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Produced by John Bursey





THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK

by Alexandre Dumas




Transcriber's Notes:

As you may be aware, Project Gutenberg has been involved with the
writings of both the Alexandre Dumases for some time now, and since we
get a few questions about the order in which the books should be read,
and in which they were published, these following comments should
hopefully help most of our readers.

***

The Vicomte de Bragelonne is the final volume of D'Artagnan Romances:
it is usually split into three or four parts, and the final portion
is entitled The Man in the Iron Mask. The Man in the Iron Mask we're
familiar with today is the last volume of the four-volume edition.
[Not all the editions split them in the same manner, hence some of the
confusion...but wait...there's yet more reason for confusion.]

We intend to do ALL of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, split into four
etexts entitled The Vicomte de Bragelonne, Ten Years Later, Louise de la
Valliere, and The Man in the Iron Mask.

One thing that may be causing confusion is that the etext we have now,
entitled Ten Years Later, says it's the sequel to The Three Musketeers.
While this is technically true, there's another book, Twenty Years
After, that comes between. The confusion is generated by the two facts
that we published Ten Years Later BEFORE we published Twenty Years
After, and that many people see those titles as meaning Ten and Twenty
Years "After" the original story...however, this is why the different
words "After" and "Later"...the Ten Years "After" is ten years after
the Twenty Years later...as per history. Also, the third book of the
D'Artagnan Romances, while entitled The Vicomte de Bragelonne, has the
subtitle Ten Years Later. These two titles are also given to different
volumes: The Vicomte de Bragelonne can refer to the whole book, or the
first volume of the three or four-volume editions. Ten Years Later
can, similarly, refer to the whole book, or the second volume of the
four-volume edition. To add to the confusion, in the case of our etexts,
it refers to the first 104 chapters of the whole book, covering material
in the first and second etexts in the new series. Here is a guide to the
series which may prove helpful:

The Three Musketeers: Etext 1257 - First book of the D'Artagnan Romances.
Covers the years 1625-1628.

Twenty Years After: Etext 1259 - Second book of the D'Artagnan Romances.
Covers the years 1648-1649. [Third in the order that we published, but
second in time sequence!!!]

Ten Years Later: Etext 1258 - First 104 chapters of the third book of the
D'Artagnan Romances. Covers the years 1660-1661.

The Vicomte de Bragelonne: Etext 2609 (first in the new series) - First
75 chapters of the third book of the D'Artagnan Romances. Covers the
year 1660.

Ten Years Later: Etext 2681 (second in the new series) - Chapters
76-140 of that third book of the D'Artagnan Romances. Covers the years
1660-1661. [In this particular editing of it]

Louise de la Valliere: Etext 2710 (third in the new series) - Chapters
141-208 of the third book of the D'Artagnan Romances. Covers the year
1661.

The Man in the Iron Mask: Etext 2759 (our next text) - Chapters
209-269 of the third book of the D'Artagnan Romances. Covers the years
1661-1673.

Here is a list of the other Dumas Etexts we have published so far:

Sep 1999 La Tulipe Noire, by Alexandre
Dumas[Pere#6/French][tlpnrxxx.xxx]1910 This is an abridged edition in
French, also see our full length English Etext Jul 1997 The Black Tulip,
by Alexandre Dumas[Pere][Dumas#1][tbtlpxxx.xxx] 965 Jan 1998 The Count
of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas[Pere][crstoxxx.xxx]1184


Many thanks to Dr. David Coward, whose editions of the D'Artagnan
Romances have proved an invaluable source of information.


Introduction:

In the months of March-July in 1844, in the magazine Le Siecle, the
first portion of a story appeared, penned by the celebrated playwright
Alexandre Dumas. It was based, he claimed, on some manuscripts he had
found a year earlier in the Bibliotheque Nationale while researching a
history he planned to write on Louis XIV. They chronicled the adventures
of a young man named D'Artagnan who, upon entering Paris, became almost
immediately embroiled in court intrigues, international politics, and
ill-fated affairs between royal lovers. Over the next six years, readers
would enjoy the adventures of this youth and his three famous friends,
Porthos, Athos, and Aramis, as their exploits unraveled behind the
scenes of some of the most momentous events in French and even English
history.

