List Of Contents | Contents of The Man in the Iron Mask, by Dumas, Pere
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"I am sure," said the prisoner, gallantly, "that we could have guaranteed
you the exact kind of death you preferred."

"A thousand thanks!" said Aramis, seriously.  Porthos bowed.

"One more cup of wine to your health," said he, drinking himself.  From
one subject to another the chat with the officer was prolonged.  He was
an intelligent gentleman, and suffered himself to be led on by the charm
of Aramis's wit and Porthos's cordial _bonhomie_.

"Pardon me," said he, "if I address a question to you; but men who are in
their sixth bottle have a clear right to forget themselves a little."

"Address it!" cried Porthos; "address it!"

"Speak," said Aramis.

"Were you not, gentlemen, both in the musketeers of the late king?"

"Yes, monsieur, and amongst the best of them, if you please," said

"That is true; I should say even the best of all soldiers, messieurs, if
I did not fear to offend the memory of my father."

"Of your father?" cried Aramis.

"Do you know what my name is?"

"_Ma foi!_ no, monsieur; but you can tell us, and - "

"I am called Georges de Biscarrat."

"Oh!" cried Porthos, in his turn.  "Biscarrat!  Do you remember that
name, Aramis?"

"Biscarrat!" reflected the bishop.  "It seems to me - "

"Try to recollect, monsieur," said the officer.

"_Pardieu!_ that won't take me long," said Porthos.  "Biscarrat - called
Cardinal - one of the four who interrupted us on the day on which we
formed our friendship with D'Artagnan, sword in hand."

"Precisely, gentlemen."

"The only one," cried Aramis, eagerly, "we could not scratch."

"Consequently, a capital blade?" said the prisoner.

"That's true! most true!" exclaimed both friends together.  "_Ma foi!_
Monsieur Biscarrat, we are delighted to make the acquaintance of such a
brave man's son."

Biscarrat pressed the hands held out by the two musketeers.  Aramis
looked at Porthos as much as to say, "Here is a man who will help us,"
and without delay, - "Confess, monsieur," said he, "that it is good to
have once been a good man."

""My father always said so, monsieur."

"Confess, likewise, that it is a sad circumstance in which you find
yourself, of falling in with men destined to be shot or hung, and to
learn that these men are old acquaintances, in fact, hereditary friends."

"Oh! you are not reserved for such a frightful fate as that, messieurs
and friends!" said the young man, warmly.

"Bah! you said so yourself."

"I said so just now, when I did not know you; but now that I know you, I
say - you will evade this dismal fate, if you wish!"

"How - if we wish?" echoed Aramis, whose eyes beamed with intelligence as
he looked alternately at the prisoner and Porthos.

"Provided," continued Porthos, looking, in his turn, with noble
intrepidity, at M. Biscarrat and the bishop - "provided nothing
disgraceful be required of us."

"Nothing at all will be required of you, gentlemen," replied the officer
- "what should they ask of you?  If they find you they will kill you,
that is a predetermined thing; try, then, gentlemen, to prevent their
finding you."

"I don't think I am mistaken," said Porthos, with dignity; "but it
appears evident to me that if they want to find us, they must come and
seek us here."

"In that you are perfectly right, my worthy friend," replied Aramis,
constantly consulting with his looks the countenance of Biscarrat, who
had grown silent and constrained.  "You wish, Monsieur de Biscarrat, to
say something to us, to make us some overture, and you dare not - is that

"Ah! gentlemen and friends! it is because by speaking I betray the
watchword.  But, hark!  I hear a voice that frees mine by dominating it."

"Cannon!" said Porthos.

"Cannon and musketry, too!" cried the bishop.

On hearing at a distance, among the rocks, these sinister reports of a
combat which they thought had ceased:

"What can that be?" asked Porthos.

"Eh!  _Pardieu!_" cried Aramis; "that is just what I expected."

"What is that?"

"That the attack made by you was nothing but a feint; is not that true,
monsieur?  And whilst your companions allowed themselves to be repulsed,
you were certain of effecting a landing on the other side of the island."

"Oh! several, monsieur."

"We are lost, then," said the bishop of Vannes, quietly.

"Lost! that is possible," replied the Seigneur de Pierrefonds, "but we
are not taken or hung."  And so saying, he rose from the table, went to
the wall, and coolly took down his sword and pistols, which he examined
with the care of an old soldier who is preparing for battle, and who
feels that life, in a great measure, depends upon the excellence and
right conditions of his arms.

At the report of the cannon, at the news of the surprise which might
deliver up the island to the royal troops, the terrified crowd rushed
precipitately to the fort to demand assistance and advice from their
leaders.  Aramis, pale and downcast, between two flambeaux, showed
himself at the window which looked into the principal court, full of
soldiers waiting for orders and bewildered inhabitants imploring succor.

