Page:The Man in the Iron Mask.djvu/18

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my arm around the bars of the window to sustain myself, I fancy I am swimming in 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 the permission of the governor or the jailer's company. He comes in at the window, and traces in my room a square the shape of the window, and which lights up the hangings of my bed down to the border. This luminous square increases from ten o'clock till midday, and decreases from one till three slowly, as if, having hastened to come, it sorrowed at leaving me. When its last ray disappears I have enjoyed its presence for four hours. Is not that sufficient? I have been told that there are unhappy beings who dig in quarries, and laborers who toil in mines, and who never behold it at all."
Aramis wiped the drops from his brow.
"As to the stars, which are so delightful to view," continued the young man, "they all resemble one another, save in size and brilliancy. I am a favored mortal, for if you had not lighted that candle you would have been able to see the beautiful stars which I was gazing at from my couch before your arrival, and whose rays were playing over my eyes."
Aramis lowered his head; he felt himself overwhelmed with the bitter flow of that sinister philosophy which is the religion of the captive.
"So much, then, for the flowers, the air, the daylight, and the stars," tranquilly continued the man; "there remains but my exercise. Do I not walk all day in the governor's garden if it is fine—here if it rains? in the fresh air if it is warm; in the warm, thanks to my winter stove, if it be cold? Ah, monsieur, do you fancy," continued the prisoner, not without bitterness, "that men have not done everything for me that a man can hope for or desire?"
"Men!" said Aramis. "Be it so; but it seems to me you forget Heaven."
"Indeed I have forgotten Heaven," murmured the prisoner, with emotion; "but why do you mention it? Of what use is it to talk to a prisoner of Heaven?"
Aramis looked steadily at this singular youth, who possessed the resignation of a martyr with the smile of an atheist.

"Is not Heaven in everything?" he murmured, in a reproachful tone.