List Of Contents | Contents of The Man in the Iron Mask, by Dumas, Pere
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"I have a carriage, and will take him wherever he wishes."

"You have an answer for everything.  Francois, tell monsieur le major to
go and open the cell of M. Seldon, No. 3, Bertaudiere."

"Seldon!" exclaimed Aramis, very naturally.  "You said Seldon, I think?"

"I said Seldon, of course.  'Tis the name of the man they set free."

"Oh! you mean to say Marchiali?" said Aramis.

"Marchiali? oh! yes, indeed.  No, no, Seldon."

"I think you are making a mistake, Monsieur Baisemeaux."

"I have read the order."

"And I also."

"And I saw 'Seldon' in letters as large as that," and Baisemeaux held up
his finger.

"And I read 'Marchiali' in characters as large as this," said Aramis,
also holding up two fingers.

"To the proof; let us throw a light on the matter," said Baisemeaux,
confident he was right.  "There is the paper, you have only to read it."

"I read 'Marchiali,'" returned Aramis, spreading out the paper.  "Look."

Baisemeaux looked, and his arms dropped suddenly.  "Yes, yes," he said,
quite overwhelmed; "yes, Marchiali.  'Tis plainly written Marchiali!
Quite true!"

"Ah! - "

"How? the man of whom we have talked so much?  The man whom they are
every day telling me to take such care of?"

"There is 'Marchiali,'" repeated the inflexible Aramis.

"I must own it, monseigneur.  But I understand nothing about it."

"You believe your eyes, at any rate."

"To tell me very plainly there is 'Marchiali.'"

"And in a good handwriting, too."

"'Tis a wonder!  I still see this order and the name of Seldon,
Irishman.  I see it.  Ah!  I even recollect that under this name there
was a blot of ink."

"No, there is no ink; no, there is no blot."

"Oh! but there was, though; I know it, because I rubbed my finger - this
very one - in the powder that was over the blot."

"In a word, be it how it may, dear M. Baisemeaux," said Aramis, "and
whatever you may have seen, the order is signed to release Marchiali,
blot or no blot."

"The order is signed to release Marchiali," replied Baisemeaux,
mechanically, endeavoring to regain his courage.

"And you are going to release this prisoner.  If your heart dictates you
to deliver Seldon also, I declare to you I will not oppose it the least
in the world."  Aramis accompanied this remark with a smile, the irony of
which effectually dispelled Baisemeaux's confusion of mind, and restored
his courage.

"Monseigneur," he said, "this Marchiali is the very same prisoner whom
the other day a priest confessor of _our order_ came to visit in so
imperious and so secret a manner."

"I don't know that, monsieur," replied the bishop.

"'Tis no such long time ago, dear Monsieur d'Herblay."

"It is true.  But _with us_, monsieur, it is good that the man of to-day
should no longer know what the man of yesterday did."

"In any case," said Baisemeaux, "the visit of the Jesuit confessor must
have given happiness to this man."

Aramis made no reply, but recommenced eating and drinking.  As for
Baisemeaux, no longer touching anything that was on the table, he again
took up the order and examined it every way.  This investigation, under
ordinary circumstances, would have made the ears of the impatient Aramis
burn with anger; but the bishop of Vannes did not become incensed for so
little, above all, when he had murmured to himself that to do so was
dangerous.  "Are you going to release Marchiali?" he said.  "What mellow,
fragrant and delicious sherry this is, my dear governor."

"Monseigneur," replied Baisemeaux, "I shall release the prisoner
Marchiali when I have summoned the courier who brought the order, and
above all, when, by interrogating him, I have satisfied myself."

"The order is sealed, and the courier is ignorant of the contents.  What
do you want to satisfy yourself about?"

"Be it so, monseigneur; but I shall send to the ministry, and M. de
Lyonne will either confirm or withdraw the order."

"What is the good of all that?" asked Aramis, coldly.

"What good?"

"Yes; what is your object, I ask?"

"The object of never deceiving oneself, monseigneur; nor being wanting in
the respect which a subaltern owes to his superior officers, nor
infringing the duties of a service one has accepted of one's own free

"Very good; you have just spoken so eloquently, that I cannot but admire
you.  It is true that a subaltern owes respect to his superiors; he is
guilty when he deceives himself, and he should be punished if he
infringed either the duties or laws of his office."

Baisemeaux looked at the bishop with astonishment.

"It follows," pursued Aramis, "that you are going to ask advice, to put
your conscience at ease in the matter?"

"Yes, monseigneur."

"And if a superior officer gives you orders, you will obey?"

"Never doubt it, monseigneur."

"You know the king's signature well, M. de Baisemeaux?"

"Yes, monseigneur."

