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Ten Years Later by Alexandre Dumas, Pere

Part 10 out of 13

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"Well, then, could you not have contrived during the last week to have
seen me once a day, at least?"

"I have always been prevented, M. Malicorne."


"Ask my companion, if you do not believe me."

"I shall ask no one to explain matters, I know better than any one."

"Compose yourself, M. Malicorne: things will change."

"They must indeed."

"You know that, whether I see you or not, I am thinking of you," said
Montalais, in a coaxing tone of voice.

"Oh, you are thinking of me, are you? well, and is there anything new?"

"What about?"

"About my post in Monsieur's household."

"Ah, my dear Malicorne, no one has ventured lately to approach his royal

"Well, but now?"

"Now it is quite a different thing; since yesterday he has left off being

"Bah! how has his jealousy subsided?"

"It has been diverted into another channel."

"Tell me all about it."

"A report was spread that the king had fallen in love with some one else,
and Monsieur was tranquillized immediately."

"And who spread the report?"

Montalais lowered her voice. "Between ourselves," she said, "I think
that Madame and the king have come to a secret understanding about it."

"Ah!" said Malicorne; "that was the only way to manage it. But what
about poor M. de Guiche?"

"Oh, as for him, he is completely turned off."

"Have they been writing to each other?"

"No, certainly not; I have not seen a pen in either of their hands for
the last week."

"On what terms are you with Madame?"

"The very best."

"And with the king?"

"The king always smiles at me whenever I pass him."

"Good. Now tell me whom have the two lovers selected to serve as their

"La Valliere."

"Oh, oh, poor girl! We must prevent that!"


"Because, if M. Raoul Bragelonne were to suspect it, he would either kill
her or kill himself."

"Raoul, poor fellow! do you think so?"

"Women pretend to have a knowledge of the state of people's affections,"
said Malicorne, "and they do not even know how to read the thoughts of
their own minds and hearts. Well, I can tell you that M. de Bragelonne
loves La Valliere to such a degree that, if she deceived him, he would, I
repeat, either kill himself or kill her."

"But the king is there to defend her," said Montalais.

"The king!" exclaimed Malicorne; "Raoul would kill the king as he would a
common thief."

"Good heavens!" said Montalais; "you are mad, M. Malicorne."

"Not in the least. Everything I have told you is, on the contrary,
perfectly serious; and, for my own part, I know one thing."

"What is that?"

"That I shall quietly tell Raoul of the trick."

"Hush!" said Montalais, mounting another round of the ladder, so as to
approach Malicorne more closely, "do not open your lips to poor Raoul."

"Why not?"

"Because, as yet you know nothing at all."

"What is the matter, then?"

"Why, this evening - but no one is listening, I hope?"


"This evening, then, beneath the royal oak, La Valliere said aloud,
and innocently enough, 'I cannot conceive that when one has once seen the
king, one can ever love another man.'"

Malicorne almost jumped off the wall. "Unhappy girl! did she really say

"Word for word."

"And she thinks so?"

"La Valliere always thinks what she says."

"That positively cries aloud for vengeance. Why, women are the veriest
serpents," said Malicorne.

"Compose yourself, my dear Malicorne, compose yourself."

"No, no; let us take the evil in time, on the contrary. There is time
enough yet to tell Raoul of it."

"Blunderer, on the contrary, it is too late," replied Montalais.

"How so?"

"La Valliere's remark, which was intended for the king, reached its

"The king knows it, then? The king was told of it, I suppose?"

"The king heard it."

"_Ahime!_ as the cardinal used to say."

"The king was hidden in the thicket close to the royal oak."

"It follows, then," said Malicorne, "that for the future, the plan which
the king and Madame have arranged, will go as easily as if it were on
wheels, and will pass over poor Bragelonne's body."

"Precisely so."

"Well," said Malicorne, after a moment's reflection, "do not let us
interpose our poor selves between a large oak-tree and a great king, for
we should certainly be ground to pieces."

"The very thing I was going to say to you."

"Let us think of ourselves, then."

"My own idea."

"Open your beautiful eyes, then."

"And you your large ears."

"Approach your little mouth for a kiss."

"Here," said Montalais, who paid the debt immediately in ringing coin.

"Now let us consider. First, we have M. de Guiche, who is in love with
Madame; then La Valliere, who is in love with the king; next, the king,
who is in love both with Madame and La Valliere; lastly Monsieur, who
loves no one but himself. Among all these loves, a noodle would make his
fortune: a greater reason, therefore, for sensible people like ourselves
to do so."

"There you are with your dreams again."

"Nay, rather with realities. Let me still lead you, darling. I do not
think you have been very badly off hitherto?"


"Well, the future is guaranteed by the past. Only, since all here think
of themselves before anything else, let us do so too."

"Perfectly right."

"But of ourselves only."

"Be it so."

"An offensive and defensive alliance."

"I am ready to swear it."

"Put out your hand, then, and say, 'All for Malicorne.'"

"All for Malicorne."

"And I, 'All for Montalais,'" replied Malicorne, stretching out his hand
in his turn.

"And now, what is to be done?"

"Keep your eyes and ears constantly open; collect every means of attack
which may be serviceable against others; never let anything lie about
which can be used against ourselves."



"Sworn to. And now the agreement entered into, good-bye."

"What do you mean by 'good-bye?'"

"Of course you can now return to your inn."

"To my inn?"

"Yes; are you not lodging at the sign of the Beau Paon?"

"Montalais, Montalais, you now betray that you were aware of my being at

"Well; and what does that prove, except that I occupy myself about you
more than you deserve?"


"Go back, then, to the Beau Paon."

"That is now quite out of the question."

"Have you not a room there?"

"I had, but have it no longer."

"Who has taken it from you, then?"

"I will tell you. Some little time ago I was returning there, after I
had been running about after you; and having reached my hotel quite out
of breath, I perceived a litter, upon which four peasants were carrying
a sick monk."

"A monk?"

"Yes, an old gray-bearded Franciscan. As I was looking at the monk, they
entered the hotel; and as they were carrying him up the staircase, I
followed, and as I reached the top of the staircase I observed that they
took him into my room."

"Into your room?"

"Yes, into my own apartment. Supposing it to be a mistake, I summoned
the landlord, who said that the room which had been let to me for the
past eight days was let to the Franciscan for the ninth."

"Oh, oh!"

"That was exactly what I said; nay, I did even more, for I was inclined
to get out of temper. I went up-stairs again. I spoke to the Franciscan
himself, and wished to prove to him the impropriety of the step; when
this monk, dying though he seemed to be, raised himself upon his arm,
fixed a pair of blazing eyes upon me, and, in a voice which was admirably
suited for commanding a charge of cavalry, said, 'Turn this fellow out of
doors;' which was done, immediately by the landlord and the four porters,
who made me descend the staircase somewhat faster than was agreeable.
This is how it happens, dearest, that I have no lodging."

"Who can this Franciscan be?" said Montalais. "Is he a general?"

"That is exactly the very title that one of the bearers of the litter
gave him as he spoke to him in a low tone."

"So that - " said Montalais.

"So that I have no room, no hotel, no lodging; and I am as determined as
my friend Manicamp was just now, not to pass the night in the open air."

"What is to be done, then?" said Montalais.

"Nothing easier," said a third voice; whereupon Montalais and Malicorne
uttered a simultaneous cry, and Saint-Aignan appeared. "Dear Monsieur
Malicorne," said Saint-Aignan, "a very lucky accident has brought me back
to extricate you from your embarrassment. Come, I can offer you a room
in my own apartments, which, I can assure you, no Franciscan will deprive
you of. As for you, my dear lady, rest easy. I already knew
Mademoiselle de la Valliere's secret, and that of Mademoiselle de Tonnay-
Charente; your own you have just been kind enough to confide to me; for
which I thank you. I can keep three quite as well as one." Malicorne
and Montalais looked at each other, like children detected in a theft;
but as Malicorne saw a great advantage in the proposition which had been
made to him, he gave Montalais a sign of assent, which she returned.
Malicorne then descended the ladder, round by round, reflecting at every
step on the means of obtaining piecemeal from M. de Saint-Aignan all he
might possibly know about the famous secret. Montalais had already
darted away like a deer, and neither cross-road nor labyrinth was able to
lead her wrong. As for Saint-Aignan, he carried off Malicorne with him
to his apartments, showing him a thousand attentions, enchanted to have
so close at hand the very two men who, even supposing De Guiche were to
remain silent, could give him the best information about the maids of

Chapter LI:
What Actually Occurred at the Inn Called the Beau Paon.