Eventually these serialized adventures were published in novel form,
and became the three D'Artagnan Romances known today. Here is a brief
summary of the first two novels:

The Three Musketeers (serialized March - July, 1844): The year is 1625.
The young D'Artagnan arrives in Paris at the tender age of 18, and
almost immediately offends three musketeers, Porthos, Aramis, and Athos.
Instead of dueling, the four are attacked by five of the Cardinal's
guards, and the courage of the youth is made apparent during the battle.
The four become fast friends, and, when asked by D'Artagnan's landlord
to find his missing wife, embark upon an adventure that takes them
across both France and England in order to thwart the plans of the
Cardinal Richelieu. Along the way, they encounter a beautiful young spy,
named simply Milady, who will stop at nothing to disgrace Queen Anne of
Austria before her husband, Louis XIII, and take her revenge upon the
four friends.

Twenty Years After (serialized January - August, 1845): The year is now
1648, twenty years since the close of the last story. Louis XIII has
died, as has Cardinal Richelieu, and while the crown of France may sit
upon the head of Anne of Austria as Regent for the young Louis XIV,
the real power resides with the Cardinal Mazarin, her secret husband.
D'Artagnan is now a lieutenant of musketeers, and his three friends have
retired to private life. Athos turned out to be a nobleman, the Comte de
la Fere, and has retired to his home with his son, Raoul de Bragelonne.
Aramis, whose real name is D'Herblay, has followed his intention of
shedding the musketeer's cassock for the priest's robes, and Porthos has
married a wealthy woman, who left him her fortune upon her death. But
trouble is stirring in both France and England. Cromwell menaces the
institution of royalty itself while marching against Charles I, and at
home the Fronde is threatening to tear France apart. D'Artagnan brings
his friends out of retirement to save the threatened English monarch,
but Mordaunt, the son of Milady, who seeks to avenge his mother's death
at the musketeers' hands, thwarts their valiant efforts. Undaunted, our
heroes return to France just in time to help save the young Louis XIV,
quiet the Fronde, and tweak the nose of Cardinal Mazarin.

The third novel, The Vicomte de Bragelonne (serialized October,
1847 - January, 1850), has enjoyed a strange history in its English
translation. It has been split into three, four, or five volumes at
various points in its history. The five-volume edition generally does
not give titles to the smaller portions, but the others do. In the
three-volume edition, the novels are entitled The Vicomte de Bragelonne,
Louise de la Valliere, and The Man in the Iron Mask. For the purposes of
this etext, I have chosen to split the novel as the four-volume edition
does, with these titles: The Vicomte de Bragelonne, Ten Years Later,
Louise de la Valliere, and The Man in the Iron Mask. In the first three
etexts:

The Vicomte de Bragelonne (Etext 2609): It is the year 1660, and
D'Artagnan, after thirty-five years of loyal service, has become
disgusted with serving King Louis XIV while the real power resides with
the Cardinal Mazarin, and has tendered his resignation. He embarks on
his own project, that of restoring Charles II to the throne of England,
and, with the help of Athos, succeeds, earning himself quite a fortune
in the process. D'Artagnan returns to Paris to live the life of a rich
citizen, and Athos, after negotiating the marriage of Philip, the king's
brother, to Princess Henrietta of England, likewise retires to his own
estate, La Fere. Meanwhile, Mazarin has finally died, and left Louis to
assume the reigns of power, with the assistance of M. Colbert, formerly
Mazarin's trusted clerk. Colbert has an intense hatred for M. Fouquet,
the king's superintendent of finances, and has resolved to use any
means necessary to bring about his fall. With the new rank of intendant
bestowed on him by Louis, Colbert succeeds in having two of Fouquet's
loyal friends tried and executed. He then brings to the king's attention
that Fouquet is fortifying the island of Belle-Ile-en-Mer, and could
possibly be planning to use it as a base for some military operation
against the king. Louis calls D'Artagnan out of retirement and sends
him to investigate the island, promising him a tremendous salary and his
long-promised promotion to captain of the musketeers upon his return. At
Belle-Isle, D'Artagnan discovers that the engineer of the fortifications
is, in fact, Porthos, now the Baron du Vallon, and that's not all.
The blueprints for the island, although in Porthos's handwriting,
show evidence of another script that has been erased, that of Aramis.
D'Artagnan later discovers that Aramis has become the bishop of Vannes,
which is, coincidentally, a parish belonging to M. Fouquet. Suspecting
that D'Artagnan has arrived on the king's behalf to investigate, Aramis
tricks D'Artagnan into wandering around Vannes in search of Porthos,
and sends Porthos on an heroic ride back to Paris to warn Fouquet of
the danger. Fouquet rushes to the king, and gives him Belle-Isle as a
present, thus allaying any suspicion, and at the same time humiliating
Colbert, just minutes before the usher announces someone else seeking an
audience with the king.