"My friends," said D'Herblay, in a grave and sonorous voice, "M. Fouquet,
your protector, your friend, you father, has been arrested by an order of
the king, and thrown into the Bastile."  A sustained yell of vengeful
fury came floating up to the window at which the bishop stood, and
enveloped him in a magnetic field.

"Avenge Monsieur Fouquet!" cried the most excited of his hearers, "death
to the royalists!"

"No, my friends," replied Aramis, solemnly; "no, my friends; no
resistance.  The king is master in his kingdom.  The king is the
mandatory of God.  The king and God have struck M. Fouquet.  Humble
yourselves before the hand of God.  Love God and the king, who have
struck M. Fouquet.  But do not avenge your seigneur, do not think of
avenging him.  You would sacrifice yourselves in vain - you, your
wives and children, your property, your liberty.  Lay down your arms, my
friends - lay down your arms! since the king commands you so to do - and
retire peaceably to your dwellings.  It is I who ask you to do so; it is
I who beg you to do so; it is I who now, in the hour of need, command you
to do so, in the name of M. Fouquet."

The crowd collected under the window uttered a prolonged roar of anger
and terror.  "The soldiers of Louis XIV. have reached the island,"
continued Aramis.  "From this time it would no longer be a fight betwixt
them and you - it would be a massacre.  Begone, then, begone, and forget;
this time I command you, in the name of the Lord of Hosts!"

The mutineers retired slowly, submissive, silent.

"Ah! what have you just been saying, my friend?" said Porthos.

"Monsieur," said Biscarrat to the bishop, "you may save all these
inhabitants, but thus you will neither save yourself nor your friend."

"Monsieur de Biscarrat," said the bishop of Vannes, with a singular
accent of nobility and courtesy, "Monsieur de Biscarrat, be kind enough
to resume your liberty."

"I am very willing to do so, monsieur; but - "

"That would render us a service, for when announcing to the king's
lieutenant the submission of the islanders, you will perhaps obtain some
grace for us on informing him of the manner in which that submission has
been effected."

"Grace!" replied Porthos with flashing eyes, "what is the meaning of that

Aramis touched the elbow of his friend roughly, as he had been accustomed
to do in the days of their youth, when he wanted to warn Porthos that he
had committed, or was about to commit, a blunder.  Porthos understood
him, and was silent immediately.

"I will go, messieurs," replied Biscarrat, a little surprised likewise at
the word "grace" pronounced by the haughty musketeer, of and to whom, but
a few minutes before, he had related with so much enthusiasm the heroic
exploits with which his father had delighted him.

"Go, then, Monsieur Biscarrat," said Aramis, bowing to him, "and at
parting receive the expression of our entire gratitude."

"But you, messieurs, you whom I think it an honor to call my friends,
since you have been willing to accept that title, what will become of you
in the meantime?" replied the officer, very much agitated at taking leave
of the two ancient adversaries of his father.

"We will wait here."

"But, _mon Dieu!_ - the order is precise and formal."

"I am bishop of Vannes, Monsieur de Biscarrat; and they no more shoot a
bishop than they hang a gentleman."

"Ah! yes, monsieur - yes, monseigneur," replied Biscarrat; "it is true,
you are right, there is still that chance for you.  Then, I will depart,
I will repair to the commander of the expedition, the king's lieutenant.
Adieu! then, messieurs, or rather, to meet again, I hope."

The worthy officer, jumping upon a horse given him by Aramis, departed in
the direction of the sound of cannon, which, by surging the crowd into
the fort, had interrupted the conversation of the two friends with their
prisoner.  Aramis watched the departure, and when left alone with Porthos:

"Well, do you comprehend?" said he.

"_Ma foi!_ no."

"Did not Biscarrat inconvenience you here?"

"No; he is a brave fellow."

"Yes; but the grotto of Locmaria - is it necessary all the world should
know it?"

"Ah! that is true, that is true; I comprehend.  We are going to escape by
the cavern."

"If you please," cried Aramis, gayly.  "Forward, friend Porthos; our boat
awaits us.  King Louis has not caught us - _yet_."

Chapter XLVII:
The Grotto of Locmaria.

The cavern of Locmaria was sufficiently distant from the mole to render
it necessary for our friends to husband their strength in order to reach
it.  Besides, night was advancing; midnight had struck at the fort.
Porthos and Aramis were loaded with money and arms.  They walked, then,
across the heath, which stretched between the mole and the cavern,
listening to every noise, in order better to avoid an ambush.  From time
to time, on the road which they had carefully left on their left, passed
fugitives coming from the interior, at the news of the landing of the

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