In the first place, let us supply our readers with a few details about
the inn called Beau Paon. It owed its name to its sign, which
represented a peacock spreading its tail. But, in imitation of certain
painters who bestowed the face of a handsome young man on the serpent
which tempted Eve, the limner of the sign had conferred upon the peacock
the features of a woman. This famous inn, an architectural epigram
against that half of the human race which renders existence delightful,
was situated at Fontainebleau, in the first turning on the left-hand
side, which divides the road from Paris, the large artery that
constitutes in itself alone the entire town of Fontainebleau. The side
street in question was then known as the Rue de Lyon, doubtless because,
geographically, it led in the direction of the second capital of the
kingdom. The street itself was composed of two houses occupied by
persons of the class of tradespeople, the houses being separated by two
large gardens bordered with hedges running round them. Apparently,
however, there were three houses in the street. Let us explain,
notwithstanding appearances, how there were in fact only two. The inn of
the Beau Paon had its principal front towards the main street; but upon
the Rue de Lyon there were two ranges of buildings divided by courtyards,
which comprised sets of apartments for the reception of all classes of
travelers, whether on foot or on horseback, or even with their own
carriages; and in which could be supplied, not only board and lodging,
but also accommodation for exercise, or opportunities of solitude for
even the wealthiest courtiers, whenever, after having received some check
at the court, they wished to shut themselves up to their own society,
either to devour an affront, or to brood on revenge. From the windows of
this part of the building travelers could perceive, in the first place,
the street with the grass growing between the stones, which were being
gradually loosened by it; next the beautiful hedges of elder and thorn,
which embraced, as though within two green and flowery arms, the house of
which we have spoken; and then, in the spaces between those houses,
forming the groundwork of the picture, and appearing an almost impassable
barrier, a line of thick trees, the advanced sentinels of the vast forest
which extends in front of Fontainebleau. It was therefore easy, provided
one secured an apartment at the angle of the building, to obtain, by the
main street from Paris, a view of, as well as to hear, the passers-by and
the _fetes_; and, by the Rue de Lyon, to look upon and to enjoy the calm
of the country. And this without reckoning that, in cases of urgent
necessity, at the very moment people might be knocking at the principal
door in the Rue de Paris, one could make one's escape by the little door
in the Rue de Lyon, and, creeping along the gardens of the private
houses, attain the outskirts of the forest. Malicorne, who, it will be
remembered, was the first to speak about this inn, by way of deploring
his being turned out of it, being then absorbed in his own affairs, had
not told Montalais all that could be said about this curious inn; and we
will try to repair the omission. With the exception of the few words he
had said about the Franciscan friar, Malicorne had not given any
particulars about the travelers who were staying in the inn. The manner
in which they had arrived, the manner in which they had lived, the
difficulty which existed for every one but certain privileged travelers,
of entering the hotel without a password, or living there without certain
preparatory precautions, must have struck Malicorne; and, we will venture
to say, really did so. But Malicorne, as we have already said, had
personal matters of his own to occupy his attention which prevented him
from paying much attention to others. In fact, all the apartments of the
hotel were engaged and retained by certain strangers, who never stirred
out, who were incommunicative in their address, with countenances full of
thoughtful preoccupation, and not one of whom was known to Malicorne.
Every one of these travelers had reached the hotel after his own arrival
there; each man had entered after having given a kind of password, which
had at first attracted Malicorne's attention; but having inquired, in an
indiscreet manner, about it, he had been informed that the host had given
as a reason for this extreme vigilance, that, as the town was so full of
wealthy noblemen, it must also be as full of clever and zealous
pickpockets. The reputation of an honest inn like that of the Beau Paon
was concerned in not allowing its visitors to be robbed. It occasionally
happened that Malicorne asked himself, as he thought matters carefully
over in his mind, and reflected upon his own position in the inn, how it
was that they had allowed him to become an inmate of the hotel, when he
had observed, since his residence there, admission refused to so many.
He asked himself, too, how it was that Manicamp, who, in his opinion,
must be a man to be looked upon with veneration by everybody, having
wished to bait his horse at the Beau Paon, on arriving there, both horse
and rider had been incontinently turned away with a _nescio vos_ of the
most positive character. All this for Malicorne, whose mind being fully
occupied by his own love affair and personal ambition, was a problem he
had not applied himself to solve. Had he wished to do so, we should
hardly venture, notwithstanding the intelligence we have accorded as his
due, to say he would have succeeded. A few words will prove to the
reader that no one but Oedipus in person could have solved the enigma in
question. During the week, seven travelers had taken up their abode in
the inn, all of them having arrived there the day after the fortunate day
on which Malicorne had fixed his choice on the Beau Paon. These seven
persons, accompanied by a suitable retinue, were the following: -

First of all, a brigadier in the German army, his secretary, physician,
three servants, and seven horses. The brigadier's name was the Comte de
Wostpur. - A Spanish cardinal, with two nephews, two secretaries, an
officer of his household, and twelve horses. The cardinal's name was
Monseigneur Herrebia. - A rich merchant of Bremen, with his man-servant
and two horses. This merchant's name was Meinheer Bonstett. - A Venetian
senator with his wife and daughter, both extremely beautiful. The
senator's name was Signor Marini. - A Scottish laird, with seven
highlanders of his clan, all on foot. The laird's name was MacCumnor.
An Austrian from Vienna without title or coat of arms, who had arrived in
a carriage; a good deal of the priest, and something of the soldier. He
was called the Councilor. - And, finally, a Flemish lady, with a man-
servant, a lady's maid, and a female companion, a large retinue of
servants, great display, and immense horses. She was called the Flemish

All these travelers had arrived on the same day, and yet their arrival
had occasioned no confusion in the inn, no stoppage in the street; their
apartments had been fixed upon beforehand, by their couriers or
secretaries, who had arrived the previous evening or that very morning.
Malicorne, who had arrived the previous day, riding an ill-conditioned
horse, with a slender valise, had announced himself at the hotel of the
Beau Paon as the friend of a nobleman desirous of witnessing the _fetes_,
and who would himself arrive almost immediately. The landlord, on
hearing these words, had smiled as if he were perfectly well acquainted
either with Malicorne or his friend the nobleman, and had said to him,
"Since you are the first arrival, monsieur, choose what apartment you
please." And this was said with that obsequiousness of manners, so full
of meaning with landlords, which means, "Make yourself perfectly easy,
monsieur: we know with whom we have to do, and you will be treated
accordingly." These words, and their accompanying gesture, Malicorne had
thought very friendly, but rather obscure. However, as he did not wish
to be very extravagant in his expenses, and as he thought that if he were
to ask for a small apartment he would doubtless have been refused, on
account of his want of consequence, he hastened to close at once with the
innkeeper's remark, and deceive him with a cunning equal to his own. So,
smiling as a man would do for whom whatever might be done was but simply
his due, he said, "My dear host, I shall take the best and the gayest
room in the house."

"With a stable?"

"Yes, with a stable."

"And when will you take it?"

"Immediately if it be possible."

"Quite so."

"But," said Malicorne, "I shall leave the large room unoccupied for the

"Very good!" said the landlord, with an air of intelligence.

"Certain reasons, which you will understand by and by, oblige me to take,
at my own cost, this small room only."

"Yes, yes," said the host.

"When my friend arrives, he will occupy the large apartment: and as a
matter of course, as this larger apartment will be his own affair, he
will settle for it himself."

"Certainly," said the landlord, "certainly; let it be understood in that

"It is agreed, then, that such shall be the terms?"

"Word for word."

"It is extraordinary," said Malicorne to himself. "You quite understand,


"There is nothing more to be said. Since you understand, - for you do
clearly understand, do you not?"


"Very well; and now show me to my room."

The landlord, cap in hand, preceded Malicorne, who installed himself in
his room, and became more and more surprised to observe that the
landlord, at every ascent or descent, looked and winked at him in a
manner which indicated the best possible intelligence between them.

"There is some mistake here," said Malicorne to himself; "but until it is
cleared up, I shall take advantage of it, which is the best thing I can
possibly do." And he darted out of his room, like a hunting-dog
following a scent, in search of all the news and curiosities of the
court, getting himself burnt in one place and drowned in another, as he
had told Mademoiselle de Montalais. The day after he had been installed
in his room, he had noticed the seven travelers arrive successively, who
speedily filled the whole hotel. When he saw this perfect multitude of
people, of carriages, and retinue, Malicorne rubbed his hands
delightedly, thinking that, one day later, he should not have found a bed
to lie upon after his return from his exploring expeditions. When all
the travelers were lodged, the landlord entered Malicorne's room, and
with his accustomed courteousness, said to him, "You are aware, my dear
monsieur, that the large room in the third detached building is still
reserved for you?"

"Of course I am aware of it."

"I am really making you a present of it."

"Thank you."

"So that when your friend comes - "


"He will be satisfied with me, I hope: or, if he be not, he will be very
difficult to please."

"Excuse me, but will you allow me to say a few words about my friend?"

"Of course, for you have a perfect right to do so."

"He intended to come, as you know."

"And he does so still."

"He may possibly have changed his opinion."


"You are quite sure, then?"

"Quite sure."

"But in case you should have some doubt."


"I can only say that I do not positively assure you that he will come."

"Yet he told you - "

"He certainly did tell me; but you know that man proposes and God
disposes, - _verba volant, scripta manent_."

"Which is as much to say - "

"That what is spoken flies away, and what is written remains; and, as he
did not write to me, but contented himself by saying to me, 'I will
authorize you, yet without specifically instructing you,' you must feel
that it places me in a very embarrassing position."

"What do you authorize me to do, then?"

"Why, to let your rooms if you find a good tenant for them."


"Yes, you."

"Never will I do such a thing, monsieur. If he has not written to you,
he has written to me."

"Ah! what does he say? Let us see if his letter agrees with his words."

