List Of Contents | Contents of The Man in the Iron Mask, by Dumas, Pere
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imprisonment, his clothes and papers, if the minister's orders have not
otherwise dictated."

"What was the minister's order as to this Marchiali?"

"Nothing; for the unhappy man arrived here without jewels, without
papers, and almost without clothes."

"See how simple, then, all is.  Indeed, Baisemeaux, you make a mountain
of everything.  Remain here, and make them bring the prisoner to the
governor's house."

Baisemeaux obeyed.  He summoned his lieutenant, and gave him an order,
which the latter passed on, without disturbing himself about it, to the
next whom it concerned.

Half an hour afterwards they heard a gate shut in the court; it was the
door to the dungeon, which had just rendered up its prey to the free
air.  Aramis blew out all the candles which lighted the room but one,
which he left burning behind the door.  This flickering glare prevented
the sight from resting steadily on any object.  It multiplied tenfold the
changing forms and shadows of the place, by its wavering uncertainty.
Steps drew near.

"Go and meet your men," said Aramis to Baisemeaux.

The governor obeyed.  The sergeant and turnkeys disappeared.  Baisemeaux
re-entered, followed by a prisoner.  Aramis had placed himself in the
shade; he saw without being seen.  Baisemeaux, in an agitated tone of
voice, made the young man acquainted with the order which set him at
liberty.  The prisoner listened, without making a single gesture or
saying a word."

"You will swear ('tis the regulation that requires it)," added the
governor, "never to reveal anything that you have seen or heard in the

The prisoner perceived a crucifix; he stretched out his hands and swore
with his lips.  "And now, monsieur, you are free.  Whither do you intend

The prisoner turned his head, as if looking behind him for some
protection, on which he ought to rely.  Then was it that Aramis came out
of the shade: "I am here," he said, "to render the gentleman whatever
service he may please to ask."

The prisoner slightly reddened, and, without hesitation, passed his arm
through that of Aramis.  "God have you in his holy keeping," he said, in
a voice the firmness of which made the governor tremble as much as the
form of the blessing astonished him.

Aramis, on shaking hands with Baisemeaux, said to him; "Does my order
trouble you?  Do you fear their finding it here, should they come to

"I desire to keep it, monseigneur," said Baisemeaux.  "If they found it
here, it would be a certain indication I should be lost, and in that case
you would be a powerful and a last auxiliary for me."

"Being your accomplice, you mean?" answered Aramis, shrugging his
shoulders.  "Adieu, Baisemeaux," said he.

The horses were in waiting, making each rusty spring reverberate the
carriage again with their impatience.  Baisemeaux accompanied the bishop
to the bottom of the steps.  Aramis caused his companion to mount before
him, then followed, and without giving the driver any further order, "Go
on," said he.  The carriage rattled over the pavement of the courtyard.
An officer with a torch went before the horses, and gave orders at every
post to let them pass.  During the time taken in opening all the
barriers, Aramis barely breathed, and you might have heard his "sealed
heart knock against his ribs."  The prisoner, buried in a corner of the
carriage, made no more sign of life than his companion.  At length, a
jolt more sever than the others announced to them that they had cleared
the last watercourse.  Behind the carriage closed the last gate, that in
the Rue St. Antoine.  No more walls either on the right or the left;
heaven everywhere, liberty everywhere, and life everywhere.  The horses,
kept in check by a vigorous hand, went quietly as far as the middle of
the faubourg.  There they began to trot.  Little by little, whether they
were warming to their work, or whether they were urged, they gained in
swiftness, and once past Bercy, the carriage seemed to fly, so great was
the ardor of the coursers.  The horses galloped thus as far as Villeneuve
St. George's, where relays were waiting.  Then four instead of two
whirled the carriage away in the direction of Melun, and pulled up for a
moment in the middle of the forest of Senart.  No doubt the order had
been given the postilion beforehand, for Aramis had no occasion even to
make a sign.

"What is the matter?" asked the prisoner, as if waking from a long dream.

"The matter is, monseigneur," said Aramis, "that before going further, it
is necessary your royal highness and I should converse."

"I will await an opportunity, monsieur," answered the young prince.

"We could not have a better, monseigneur.  We are in the middle of a
forest, and no one can hear us."

"The postilion?"

"The postilion of this relay is deaf and dumb, monseigneur."

"I am at your service, M. d'Herblay."

