List Of Contents | Contents of The Man in the Iron Mask, by Dumas, Pere
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embarkation.  The sea, loaded with phosphoric light, opened beneath the
hulls of the barks that transported the baggage and munitions; every dip
of the prow plowed up this gulf of white flames; from every oar dropped
liquid diamonds.  The sailors, rejoicing in the largesses of the admiral,
were heard murmuring their slow and artless songs.  Sometimes the
grinding of the chains was mixed with the dull noise of shot falling into
the holds.  Such harmonies, such a spectacle, oppress the heart like
fear, and dilate it like hope.  All this life speaks of death.  Athos had
seated himself with his son, upon the moss, among the brambles of the
promontory.  Around their heads passed and repassed large bats, carried
along by the fearful whirl of their blind chase.  The feet of Raoul were
over the edge of the cliff, bathed in that void which is peopled by
vertigo, and provokes to self-annihilation.  When the moon had risen to
its fullest height, caressing with light the neighboring peaks, when the
watery mirror was illumined in its full extent, and the little red fires
had made their openings in the black masses of every ship, Athos,
collecting all his ideas and all his courage, said:

"God has made all these things that we see, Raoul; He has made us also, -
poor atoms mixed up with this monstrous universe.  We shine like those
fires and those stars; we sigh like those waves; we suffer like those
great ships, which are worn out in plowing the waves, in obeying the wind
that urges them towards an end, as the breath of God blows us towards a
port.  Everything likes to live, Raoul; and everything seems beautiful to
living things."

"Monsieur," said Raoul, "we have before us a beautiful spectacle!"

"How good D'Artagnan is!" interrupted Athos, suddenly, "and what a rare
good fortune it is to be supported during a whole life by such a friend
as he is!  That is what you have missed, Raoul."

"A friend!" cried Raoul, "I have wanted a friend!"

"M. de Guiche is an agreeable companion," resumed the comte, coldly, "but
I believe, in the times in which you live, men are more engaged in their
own interests and their own pleasures than they were in ours.  You have
sought a secluded life; that is a great happiness, but you have lost your
strength thereby.  We four, more weaned from those delicate abstractions
that constitute your joy, furnished much more resistance when misfortune
presented itself."

"I have not interrupted you, monsieur, to tell you that I had a friend,
and that that friend is M. de Guiche.  _Certes_, he is good and generous,
and moreover he loves me.  But I have lived under the guardianship of
another friendship, monsieur, as precious and as strong as that of which
you speak, since it is yours."

"I have not been a friend for you, Raoul," said Athos.

"Eh! monsieur, and in what respect not?"

"Because I have given you reason to think that life has but one face,
because, sad and severe, alas!  I have always cut off for you, without,
God knows, wishing to do so, the joyous buds that spring incessantly
from the fair tree of youth; so that at this moment I repent of not
having made of you a more expansive, dissipated, animated man."

"I know why you say that, monsieur.  No, it is not you who have made me
what I am; it was love, which took me at the time when children only have
inclinations; it is the constancy natural to my character, which with
other creatures is but habit.  I believed that I should always be as I
was; I thought God had cast me in a path quite clear, quite straight,
bordered with fruits and flowers.  I had ever watching over me your
vigilance and strength.  I believed myself to be vigilant and strong.
Nothing prepared me; I fell once, and that once deprived me of courage
for the whole of my life.  It is quite true that I wrecked myself.  Oh,
no, monsieur! you are nothing in my past but happiness - in my future but
hope!  No, I have no reproach to make against life such as you made it
for me; I bless you, and I love you ardently."

"My dear Raoul, your words do me good.  They prove to me that you will
act a little for me in the time to come."

"I shall only act for you, monsieur."

"Raoul, what I have never hitherto done with respect to you, I will
henceforward do.  I will be your friend, not your father.  We will live
in expanding ourselves, instead of living and holding ourselves
prisoners, when you come back.  And that will be soon, will it not?"

"Certainly, monsieur, for such an expedition cannot last long."

"Soon, then, Raoul, soon, instead of living moderately on my income, I
will give you the capital of my estates.  It will suffice for launching
you into the world till my death; and you will give me, I hope, before
that time, the consolation of not seeing my race extinct."

"I will do all you may command," said Raoul, much agitated.

"It is not necessary, Raoul, that your duty as aide-de-camp should lead
you into too hazardous enterprises.  You have gone through your ordeal;
you are known to be a true man under fire.  Remember that war with Arabs
is a war of snares, ambuscades, and assassinations."

