List Of Contents | Contents of The Man in the Iron Mask, by Dumas, Pere
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Chapter XXVIII:
Preparations for Departure.

Athos lost no more time in combating this immutable resolution.  He gave
all his attention to preparing, during the two days the duke had granted
him, the proper appointments for Raoul.  This labor chiefly concerned
Grimaud, who immediately applied himself to it with the good-will and
intelligence we know he possessed.  Athos gave this worthy servant orders
to take the route to Paris when the equipments should be ready; and, not
to expose himself to the danger of keeping the duke waiting, or delaying
Raoul, so that the duke should perceive his absence, he himself, the day
after the visit of M. de Beaufort, set off for Paris with his son.

For the poor young man it was an emotion easily to be understood, thus to
return to Paris amongst all the people who had known and loved him.
Every face recalled a pang to him who had suffered so much; to him who
had loved so much, some circumstance of his unhappy love.  Raoul, on
approaching Paris, felt as if he were dying.  Once in Paris, he really
existed no longer.  When he reached Guiche's residence, he was informed
that Guiche was with Monsieur.  Raoul took the road to the Luxembourg,
and when arrived, without suspecting that he was going to the place where
La Valliere had lived, he heard so much music and respired so many
perfumes, he heard so much joyous laughter, and saw so many dancing
shadows, that if it had not been for a charitable woman, who perceived
him so dejected and pale beneath a doorway, he would have remained there
a few minutes, and then would have gone away, never to return.  But, as
we have said, in the first ante-chamber he had stopped, solely for the
sake of not mixing himself with all those happy beings he felt were
moving around him in the adjacent salons.  And as one of Monsieur's
servants, recognizing him, had asked him if he wished to see Monsieur or
Madame, Raoul had scarcely answered him, but had sunk down upon a bench
near the velvet doorway, looking at a clock, which had stopped for nearly
an hour.  The servant had passed on, and another, better acquainted with
him, had come up, and interrogated Raoul whether he should inform M. de
Guiche of his being there.  This name did not even arouse the
recollections of Raoul.  The persistent servant went on to relate that De
Guiche had just invented a new game of lottery, and was teaching it to
the ladies.  Raoul, opening his large eyes, like the absent man in
Theophrastus, made no answer, but his sadness increased two shades.  With
his head hanging down, his limbs relaxed, his mouth half open for the
escape of his sighs, Raoul remained, thus forgotten, in the ante-chamber,
when all at once a lady's robe passed, rubbing against the doors of a
side salon, which opened on the gallery.  A lady, young, pretty, and gay,
scolding an officer of the household, entered by that way, and expressed
herself with much vivacity.  The officer replied in calm but firm
sentences; it was rather a little love pet than a quarrel of courtiers,
and was terminated by a kiss on the fingers of the lady.  Suddenly, on
perceiving Raoul, the lady became silent, and pushing away the officer:

"Make your escape, Malicorne," said she; "I did not think there was any
one here.  I shall curse you, if they have either heard or seen us!"

Malicorne hastened away.  The young lady advanced behind Raoul, and
stretching her joyous face over him as he lay:

"Monsieur is a gallant man," said she, "and no doubt - "

She here interrupted herself by uttering a cry.  "Raoul!" said she,

"Mademoiselle de Montalais!" said Raoul, paler than death.

He rose unsteadily, and tried to make his way across the slippery mosaic
of the floor; but she had comprehended that savage and cruel grief; she
felt that in the flight of Raoul there was an accusation of herself.  A
woman, ever vigilant, she did not think she ought to let the opportunity
slip of making good her justification; but Raoul, though stopped by her
in the middle of the gallery, did not seem disposed to surrender without
a combat.  He took it up in a tone so cold and embarrassed, that if they
had been thus surprised, the whole court would have no doubt about the
proceedings of Mademoiselle de Montalais.

"Ah! monsieur," said she with disdain, "what you are doing is very
unworthy of a gentleman.  My heart inclines me to speak to you; you
compromise me by a reception almost uncivil; you are wrong, monsieur; and
you confound your friends with enemies.  Farewell!"

Raoul had sworn never to speak of Louise, never even to look at those who
might have seen Louise; he was going into another world, that he might
never meet with anything Louise had seen, or even touched.  But after the
first shock of his pride, after having had a glimpse of Montalais, the
companion of Louise - Montalais, who reminded him of the turret of Blois
and the joys of youth - all his reason faded away.

"Pardon me, mademoiselle; it enters not, it cannot enter into my thoughts
to be uncivil."

"Do you wish to speak to me?" said she, with the smile of former days.
"Well! come somewhere else; for we may be surprised."