"These are almost his very words. 'To the landlord of the Beau Paon
Hotel, - You will have been informed of the meeting arranged to take
place in your inn between some people of importance; I shall be one of
those who will meet with the others at Fontainebleau. Keep for me, then,
a small room for a friend who will arrive either before or after me - '
and you are the friend, I suppose," said the landlord, interrupting his
reading of the letter. Malicorne bowed modestly. The landlord continued:

"'And a large apartment for myself. The large apartment is my own
affair, but I wish the price of the smaller room to be moderate, as it is
destined for a fellow who is deucedly poor.' It is still you he is
speaking of, is he not?" said the host.

"Oh, certainly," said Malicorne.

"Then we are agreed; your friend will settle for his apartment, and you
for your own."

"May I be broken alive on the wheel," said Malicorne to himself, "if I
understand anything at all about it," and then he said aloud, "Well,
then, are you satisfied with the name?"

"With what name?"

"With the name at the end of the letter. Does it give you the guarantee
you require?"

"I was going to ask you the name."

"What! was the letter not signed?"

"No," said the landlord, opening his eyes very wide, full of mystery and

"In that case," said Malicorne, imitating his gesture and his mysterious
look, "if he has not given you his name, you understand, he must have his
reasons for it."

"Oh, of course."

"And, therefore, I, his friend, his confidant, must not betray him."

"You are perfectly right, monsieur," said the landlord, "and I do not
insist upon it."

"I appreciate your delicacy. As for myself, as my friend told you, my
room is a separate affair, so let us come to terms about it. Short
accounts make long friends. How much is it?"

"There is no hurry."

"Never mind, let us reckon it all up all the same. Room, my own board, a
place in the stable for my horse, and his feed. How much per day?"

"Four livres, monsieur."

"Which will make twelve livres for the three days I have been here?"

"Yes, monsieur."

"Here are your twelve livres, then."

"But why settle now?"

"Because," said Malicorne, lowering his voice, and resorting to his
former air of mystery, because he saw that the mysterious had succeeded,
"because if I had to set off suddenly, to decamp at any moment, my
account would be settled."

"You are right, monsieur."

"I may consider myself at home, then?"


"So far so well. Adieu!" And the landlord withdrew. Malicorne, left
alone, reasoned with himself in the following manner: "No one but De
Guiche or Manicamp could have written to this fellow; De Guiche, because
he wishes to secure a lodging for himself beyond the precincts of the
court, in the event of his success or failure, as the case might be;
Manicamp, because De Guiche must have intrusted him with his commission.
And De Guiche or Manicamp will have argued in this manner. The large
apartment would serve for the reception, in a befitting manner, of a lady
thickly veiled, reserving to the lady in question a double means of exit,
either in a street somewhat deserted, or closely adjoining the forest.
The smaller room might either shelter Manicamp for a time, who is De
Guiche's confidant, and would be the vigilant keeper of the door, or De
Guiche himself, acting, for greater safety, the part of a master and
confidant at the same time. Yet," he continued, "how about this meeting
which is to take place, and which has actually taken place, in this
hotel? No doubt they are persons who are going to be presented to the
king. And the 'poor devil,' for whom the smaller room is destined, is a
trick, in order to better conceal De Guiche or Manicamp. If this be the
case, as very likely it is, there is only half the mischief done, for
there is simply the length of a purse string between Manicamp and
Malicorne." After he had thus reasoned the matter out, Malicorne slept
soundly, leaving the seven travelers to occupy, and in every sense of the
word to walk up and down, their several lodgings in the hotel. Whenever
there was nothing at court to put him out, when he had wearied himself
with his excursions and investigations, tired of writing letters which he
could never find an opportunity of delivering to the people they were
intended for, he returned home to his comfortable little room, and
leaning upon the balcony, which was filled with nasturtiums and white
pinks, for whom Fontainebleau seemed to possess no attractions with all
its illuminations, amusements, and _fetes_.

Things went on in this manner until the seventh day, a day of which we
have given such full details, with its night also, in the preceding
chapters. On that night Malicorne was enjoying the fresh air, seated at
his window, toward one o'clock in the morning, when Manicamp appeared on
horseback, with a thoughtful and listless air.

"Good!" said Malicorne to himself, recognizing him at the first glance;
"there's my friend, who is come to take possession of his apartment, that
is to say, of my room." And he called to Manicamp, who looked up and
immediately recognized Malicorne.

"Ah! by Jove!" said the former, his countenance clearing up, "glad to see
you, Malicorne. I have been wandering about Fontainebleau, looking for
three things I cannot find: De Guiche, a room, and a stable."

"Of M. de Guiche I cannot give you either good or bad news, for I have
not seen him; but as far as concerns your room and a stable, that's
another matter, for they have been retained here for you."

"Retained - and by whom?"

"By yourself, I presume."

"By _me?_"

"Do you mean to say you did not take lodgings here?"

"By no means," said Manicamp.

At this moment the landlord appeared on the threshold of the door.

"I want a room," said Manicamp.

"Did you engage one, monsieur?"


"Then I have no rooms to let."

"In that case, I have engaged a room," said Manicamp.

"A room simply, or lodgings?"

"Anything you please."

"By letter?" inquired the landlord.

Malicorne nodded affirmatively to Manicamp.

"Of course by letter," said Manicamp. "Did you not receive a letter from

"What was the date of the letter?" inquired the host, in whom Manicamp's
hesitation had aroused some suspicion.

Manicamp rubbed his ear, and looked up at Malicorne's window; but
Malicorne had left his window and was coming down the stairs to his
friend's assistance. At the very same moment, a traveler, wrapped in a
large Spanish cloak, appeared at the porch, near enough to hear the

"I ask you what was the date of the letter you wrote to me to retain
apartments here?" repeated the landlord, pressing the question.

"Last Wednesday was the date," said the mysterious stranger, in a soft
and polished tone of voice, touching the landlord on the shoulder.

Manicamp drew back, and it was now Malicorne's turn, who appeared on the
threshold, to scratch his ear. The landlord saluted the new arrival as a
man who recognizes his true guest.

"Monsieur," he said to him, with civility, "your apartment is ready for
you, and the stables too, only - " He looked round him and inquired,
"Your horses?"

"My horses may or may not arrive. That, however, matters but little to
you, provided you are paid for what has been engaged." The landlord
bowed lower still.

"You have," continued the unknown traveler, "kept for me in addition, the
small room I asked for?"

"Oh!" said Malicorne, endeavoring to hide himself.

"Your friend has occupied it during the last week," said the landlord,
pointing to Malicorne, who was trying to make himself as small as
possible. The traveler, drawing his cloak round him so as to cover the
lower part of his face, cast a rapid glance at Malicorne, and said, "This
gentleman is no friend of mine."

The landlord started violently.

"I am not acquainted with this gentleman," continued the traveler.

"What!" exclaimed the host, turning to Malicorne, "are you not this
gentleman's friend, then?"

"What does it matter whether I am or not, provided you are paid?" said
Malicorne, parodying the stranger's remark in a very majestic manner.

"It matters so far as this," said the landlord, who began to perceive
that one person had been taken for another, "that I beg you, monsieur, to
leave the rooms, which had been engaged beforehand, and by some one else
instead of you."

"Still," said Malicorne, "this gentleman cannot require at the same time
a room on the first floor and an apartment on the second. If this
gentleman will take the room, I will take the apartment: if he prefers
the apartment, I will be satisfied with the room."

"I am exceedingly distressed, monsieur," said the traveler in his soft
voice, "but I need both the room and the apartment."

"At least, tell me for whom?" inquired Malicorne.

"The apartment I require for myself."

"Very well; but the room?"

"Look," said the traveler, pointing towards a sort of procession which
was approaching.

Malicorne looked in the direction indicated, and observed borne upon a
litter, the arrival of the Franciscan, whose installation in his
apartment he had, with a few details of his own, related to Montalais,
and whom he had so uselessly endeavored to convert to humbler views. The
result of the arrival of the stranger, and of the sick Franciscan, was
Malicorne's expulsion, without any consideration for his feelings, from
the inn, by the landlord and the peasants who had carried the
Franciscan. The details have already been given of what followed this
expulsion; of Manicamp's conversation with Montalais; how Manicamp, with
greater cleverness than Malicorne had shown, had succeeded in obtaining
news of De Guiche, of the subsequent conversation of Montalais with
Malicorne, and, finally, of the billets with which the Comte de Saint-
Aignan had furnished Manicamp and Malicorne. It remains for us to inform
our readers who was the traveler in the cloak - the principal tenant of
the double apartment, of which Malicorne had only occupied a portion
and the Franciscan, quite as mysterious a personage, whose arrival,
together with that of the stranger, unfortunately upset the two friends'

Chapter LII:
A Jesuit of the Eleventh Year.

In the first place, in order not to weary the reader's patience, we will
hasten to answer the first question. The traveler with the cloak held
over his face was Aramis, who, after he had left Fouquet, and taken from
a portmanteau, which his servant had opened, a cavalier's complete
costume, quitted the chateau, and went to the hotel of the Beau Paon,
where, by letters, seven or eight days previously, he had, as the
landlord had stated, directed a room and an apartment to be retained for
him. Immediately after Malicorne and Manicamp had been turned out,
Aramis approached the Franciscan, and asked him whether he would prefer
the apartment or the room. The Franciscan inquired where they were both
situated. He was told that the room was on the first, and the apartment
on the second floor.

