List Of Contents | Contents of The Man in the Iron Mask, by Dumas, Pere
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exhibited any surprise.

"Well, M. d'Herblay?"

"Well, sire, all is accomplished."


"Exactly as we expected."

"Did he resist?"

"Terribly! tears and entreaties."

"And then?"

"A perfect stupor."

"But at last?"

"Oh! at last, a complete victory, and absolute silence."

"Did the governor of the Bastile suspect anything?"


"The resemblance, however - "

"Was the cause of the success."

"But the prisoner cannot fail to explain himself.  Think well of that.  I
have myself been able to do as much as that, on former occasion."

"I have already provided for every chance.  In a few days, sooner if
necessary, we will take the captive out of his prison, and will send him
out of the country, to a place of exile so remote - "

"People can return from their exile, Monsieur d'Herblay."

"To a place of exile so distant, I was going to say, that human strength
and the duration of human life would not be enough for his return."

Once more a cold look of intelligence passed between Aramis and the young

"And M. du Vallon?" asked Philippe in order to change the conversation.

"He will be presented to you to-day, and confidentially will congratulate
you on the danger which that conspirator has made you run."

"What is to be done with him?"

"With M. du Vallon?"

"Yes; confer a dukedom on him, I suppose."

"A dukedom," replied Aramis, smiling in a significant manner.

"Why do you laugh, Monsieur d'Herblay?"

"I laugh at the extreme caution of your idea."

"Cautious, why so?"

"Your majesty is doubtless afraid that poor Porthos may possible become a
troublesome witness, and you wish to get rid of him."

"What! in making him a duke?"

"Certainly; you would assuredly kill him, for he would die from joy, and
the secret would die with him."

"Good heavens!"

"Yes," said Aramis, phlegmatically; "I should lose a very good friend."

At this moment, and in the middle of this idle conversation, under the
light tone of which the two conspirators concealed their joy and pride at
their mutual success, Aramis heard something which made him prick up his

"What is that?" said Philippe.

"The dawn, sire."


"Well, before you retired to bed last night, you probably decided to do
something this morning at break of day."

"Yes, I told my captain of the musketeers," replied the young man
hurriedly, "that I should expect him."

"If you told him that, he will certainly be here, for he is a most
punctual man."

"I hear a step in the vestibule."

"It must be he."

"Come, let us begin the attack," said the young king resolutely.

"Be cautious for Heaven's sake.  To begin the attack, and with
D'Artagnan, would be madness.  D'Artagnan knows nothing, he has seen
nothing; he is a hundred miles from suspecting our mystery in the
slightest degree, but if he comes into this room the first this morning,
he will be sure to detect something of what has taken place, and which he
would imagine it his business to occupy himself about.  Before we allow
D'Artagnan to penetrate into this room, we must air the room thoroughly,
or introduce so many people into it, that the keenest scent in the whole
kingdom may be deceived by the traces of twenty different persons."

"But how can I send him away, since I have given him a rendezvous?"
observed the prince, impatient to measure swords with so redoubtable an

"I will take care of that," replied the bishop, "and in order to begin, I
am going to strike a blow which will completely stupefy our man."

"He, too, is striking a blow, for I hear him at the door," added the
prince, hurriedly.

And, in fact, a knock at the door was heard at that moment.  Aramis was
not mistaken; for it was indeed D'Artagnan who adopted that mode of
announcing himself.

We have seen how he passed the night in philosophizing with M. Fouquet,
but the musketeer was very weary even of feigning to fall asleep, and as
soon as earliest dawn illumined with its gloomy gleams of light the
sumptuous cornices of the superintendent's room, D'Artagnan rose from his
armchair, arranged his sword, brushed his coat and hat with his sleeve,
like a private soldier getting ready for inspection.

"Are you going out?" said Fouquet.

"Yes, monseigneur.  And you?"

"I shall remain."

"You pledge your word?"


"Very good.  Besides, my only reason for going out is to try and get that
reply, - you know what I mean?"

"That sentence, you mean - "

"Stay, I have something of the old Roman in me.  This morning, when I got
up, I remarked that my sword had got caught in one of the _aiguillettes_,
and that my shoulder-belt had slipped quite off.  That is an infallible

"Of prosperity?"