Ten Years Later (Etext 2681): As 1661 approaches, Princess Henrietta of
England arrives for her marriage, and throws the court of France into
complete disorder. The jealousy of the Duke of Buckingham, who is
in love with her, nearly occasions a war on the streets of Le Havre,
thankfully prevented by Raoul's timely and tactful intervention. After
the marriage, though, Monsieur Philip becomes horribly jealous of
Buckingham, and has him exiled. Before leaving, however, the duke
fights a duel with M. de Wardes at Calais. De Wardes is a malicious and
spiteful man, the sworn enemy of D'Artagnan, and, by the same token,
that of Athos, Aramis, Porthos, and Raoul as well. Both men are
seriously wounded, and the duke is taken back to England to recover.
Raoul's friend, the Comte de Guiche, is the next to succumb to
Henrietta's charms, and Monsieur obtains his exile as well, though De
Guiche soon effects a reconciliation. But then the king's eye falls on
Madame Henrietta during the comte's absence, and this time Monsieur's
jealousy has no recourse. Anne of Austria intervenes, and the king and
his sister-in-law decide to pick a young lady with whom the king
can pretend to be in love, the better to mask their own affair. They
unfortunately select Louise de la Valliere, Raoul's fiancee. While the
court is in residence at Fontainebleau, the king unwitting overhears
Louise confessing her love for him while chatting with her friends
beneath the royal oak, and the king promptly forgets his affection for
Madame. That same night, Henrietta overhears, at the same oak, De
Guiche confessing his love for her to Raoul. The two embark on their
own affair. A few days later, during a rainstorm, Louis and Louise
are trapped alone together, and the whole court begins to talk of the
scandal while their love affair blossoms. Aware of Louise's attachment,
the king arranges for Raoul to be sent to England for an indefinite
period.

Meanwhile, the struggle for power continues between Fouquet and Colbert.
Although the Belle-Isle plot backfired, Colbert prompts the king to ask
Fouquet for more and more money, and without his two friends to raise it
for him, Fouquet is sorely pressed. The situation gets so bad that his
new mistress, Madame de Belliere, must resort to selling all her jewels
and her gold and silver plate. Aramis, while this is going on, has grown
friendly with the governor of the Bastile, M. de Baisemeaux, a fact that
Baisemeaux unwittingly reveals to D'Artagnan while inquiring of him
as to Aramis's whereabouts. This further arouses the suspicions of the
musketeer, who was made to look ridiculous by Aramis. He had ridden
overnight at an insane pace, but arrived a few minutes after Fouquet
had already presented Belle-Isle to the king. Aramis learns from the
governor the location of a mysterious prisoner, who bears a remarkable
resemblance to Louis XIV - in fact, the two are identical. He uses
the existence of this secret to persuade a dying Franciscan monk, the
general of the society of the Jesuits, to name him, Aramis, the new
general of the order. On Aramis's advice, hoping to use Louise's
influence with the king to counteract Colbert's influence, Fouquet also
writes a love letter to La Valliere, unfortunately undated. It never
reaches its destination, however, as the servant ordered to deliver it
turns out to be an agent of Colbert's.

Louise de la Valliere (Etext 2710): Believing D'Artagnan occupied at
Fontainebleau and Porthos safely tucked away at Paris, Aramis holds a
funeral for the dead Franciscan - but in fact, Aramis is wrong in both
suppositions. D'Artagnan has left Fontainebleau, bored to tears by
the _fetes_, retrieved Porthos, and is visiting the country-house of
Planchet, his old lackey. This house happens to be right next door
to the graveyard, and upon observing Aramis at this funeral, and his
subsequent meeting with a mysterious hooded lady, D'Artagnan, suspicions
aroused, resolves to make a little trouble for the bishop. He presents
Porthos to the king at the same time as Fouquet presents Aramis, thereby
surprising the wily prelate. Aramis's professions of affection and
innocence do only a little to allay D'Artagnan's concerns, and he
continues to regard Aramis's actions with a curious and wary eye.
Meanwhile, much to his delight, Porthos is invited to dine with the king
as a result of his presentation, and with D'Artagnan's guidance, manages
to behave in such a manner as to procure the king's marked favor.

