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6
THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK

longing for things which I do not possess, when I am so happy with what I have."
"You are afraid of death?" said Aramis, with a slight uneasiness.
"Yes," said the young man, smiling.
Aramis felt the chill of that smile, and shuddered.
"Oh, as you fear death, you know more about matters than you say," he cried.
"And you," returned the prisoner, "who bid me to ask to see you; you, who, when I did ask to see you, came here promising a world of confidence; how is it that, nevertheless, it is you who are silent, and 'tis I who speak? Since, then, we both wear masks, either let us both retain them or put them aside together."
Aramis felt the force and justice of the remark, saying to himself:
"This is no ordinary man; I must be cautious. Are you ambitious?" said he suddenly to the prisoner, aloud, without preparing him for the alteration.
"What do you mean by ambition?" replied the youth.
"It is," replied Aramis, "a feeling which prompts a man to desire more than he has."
"I said that I was contented, monsieur; but, perhaps, I deceive myself. I am ignorant of the nature of ambition; but it is not impossible I may have some. Tell me your mind; 'tis all I wish."
"An ambitious man," said Aramis, "is one who covets what is beyond his station."
"I covet nothing beyond my station," said the young man, with an assurance of manner which for the second time made the bishop of Vannes tremble.
He was silent. But, to look at the kindling eye, the knitted brow, and the reflective attitude of the captive, it was evident that he expected something more than silence—a silence which Aramis now broke.
"You lied the first time I saw you," said he.
"Lied!" cried the young man, starting up on his couch, with such a tone in his voice, and such a lightning in his eyes, that Aramis recoiled in spite of himself.
"I should say," returned Aramis, bowing, "you concealed from me what you knew of your infancy."
"A man's secrets are his own, monsieur," retorted the prisoner, "and not at the mercy of the first chance comer."
"True," said Aramis, bowing still lower than before,

"'tis true. Pardon me, but to-day, do I still occupy the