Page:The Man in the Iron Mask.djvu/21

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place of a chance comer? I beseech you to reply, monseigneur."
This title slightly disturbed the prisoner; but nevertheless he did not appear astonished that it was given him.
"I do not know you, monsieur," said he.
"0h, if I but dared, I would take your hand and would kiss it!"
The young man seemed as if he were going to give Aramis his hand; but the light which beamed in his eyes faded away and he coldly and distrustfully withdrew his hand again.
"Kiss the hand of a prisoner," he said, shaking his head; "to what purpose?"
"Why did you tell me," said Aramis, "that you were happy here? Why, that you aspired to nothing? Why, in a word, by thus speaking, do you prevent me from being frank in my turn?"
The same light shone a third time in the young man's eyes, but died ineffectually away as before.
"You distrust me," said Aramis.
"And why say you so, monsieur?"
"Oh, for a very simple reason; if you know what you ought to know, you ought to mistrust everybody."
"Then be not astonished that I am mistrustful, since you suspect me of knowing what I know not."
Aramis was struck with admiration at this energetic resistance.
"Oh, monseigneur, you drive me to despair!" said he, striking the armchair with his fist.
"And, on my part, I do not comprehend you, monsieur."
"Well, then, try to understand me."
The prisoner looked fixedly at Aramis.
"Sometimes it seems to me," said the latter, "that I have before me the man whom I seek, and then——"
"And then your man disappears—is it not so?" said the prisoner, smiling. "So much the better."
Aramis rose.
"Certainly," said he; "I have nothing further to say to a man who mistrusts me as you do."
"And, I monsieur," said the prisoner, in the same tone, "have nothing to say to a man who will not understand that a prisoner, ought to be mistrustful of everybody."
"Even of his old friends," said Aramis. "Oh, monseigneur, you are too prudent!"

"Of my old friends?—you one of my old friends—you?"