"Oh!' said he.

She looked at the clock, doubtingly, then, having reflected:

"In my apartment," said she, "we shall have an hour to ourselves."  And
taking her course, lighter than a fairy, she ran up to her chamber,
followed by Raoul.  Shutting the door, and placing in the hands of her
_cameriste_ the mantle she had held upon her arm:

"You were seeking M. de Guiche, were you not?" said she to Raoul.

"Yes, mademoiselle."

"I will go and ask him to come up here, presently, after I have spoken to

"Do so, mademoiselle."

"Are you angry with me?"

Raoul looked at her for a moment, then, casting down his eyes, "Yes,"
said he.

"You think I was concerned in the plot which brought about the rupture,
do you not?"

"Rupture!" said he, with bitterness.  "Oh! mademoiselle, there can be no
rupture where there has been no love."

"You are in error," replied Montalais; "Louise did love you."

Raoul started.

"Not with love, I know; but she liked you, and you ought to have married
her before you set out for London."

Raoul broke into a sinister laugh, which made Montalais shudder.

"You tell me that very much at your ease, mademoiselle.  Do people marry
whom they like?  You forget that the king then kept for himself as his
mistress her of whom we are speaking."

"Listen," said the young woman, pressing the hands of Raoul in her own,
"you were wrong in every way; a man of your age ought never to leave a
woman of hers alone."

"There is no longer any faith in the world, then," said Raoul.

"No, vicomte," said Montalais, quietly.  "Nevertheless, let me tell you
that, if, instead of loving Louise coldly and philosophically, you had
endeavored to awaken her to love - "

"Enough, I pray you, mademoiselle," said Raoul.  "I feel as though you
are all, of both sexes, of a different age from me.  You can laugh, and
you can banter agreeably.  I, mademoiselle, I loved Mademoiselle de - "
Raoul could not pronounce her name, - "I loved her well!  I put my faith
in her - now I am quits by loving her no longer."

"Oh, vicomte!" said Montalais, pointing to his reflection in a looking-

"I know what you mean, mademoiselle; I am much altered, am I not?  Well!
Do you know why?  Because my face is the mirror of my heart, the outer
surface changed to match the mind within."

"You are consoled, then?" said Montalais, sharply.

"No, I shall never be consoled."

"I don't understand you, M. de Bragelonne."

"I care but little for that.  I do not quite understand myself."

"You have not even tried to speak to Louise?"

"Who!  I?" exclaimed the young man, with eyes flashing fire; "I! - Why do
you not advise me to marry her?  Perhaps the king would consent now."
And he rose from his chair full of anger.

"I see," said Montalais, "that you are not cured, and that Louise has one
enemy the more."

"One enemy the more!"

"Yes; favorites are but little beloved at the court of France."

"Oh! while she has her lover to protect her, is not that enough?  She has
chosen him of such a quality that her enemies cannot prevail against
her."  But, stopping all at once, "And then she has you for a friend,
mademoiselle," added he, with a shade of irony which did not glide off
the cuirass.

"Who!  I? - Oh, no!  I am no longer one of those whom Mademoiselle de la
Valliere condescends to look upon; but - "

This _but_, so big with menace and with storm; this _but_, which made the
heart of Raoul beat, such griefs did it presage for her whom lately he
loved so dearly; this terrible _but_, so significant in a woman like
Montalais, was interrupted by a moderately loud noise heard by the
speakers proceeding from the alcove behind the wainscoting.  Montalais
turned to listen, and Raoul was already rising, when a lady entered the
room quietly by the secret door, which she closed after her.

"Madame!" exclaimed Raoul, on recognizing the sister-in-law of the king.

"Stupid wretch!" murmured Montalais, throwing herself, but too late,
before the princess, "I have been mistaken in an hour!"  She had,
however, time to warn the princess, who was walking towards Raoul.

"M. de Bragelonne, Madame," and at these words the princess drew back,
uttering a cry in her turn.

"Your royal highness," said Montalais, with volubility, "is kind enough
to think of this lottery, and - "

The princess began to lose countenance.  Raoul hastened his departure,
without divining all, but he felt that he was in the way.  Madame was
preparing a word of transition to recover herself, when a closet opened
in front of the alcove, and M. de Guiche issued, all radiant, also from
that closet.  The palest of the four, we must admit, was still Raoul.
The princess, however, was near fainting, and was obliged to lean upon
the foot of the bed for support.  No one ventured to support her.  This
scene occupied several minutes of terrible suspense.  But Raoul broke
it.  He went up to the count, whose inexpressible emotion made his knees

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