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Chapter 52

Chapter LII:
A Jesuit of the Eleventh Year.

In the first place, in order not to weary the reader's patience, we will
hasten to answer the first question. The traveler with the cloak held
over his face was Aramis, who, after he had left Fouquet, and taken from
a portmanteau, which his servant had opened, a cavalier's complete
costume, quitted the chateau, and went to the hotel of the Beau Paon,
where, by letters, seven or eight days previously, he had, as the
landlord had stated, directed a room and an apartment to be retained for
him. Immediately after Malicorne and Manicamp had been turned out,
Aramis approached the Franciscan, and asked him whether he would prefer
the apartment or the room. The Franciscan inquired where they were both
situated. He was told that the room was on the first, and the apartment
on the second floor.

"The room, then," he said.

Aramis did not contradict him, but, with great submissiveness, said to
the landlord: "The room." And bowing with respect he withdrew into the
apartment, and the Franciscan was accordingly carried at once into the
room. Now, is it not extraordinary that this respect should be shown by
a prelate of the Church for a simple monk, for one, too, belonging to a
mendicant order; to whom was given up, without a request for it even, a
room which so many travelers were desirous of obtaining? How, too, can
one explain the unexpected arrival of Aramis at the hotel - he who had
entered the chateau with M. Fouquet, and could have remained at the
chateau with M. Fouquet if he had liked? The Franciscan supported his
removal up the staircase without uttering a complaint, although it was
evident he suffered very much, and that every time the litter knocked
against the wall or the railing of the staircase, he experienced a
terrible shock throughout his frame. And finally, when he had arrived in
the room, he said to those who carried him: "Help me to place myself in
that armchair." The bearers of the litter placed it on the ground, and
lifting the sick man up as gently as possible, carried him to the chair
he had indicated, which was situated at the head of the bed. "Now," he
added, with a marked benignity of gesture and tone, "desire the landlord
to come."

They obeyed, and five minutes afterwards the landlord appeared at the
door.

"Be kind enough," said the Franciscan to him, "to send these excellent
fellows away; they are vassals of the Vicomte de Melun. They found me
when I had fainted on the road overcome by the heat, and without thinking
of whether they would be paid for their trouble, they wished to carry me
to their own home. But I know at what cost to themselves is the
hospitality which the poor extend to a sick monk, and I preferred this
hotel, where, moreover, I was expected."

The landlord looked at the Franciscan in amazement, but the latter, with
his thumb, made the sign of the cross in a peculiar manner upon his
breast. The host replied by making a similar sign on his left shoulder.
"Yes, indeed," he said, "we did expect you, but we hoped that you would
arrive in a better state of health." And as the peasants were looking at
the innkeeper, usually so supercilious, and saw how respectful he had
become in the presence of a poor monk, the Franciscan drew from a deep
pocket three or four pieces of gold which he held out.

"My friends," said he, "here is something to repay you for the care you
have taken of me. So make yourselves perfectly easy, and do not be
afraid of leaving me here. The order to which I belong, and for which I
am traveling, does not require me to beg; only, as the attention you have
shown me deserves to be rewarded, take these two louis and depart in
peace."

The peasants did not dare to take them; the landlord took the two louis
out of the monk's hand and placed them in that of one of the peasants,
all four of whom withdrew, opening their eyes wider than ever. The door
was then closed; and, while the innkeeper stood respectfully near it, the
Franciscan collected himself for a moment. He then passed across his
sallow face a hand which seemed dried up by fever, and rubbed his nervous
and agitated fingers across his beard. His large eyes, hollowed by
sickness and inquietude, seemed to peruse in the vague distance a
mournful and fixed idea.

"What physicians have you at Fontainebleau?" he inquired, after a long
pause.

"We have three, holy father."

"What are their names?"

"Luiniguet first."

"The next one?"

"A brother of the Carmelite order, named Brother Hubert."

"The next?"

"A secular member, named Grisart."

"Ah! Grisart?" murmured the monk, "send for M. Grisart immediately."

The landlord moved in prompt obedience to the direction.

"Tell me what priests are there here?"

"What priests?"

"Yes; belonging to what orders?"

"There are Jesuits, Augustines, and Cordeliers; but the Jesuits are the
closest at hand. Shall I send for a confessor belonging to the order of
Jesuits?"

"Yes, immediately."

It will be imagined that, at the sign of the cross which they had
exchanged, the landlord and the invalid monk had recognized each other as
two affiliated members of the well-known Society of Jesus. Left to
himself, the Franciscan drew from his pocket a bundle of papers, some of
which he read over with the most careful attention. The violence of his
disorder, however, overcame his courage; his eyes rolled in their
sockets, a cold sweat poured down his face, and he nearly fainted, and
lay with his head thrown backwards and his arms hanging down on both
sides of his chair. For more than five minutes he remained without any
movement, when the landlord returned, bringing with him the physician,
whom he hardly allowed time to dress himself. The noise they made in
entering the room, the current of air, which the opening of the door
occasioned, restored the Franciscan to his senses. He hurriedly seized
hold of the papers which were lying about, and with his long and bony
hand concealed them under the cushions of the chair. The landlord went
out of the room, leaving patient and physician together.

