List Of Contents | Contents of The Man in the Iron Mask, by Dumas, Pere
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compasses run into them, just to remind them, came to make doorways
through which nobody but thin people can pass?"

"Oh, those doors," answered D'Artagnan, "were meant for gallants, and
they have generally slight and slender figures."

"Madame du Vallon had no gallant!" answered Porthos, majestically.

"Perfectly true, my friend," resumed D'Artagnan; "but the architects were
probably making their calculations on a basis of the probability of your
marrying again."

"Ah! that is possible," said Porthos.  "And now I have received an
explanation of how it is that doorways are made too narrow, let us return
to the subject of Mouston's fatness.  But see how the two things apply to
each other.  I have always noticed that people's ideas run parallel.  And
so, observe this phenomenon, D'Artagnan.  I was talking to you of
Mouston, who is fat, and it led us on to Madame du Vallon - "

"Who was thin?"

"Hum!  Is it not marvelous?"

"My dear friend, a _savant_ of my acquaintance, M. Costar, has made the
same observation as you have, and he calls the process by some Greek name
which I forget."

"What! my remark is not then original?" cried Porthos, astounded.  "I
thought I was the discoverer."

"My friend, the fact was known before Aristotle's days - that is to say,
nearly two thousand years ago."

"Well, well, 'tis no less true," said Porthos, delighted at the idea of
having jumped to a conclusion so closely in agreement with the greatest
sages of antiquity.

"Wonderfully - but suppose we return to Mouston.  It seems to me, we have
left him fattening under our very eyes."

"Yes, monsieur," said Mouston.

"Well," said Porthos, "Mouston fattened so well, that he gratified all my
hopes, by reaching my standard; a fact of which I was well able to
convince myself, by seeing the rascal, one day, in a waistcoat of mine,
which he had turned into a coat - a waistcoat, the mere embroidery of
which was worth a hundred pistoles."

"'Twas only to try it on, monsieur," said Mouston.

"From that moment I determined to put Mouston in communication with my
tailors, and to have him measured instead of myself."

"A capital idea, Porthos; but Mouston is a foot and a half shorter than

"Exactly!  They measured him down to the ground, and the end of the skirt
came just below my knee."

"What a marvelous man you are, Porthos!  Such a thing could happen only
to you."

"Ah! yes; pay your compliments; you have ample grounds to go upon.  It
was exactly at that time - that is to say, nearly two years and a half
ago - that I set out for Belle-Isle, instructing Mouston (so as always to
have, in every event, a pattern of every fashion) to have a coat made for
himself every month."

"And did Mouston neglect complying with your instructions?  Ah! that was
anything but right, Mouston."

"No, monsieur, quite the contrary; quite the contrary!"

"No, he never forgot to have his coats made; but he forgot to inform me
that he had got stouter!"

"But it was not my fault, monsieur! your tailor never told me."

"And this to such an extent, monsieur," continued Porthos, "that the
fellow in two years has gained eighteen inches in girth, and so my last
dozen coats are all too large, from a foot to a foot and a half."

"But the rest; those which were made when you were of the same size?"

"They are no longer the fashion, my dear friend.  Were I to put them on,
I should look like a fresh arrival from Siam; and as though I had been
two years away from court."

"I understand your difficulty.  You have how many new suits? nine? thirty-
six? and yet not one to wear.  Well, you must have a thirty-seventh made,
and give the thirty-six to Mouston."

"Ah! monsieur!" said Mouston, with a gratified air.  "The truth is, that
monsieur has always been very generous to me."

"Do you mean to insinuate that I hadn't that idea, or that I was deterred
by the expense?  But it wants only two days to the _fete_; I received the
invitation yesterday; made Mouston post hither with my wardrobe, and only
this morning discovered my misfortune; and from now till the day after to-
morrow, there isn't a single fashionable tailor who will undertake to
make me a suit."

"That is to say, one covered all over with gold, isn't it?"

"I wish it so! undoubtedly, all over."

"Oh, we shall manage it.  You won't leave for three days.  The
invitations are for Wednesday, and this is only Sunday morning."

"'Tis true; but Aramis has strongly advised me to be at Vaux twenty-four
hours beforehand."

"How, Aramis?"

"Yes, it was Aramis who brought me the invitation."

"Ah! to be sure, I see.  You are invited on the part of M. Fouquet?"

"By no means! by the king, dear friend.  The letter bears the following
as large as life: 'M. le Baron du Vallon is informed that the king has
condescended to place him on the invitation list - '"

"Very good; but you leave with M. Fouquet?"

"And when I think," cried Porthos, stamping on the floor, "when I think I
shall have no clothes, I am ready to burst with rage!  I should like to
strangle somebody or smash something!"