"The room, then," he said.

Aramis did not contradict him, but, with great submissiveness, said to
the landlord: "The room." And bowing with respect he withdrew into the
apartment, and the Franciscan was accordingly carried at once into the
room. Now, is it not extraordinary that this respect should be shown by
a prelate of the Church for a simple monk, for one, too, belonging to a
mendicant order; to whom was given up, without a request for it even, a
room which so many travelers were desirous of obtaining? How, too, can
one explain the unexpected arrival of Aramis at the hotel - he who had
entered the chateau with M. Fouquet, and could have remained at the
chateau with M. Fouquet if he had liked? The Franciscan supported his
removal up the staircase without uttering a complaint, although it was
evident he suffered very much, and that every time the litter knocked
against the wall or the railing of the staircase, he experienced a
terrible shock throughout his frame. And finally, when he had arrived in
the room, he said to those who carried him: "Help me to place myself in
that armchair." The bearers of the litter placed it on the ground, and
lifting the sick man up as gently as possible, carried him to the chair
he had indicated, which was situated at the head of the bed. "Now," he
added, with a marked benignity of gesture and tone, "desire the landlord
to come."

They obeyed, and five minutes afterwards the landlord appeared at the

"Be kind enough," said the Franciscan to him, "to send these excellent
fellows away; they are vassals of the Vicomte de Melun. They found me
when I had fainted on the road overcome by the heat, and without thinking
of whether they would be paid for their trouble, they wished to carry me
to their own home. But I know at what cost to themselves is the
hospitality which the poor extend to a sick monk, and I preferred this
hotel, where, moreover, I was expected."

The landlord looked at the Franciscan in amazement, but the latter, with
his thumb, made the sign of the cross in a peculiar manner upon his
breast. The host replied by making a similar sign on his left shoulder.
"Yes, indeed," he said, "we did expect you, but we hoped that you would
arrive in a better state of health." And as the peasants were looking at
the innkeeper, usually so supercilious, and saw how respectful he had
become in the presence of a poor monk, the Franciscan drew from a deep
pocket three or four pieces of gold which he held out.

"My friends," said he, "here is something to repay you for the care you
have taken of me. So make yourselves perfectly easy, and do not be
afraid of leaving me here. The order to which I belong, and for which I
am traveling, does not require me to beg; only, as the attention you have
shown me deserves to be rewarded, take these two louis and depart in

The peasants did not dare to take them; the landlord took the two louis
out of the monk's hand and placed them in that of one of the peasants,
all four of whom withdrew, opening their eyes wider than ever. The door
was then closed; and, while the innkeeper stood respectfully near it, the
Franciscan collected himself for a moment. He then passed across his
sallow face a hand which seemed dried up by fever, and rubbed his nervous
and agitated fingers across his beard. His large eyes, hollowed by
sickness and inquietude, seemed to peruse in the vague distance a
mournful and fixed idea.

"What physicians have you at Fontainebleau?" he inquired, after a long

"We have three, holy father."

"What are their names?"

"Luiniguet first."

"The next one?"

"A brother of the Carmelite order, named Brother Hubert."

"The next?"

"A secular member, named Grisart."

"Ah! Grisart?" murmured the monk, "send for M. Grisart immediately."

The landlord moved in prompt obedience to the direction.

"Tell me what priests are there here?"

"What priests?"

"Yes; belonging to what orders?"

"There are Jesuits, Augustines, and Cordeliers; but the Jesuits are the
closest at hand. Shall I send for a confessor belonging to the order of

"Yes, immediately."

It will be imagined that, at the sign of the cross which they had
exchanged, the landlord and the invalid monk had recognized each other as
two affiliated members of the well-known Society of Jesus. Left to
himself, the Franciscan drew from his pocket a bundle of papers, some of
which he read over with the most careful attention. The violence of his
disorder, however, overcame his courage; his eyes rolled in their
sockets, a cold sweat poured down his face, and he nearly fainted, and
lay with his head thrown backwards and his arms hanging down on both
sides of his chair. For more than five minutes he remained without any
movement, when the landlord returned, bringing with him the physician,
whom he hardly allowed time to dress himself. The noise they made in
entering the room, the current of air, which the opening of the door
occasioned, restored the Franciscan to his senses. He hurriedly seized
hold of the papers which were lying about, and with his long and bony
hand concealed them under the cushions of the chair. The landlord went
out of the room, leaving patient and physician together.

"Come here, Monsieur Grisart," said the Franciscan to the doctor;
"approach closer, for there is no time to lose. Try, by touch and sound,
and consider and pronounce your sentence."

"The landlord," replied the doctor, "told me I had the honor of attending
an affiliated brother."

"Yes," replied the Franciscan, "it is so. Tell me the truth, then; I
feel very ill, and I think I am about to die."

The physician took the monk's hand, and felt his pulse. "Oh, oh," he
said, "a dangerous fever."

"What do you call a dangerous fever?" inquired the Franciscan, with an
imperious look.

"To an affiliated member of the first or second year," replied the
physician, looking inquiringly at the monk, "I should say - a fever that
may be cured."

"But to me?" said the Franciscan. The physician hesitated.

"Look at my grey hair, and my forehead, full of anxious thought," he
continued: "look at the lines in my face, by which I reckon up the trials
I have undergone; I am a Jesuit of the eleventh year, Monsieur Grisart."
The physician started, for, in fact, a Jesuit of the eleventh year was
one of those men who had been initiated in all the secrets of the order,
one of those for whom science has no more secrets, the society no
further barriers to present - temporal obedience, no more trammels.

"In that case," said Grisart, saluting him with respect, "I am in the
presence of a master?"

"Yes; act, therefore, accordingly."

"And you wish to know?"

"My real state."

"Well," said the physician, "it is a brain fever, which has reached its
highest degree of intensity."

"There is no hope, then?" inquired the Franciscan, in a quick tone of

"I do not say that," replied the doctor; "yet, considering the disordered
state of the brain, the hurried respiration, the rapidity of the pulse,
and the burning nature of the fever which is devouring you - "

"And which has thrice prostrated me since this morning," said the monk.

"All things considered, I shall call it a terrible attack. But why did
you not stop on your road?"

"I was expected here, and I was obliged to come."

"Even at the risk of your life?"

"Yes, at the risk of dying on the way."

"Very well. Considering all the symptoms of your case, I must tell you
that your condition is almost desperate."

The Franciscan smiled in a strange manner.

"What you have just told me is, perhaps, sufficient for what is due to an
affiliated member, even of the eleventh year; but for what is due to me,
Monsieur Grisart, it is too little, and I have a right to demand more.
Come, then, let us be more candid still, and as frank as if you were
making your own confession to Heaven. Besides, I have already sent for a

"Oh! I have hopes, however," murmured the doctor.

"Answer me," said the sick man, displaying with a dignified gesture a
golden ring, the stone of which had until that moment been turned inside,
and which bore engraved thereon the distinguishing mark of the Society of

Grisart uttered loud exclamation. "The general!" he cried.

"Silence," said the Franciscan., "you can now understand that the whole
truth is all important."

"Monseigneur, monseigneur," murmured Grisart, "send for the confessor,
for in two hours, at the next seizure, you will be attacked by delirium,
and will pass away in its course."

"Very well," said the patient, for a moment contracting his eyebrows, "I
have still two hours to live then?"

"Yes; particularly if you take the potion I will send you presently."

"And that will give me two hours of life?"

"Two hours."

"I would take it, were it poison, for those two hours are necessary not
only for myself, but for the glory of the order."

"What a loss, what a catastrophe for us all!" murmured the physician.

"It is the loss of one man - nothing more," replied the Franciscan, "for
Heaven will enable the poor monk, who is about to leave you, to find a
worthy successor. Adieu, Monsieur Grisart; already even, through the
goodness of Heaven, I have met with you. A physician who had not been
one of our holy order, would have left me in ignorance of my condition;
and, confident that existence would be prolonged a few days further, I
should not have taken the necessary precautions. You are a learned man,
Monsieur Grisart, and that confers an honor upon us all; it would have
been repugnant to my feelings to have found one of our order of little
standing in his profession. Adieu, Monsieur Grisart; send me the cordial

"Give me your blessing, at least, monseigneur."

"In my mind, I do; go, go; in my mind, I do so, I tell you - _animo_,
Maitre Grisart, _viribus impossibile_." And he again fell back on the
armchair, in an almost senseless state. M. Grisart hesitated, whether he
should give him immediate assistance, or should run to prepare the
cordial he had promised. He decided in favor of the cordial, for he
darted out of the room and disappeared down the staircase. (6)

Chapter LIII:
The State Secret.

A few moments after the doctor's departure, the confessor arrived. He
had hardly crossed the threshold of the door when the Franciscan fixed a
penetrating look upon him, and, shaking his head, murmured - "A weak
mind, I see; may Heaven forgive me if I die without the help of this
living piece of human infirmity." The confessor, on his side, regarded
the dying man with astonishment, almost with terror. He had never beheld
eyes so burningly bright at the very moment they were about to close, nor
looks so terrible at the moment they were about to be quenched in death.
The Franciscan made a rapid and imperious movement of his hand. "Sit
down, there, my father," he said, "and listen to me." The Jesuit
confessor, a good priest, a recently initiated member of the order, who
had merely seen the beginning of its mysteries, yielded to the
superiority assumed by the penitent.

