."

D'Artagnan looked his friend earnestly in the face.  "You know one
thing," continued the comte, leaning upon the arm of the captain; "you
know that in the course of my life I have been afraid of but few things.
Well!  I have an incessant gnawing, insurmountable fear that an hour will
come in which I shall hold the dead body of that boy in my arms."

"Oh!" murmured D'Artagnan; "oh!"

"He will die, I know, I have a perfect conviction of that; but I would
not see him die."

"How is this, Athos? you come and place yourself in the presence of the
bravest man, you say you have ever seen, of your own D'Artagnan, of that
man without an equal, as you formerly called him, and you come and tell
him, with your arms folded, that you are afraid of witnessing the death
of your son, you who have seen all that can be seen in this world!  Why
have you this fear, Athos?  Man upon this earth must expect everything,
and ought to face everything."

"Listen to me, my friend.  After having worn myself out upon this earth
of which you speak, I have preserved but two religions: that of life,
friendship, my duty as a father - that of eternity, love, and respect
for God.  Now, I have within me the revelation that if God should decree
that my friend or my son should render up his last sigh in my presence 
oh! no, I cannot even tell you, D'Artagnan!"

"Speak, speak, tell me!"

"I am strong against everything, except against the death of those I
love.  For that only there is no remedy.  He who dies, gains; he who sees
others die, loses.  No, this is it - to know that I should no more meet
on earth him whom I now behold with joy; to know that there would nowhere
be a  D'Artagnan any more, nowhere again be a Raoul, oh!  I am old, look
you, I have no longer courage; I pray God to spare me in my weakness; but
if he struck me so plainly and in that fashion, I should curse him.  A
Christian gentleman ought not to curse his God, D'Artagnan; it is enough
to once have cursed a king!"

"Humph!" sighed D'Artagnan, a little confused by this violent tempest of
grief.

"Let me speak to him, Athos.  Who knows?"

"Try, if you please, but I am convinced you will not succeed."

"I will not attempt to console him.  I will serve him."

"You will?"

"Doubtless, I will.  Do you think this would be the first time a woman
had repented of an infidelity?  I will go to him, I tell you."

Athos shook his head, and continued his walk alone, D'Artagnan, cutting
across the brambles, rejoined Raoul and held out his hand to him.  "Well,
Raoul!  You have something to say to me?"

"I have a kindness to ask of you," replied Bragelonne.

"Ask it, then."

"You will some day return to France?"

"I hope so."

"Ought I to write to Mademoiselle de la Valliere?"

"No, you must not."

"But I have many things to say to her."

"Go and say them to her, then."

"Never!"

"Pray, what virtue do you attribute to a letter, which your speech might
not possess?"

"Perhaps you are right."

"She loves the king," said D'Artagnan, bluntly; "and she is an honest
girl."  Raoul started.  "And you, you whom she abandons, she, perhaps,
loves better than she does the king, but after another fashion."

"D'Artagnan, do you believe she loves the king?"

"To idolatry.  Her heart is inaccessible to any other feeling.  You might
continue to live near her, and would be her best friend."

"Ah!" exclaimed Raoul, with a passionate burst of repugnance at such a
hideous hope.

"Will you do so?"

"It would be base."

"That is a very absurd word, which would lead me to think slightly of
your understanding.  Please to understand, Raoul, that it is never base
to do that which is imposed upon us by a superior force.  If your heart
says to you, 'Go there, or die,' why go, Raoul.  Was she base or brave,
she whom you loved, in preferring the king to you, the king whom her
heart commanded her imperiously to prefer to you?  No, she was the
bravest of women.  Do, then, as she has done.  Oblige yourself.  Do you
know one thing of which I am sure, Raoul?"

"What is that?"

"Why, that by seeing her closely with the eyes of a jealous man - "

"Well?"

"Well! you would cease to love her."

"Then I am decided, my dear D'Artagnan."