"Neither strangle anybody nor smash anything, Porthos; I will manage it
all; put on one of your thirty-six suits, and come with me to a tailor."

"Pooh! my agent has seen them all this morning."

"Even M. Percerin?"

"Who is M. Percerin?"

"Oh! only the king's tailor!"

"Oh, ah, yes," said Porthos, who wished to appear to know the king's
tailor, but now heard his name mentioned for the first time; "to M.
Percerin's, by Jove!  I was afraid he would be too busy."

"Doubtless he will be; but be at ease, Porthos; he will do for me what he
wouldn't do for another.  Only you must allow yourself to be measured!"

"Ah!" said Porthos, with a sigh, "'tis vexatious, but what would you have
me do?"

"Do?  As others do; as the king does."

"What! do they measure the king, too? does he put up with it?"

"The king is a beau, my good friend, and so are you, too, whatever you
may say about it."

Porthos smiled triumphantly.  "Let us go to the king's tailor," he said;
"and since he measures the king, I think, by my faith, I may do worse
than allow him to measure _me!_"

Chapter III:
Who Messire Jean Percerin Was.

The king's tailor, Messire Jean Percerin, occupied a rather large house
in the Rue St. Honore, near the Rue de l'Arbre Sec.  He was a man of
great taste in elegant stuffs, embroideries, and velvets, being
hereditary tailor to the king.  The preferment of his house reached as
far back as the time of Charles IX.; from whose reign dated, as we know,
fancy in _bravery_ difficult enough to gratify.  The Percerin of that
period was a Huguenot, like Ambrose Pare, and had been spared by the
Queen of Navarre, the beautiful Margot, as they used to write and say,
too, in those days; because, in sooth, he was the only one who could make
for her those wonderful riding-habits which she so loved to wear, seeing
that they were marvelously well suited to hide certain anatomical
defects, which the Queen of Navarre used very studiously to conceal.
Percerin being saved, made, out of gratitude, some beautiful black
bodices, very inexpensively indeed, for Queen Catherine, who ended by
being pleased at the preservation of a Huguenot people, on whom she had
long looked with detestation.  But Percerin was a very prudent man; and
having heard it said that there was no more dangerous sign for a
Protestant than to be smiled up on by Catherine, and having observed that
her smiles were more frequent than usual, he speedily turned Catholic
with all his family; and having thus become irreproachable, attained the
lofty position of master tailor to the Crown of France.  Under Henry
III., gay king as he was, this position was a grand as the height of one
of the loftiest peaks of the Cordilleras.  Now Percerin had been a clever
man all his life, and by way of keeping up his reputation beyond the
grave, took very good care not to make a bad death of it, and so
contrived to die very skillfully; and that at the very moment he felt his
powers of invention declining.  He left a son and a daughter, both worthy
of the name they were called upon to bear; the son, a cutter as unerring
and exact as the square rule; the daughter, apt at embroidery, and at
designing ornaments.  The marriage of Henry IV. and Marie de Medici, and
the exquisite court-mourning for the afore-mentioned queen, together with
a few words let fall by M. de Bassompiere, king of the _beaux_ of the
period, made the fortune of the second generation of Percerins.  M.
Concino Concini, and his wife Galligai, who subsequently shone at the
French court, sought to Italianize the fashion, and introduced some
Florentine tailors; but Percerin, touched to the quick in his patriotism
and his self-esteem, entirely defeated these foreigners, and that so well
that Concino was the first to give up his compatriots, and held the
French tailor in such esteem that he would never employ any other, and
thus wore a doublet of his on the very day that Vitry blew out his brains
with a pistol at the Pont du Louvre.

And so it was a doublet issuing from M. Percerin's workshop, which the
Parisians rejoiced in hacking into so many pieces with the living human
body it contained.  Notwithstanding the favor Concino Concini had shown
Percerin, the king, Louis XIII., had the generosity to bear no malice to
his tailor, and to retain him in his service.  At the time that Louis the
Just afforded this great example of equity, Percerin had brought up two
sons, one of whom made his _debut_ at the marriage of Anne of Austria,
invented that admirable Spanish costume, in which Richelieu danced a
saraband, made the costumes for the tragedy of "Mirame," and stitched on
to Buckingham's mantle those famous pearls which were destined to be
scattered about the pavements of the Louvre.  A man becomes easily
notable who has made the dresses of a Duke of Buckingham, a M. de Cinq-
Mars, a Mademoiselle Ninon, a M. de Beaufort, and a Marion de Lorme.  And
thus Percerin the third had attained the summit of his glory when his

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