"Come here, Monsieur Grisart," said the Franciscan to the doctor;
"approach closer, for there is no time to lose. Try, by touch and sound,
and consider and pronounce your sentence."

"The landlord," replied the doctor, "told me I had the honor of attending
an affiliated brother."

"Yes," replied the Franciscan, "it is so. Tell me the truth, then; I
feel very ill, and I think I am about to die."

The physician took the monk's hand, and felt his pulse. "Oh, oh," he
said, "a dangerous fever."

"What do you call a dangerous fever?" inquired the Franciscan, with an
imperious look.

"To an affiliated member of the first or second year," replied the
physician, looking inquiringly at the monk, "I should say - a fever that
may be cured."

"But to me?" said the Franciscan. The physician hesitated.

"Look at my grey hair, and my forehead, full of anxious thought," he
continued: "look at the lines in my face, by which I reckon up the trials
I have undergone; I am a Jesuit of the eleventh year, Monsieur Grisart."
The physician started, for, in fact, a Jesuit of the eleventh year was
one of those men who had been initiated in all the secrets of the order,
one of those for whom science has no more secrets, the society no
further barriers to present - temporal obedience, no more trammels.

"In that case," said Grisart, saluting him with respect, "I am in the
presence of a master?"

"Yes; act, therefore, accordingly."

"And you wish to know?"

"My real state."

"Well," said the physician, "it is a brain fever, which has reached its
highest degree of intensity."

"There is no hope, then?" inquired the Franciscan, in a quick tone of
voice.

"I do not say that," replied the doctor; "yet, considering the disordered
state of the brain, the hurried respiration, the rapidity of the pulse,
and the burning nature of the fever which is devouring you - "

"And which has thrice prostrated me since this morning," said the monk.

"All things considered, I shall call it a terrible attack. But why did
you not stop on your road?"

"I was expected here, and I was obliged to come."

"Even at the risk of your life?"

"Yes, at the risk of dying on the way."

"Very well. Considering all the symptoms of your case, I must tell you
that your condition is almost desperate."

The Franciscan smiled in a strange manner.

"What you have just told me is, perhaps, sufficient for what is due to an
affiliated member, even of the eleventh year; but for what is due to me,
Monsieur Grisart, it is too little, and I have a right to demand more.
Come, then, let us be more candid still, and as frank as if you were
making your own confession to Heaven. Besides, I have already sent for a
confessor."

"Oh! I have hopes, however," murmured the doctor.

"Answer me," said the sick man, displaying with a dignified gesture a
golden ring, the stone of which had until that moment been turned inside,
and which bore engraved thereon the distinguishing mark of the Society of
Jesus.

Grisart uttered loud exclamation. "The general!" he cried.

"Silence," said the Franciscan., "you can now understand that the whole
truth is all important."

"Monseigneur, monseigneur," murmured Grisart, "send for the confessor,
for in two hours, at the next seizure, you will be attacked by delirium,
and will pass away in its course."

"Very well," said the patient, for a moment contracting his eyebrows, "I
have still two hours to live then?"

"Yes; particularly if you take the potion I will send you presently."

"And that will give me two hours of life?"

"Two hours."

"I would take it, were it poison, for those two hours are necessary not
only for myself, but for the glory of the order."

"What a loss, what a catastrophe for us all!" murmured the physician.

"It is the loss of one man - nothing more," replied the Franciscan, "for
Heaven will enable the poor monk, who is about to leave you, to find a
worthy successor. Adieu, Monsieur Grisart; already even, through the
goodness of Heaven, I have met with you. A physician who had not been
one of our holy order, would have left me in ignorance of my condition;
and, confident that existence would be prolonged a few days further, I
should not have taken the necessary precautions. You are a learned man,
Monsieur Grisart, and that confers an honor upon us all; it would have
been repugnant to my feelings to have found one of our order of little
standing in his profession. Adieu, Monsieur Grisart; send me the cordial
immediately."

"Give me your blessing, at least, monseigneur."

"In my mind, I do; go, go; in my mind, I do so, I tell you - _animo_,
Maitre Grisart, _viribus impossibile_." And he again fell back on the
armchair, in an almost senseless state. M. Grisart hesitated, whether he
should give him immediate assistance, or should run to prepare the
cordial he had promised. He decided in favor of the cordial, for he
darted out of the room and disappeared down the staircase.

Alexandre Dumas pere