"There are several persons staying in this hotel," continued the

"But," inquired the Jesuit, "I thought I had been summoned to listen to a
confession. Is your remark, then, a confession?"

"Why do you ask?"

"In order to know whether I am to keep your words secret."

"My remarks are part of my confession; I confide them to you in your
character of a confessor."

"Very well," said the priest, seating himself on the chair which the
Franciscan had, with great difficulty, just left, to lie down on the bed.

The Franciscan continued, - "I repeat, there are several persons staying
in this inn."

"So I have heard."

"They ought to be eight in number."

The Jesuit made a sign that he understood him. "The first to whom I wish
to speak," said the dying man, "is a German from Vienna, whose name is
Baron de Wostpur. Be kind enough to go to him, and tell him the person
he expected has arrived." The confessor, astounded, looked at his
penitent; the confession seemed a singular one.

"Obey," said the Franciscan, in a tone of command impossible to resist.
The good Jesuit, completely subdued, rose and left the room. As soon as
he had gone, the Franciscan again took up the papers which a crisis of
the fever had already, once before, obliged him to put aside.

"The Baron de Wostpur? Good!" he said; "ambitious, a fool, and
straitened in means."

He folded up the papers, which he thrust under his pillow. Rapid
footsteps were heard at the end of the corridor. The confessor returned,
followed by the Baron de Wostpur, who walked along with his head raised,
as if he were discussing with himself the possibility of touching the
ceiling with the feather in his hat. Therefore, at the appearance of the
Franciscan, at his melancholy look, and seeing the plainness of the room,
he stopped, and inquired, - "Who has summoned me?"

"I," said the Franciscan, who turned towards the confessor, saying, "My
good father, leave us for a moment together; when this gentleman leaves,
you will return here." The Jesuit left the room, and, doubtless, availed
himself of this momentary exile from the presence of the dying man to ask
the host for some explanation about this strange penitent, who treated
his confessor no better than he would a man servant. The baron
approached the bed, and wished to speak, but the hand of the Franciscan
imposed silence upon him.

"Every moment is precious," said the latter, hurriedly. "You have come
here for the competition, have you not?"

"Yes, my father."

"You hope to be elected general of the order?"

"I hope so."

"You know on what conditions only you can possibly attain this high
position, which makes one man the master of monarchs, the equal of

"Who are you," inquired the baron, "to subject me to these

"I am he whom you expected."

"The elector-general?"

"I am the elected."

"You are - "

The Franciscan did not give him time to reply; he extended his shrunken
hand, on which glittered the ring of the general of the order. The baron
drew back in surprise; and then, immediately afterwards, bowing with the
profoundest respect, he exclaimed, - "Is it possible that you are here,
monseigneur; you, in this wretched room; you, upon this miserable bed;
you, in search of and selecting the future general, that is, your own

"Do not distress yourself about that, monsieur, but fulfil immediately
the principal condition, of furnishing the order with a secret of
importance, of such importance that one of the greatest courts of Europe
will, by your instrumentality, forever be subjected to the order. Well!
do you possess the secret which you promised, in your request, addressed
to the grand council?"

"Monseigneur - "

"Let us proceed, however, in due order," said the monk. "You are the
Baron de Wostpur?"

"Yes, monseigneur."

"And this letter is from you?"

"Yes, monseigneur."

The general of the Jesuits drew a paper from his bundle, and presented it
to the baron, who glanced at it, and made a sign in the affirmative,
saying, "Yes, monseigneur, this letter is mine."

"Can you show me the reply which the secretary of the grand council
returned to you?"

"Here it is," said the baron, holding towards the Franciscan a letter
bearing simply the address, "To his excellency the Baron de Wostpur," and
containing only this phrase, "From the 15th to the 22nd May,
Fontainebleau, the hotel of the Beau Paon. - A. M. D. G." (7)

"Right," said the Franciscan, "and now speak."

"I have a body of troops, composed of 50,000 men; all the officers are
gained over. I am encamped on the Danube. I four days I can overthrow
the emperor, who is, as you are aware, opposed to the progress of our
order, and can replace him by whichever of the princes of his family the
order may determine upon." The Franciscan listened, unmoved.

"Is that all?" he said.

"A revolution throughout Europe is included in my plan," said the baron.

"Very well, Monsieur de Wostpur, you will receive a reply; return to your
room, and leave Fontainebleau within a quarter of an hour." The baron
withdrew backwards, as obsequiously as if he were taking leave of the
emperor he was ready to betray.

"There is no secret there," murmured the Franciscan, "it is a plot.
Besides," he added, after a moment's reflection, "the future of Europe
is no longer in the hands of the House of Austria."

And with a pencil he held in his hand, he struck the Baron de Wostpur's
name from the list.

"Now for the cardinal," he said; "we ought to get something more serious
from the side of Spain."

Raising his head, he perceived the confessor, who was awaiting his orders
as respectfully as a school-boy.

"Ah, ah!" he said, noticing his submissive air, "you have been talking
with the landlord."

"Yes, monseigneur; and to the physician."

"To Grisart?"


"He is here, then?"

"He is waiting with the potion he promised."

"Very well; if I require him, I will call; you now understand the great
importance of my confession, do you not?"

"Yes, monseigneur."

"Then go and fetch me the Spanish Cardinal Herrebia. Make haste. Only,
as you now understand the matter in hand, you will remain near me, for I
begin to feel faint."

"Shall I summon the physician?"

"Not yet, not yet... the Spanish cardinal, no one else. Fly."

Five minutes afterwards, the cardinal, pale and disturbed, entered the
little room.

"I am informed, monseigneur, - "stammered the cardinal.

"To the point," said the Franciscan, in a faint voice, showing the
cardinal a letter which he had written to the grand council. "Is that
your handwriting?"

"Yes, but - "

"And your summons?"

The cardinal hesitated to answer. His purple revolted against the mean
garb of the poor Franciscan, who stretched out his hand and displayed the
ring, which produced its effect, greater in proportion to the greatness
of the person over whom the Franciscan exercised his influence.

"Quick, the secret, the secret!" said the dying man, leaning upon his

"_Coram isto?_" inquired the Spanish cardinal. (8)

"Speak in Spanish," said the Franciscan, showing the liveliest attention.

"You are aware, monseigneur," said the cardinal, continuing the
conversation in Castilian, "that the condition of the marriage of the
Infanta with the king of France was the absolute renunciation of the
rights of the said Infanta, as well as of King Louis XIV., to all claim
to the crown of Spain." The Franciscan made a sign in the affirmative.

"The consequence is," continued the cardinal, "that the peace and
alliance between the two kingdoms depend upon the observance of that
clause of the contract." A similar sign from the Franciscan. "Not only
France and Spain," continued the cardinal, "but the whole of Europe even,
would be violently rent asunder by the faithlessness of either party."
Another movement of the dying man's head.

"It further results," continued the speaker, "that the man who might be
able to foresee events, and to render certain that which is no more than
a vague idea floating in the mind of man, that is to say, the idea of a
future good or evil, would preserve the world from a great catastrophe;
and the event, which has no fixed certainty even in the brain of him who
originated it, could be turned to the advantage of our order."

"_Pronto_, _pronto!_" murmured the Franciscan, in Spanish, who suddenly
became paler, and leaned upon the priest. The cardinal approached the
ear of the dying man, and said, "Well, monseigneur, I know that the king
of France has determined that, at the very first pretext, a death for
instance, either that of the king of Spain, or that of a brother of the
Infanta, France will, arms in hand, claim the inheritance, and I have in
my possession, already prepared, the plan of policy agreed upon by Louis
XIV. for this occasion."

"And this plan?" said the Franciscan.

"Here it is," returned the cardinal.

"In whose handwriting is it?"

"My own."

"Have you anything further to say to me?"

"I think I have said a good deal, my lord," replied the cardinal.

"Yes, you have rendered the order a great service. But how did you
procure the details, by the aid of which you have constructed your plan?"

"I have the under-servants of the king of France in my pay, and I obtain
from them all the waste papers, which have been saved from being burnt."

"Very ingenious," murmured the Franciscan, endeavoring to smile; "you
will leave this hotel, cardinal, in a quarter of an hour, and a reply
shall be sent you." The cardinal withdrew.

"Call Grisart, and desire the Venetian Marini to come," said the sick man.

