List Of Contents | Contents of The Man in the Iron Mask, by Dumas, Pere
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everything.  The Oriental fable of the poor Arab who carried away from
the pillage of palace a kettle at the bottom of which was concealed a bag
of gold, and whom everybody allowed to pass without jealousy, - this
fable had become a truth in the prince's mansion.  Many contractors paid
themselves upon the offices of the duke.  Thus, the provision department,
who plundered the clothes-presses and the harness-rooms, attached very
little value to things which tailors and saddlers set great store by.
Anxious to carry home to their wives presents given them by monseigneur,
many were seen bounding joyously along, under the weight of earthen jars
and bottles, gloriously stamped with the arms of the prince.  M. de
Beaufort finished by giving away his horses and the hay from his lofts.
He made more than thirty happy with kitchen utensils; and thirty more
with the contents of his cellar.  Still further; all these people went
away with the conviction that M. de Beaufort only acted in this manner to
prepare for a new fortune concealed beneath the Arabs' tents.  They
repeated to each other, while pillaging his hotel, that he was sent to
Gigelli by the king to reconstruct his lost fortunes; that the treasures
of Africa would be equally divided between the admiral and the king of
France; that these treasures consisted in mines of diamonds, or other
fabulous stones; the gold and silver mines of Mount Atlas did not even
obtain the honor of being named.  In addition to the mines to be worked 
which could not be begun till after the campaign - there would be the
booty made by the army.  M. de Beaufort would lay his hands on all the
riches pirates had robbed Christendom of since the battle of Lepanto.
The number of millions from these sources defied calculation.  Why, then,
should he, who was going in quest of such treasure, set any store by the
poor utensils of his past life?  And reciprocally, why should they spare
the property of him who spared it so little himself?

Such was the position of affairs.  Athos, with his piercing practiced
glance, saw what was going on at once.  He found the admiral of France a
little exalted, for he was rising from a table of fifty covers, at which
the guests had drunk long and deeply to the prosperity of the expedition;
at the conclusion of which repast, the remains, with the dessert, had
been given to the servants, and the empty dishes and plates to the
curious.  The prince was intoxicated with his ruin and his popularity at
one and the same time.  He had drunk his old wine to the health of his
wine of the future.  When he saw Athos and Raoul:

"There is my aide-de-camp being brought to me!" he cried.  "Come hither,
comte; come hither, vicomte."

Athos tried to find a passage through the heaps of linen and plate.

"Ah! step over, step over!" said the duke, offering a full glass to
Athos.  The latter drank it; Raoul scarcely moistened his lips.

"Here is your commission," said the prince to Raoul.  "I had prepared it,
reckoning upon you.  You will go before me as far as Antibes."

"Yes, monseigneur."

"Here is the order."  And De Beaufort gave Raoul the order.  "Do you know
anything of the sea?"

"Yes, monseigneur; I have traveled with M. le Prince."

"That is well.  All these barges and lighters must be in attendance to
form an escort and carry my provisions.  The army must be prepared to
embark in a fortnight at the very latest."

"That shall be done, monseigneur."

"The present order gives you the right to visit and search all the isles
along the coast; you will there make the enrolments and levies you may
want for me."

"Yes, monsieur le duc."

"And you are an active man, and will work freely, you will spend much

"I hope not, monseigneur."

"But I am sure you will.  My intendant has prepared the orders of a
thousand livres, drawn upon the cities of the south; he will give you a
hundred of them.  Now, dear vicomte, be gone."

Athos interrupted the prince.  "Keep your money, monseigneur; war is to
be waged among the Arabs with gold as well as lead."

"I wish to try the contrary," replied the duke; "and then you are
acquainted with my ideas upon the expedition - plenty of noise, plenty of
fire, and, if so it must be, I shall disappear in the smoke."  Having
spoken thus, M. de Beaufort began to laugh; but his mirth was not
reciprocated by Athos and Raoul.  He perceived this at once.  "Ah," said
he, with the courteous egotism of his rank and age, "you are such people
as a man should not see after dinner; you are cold, stiff, and dry when I
am all fire, suppleness, and wine.  No, devil take me!  I should always
see you fasting, vicomte, and you, comte, if you wear such a face as
that, you shall see me no more."

He said this, pressing the hand of Athos, who replied with a smile,
"Monseigneur, do not talk so grandly because you happen to have plenty of
money.  I predict that within a month you will be dry, stiff, and cold,
in presence of your strong-box, and that then, having Raoul at your
elbow, fasting, you will be surprised to see him gay, animated, and
generous, because he will have some new crowns to offer you."

