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Twenty Years After

Saint Denis
The day had begun to break when Athos arose and dressed himself. It was plain, by a
paleness still greater than usual, and by those traces which loss of sleep leaves on the
face, that he must have passed almost the whole of the night without sleeping. Contrary
to the custom of a man so firm and decided, there was this morning in his personal
appearance something tardy and irresolute.
He was occupied with the preparations for Raoul's departure and was seeking to gain
time. In the first place he himself furbished a sword, which he drew from its perfumed
leather sheath; he examined it to see if its hilt was well guarded and if the blade was
firmly attached to the hilt. Then he placed at the bottom of the valise belonging to the
young man a small bag of louis, called Olivain, the lackey who had followed him from
Blois, and made him pack the valise under his own eyes, watchful to see that everything
should be put in which might be useful to a young man entering on his first campaign.
At length, after occupying about an hour in these preparations, he opened the door of the
room in which the vicomte slept, and entered.
The sun, already high, penetrated into the room through the window, the curtains of
which Raoul had neglected to close on the previous evening. He was still sleeping, his
head gracefully reposing on his arm.
Athos approached and hung over the youth in an attitude full of tender melancholy; he
looked long on this young man, whose smiling mouth and half closed eyes bespoke soft
dreams and lightest slumber, as if his guardian angel watched over him with solicitude
and affection. By degrees Athos gave himself up to the charms of his reverie in the
proximity of youth, so pure, so fresh. His own youth seemed to reappear, bringing with it
all those savoury remembrances, which are like perfumes more than thoughts. Between
the past and the present was an ineffable abyss. But imagination has the wings of an
angel of light and travels safely through or over the seas where we have been almost
shipwrecked, the darkness in which our illusions are lost, the precipice whence our
happiness has been hurled and swallowed up. He remembered that all the first part of his
life had been embittered by a woman and he thought with alarm of the influence love
might assume over so fine, and at the same time so vigorous an organization as that of
Raoul.
In recalling all he had been through, he foresaw all that Raoul might suffer; and the
expression of the deep and tender compassion which throbbed in his heart was pictured in
the moist eye with which he gazed on the young man.
At this moment Raoul awoke, without a cloud on his face without weariness or lassitude;
his eyes were fixed on those of Athos and perhaps he comprehended all that passed in the
heart of the man who was awaiting his awakening as a lover awaits the awakening of his
mistress, for his glance, in return, had all the tenderness of love.
 
 
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