While the confessor obeyed, the Franciscan, instead of striking out the
cardinal's name, as he had done the baron's, made a cross at the side of
it. Then, exhausted by the effort, he fell back on his bed, murmuring
the name of Dr. Grisart. When he returned to his senses, he had drunk
about half of the potion, of which the remainder was left in the glass,
and he found himself supported by the physician, while the Venetian and
the confessor were standing close to the door. The Venetian submitted to
the same formalities as his two predecessors, hesitated as they had done
at the sight of the two strangers, but his confidence restored by the
order of the general, he revealed that the pope, terrified at the power
of the order, was weaving a plot for the general expulsion of the
Jesuits, and was tampering with the different courts of Europe in order
to obtain their assistance. He described the pontiff's auxiliaries, his
means of action, and indicated the particular locality in the Archipelago
where, by a sudden surprise, two cardinals, adepts of the eleventh year,
and, consequently, high in authority, were to be transported, together
with thirty-two of the principal affiliated members of Rome. The
Franciscan thanked the Signor Marini. It was by no means a slight
service he had rendered the society by denouncing this pontifical
project. The Venetian thereupon received directions to set off in a
quarter of an hour, and left as radiant as if he already possessed the
ring, the sign of the supreme authority of the society. As, however, he
was departing, the Franciscan murmured to himself: "All these men are
either spies, or a sort of police, not one of them a general; they have
all discovered a plot, but not one of them a secret. It is not by means
of ruin, or war, or force, that the Society of Jesus is to be governed,
but by that mysterious influence moral superiority alone confers. No,
the man is not yet found, and to complete the misfortune, Heaven strikes
me down, and I am dying. Oh! must the society indeed fall with me for
want of a column to support it? Must death, which is waiting for me,
swallow up with me the future of the order; that future which ten years
more of my own life would have rendered eternal? for that future, with
the reign of the new king, is opening radiant and full of splendor."
These words, which had been half-reflected, half-pronounced aloud, were
listened to by the Jesuit confessor with a terror similar to that with
which one listens to the wanderings of a person attacked by fever, whilst
Grisart, with a mind of higher order, devoured them as the revelations of
an unknown world, in which his looks were plunged without ability to
comprehend. Suddenly the Franciscan recovered himself.

"Let us finish this," he said; "death is approaching. Oh! just now I was
dying resignedly, for I hoped... while now I sink in despair, unless
those who remain... Grisart, Grisart, give me to live a single hour

Grisart approached the dying monk, and made him swallow a few drops, not
of the potion which was still left in the glass, but of the contents of a
small bottle he had upon his person.

"Call the Scotchman!" exclaimed the Franciscan; "call the Bremen
merchant. Call, call quickly. I am dying. I am suffocated."

The confessor darted forward to seek assistance, as if there had been any
human strength which could hold back the hand of death, which was
weighing down the sick man; but, at the threshold of the door, he found
Aramis, who, with his finger on his lips, like the statue of Harpocrates,
the god of silence, by a look motioned him back to the end of the
apartment. The physician and the confessor, after having consulted each
other by looks, made a movement as if to push Aramis aside, who, however,
with two signs of the cross, each made in a different manner, transfixed
them both in their places.

"A chief!" they both murmured.

Aramis slowly advanced into the room where the dying man was struggling
against the first attack of the agony which had seized him. As for the
Franciscan, whether owing to the effect of the elixir, or whether the
appearance of Aramis had restored his strength, he made a movement, and
his eyes glaring, his mouth half open, and his hair damp with sweat, sat
up upon the bed. Aramis felt that the air of the room was stifling; the
windows were closed; the fire was burning upon the hearth; a pair of
candles of yellow wax were guttering down in the copper candlesticks, and
still further increased, by their thick smoke, the temperature of the
room. Aramis opened the window, and fixing upon the dying man a look
full of intelligence and respect, said to him: "Monseigneur, pray forgive
my coming in this manner, before you summoned me, but your state alarms
me, and I thought you might possibly die before you had seen me, for I
am but the sixth upon your list."

The dying man started and looked at the list.

"You are, therefore, he who was formerly called Aramis, and since, the
Chevalier d'Herblay? You are the bishop of Vannes?"

"Yes, my lord."

"I know you, I have seen you."

"At the last jubilee, we were with the Holy Father together."

"Yes, yes, I remember; and you place yourself on the list of candidates?"

"Monseigneur, I have heard it said that the order required to become
possessed of a great state secret, and knowing that from modesty you had
in anticipation resigned your functions in favor of the person who should
be the depositary of such a secret, I wrote to say that I was ready to
compete, possessing alone a secret I believe to be important."

"Speak," said the Franciscan; "I am ready to listen to you, and to judge
the importance of the secret."

"A secret of the value of that which I have the honor to confide to you
cannot be communicated by word of mouth. Any idea which, when once
expressed, has thereby lost its safeguard, and has become vulgarized by
any manifestation or communication of it whatever, no longer is the
property of him who gave it birth. My words may be overheard by some
listener, or perhaps by an enemy; one ought not, therefore, to speak at
random, for, in such a case, the secret would cease to be one."

"How do you propose, then, to convey your secret?" inquired the dying

With one hand Aramis signed to the physician and the confessor to
withdraw, and with the other he handed to the Franciscan a paper enclosed
in a double envelope.

"Is not writing more dangerous still than language?"

"No, my lord," said Aramis, "for you will find within this envelope
characters which you and I alone can understand." The Franciscan looked
at Aramis with an astonishment which momentarily increased.

"It is a cipher," continued the latter, "which you used in 1655, and
which your secretary, Juan Jujan, who is dead, could alone decipher, if
he were restored to life."

"You knew this cipher, then?"

"It was I who taught it him," said Aramis, bowing with a gracefulness
full of respect, and advancing towards the door as if to leave the room:
but a gesture of the Franciscan accompanied by a cry for him to remain,
restrained him.

"_Ecce homo!_" he exclaimed; then reading the paper a second time, he
called out, "Approach, approach quickly!"

Aramis returned to the side of the Franciscan, with the same calm
countenance and the same respectful manner, unchanged. The Franciscan,
extending his arm, burnt by the flame of the candle the paper which
Aramis had handed him. Then, taking hold of Aramis's hand, he drew him
towards him, and inquired: "In what manner and by whose means could you
possibly become acquainted with such a secret?"

"Through Madame de Chevreuse, the intimate friend and _confidante_ of the

"And Madame de Chevreuse - "

"Is dead."

"Did any others know it?"

"A man and a woman only, and they of the lower classes."

"Who are they?"

"Persons who had brought him up."

"What has become of them?"

"Dead also. This secret burns like vitriol."

"But you survive?"

"No one is aware that I know it."

"And for what length of time have you possessed this secret?"

"For the last fifteen years."

"And you have kept it?"

"I wished to live."

"And you give it to the order without ambition, without acknowledgement?"

"I give it to the order with ambition and with a hope of return," said
Aramis; "for if you live, my lord, you will make of me, now you know me,
what I can and ought to be."

"And as I am dying," exclaimed the Franciscan, "I constitute you my
successor... Thus." And drawing off the ring, he passed it on Aramis's
finger. Then, turning towards the two spectators of this scene, he said:
"Be ye witnesses of this, and testify, if need be, that, sick in body,
but sound in mind, I have freely and voluntarily bestowed this ring, the
token of supreme authority, upon Monseigneur d'Herblay, bishop of Vannes,
whom I nominate my successor, and before whom I, an humble sinner, about
to appear before Heaven, prostrate myself, as an example for all to
follow." And the Franciscan bowed lowly and submissively, whilst the
physician and the Jesuit fell on their knees. Aramis, even while he
became paler than the dying man himself, bent his looks successively upon
all the actors of this scene. Profoundly gratified ambition flowed with
life-blood towards his heart.

"We must lose no time," said the Franciscan; "what I had still to do on
earth was urgent. I shall never succeed in carrying it out."

"I will do it," said Aramis.

"It is well," said the Franciscan, and then turning towards the Jesuit
and the doctor, he added, "Leave us alone," a direction they instantly

"With this sign," he said, "you are the man needed to shake the world
from one end to the other; with this sign you will overthrow; with this
sign you will edify; _in hoc signo vinces!_" (9)

"Close the door," continued the Franciscan after a pause. Aramis shut
and bolted the door, and returned to the side of the Franciscan.

"The pope is conspiring against the order," said the monk; "the pope must

"He shall die," said Aramis, quietly.

"Seven hundred thousand livres are owing to a Bremen merchant of the name
of Bonstett, who came here to get the guarantee of my signature."

"He shall be paid," said Aramis.

"Six knights of Malta, whose names are written here, have discovered, by
the indiscretion of one of the affiliated of the eleventh year, the three
mysteries; it must be ascertained what else these men have done with the
secret, to get it back again and bury it."

"It shall be done."

"Three dangerous affiliated members must be sent away into Tibet, there
to perish; they stand condemned. Here are their names."

"I will see that the sentence be carried out."

"Lastly, there is a lady at Anvers, grand-niece of Ravaillac; she holds
certain papers in her hands that compromise the order. There has been
payable to the family during the last fifty-one years a pension of fifty
thousand livres. The pension is a heavy one, and the order is not
wealthy. Redeem the papers, for a sum of money paid down, or, in case of
refusal, stop the pension - but run no risk."

"I will quickly decide what is best to be done," said Aramis.

"A vessel chartered from Lima entered the port of Lisbon last week;
ostensibly it is laden with chocolate, in reality with gold. Every ingot
is concealed by a coating of chocolate. The vessel belongs to the order;
it is worth seventeen millions of livres; you will see that it is
claimed; here are the bills of landing."

"To what port shall I direct it to be taken?"

"To Bayonne."