"Yes, be sure of it; for every time that that confounded belt of mine
stuck fast to my back, it always signified a punishment from M. de
Treville, or a refusal of money by M. de Mazarin.  Every time my sword
hung fast to my shoulder-belt, it always predicted some disagreeable
commission or another for me to execute, and I have had showers of them
all my life through.  Every time, too, my sword danced about in its
sheath, a duel, fortunate in its result, was sure to follow: whenever it
dangled about the calves of my legs, it signified a slight wound; every
time it fell completely out of the scabbard, I was booked, and made up my
mind that I should have to remain on the field of battle, with two or
three months under surgical bandages into the bargain."

"I did not know your sword kept you so well informed," said Fouquet, with
a faint smile, which showed how he was struggling against his own
weakness.  "Is your sword bewitched, or under the influence of some
imperial charm?"

"Why, you must know that my sword may almost be regarded as part of my
own body.  I have heard that certain men seem to have warnings given them
by feeling something the matter with their legs, or a throbbing of their
temples.  With me, it is my sword that warns me.  Well, it told me of
nothing this morning.  But, stay a moment - look here, it has just fallen
of its own accord into the last hole of the belt.  Do you know what that
is a warning of?"


"Well, that tells me of an arrest that will have to be made this very

"Well," said the surintendant, more astonished than annoyed by this
frankness, "if there is nothing disagreeable predicted to you by your
sword, I am to conclude that it is not disagreeable for you to arrest me."

"You! arrest _you!_"

"Of course.  The warning - "

"Does not concern you, since you have been arrested ever since
yesterday.  It is not you I shall have to arrest, be assured of that.
That is the reason why I am delighted, and also the reason why I said
that my day will be a happy one."

And with these words, pronounced with the most affectionate graciousness
of manner, the captain took leave of Fouquet in order to wait upon the
king.  He was on the point of leaving the room, when Fouquet said to him,
"One last mark of kindness."

"What is it, monseigneur?"

"M. d'Herblay; let me see Monsieur d'Herblay."

"I am going to try and get him to come to you."

D'Artagnan did not think himself so good a prophet.  It was written that
the day would pass away and realize all the predictions that had been
made in the morning.  He had accordingly knocked, as we have seen, at the
king's door.  The door opened.  The captain thought that it was the king
who had just opened it himself; and this supposition was not altogether
inadmissible, considering the state of agitation in which he had left
Louis XIV. the previous evening; but instead of his royal master, whom he
was on the point of saluting with the greatest respect, he perceived the
long, calm features of Aramis.  So extreme was his surprise that he could
hardly refrain from uttering a loud exclamation.  "Aramis!" he said.

"Good morning, dear D'Artagnan," replied the prelate, coldly.

"You here!" stammered out the musketeer.

"His majesty desires you to report that he is still sleeping, after
having been greatly fatigued during the whole night."

"Ah!" said D'Artagnan, who could not understand how the bishop of Vannes,
who had been so indifferent a favorite the previous evening, had become
in half a dozen hours the most magnificent mushroom of fortune that had
ever sprung up in a sovereign's bedroom.  In fact, to transmit the orders
of the king even to the mere threshold of that monarch's room, to serve
as an intermediary of Louis XIV. so as to be able to give a single order
in his name at a couple paces from him, he must have become more than
Richelieu had ever been to Louis XIII.  D'Artagnan's expressive eye, half-
opened lips, his curling mustache, said as much indeed in the plainest
language to the chief favorite, who remained calm and perfectly unmoved.

"Moreover," continued the bishop, "you will be good enough, monsieur le
capitaine des mousquetaires, to allow those only to pass into the king's
room this morning who have special permission.  His majesty does not wish
to be disturbed just yet."

"But," objected D'Artagnan, almost on the point of refusing to obey this
order, and particularly of giving unrestrained passage to the suspicions
which the king's silence had aroused - "but, monsieur l'eveque, his
majesty gave me a rendezvous for this morning."

"Later, later," said the king's voice, from the bottom of the alcove; a
voice which made a cold shudder pass through the musketeer's veins.  He
bowed, amazed, confused, and stupefied by the smile with which Aramis
seemed to overwhelm him, as soon as these words had been pronounced.

"And then," continued the bishop, "as an answer to what you were coming
to ask the king, my dear D'Artagnan, here is an order of his majesty,
which you will be good enough to attend to forthwith, for it concerns M.

D'Artagnan took the order which was held out to him.  "To be set at
liberty!" he murmured.  "Ah!" and he uttered a second "ah!" still more
full of intelligence than the former; for this order explained Aramis's

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