The mysterious woman turns out to be the Duchesse de Chevreuse, a
notorious schemer and former friend of Anne of Austria. She comes
bearing more bad news for Fouquet, who is already in trouble, as the
king has invited himself to a _fete_ at Vaux, Fouquet's magnificent
mansion, that will surely bankrupt the poor superintendent. The Duchesse
has letters from Mazarin that prove that Fouquet has received thirteen
million francs from the royal coffers, and she wishes to sell these
letters to Aramis. Aramis refuses, and the letters are instead sold to
Colbert. Fouquet, meanwhile, discovers that the receipt that proves his
innocence in the affair has been stolen from him. Even worse, Fouquet,
desperate for money, is forced to sell the parliamentary position that
renders him untouchable by any court proceedings. As part of her deal
with Colbert, though, Chevreuse also obtains a secret audience with the
queen-mother, where the two discuss a shocking secret - Louis XIV has a
twin brother, long believed, however, to be dead.

Meanwhile, in other quarters, De Wardes, Raoul's inveterate enemy, has
returned from Calais, barely recovered from his wounds, and no sooner
does he return than he begins again to insult people, particularly La
Valliere, and this time the comte de Guiche is the one to challenge him.
The duel leaves De Guiche horribly wounded, but enables Madame to use
her influence to destroy De Wardes's standing at court. The _fetes_,
however, come to an end, and the court returns to Paris. The king has
been more than obvious about his affections for Louise, and Madame,
the queen-mother, and the queen join forces to destroy her. She is
dishonorably discharged from court, and in despair, she flees to the
convent at Chaillot. Along the way, though, she runs into D'Artagnan,
who manages to get word back to the king of what has taken place. By
literally begging Madame in tears, Louis manages to secure Louise's
return to court - but Madame still places every obstacle possible before
the lovers. They have to resort to building a secret staircase and
meeting in the apartments of M. de Saint-Aignan, where Louis has a
painter create a portrait of Louise. But Madame recalls Raoul from
London and shows him these proofs of Louise's infidelity. Raoul,
crushed, challenges Saint-Aignan to a duel, which the king prevents,
and Athos, furious, breaks his sword before the king. The king has
D'Artagnan arrest Athos, and at the Bastile they encounter Aramis, who
is paying Baisemeaux another visit. Raoul learns of Athos's arrest,
and with Porthos in tow, they effect a daring rescue, surprising the
carriage containing D'Artagnan and Athos as they leave the Bastile.
Although quite impressive, the intrepid raid is in vain, as D'Artagnan
has already secured Athos's pardon from the king. Instead, everybody
switches modes of transport; D'Artagnan and Porthos take the horses back
to Paris, and Athos and Raoul take the carriage back to La Fere, where
they intend to reside permanently, as the king is now their sworn enemy,
Raoul cannot bear to see Louise, and they have no more dealings in
Paris.

Aramis, left alone with Baisemeaux, inquires the governor of the prison
about his loyalties, in particular to the Jesuits. The bishop reveals
that he is a confessor of the society, and invokes their regulations
in order to obtain access to this mysterious prisoner who bears such a
striking resemblance to Louis XIV...

And so Baisemeaux is conducting Aramis to the prisoner as the final
section of The Vicomte de Bragelonne and this final story of the
D'Artagnan Romances opens. I have written a "Cast of Historical
Characters," Etext 2760, that will enable curious readers to compare
personages in the novel with their historical counterparts. Also of
interest may be an essay Dumas wrote on the possible identity of the
real Man in the Iron Mask, which is Etext 2751. Enjoy!

John Bursey [email protected] August, 2000

*****




Chapter I. The Prisoner.

Since Aramis's singular transformation into a confessor of the order,
Baisemeaux was no longer the same man. Up to that period, the place
which Aramis had held in the worthy governor's estimation was that of
a prelate whom he respected and a friend to whom he owed a debt of
gratitude; but now he felt himself an inferior, and that Aramis was
his master. He himself lighted a lantern, summoned a turnkey, and said,
returning to Aramis, "I am at your orders, monseigneur." Aramis merely
nodded his head, as much as to say, "Very good"; and signed to him with
his hand to lead the way. Baisemeaux advanced, and Aramis followed him.
It was a calm and lovely starlit night; the steps of three men resounded
on the flags of the terraces, and the clinking of the keys hanging from
the jailer's girdle made itself heard up to the stories of the towers,
as if to remind the prisoners that the liberty of earth was a luxury
beyond their reach. It might have been said that the alteration effected
in Baisemeaux extended even to the prisoners. The turnkey, the same who,
on Aramis's first arrival had shown himself so inquisitive and curious,
was now not only silent, but impassible. He held his head down, and
seemed afraid to keep his ears open. In this wise they reached the
basement of the Bertaudiere, the two first stories of which were
mounted silently and somewhat slowly; for Baisemeaux, though far from
disobeying, was far from exhibiting any eagerness to obey. On arriving
at the door, Baisemeaux showed a disposition to enter the prisoner's
chamber; but Aramis, stopping him on the threshold, said, "The rules do
not allow the governor to hear the prisoner's confession."