"To set off to see her again?"

"No; to set off that I may _never_ see her again.  I wish to love her
forever."

"Ha!  I must confess," replied the musketeer, "that is a conclusion which
I was far from expecting."

"This is what I wish, my friend.  You will see her again, and you will
give her a letter which, if you think proper, will explain to her, as to
yourself, what is passing in my heart.  Read it; I drew it up last
night.  Something told me I should see you to-day."  He held the letter
out, and D'Artagnan read:

"MADEMOISELLE, - You are not wrong in my eyes in not loving me.  You have
only been guilty of one fault towards me, that of having left me to
believe you loved me.  This error will cost me my life.  I pardon you,
but I cannot pardon myself.  It is said that happy lovers are deaf to the
sorrows of rejected lovers.  It will not be so with you, who did not love
me, save with anxiety.  I am sure that if I had persisted in endeavoring
to change that friendship into love, you would have yielded out of a fear
of bringing about my death, or lessening the esteem I had for you.  It is
much more delightful to me to die, knowing that _you_ are free and
satisfied.  How much, then, will you love me, when you will no longer
fear either my presence or reproaches?  You will love me, because,
however charming a new love may appear to you, God has not made me in
anything inferior to him you have chosen, and because my devotedness, my
sacrifice, and my painful end will assure me, in your eyes, a certain
superiority over him.  I have allowed to escape, in the candid credulity
of my heart, the treasure I possessed.  Many people tell me that you
loved me enough to lead me to hope you would have loved me much.  That
idea takes from my mind all bitterness, and leads me only to blame
myself.  You will accept this last farewell, and you will bless me for
having taken refuge in the inviolable asylum where hatred is
extinguished, and where all love endures forever.  Adieu, mademoiselle.
If your happiness could be purchased by the last drop of my blood, I
would shed that drop.  I willingly make the sacrifice of it to my misery!
"RAOUL, VICOTME DE BRAGELONNE."

"The letter reads very well," said the captain.  "I have only one fault to find
with it."

"Tell me what that is!" said Raoul.

"Why, it is that it tells everything, except the thing which exhales,
like a mortal poison from your eyes and from your heart; except the
senseless love which still consumes you."  Raoul grew paler, but
remained silent.

"Why did you not write simply these words:

"'MADEMOISELLE, - Instead of cursing you, I love you and I die.'"

"That is true," exclaimed Raoul, with a sinister kind of joy.

And tearing the letter he had just taken back, he wrote the following
words upon a leaf of his tablets:

"To procure the happiness of once more telling you I love you, I commit
the baseness of writing to you; and to punish myself for that baseness, I
die."  And he signed it.

"You will give her these tablets, captain, will you not?"

"When?" asked the latter.

"On the day," said Bragelonne, pointing to the last sentence, "on the day
when you can place a date under these words."  And he sprang away quickly
to join Athos, who was returning with slow steps.

As they re-entered the fort, the sea rose with that rapid, gusty
vehemence which characterizes the Mediterranean; the ill-humor of the
element became a tempest.  Something shapeless, and tossed about
violently by the waves, appeared just off the coast.

"What is that?" said Athos, - "a wrecked boat?"

"No, it is not a boat," said D'Artagnan.

"Pardon me," said Raoul, "there is a bark gaining the port rapidly."

"Yes, there is a bark in the creek, which is prudently seeking shelter
here; but that which Athos points to in the sand is not a boat at all 
it has run aground."

"Yes, yes, I see it."

"It is the carriage, which I threw into the sea after landing the
prisoner."

"Well!" said Athos, "if you take my advice, D'Artagnan, you will burn
that carriage, in order that no vestige of it may remain, without which
the fishermen of Antibes, who have believed they had to do with the
devil, will endeavor to prove that your prisoner was but a man."

"Your advice is good, Athos, and I will this night have it carried out,
or rather, I will carry it out myself; but let us go in, for the rain

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