"Is it your pleasure to remain in the carriage?"

"Yes; we are comfortably seated, and I like this carriage, for it has
restored me to liberty."

"Wait, monseigneur; there is yet a precaution to be taken."


"We are here on the highway; cavaliers or carriages traveling like
ourselves might pass, and seeing us stopping, deem us in some
difficulty.  Let us avoid offers of assistance, which would embarrass us."

"Give the postilion orders to conceal the carriage in one of the side

"'Tis exactly what I wished to do, monseigneur."

Aramis made a sign to the deaf and dumb driver of the carriage, whom he
touched on the arm.  The latter dismounted, took the leaders by the
bridle, and led them over the velvet sward and the mossy grass of a
winding alley, at the bottom of which, on this moonless night, the deep
shades formed a curtain blacker than ink.  This done, the man lay down on
a slope near his horses, who, on either side, kept nibbling the young oak

"I am listening," said the young prince to Aramis; "but what are you
doing there?"

"I am disarming myself of my pistols, of which we have no further need,

Chapter IX:
The Tempter.

"My prince," said Aramis, turning in the carriage towards his companion,
"weak creature as I am, so unpretending in genius, so low in the scale of
intelligent beings, it has never yet happened to me to converse with a
man without penetrating his thoughts through that living mask which has
been thrown over our mind, in order to retain its expression.  But to-
night, in this darkness, in the reserve which you maintain, I can read
nothing on your features, and something tells me that I shall have great
difficulty in wresting from you a sincere declaration.  I beseech you,
then, not for love of me, for subjects should never weigh as anything in
the balance which princes hold, but for love of yourself, to retain every
syllable, every inflexion which, under the present most grave
circumstances, will all have a sense and value as important as any every
uttered in the world."

"I listen," replied the young prince, "decidedly, without either eagerly
seeking or fearing anything you are about to say to me."  And he buried
himself still deeper in the thick cushions of the carriage, trying to
deprive his companion not only of the sight of him, but even of the very
idea of his presence.

Black was the darkness which fell wide and dense from the summits of the
intertwining trees.  The carriage, covered in by this prodigious roof,
would not have received a particle of light, not even if a ray could have
struggled through the wreaths of mist that were already rising in the

"Monseigneur," resumed Aramis, "you know the history of the government
which to-day controls France.  The king issued from an infancy imprisoned
like yours, obscure as yours, and confined as yours; only, instead of
ending, like yourself, this slavery in a prison, this obscurity in
solitude, these straightened circumstances in concealment, he was fain to
bear all these miseries, humiliations, and distresses, in full daylight,
under the pitiless sun of royalty; on an elevation flooded with light,
where every stain appears a blemish, every glory a stain.  The king has
suffered; it rankles in his mind; and he will avenge himself.  He will be
a bad king.  I say not that he will pour out his people's blood, like
Louis XI., or Charles IX.; for he has no mortal injuries to avenge; but
he will devour the means and substance of his people; for he has himself
undergone wrongs in his own interest and money.  In the first place,
then, I acquit my conscience, when I consider openly the merits and the
faults of this great prince; and if I condemn him, my conscience absolves

Aramis paused.  It was not to listen if the silence of the forest
remained undisturbed, but it was to gather up his thoughts from the very
bottom of his soul - to leave the thoughts he had uttered sufficient time
to eat deeply into the mind of his companion.

"All that Heaven does, Heaven does well," continued the bishop of Vannes;
"and I am so persuaded of it that I have long been thankful to have been
chosen depositary of the secret which I have aided you to discover.  To a
just Providence was necessary an instrument, at once penetrating,
persevering, and convinced, to accomplish a great work.  I am this
instrument.  I possess penetration, perseverance, conviction; I govern a
mysterious people, who has taken for its motto, the motto of God,
'_Patiens quia oeternus_.'"  The prince moved.  "I divine, monseigneur,
why you are raising your head, and are surprised at the people I have
under my command.  You did not know you were dealing with a king - oh!
monseigneur, king of a people very humble, much disinherited; humble
because they have no force save when creeping; disinherited, because
never, almost never in this world, do my people reap the harvest they
sow, nor eat the fruit they cultivate.  They labor for an abstract idea;
they heap together all the atoms of their power, to from a single man;
and round this man, with the sweat of their labor, they create a misty
halo, which his genius shall, in turn, render a glory gilded with the

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