"Before three weeks are over it shall be there, wind and weather
permitting. Is that all?" The Franciscan made a sign in the
affirmative, for he could no longer speak; the blood rushed to his throat
and his head, and gushed from his mouth, his nostrils, and his eyes. The
dying man had barely time to press Aramis's hand, when he fell in
convulsions from his bed upon the floor. Aramis placed his hand upon the
Franciscan's heart, but it had ceased to beat. As he stooped down,
Aramis observed that a fragment of the paper he had given the Franciscan
had escaped being burnt. He picked it up, and burnt it to the last
atom. Then, summoning the confessor and the physician, he said to the
former: "Your penitent is in heaven; he needs nothing more than prayers
and the burial bestowed upon the pious dead. Go and prepare what is
necessary for a simple interment, such as a poor monk only would
require. Go."

The Jesuit left the room. Then, turning towards the physician, and
observing his pale and anxious face, he said, in a low tone of voice:
"Monsieur Grisart, empty and clean this glass; _there is too much left in
it of what the grand council desired you to put in_."

Grisart, amazed, overcome, completely astounded, almost fell backwards in
his extreme terror. Aramis shrugged his shoulders in sign of pity, took
the glass, and poured out the contents among the ashes of the hearth. He
then left the room, carrying the papers of the dead man with him.

Chapter LIV:
A Mission.

The next day, or rather the same day (for the events we have just
described were concluded only at three o'clock in the morning), before
breakfast was served, and as the king was preparing to go to mass with
the two queens; as Monsieur, with the Chevalier de Lorraine, and a few
other intimate companions, was mounting his horse to set off for the
river, to take one of those celebrated baths with which the ladies of the
court were so infatuated, as, in fact, no one remained in the chateau,
with the exception of Madame who, under the pretext of indisposition,
would not leave her room; Montalais was seen, or rather not was not seen,
to glide stealthily out of the room appropriated to the maids of honor,
leading La Valliere after her, who tried to conceal herself as much as
possible, and both of them, hurrying secretly through the gardens,
succeeded, looking round them at every step they took, in reaching the
thicket. The weather was cloudy, a warm breeze bowed the flowers and the
shrubs, the burning dust, swept along in clouds by the wind, was whirled
in eddies towards the trees. Montalais, who, during their progress, had
discharged the functions of a clever scout, advanced a few steps further,
and turning round again, to be quite sure that no one was either
listening or approaching, said to her companion, "Thank goodness, we are
quite alone! Since yesterday every one spies on us here, and a circle
seems to be drawn round us, as if we were plague-stricken." La Valliere
bent down her head and sighed. "It is positively unheard of," continued
Montalais; "from M. Malicorne to M. de Saint-Aignan, every one wishes to
get hold of our secret. Come, Louise, let us take counsel, you and I,
together, in order that I may know what to do."

La Valliere lifted towards her companion her beautiful eyes, pure and
deep as the azure of a spring sky, "And I," she said, "will ask you why
we have been summoned to Madame's own room? Why have we slept close to
her apartment, instead of sleeping as usual in our own? Why did you
return so late, and whence are these measures of strict supervision which
have been adopted since this morning, with respect to us both?"

"My dear Louise, you answer my question by another, or rather, by ten
others, which is not answering me at all. I will tell you all you want
to know later, and as it is of secondary importance, you can wait. What
I ask you - for everything will depend upon that - is, whether there is
or is not any secret?"

"I do not know if there is any secret," said La Valliere; "but I do know,
for my part at least, that there has been great imprudence committed.
Since the foolish remark I made, and my still more silly fainting
yesterday, every one here is making remarks about us."

"Speak for yourself," said Montalais, laughing, "speak for yourself and
for Tonnay-Charente; for both of you made your declarations of love to
the skies, which unfortunately were intercepted."

La Valliere hung down her head. "Really you overwhelm me," she said.


"Yes, you torture me with your jests."

"Listen to me, Louise. These are no jests, for nothing is more serious;
on the contrary, I did not drag you out of the chateau; I did not miss
attending mass; I did not pretend to have a cold, as Madame did, which
she has no more than I have; and, lastly, I did not display ten times
more diplomacy than M. Colbert inherited from M. de Mazarin, and makes
use of with respect to M. Fouquet, in order to find means of confiding my
perplexities to you, for the sole end and purpose that, when at last we
were alone, with no one to listen to us, you should deal hypocritically
with me. No, no; believe me, that when I ask you a question, it is not
from curiosity alone, but really because the position is a critical one.
What you said yesterday is now known, - it is a text on which every one
is discoursing. Every one embellishes it to the utmost, and according to
his own fancy; you had the honor last night, and you have it still to-
day, of occupying the whole court, my dear Louise; and the number of
tender and witty remarks which have been ascribed to you, would make
Mademoiselle de Scudery and her brother burst from very spite, if they
were faithfully reported."

"But, dearest Montalais," said the poor girl, "you know better than any
one exactly what I said, since you were present when I said it."

"Yes, I know. But that is not the question. I have not forgotten a
single syllable you uttered, but did you think what you were saying?"

Louise became confused. "What," she exclaimed, "more questions still!
Oh, heavens! when I would give the world to forget what I did say, how
does it happen that every one does all he possibly can to remind me of
it? Oh, this is indeed terrible!"

"What is?"

"To have a friend who ought to spare me, who might advise me and help me
to save myself, and yet who is undoing me - is killing me."

"There, there, that will do," said Montalais; "after having said too
little, you now say too much. No one thinks of killing you, nor even of
robbing you, even of your secret; I wish to have it voluntarily, and in
no other way; for the question does not concern your own affairs only,
but ours also; and Tonnay-Charente would tell you as I do, if she were
here. For, the fact is, that last evening she wished to have some
private conversation in our room, and I was going there after the
Manicamp and Malicorne colloquies terminated, when I learned, on my
return, rather late, it is true, that Madame had sequestered her maids of
honor, and that we were to sleep in her apartments, instead of our own.
Moreover, Madame has shut up her maids of honor in order that they should
not have the time to concert any measures together, and this morning she
was closeted with Tonnay-Charente with the same object. Tell me, then,
to what extent Athenais and I can rely upon you, as we will tell you in
what way you can rely upon us?"

"I do not clearly understand the question you have put," said Louise,
much agitated.

"Hum! and yet, on the contrary, you seem to understand me very well.
However, I will put my questions in a more precise manner, in order that
you may not be able, in the slightest degree, to evade them. Listen to
me: _Do you love M. de Bragelonne?_ That is plain enough, is it not?"

At this question, which fell like the first bombshell of a besieging army
into a doomed town, Louise started. "You ask me," she exclaimed, "if I
love Raoul, the friend of my childhood, - my brother almost?"

"No, no, no! Again you evade me, or rather, you wish to escape me. I do
not ask if you love Raoul, your childhood's friend, - your brother; but I
ask if you love the Vicomte de Bragelonne, your affianced husband?"

"Good heavens! dear Montalais," said Louise, "how severe your tone is!"

"You deserve no indulgence, - I am neither more nor less severe than
usual. I put a question to you, so answer it."

"You certainly do not," said Louise, in a choking voice, "speak to me
like a friend; but I will answer you as a true friend."

"Well, do so."

"Very well; my heart is full of scruples and silly feelings of pride,
with respect to everything that a woman ought to keep secret, and in
this respect no one has ever read into the bottom of my soul."

"That I know very well. If I had read it, I should not interrogate you
as I have done; I should simply say, - 'My good Louise, you have the
happiness of an acquaintance with M. de Bragelonne, who is an excellent
young man, and an advantageous match for a girl without fortune. M. de
la Fere will leave something like fifteen thousand livres a year to his
son. At a future day, then, you, as this son's wife, will have fifteen
thousand livres a year; which is not bad. Turn, then, neither to the
right hand nor to the left, but go frankly to M. de Bragelonne; that is
to say, to the altar to which he will lead you. Afterwards, why
afterwards, according to his disposition, you will be emancipated or
enslaved; in other words, you will have a right to commit any piece of
folly people commit who have either too much liberty or too little.'
That is, my dear Louise, what I should have told you at first, if I had
been able to read your heart."

"And I should have thanked you," stammered out Louise, "although the
advice does not appear to me to be altogether sound."

"Wait, wait. But immediately after having given you that advice, I
should have added, - 'Louise, it is very dangerous to pass whole days
with your head drooping, your hands unoccupied, your eyes restless and
full of thought; it is dangerous to prefer the least frequented paths,
and no longer be amused with such diversions as gladden young girls'
hearts; it is dangerous, Louise, to scrawl with the point of your foot,
as you do, upon the gravel, certain letters it is useless for you to
efface, but which appear again under your heel, particularly when those
letters rather resemble the letter L than the letter B; and, lastly, it
is dangerous to allow the mind to dwell on a thousand wild fancies, the
fruits of solitude and heartache; these fancies, while they sink into a
young girl's mind, make her cheeks sink in also, so that it is not
unusual, on such occasions, to find the most delightful persons in the
world become the most disagreeable, and the wittiest to become the

"I thank you, dearest Aure," replied La Valliere, gently; "it is like you
to speak to me in this manner, and I thank you for it."

