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Chapter 56: The Old Age of Athos. (continued)
"Come, come! monsieur le comte, no subterfuges; you are a good Christian?"
"I hope so," said Athos.
"Is it your wish to kill yourself?"
"Well! monsieur, you are in a fair way of doing so. Thus to remain is suicide. Get well! monsieur le comte, get well!"
"Of what? Find the disease first. For my part, I never knew myself better; never did the sky appear more blue to me; never did I take more care of my flowers."
"You have a hidden grief."
"Concealed! - not at all; the absence of my son, doctor; that is my malady, and I do not conceal it."
"Monsieur le comte, your son lives, he is strong, he has all the future before him - the future of men of merit, of his race; live for him - "
"But I do live, doctor; oh! be satisfied of that," added he, with a melancholy smile; "for as long as Raoul lives, it will be plainly known, for as long as he lives, I shall live."
"What do you say?"
"A very simple thing. At this moment, doctor, I leave life suspended within me. A forgetful, dissipated, indifferent life would be beyond my strength, now I have no longer Raoul with me. You do not ask the lamp to burn when the match has not illumed the flame; do not ask me to live amidst noise and merriment. I vegetate, I prepare myself, I wait. Look, doctor; remember those soldiers we have so often seen together at the ports, where they were waiting to embark; lying down, indifferent, half on one element, half on the other; they were neither at the place where the sea was going to carry them, nor at the place the earth was going to lose them; baggage prepared, minds on the stretch, arms stacked - they waited. I repeat it, the word is the one which paints my present life. Lying down like the soldiers, my ear on the stretch for the report that may reach me, I wish to be ready to set out at the first summons. Who will make me that summons? life or death? God or Raoul? My baggage is packed, my soul is prepared, I await the signal - I wait, doctor, I wait!"
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