"So it is said, monsieur."

"There is never much glory in falling in an ambuscade.  It is a death
which always implies a little rashness or want of foresight.  Often,
indeed, he who falls in one meets with but little pity.  Those who are
not pitied, Raoul, have died to little purpose.  Still further, the
conqueror laughs, and we Frenchmen ought not to allow stupid infidels to
triumph over our faults.  Do you clearly understand what I am saying to
you, Raoul?  God forbid I should encourage you to avoid encounters."

"I am naturally prudent, monsieur, and I have very good fortune," said
Raoul, with a  smile which chilled the heart of his poor father; "for,"
the young man hastened to add, "in twenty combats through which I have
been, I have only received one scratch."

"There is in addition," said Athos, "the climate to be dreaded: that is
an ugly end, to die of fever!  King Saint-Louis prayed God to send him an
arrow or the plague, rather than the fever."

"Oh, monsieur! with sobriety, with reasonable exercise - "

"I have already obtained from M. de Beaufort a promise that his
dispatches shall be sent off every fortnight to France.  You, as his aide-
de-camp, will be charged with expediting them, and will be sure not to
forget me."

"No, monsieur," said Raoul, almost choked with emotion.

"Besides, Raoul, as you are a good Christian, and I am one also, we ought
to reckon upon a more special protection of God and His guardian angels.
Promise me that if anything evil should happen to you, on any occasion,
you will think of me at once."

"First and at once!  Oh! yes, monsieur."

"And will call upon me?"


"You dream of me sometimes, do you not, Raoul?"

"Every night, monsieur.  During my early youth I saw you in my dreams,
calm and mild, with one hand stretched out over my head, and that it was
which made me sleep so soundly - formerly."

"We love each other too dearly," said the comte, "that from this moment,
in which we separate, a portion of both our souls should not travel with
one and the other of us, and should not dwell wherever we may dwell.
Whenever you may be sad, Raoul, I feel that my heart will be dissolved in
sadness; and when you smile on thinking of me, be assured you will send
me, from however remote a distance, a vital scintillation of your joy."

"I will not promise you to be joyous," replied the young man; "but you
may be certain that I will never pass an hour without thinking of you,
not one hour, I swear, unless I shall be dead."

Athos could contain himself no longer; he threw his arm round the neck of
his son, and held him embraced with all the power of his heart.  The moon
began to be now eclipsed by twilight; a golden band surrounded the
horizon, announcing the approach of the day.  Athos threw his cloak over
the shoulders of Raoul, and led him back to the city, where burdens and
porters were already in motion, like a vast ant-hill.  At the extremity
of the plateau which Athos and Bragelonne were quitting, they saw a dark
shadow moving uneasily backwards and forwards, as if in indecision or
ashamed to be seen.  It was Grimaud, who in his anxiety had tracked his
master, and was there awaiting him.

"Oh! my good Grimaud," cried Raoul, "what do you want?  You are come to
tell us it is time to be gone, have you not?"

"Alone?" said Grimaud, addressing Athos and pointing to Raoul in a tone
of reproach, which showed to what an extent the old man was troubled.

"Oh! you are right!" cried the comte.  "No, Raoul shall not go alone; no,
he shall not be left alone in a strange land without some friendly hand
to support him, some friendly heart to recall to him all he loved!"

"I?" said Grimaud.

"You, yes, you!" cried Raoul, touched to the inmost heart.

"Alas!" said Athos, "you are very old, my good Grimaud."

"So much the better," replied the latter, with an inexpressible depth of
feeling and intelligence.

"But the embarkation is begun," said Raoul, "and you are not prepared."

"Yes," said Grimaud, showing the keys of his trunks, mixed with those of
his young master.

"But," again objected Raoul, "you cannot leave monsieur le comte thus
alone; monsieur le comte, whom you have never quitted?"

Grimaud turned his diamond eyes upon Athos and Raoul, as if to measure
the strength of both.  The comte uttered not a word.

"Monsieur le comte prefers my going," said Grimaud.

"I do," said Athos, by an inclination of the head.

At that moment the drums suddenly rolled, and the clarions filled the air
with their inspiring notes.  The regiments destined for the expedition
began to debouch from the city.  They advanced to the number of five,
each composed of forty companies.  Royals marched first, distinguished by
their white uniform, faced with blue.  The _ordonnance_ colors, quartered
cross-wise, violet and dead leaf, with a sprinkling of golden _fleurs-de-
lis_, left the white-colored flag, with its _fleur-de-lised_ cross, to

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