"It was only for the benefit of wild dreamers, such as I have just
described, that I spoke; do not take any of my words, then, to yourself,
except such as you think you deserve. Stay, I hardly know what story
recurs to my memory of some silly or melancholy girl, who was gradually
pining away because she fancied that the prince, or the king, or the
emperor, whoever it was - and it does not matter much which - had fallen
in love with her; while on the contrary, the prince, or the king, or the
emperor, whichever you please, was plainly in love with some one else,
and - a singular circumstance, one, indeed, which she could not perceive,
although every one around and about her perceived it clearly enough
made use of her as a screen for his own love affair. You laugh as I do,
at this poor silly girl, do you not, Louise?"

"I? - oh! of course," stammered Louise, pale as death.

"And you are right, too, for the thing is amusing enough. The story,
whether true or false, amused me, and so I remembered it and told it to
you. Just imagine then, my good Louise, the mischief that such a
melancholy would create in anybody's brain, - a melancholy, I mean, of
that kind. For my own part, I resolved to tell you the story; for if
such a thing were to happen to either of _us_, it would be most essential
to be assured of its truth; to-day it is a snare, to-morrow it would
become a jest and mockery, the next day it would mean death itself." La
Valliere started again, and became, if possible, still paler.

"Whenever a king takes notice of us," continued Montalais, "he lets us
see it easily enough, and, if we happen to be the object he covets, he
knows very well how to gain his object. You see, then, Louise, that, in
such circumstances, between young girls exposed to such a danger as the
one in question, the most perfect confidence should exist, in order that
those hearts which are not disposed towards melancholy may watch over
those likely to become so."

"Silence, silence!" said La Valliere; "some one approaches."

"Some one is approaching fast, in fact," said Montalais; "but who can it
possibly be? Everybody is away, either at mass with the king, or bathing
with Monsieur."

At the end of the walk the young girls perceived almost immediately,
beneath the arching trees, the graceful carriage and noble stature of a
young man, who, with his sword under his arm and a cloak thrown across
his shoulders, booted and spurred besides, saluted them from the distance
with a gentle smile. "Raoul!" exclaimed Montalais.

"M. de Bragelonne!" murmured Louise.

"A very proper judge to decide upon our difference of opinion," said

"Oh! Montalais, Montalais, for pity's sake," exclaimed La Valliere,
"after having been so cruel, show me a little mercy." These words,
uttered with all the fervor of a prayer, effaced all trace of irony, if
not from Montalais's heart, at least from her face.

"Why, you are as handsome as Amadis, Monsieur de Bragelonne," she cried
to Raoul, "and armed and booted like him."

"A thousand compliments, young ladies," replied Raoul, bowing.

"But why, I ask, are you booted in this manner?" repeated Montalais,
whilst La Valliere, although she looked at Raoul with a surprise equal to
that of her companion, nevertheless uttered not a word.

"Why?" inquired Raoul.

"Yes!" ventured Louise.

"Because I am about to set off," said Bragelonne, looking at Louise.

The young girl seemed as though smitten by some superstitious feeling of
terror, and tottered. "You are going away, Raoul!" she cried; "and where
are you going?"

"Dearest Louise," he replied, with that quiet, composed manner which was
natural to him, "I am going to England."

"What are you going to do in England?"

"The king has sent me there."

"The king!" exclaimed Louise and Aure together, involuntarily exchanging
glances, the conversation which had just been interrupted recurring to
them both. Raoul intercepted the glance, but could not understand its
meaning, and, naturally enough, attributed it to the interest both the
young girls took in him.

"His majesty," he said, "has been good enough to remember that the Comte
de la Fere is high in favor with King Charles II. This morning, as he
was on his way to attend mass, the king, seeing me as he passed, signed
to me to approach, which I accordingly did. 'Monsieur de Bragelonne,' he
said to me, 'you will call upon M. Fouquet, who has received from me
letters for the king of Great Britain; you will be the bearer of them.'
I bowed. 'Ah!' his majesty added, 'before you leave, you will be good
enough to take any commissions which Madame may have for the king her

"Gracious heaven!" murmured Louise, much agitated, and yet full of
thought at the same time.

"So quickly! You are desired to set off in such haste!" said Montalais,
almost paralyzed by this unforeseen event.

"Properly to obey those whom we respect," said Raoul, "it is necessary to
obey quickly. Within ten minutes after I had received the order, I was
ready. Madame, already informed, is writing the letter which she is good
enough to do me the honor of intrusting to me. In the meantime, learning
from Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente that it was likely you would be in
this direction, I came here, and am happy to find you both."

"And both of us very sad, as you see," said Montalais, going to Louise's
assistance, whose countenance was visibly altered.

"Suffering?" responded Raoul, pressing Louise's hand with a tender
curiosity. "Your hand is like ice."

"It is nothing."

"This coldness does not reach your heart, Louise, does it?" inquired the
young man, with a tender smile. Louise raised her head hastily, as if
the question had been inspired by some suspicion, and had aroused a
feeling of remorse.

"Oh! you know," she said, with an effort, "that my heart will never be
cold towards a friend like yourself, Monsieur de Bragelonne."

"Thank you, Louise. I know both your heart and your mind; it is not by
the touch of the hand that one can judge of an affection like yours. You
know, Louise, how devotedly I love you, with what perfect and unreserved
confidence I reserve my life for you; will you not forgive me, then, for
speaking to you with something like the frankness of a child?"

"Speak, Monsieur Raoul," said Louise, trembling painfully, "I am

"I cannot part from you, carrying away with me a thought that tortures
me; absurd I know it to be, and yet one which rends my very heart."

"Are you going away, then, for any length of time?" inquired La Valliere,
with faltering utterance, while Montalais turned her head aside.

"No; probably I shall not be absent more than a fortnight." La Valliere
pressed her hand upon her heart, which felt as though it were breaking.

"It is strange," pursued Raoul, looking at the young girl with a
melancholy expression; "I have often left you when setting off on
adventures fraught with danger. Then I started joyously enough - my
heart free, my mind intoxicated by thoughts of happiness in store for me,
hopes of which the future was full; and yet I was about to face the
Spanish cannon, or the halberds of the Walloons. To-day, without the
existence of any danger or uneasiness, and by the sunniest path in the
world, I am going in search of a glorious recompense, which this mark of
the king's favor seems to indicate, for I am, perhaps, going to win
_you_, Louise. What other favor, more precious than yourself, could the
king confer upon me? Yet, Louise, in very truth I know not how or why,
but this happiness and this future seem to vanish before my very eyes
like mist - like an idle dream; and I feel here, here at the very bottom
of my heart, a deep-seated grief, a dejection I cannot overcome
something heavy, passionless, death-like, - resembling a corpse. Oh!
Louise, too well do I know why; it is because I have never loved you so
truly as now. God help me!"

At this last exclamation, which issued as it were from a broken heart,
Louise burst into tears, and threw herself into Montalais's arms. The
latter, although she was not easily moved, felt the tears rush to her
eyes. Raoul noted only the tears Louise shed; his look, however, did not
penetrate - nay, sought not to penetrate - beyond those tears. He bent
his knee before her, and tenderly kissed her hand; and it was evident
that in that kiss he poured out his whole heart.

"Rise, rise," said Montalais to him, ready to cry, "for Athenais is

Raoul rose, brushed his knee with the back of his hand, smiled again upon
Louise, whose eyes were fixed on the ground, and, having pressed
Montalais's hand gratefully, he turned round to salute Mademoiselle de
Tonnay-Charente, the sound of whose silken robe was already heard upon
the gravel walk. "Has Madame finished her letter?" he inquired, when the
young girl came within reach of his voice.

"Yes, the letter is finished, sealed, and her royal highness is ready to
receive you."

Raoul, at this remark, hardly gave himself time to salute Athenais, cast
one look at Louise, bowed to Montalais, and withdrew in the direction of
the chateau. As he withdrew he again turned round, but at last, at the
end of the grand walk, it was useless to do so again, as he could no
longer see them. The three young girls, on their side, had, with widely
different feelings, watched him disappear.

"At last," said Athenais, the first to interrupt the silence, "at last we
are alone, free to talk of yesterday's great affair, and to come to an
understanding upon the conduct it is advisable for us to pursue.
Besides, if you will listen to me," she continued, looking round on all
sides, "I will explain to you, as briefly as possible, in the first
place, our own duty, such as I imagine it to be, and, if you do not
understand a hint, what is Madame's desire on the subject." And
Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente pronounced these words in such a tone as
to leave no doubt, in her companion's minds, upon the official character
with which she was invested.

"Madame's desire!" exclaimed Montalais and La Valliere together.

"Her _ultimatum_," replied Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente,

"But," murmured La Valliere, "does Madame know, then - "

"Madame knows more about the matter than we said, even," said Athenais,
in a formal, precise manner. "Therefore let us come to a proper

"Yes, indeed," said Montalais, "and I am listening in breathless

"Gracious heavens!" murmured Louise, trembling, "shall I ever survive
this cruel evening?"

"Oh! do not frighten yourself in that manner," said Athenais; "we have
found a remedy." So, seating herself between her two companions, and
taking each of them by the hand, which she held in her own, she began.
The first words were hardly spoke, when they heard a horse galloping away
over the stones of the public high-road, outside the gates of the chateau.

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