Baisemeaux bowed, and made way for Aramis, who took the lantern and
entered; and then signed to them to close the door behind him. For
an instant he remained standing, listening whether Baisemeaux and the
turnkey had retired; but as soon as he was assured by the sound of their
descending footsteps that they had left the tower, he put the lantern
on the table and gazed around. On a bed of green serge, similar in all
respect to the other beds in the Bastile, save that it was newer, and
under curtains half-drawn, reposed a young man, to whom we have already
once before introduced Aramis. According to custom, the prisoner was
without a light. At the hour of curfew, he was bound to extinguish his
lamp, and we perceive how much he was favored, in being allowed to keep
it burning even till then. Near the bed a large leathern armchair,
with twisted legs, sustained his clothes. A little table - without pens,
books, paper, or ink - stood neglected in sadness near the window; while
several plates, still unemptied, showed that the prisoner had scarcely
touched his evening meal. Aramis saw that the young man was stretched
upon his bed, his face half concealed by his arms. The arrival of a
visitor did not caused any change of position; either he was waiting in
expectation, or was asleep. Aramis lighted the candle from the lantern,
pushed back the armchair, and approached the bed with an evident mixture
of interest and respect. The young man raised his head. "What is it?"
said he.

"You desired a confessor?" replied Aramis.

"Yes."

"Because you were ill?"

"Yes."

"Very ill?"

The young man gave Aramis a piercing glance, and answered, "I thank
you." After a moment's silence, "I have seen you before," he continued.
Aramis bowed.

Doubtless the scrutiny the prisoner had just made of the cold, crafty,
and imperious character stamped upon the features of the bishop of
Vannes was little reassuring to one in his situation, for he added, "I
am better."

"And so?" said Aramis.

"Why, then - being better, I have no longer the same need of a confessor,
I think."

"Not even of the hair-cloth, which the note you found in your bread
informed you of?"

The young man started; but before he had either assented or denied,
Aramis continued, "Not even of the ecclesiastic from whom you were to
hear an important revelation?"

"If it be so," said the young man, sinking again on his pillow, "it is
different; I am listening."

Aramis then looked at him more closely, and was struck with the easy
majesty of his mien, one which can never be acquired unless Heaven
has implanted it in the blood or heart. "Sit down, monsieur," said the
prisoner.

Aramis bowed and obeyed. "How does the Bastile agree with you?" asked
the bishop.

"Very well."

"You do not suffer?"

"No."

"You have nothing to regret?"

"Nothing."

"Not even your liberty?"

"What do you call liberty, monsieur?" asked the prisoner, with the tone
of a man who is preparing for a struggle.

"I call liberty, the flowers, the air, light, the stars, the happiness
of going whithersoever the sinewy limbs of one-and-twenty chance to wish
to carry you."

The young man smiled, whether in resignation or contempt, it was
difficult to tell. "Look," said he, "I have in that Japanese vase two
roses gathered yesterday evening in the bud from the governor's garden;
this morning they have blown and spread their vermilion chalice beneath
my gaze; with every opening petal they unfold the treasures of their
perfumes, filling my chamber with a fragrance that embalms it. Look now
on these two roses; even among roses these are beautiful, and the rose
is the most beautiful of flowers. Why, then, do you bid me desire other
flowers when I possess the loveliest of all?"

Aramis gazed at the young man in surprise.

"If _flowers_ constitute liberty," sadly resumed the captive, "I am
free, for I possess them."

"But the air!" cried Aramis; "air is so necessary to life!"

"Well, monsieur," returned the prisoner; "draw near to the window; it is
open. Between high heaven and earth the wind whirls on its waftages
of hail and lightning, exhales its torrid mist or breathes in gentle
breezes. It caresses my face. When mounted on the back of this armchair,
with my arm around the bars of the window to sustain myself, I fancy
I am swimming the wide expanse before me." The countenance of Aramis
darkened as the young man continued: "Light I have! what is better than
light? I have the sun, a friend who comes to visit me every day without



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