Page:The Man in the Iron Mask.djvu/23

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9
THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK

"Yes," he murmured, "I remember perfectly. The woman of whom you speak came once with you, and twice afterward with another."
He hesitated.
"With another woman, who came to see you every month—is it not so, monseigneur?"
"Yes."
"Do you know who this lady was?"
The light seemed ready to flash from the prisoner's eyes.
"I am aware that she was one of the ladies of the court," he said.
"You remember that lady well, do you not?"
"Oh, my recollection can hardly be very confused on this head," said the young prisoner. "I saw that lady once with a gentleman about forty-five years old. I saw her once with you, and with the lady dressed in black. I have seen her twice since with the same person. These four people, with my master, and old Perronnette, my jailer, and the governor of the prison, are the only persons with whom I have ever spoken, and, indeed, almost the only persons I have ever seen."
"Then, you were in prison?"
"If I am a prisoner here, there I was comparatively free, although in a very narrow sense—a house which I never quitted, a garden surrounded with walls I could not clear, these constituted my residence; but you know it, as you have been there. In a word, being accustomed to live within these bounds, I never cared to leave them. And so you will understand, monsieur, that, not having seen anything of the world, I have nothing left to care for; and, therefore, if you relate anything, you will be obliged to explain everything to me."
"And I will do so," said Aramis, bowing, "for it is my duty, monseigneur."
"Well, then, begin by telling me who was my tutor."
"A worthy and, above all, an honorable gentleman, monseigneur; fit guide both for body and soul. Had you ever any reason to complain of him?"
"Oh, no; quite the contrary. But this gentleman of Sours often used to tell me that my father and mother were dead. Did he deceive me, or did he speak the truth?"
"He was compelled to comply with the orders given him."
"Then he lied?"
"In one respect. Your father is dead."

"And my mother?"