"God grant it may be so!" cried the delighted duke.  "Comte, stay with

"No, I shall go with Raoul; the mission with which you charge him is a
troublesome and difficult one.  Alone it would be too much for him to
execute.  You do not observe, monseigneur, you have given him command of
the first order."


"And in your naval arrangements, too."

"That may be true.  But one finds that such fine young fellows as your
son generally do all that is required of them."

"Monseigneur, I believe you will find nowhere so much zeal and
intelligence, so much real bravery, as in Raoul; but if he failed to
arrange your embarkation, you would only meet the fate that you deserve."

"Humph! you are scolding me, then."

"Monseigneur, to provision a fleet, to assemble a flotilla, to enroll
your maritime force, would take an admiral a year.  Raoul is a cavalry
officer, and you allow him a fortnight!"

"I tell you he will do it."

"He may; but I will go and help him."

"To be sure you will; I reckoned upon you, and still further believe that
when we are once at Toulon you will not let him depart alone."

"Oh!" said Athos, shaking his head.

"Patience! patience!"

"Monseigneur, permit us to take our leave."

"Begone, then, and may my good luck attend you."

"Adieu! monseigneur; and may your own good luck attend you likewise."

"Here is an expedition admirably commenced!" said Athos to his son.  "No
provisions - no store flotilla!  What can be done, thus?"

"Humph!" murmured Raoul; "if all are going to do as I am, provisions will
not be wanted."

"Monsieur," replied Athos, sternly, "do not be unjust and senseless in
your egotism, or your grief, whichever you please to call it.  If you set
out for this war solely with the intention of getting killed therein, you
stand in need of nobody, and it was scarcely worth while to recommend you
to M. de Beaufort.  But when you have been introduced to the prime
commandant - when you have accepted the responsibility of a post in his
army, the question is no longer about _you_, but about all those poor
soldiers, who, as well as you, have hearts and bodies, who will weep for
their country and endure all the necessities of their condition.
Remember, Raoul, that officers are ministers as useful to the world as
priests, and that they ought to have more charity."

"Monsieur, I know it and have practiced it; I would have continued to do
so still, but - "

"You forget also that you are of a country that is proud of its military
glory; go and die if you like, but do not die without honor and without
advantage to France.  Cheer up, Raoul! do not let my words grieve you; I
love you, and wish to see you perfect."

"I love your reproaches, monsieur," said the young man, mildly; "they
alone may cure me, because they prove to me that some one loves me still."

"And now, Raoul, let us be off; the weather is so fine, the heavens so
clear, those heavens which we always find above our heads, which you will
see more clear still at Gigelli, and which will speak to you of me there,
as they speak to me here of God."

The two gentlemen, after having agreed on this point, talked over the
wild freaks of the duke, convinced that France would be served in a very
incomplete manner, as regarded both spirit and practice, in the ensuing
expedition; and having summed up the ducal policy under the one word
vanity, they set forward, in obedience rather to their will than
destiny.  The sacrifice was half accomplished.

Chapter XXXI:
The Silver Dish.

The journey passed off pretty well.  Athos and his son traversed France
at the rate of fifteen leagues per day; sometimes more, sometimes less,
according to the intensity of Raoul's grief.  It took them a fortnight to
reach Toulon, and they lost all traces of D'Artagnan at Antibes.  They
were forced to believe that the captain of the musketeers was desirous of
preserving an incognito on his route, for Athos derived from his
inquiries an assurance that such a cavalier as he described had exchanged
his horse for a well-closed carriage on quitting Avignon.  Raoul was much
affected at not meeting with D'Artagnan.  His affectionate heart longed
to take a farewell and received consolation from that heart of steel.
Athos knew from experience that D'Artagnan became impenetrable when
engaged in any serious affair, whether on his own account or on the
service of the king.  He even feared to offend his friend, or thwart him
by too pressing inquiries.  And yet when Raoul commenced his labor of
classing the flotilla, and got together the _chalands_ and lighters to
send them to Toulon, one of the fishermen told the comte that his boat
had been laid up to refit since a trip he had made on account of a
gentleman who was in great haste to embark.  Athos, believing that this
man was telling a falsehood in order to be left at liberty to fish, and
so gain more money when all his companions were gone, insisted upon

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