"Is it not on this order of release?"

"It is true, but it may - "

"Be forged, you mean?"

"That is evident, monseigneur."

"You are right.  And that of M. de Lyonne?"

"I see it plain enough on the order; but for the same reason that the
king's signature may have been forged, so also, and with even greater
probability, may M. de Lyonne's."

"Your logic has the stride of a giant, M. de Baisemeaux," said Aramis;
"and your reasoning is irresistible.  But on what special grounds do you
base your idea that these signatures are false?"

"On this: the absence of counter-signatures.  Nothing checks his
majesty's signature; and M. de Lyonne is not there to tell me he has

"Well, Monsieur de Baisemeaux," said Aramis, bending an eagle glance on
the governor, "I adopt so frankly your doubts, and your mode of clearing
them up, that I will take a pen, if you will give me one."

Baisemeaux gave him a pen.

"And a sheet of white paper," added Aramis.

Baisemeaux handed him some paper.

"Now, I - I, also - I, here present - incontestably, I - am going to
write an order to which I am certain you will give credence, incredulous
as you are!"

Baisemeaux turned pale at this icy assurance of manner.  It seemed to him
that the voice of the bishop's, but just now so playful and gay, had
become funereal and sad; that the wax lights changed into the tapers of a
mortuary chapel, the very glasses of wine into chalices of blood.

Aramis took a pen and wrote.  Baisemeaux, in terror, read over his

"A. M. D. G.," wrote the bishop; and he drew a cross under these four
letters, which signify _ad majorem Dei gloriam_, "to the greater glory of
God;" and thus he continued: "It is our pleasure that the order brought
to M. de Baisemeaux de Montlezun, governor, for the king, of the castle
of the Bastile, be held by him good and effectual, and be immediately
carried into operation.
"(Signed) D'HERBLAY
"General of the Order, by the grace of God."

Baisemeaux was so profoundly astonished, that his features remained
contracted, his lips parted, and his eyes fixed.  He did not move an
inch, nor articulate a sound.  Nothing could be heard in that large
chamber but the wing-whisper of a little moth, which was fluttering to
its death about the candles.  Aramis, without even deigning to look at
the man whom he had reduced to so miserable a condition, drew from his
pocket a small case of black wax; he sealed the letter, and stamped it
with a seal suspended at his breast, beneath his doublet, and when the
operation was concluded, presented - still in silence - the missive to M.
de Baisemeaux.  The latter, whose hands trembled in a manner to excite
pity, turned a dull and meaningless gaze upon the letter.  A last gleam
of feeling played over his features, and he fell, as if thunder-struck,
on a chair.

"Come, come," said Aramis, after a long silence, during which the
governor of the Bastile had slowly recovered his senses, "do not lead me
to believe, dear Baisemeaux, that the presence of the general of the
order is as terrible as His, and that men die merely from having seen
Him.  Take courage, rouse yourself; give me your hand - obey."

Baisemeaux, reassured, if not satisfied, obeyed, kissed Aramis's hand,
and rose.  "Immediately?" he murmured.

"Oh, there is no pressing haste, my host; take your place again, and do
the honors over this beautiful dessert."

"Monseigneur, I shall never recover such a shock as this; I who have
laughed, who have jested with you!  I who have dared to treat you on a
footing of equality!"

"Say nothing about it, old comrade," replied the bishop, who perceived
how strained the cord was and how dangerous it would have been to break
it; "say nothing about it.  Let us each live in our own way; to you, my
protection and my friendship; to me, your obedience.  Having exactly
fulfilled these two requirements, let us live happily."

Baisemeaux reflected; he perceived, at a glance, the consequence of this
withdrawal of a prisoner by means of a forged order; and, putting in the
scale the guarantee offered him by the official order of the general, did
not consider it of any value.

Aramis divined this.  "My dear Baisemeaux," said he, "you are a
simpleton.  Lose this habit of reflection when I give myself the trouble
to think for you."

And at another gesture he made, Baisemeaux bowed again.  "How shall I set
about it?" he said.

"What is the process for releasing a prisoner?"

"I have the regulations."

"Well, then, follow the regulations, my friend."

"I go with my major to the prisoner's room, and conduct him, if he is a
personage of importance."

"But this Marchiali is not an important personage," said Aramis

"I don't know," answered the governor, as if he would have said, "It is
for you to instruct me."

"Then if you don't know it, I am right; so act towards Marchiali as you
act towards one of obscure station."

"Good; the regulations so provide.  They are to the effect that the
turnkey, or one of the lower officials, shall bring the prisoner before
the governor, in the office."

"Well, 'tis very wise, that; and then?"

"Then we return to the prisoner the valuables he wore at the time of his

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