when the people believed it had been postponed until the following day. All gazed at him searchingly.
But they could discern nothing but a man of middle height, dressed in black, apparently of a certain age, for the end of a gray beard peeped out from the bottom of the mask that hid his features.
The king’s request had undoubtedly been acceded to by an affirmative sign, for in firm, sonorous accents, which vibrated in the depths of Athos’s heart, the king began his speech, explaining his conduct and counseling the welfare of the kingdom.
“Oh!” said Athos to himself, “is it indeed possible that I hear what I hear and that I see what I see? Is it possible that God has abandoned His representative on earth and