List Of Contents | Contents of The Man in the Iron Mask, by Dumas, Pere
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"Come in, my dear M. d'Artagnan."

"Thank you."

"Have you come to criticise the _fete?_  You are ingenious enough in your
criticisms, I know."

"By no means."

"Are not your men looked after properly?"

"In every way."

"You are not comfortably lodged, perhaps?"

"Nothing could be better."

"In that case, I have to thank you for being so amiably disposed, and I
must not fail to express my obligations to you for all your flattering

These words were as much as to say, "My dear D'Artagnan, pray go to bed,
since you have a bed to lie down on, and let me do the same."

D'Artagnan did not seem to understand it.

"Are you going to bed already?" he said to the superintendent.

"Yes; have you anything to say to me?"

"Nothing, monsieur, nothing at all.  You sleep in this room, then?"

"Yes; as you see."

"You have given a most charming _fete_ to the king."

"Do you think so?"

"Oh! beautiful!"

"Is the king pleased?"


"Did he desire you to say as much to me?"

"He would not choose so unworthy a messenger, monseigneur."

"You do not do yourself justice, Monsieur d'Artagnan."

"Is that your bed, there?"

"Yes; but why do you ask?  Are you not satisfied with your own?"

"My I speak frankly to you?"

"Most assuredly."

"Well, then, I am not."

Fouquet started; and then replied, "Will you take my room, Monsieur

"What! deprive you of it, monseigneur? never!"

"What am I to do, then?"

"Allow me to share yours with you."

Fouquet looked at the musketeer fixedly.  "Ah! ah!" he said, "you have
just left the king."

"I have, monseigneur."

"And the king wishes you to pass the night in my room?"

"Monseigneur - "

"Very well, Monsieur d'Artagnan, very well.  You are the master here."

"I assure you, monseigneur, that I do not wish to abuse - "

Fouquet turned to his valet, and said, "Leave us."  When the man had
left, he said to D'Artagnan, "You have something to say to me?"


"A man of your superior intelligence cannot have come to talk with a man
like myself, at such an hour as the present, without grave motives."

"Do not interrogate me."

"On the contrary.  What do you want with me?"

"Nothing more than the pleasure of your society."

"Come into the garden, then," said the superintendent suddenly, "or into
the park."

"No," replied the musketeer, hastily, "no."


"The fresh air - "

"Come, admit at once that you arrest me," said the superintendent to the

"Never!" said the latter.

"You intend to look after me, then?"

"Yes, monseigneur, I do, upon my honor."

"Upon your honor - ah! that is quite another thing!  So I am to be
arrested in my own house."

"Do not say such a thing."

"On the contrary, I will proclaim it aloud."

"If you do so, I shall be compelled to request you to be silent."

"Very good!  Violence towards me, and in my own house, too."

"We do not seem to understand one another at all.  Stay a moment; there
is a chess-board there; we will have a game, if you have no objections."

"Monsieur d'Artagnan, I am in disgrace, then?"

"Not at all; but - "

"I am prohibited, I suppose, from withdrawing from your sight."

"I do not understand a word you are saying, monseigneur; and if you wish
me to withdraw, tell me so."

"My dear Monsieur d'Artagnan, your mode of action is enough to drive me
mad; I was almost sinking for want of sleep, but you have completely
awakened me."

"I shall never forgive myself, I am sure; and if you wish to reconcile me
with myself, why, go to sleep in your bed in my presence; and I shall be

"I am under surveillance, I see."

"I will leave the room if you say any such thing."

"You are beyond my comprehension."

"Good night, monseigneur," said D'Artagnan, as he pretended to withdraw.

Fouquet ran after him.  "I will not lie down," he said.  "Seriously, and
since you refuse to treat me as a man, and since you finesse with me, I
will try and set you at bay, as a hunter does a wild boar."

"Bah!" cried D'Artagnan, pretending to smile.

"I shall order my horses, and set off for Paris," said Fouquet, sounding
the captain of the musketeers.

"If that be the case, monseigneur, it is very difficult."

"You will arrest me, then?"

"No, but I shall go along with you."

"That is quite sufficient, Monsieur d'Artagnan," returned Fouquet,
coldly.  "It was not for nothing you acquired your reputation as a man of
intelligence and resource; but with me all this is quite superfluous.
Let us come to the point.  Do me a service.  Why do you arrest me?  What
have I done?"

"Oh!  I know nothing about what you may have done; but I do not arrest
you - this evening, at least!"

"This evening!" said Fouquet, turning pale, "but to-morrow?"

"It is not to-morrow just yet, monseigneur.  Who can ever answer for the

"Quick, quick, captain! let me speak to M. d'Herblay."

"Alas! that is quite impossible, monseigneur.  I have strict orders to
see that you hold no communication with any one."

"With M. d'Herblay, captain - with your friend!"

"Monseigneur, is M. d'Herblay the only person with whom you ought to be
prevented holding any communication?"

Fouquet colored, and then assuming an air of resignation, he said: "You
are right, monsieur; you have taught me a lesson I ought not to have
evoked.  A fallen man cannot assert his right to anything, even from
those whose fortunes he may have made; for a still stronger reason, he
cannot claim anything from those to whom he may never have had the
happiness of doing a service."


"It is perfectly true, Monsieur d'Artagnan; you have always acted in the
most admirable manner towards me - in such a manner, indeed, as most
becomes the man who is destined to arrest me.  You, at least, have never
asked me anything."

"Monsieur," replied the Gascon, touched by his eloquent and noble tone of
grief, "will you - I ask it as a favor - pledge me your word as a man of
honor that you will not leave this room?"

"What is the use of it, dear Monsieur d'Artagnan, since you keep watch
and ward over me?  Do you suppose I should contend against the most
valiant sword in the kingdom?"

"It is not that, at all, monseigneur; but that I am going to look for M.
d'Herblay, and, consequently, to leave you alone."

Fouquet uttered a cry of delight and surprise.

"To look for M. d'Herblay! to leave me alone!" he exclaimed, clasping his
hands together.

"Which is M. d'Herblay's room?  The blue room is it not?"

"Yes, my friend, yes."

"Your friend! thank you for that word, monseigneur; you confer it upon me
to-day, at least, if you have never done so before."

"Ah! you have saved me."

"It will take a good ten minutes to go from hence to the blue room, and
to return?" said D'Artagnan.

"Nearly so."

"And then to wake Aramis, who sleeps very soundly, when he is asleep, I
put that down at another five minutes; making a total of fifteen minutes'
absence.  And now, monseigneur, give me your word that you will not in
any way attempt to make your escape, and that when I return I shall find
you here again."

"I give it, monsieur," replied Fouquet, with an expression of the warmest and
deepest gratitude.

D'Artagnan disappeared.  Fouquet looked at him as he quitted the room,
waited with a feverish impatience until the door was closed behind him,
and as soon as it was shut, flew to his keys, opened two or three secret
doors concealed in various articles of furniture in the room, looked
vainly for certain papers, which doubtless he had left at Saint-Mande,
and which he seemed to regret not having found in them; then hurriedly
seizing hold of letters, contracts, papers, writings, he heaped them up
into a pile, which he burnt in the extremest haste upon the marble hearth
of the fireplace, not even taking time to draw from the interior of it
the vases and pots of flowers with which it was filled.  As soon as he
had finished, like a man who has just escaped an imminent danger, and
whose strength abandons him as soon as the danger is past, he sank down,
completely overcome, on a couch.  When D'Artagnan returned, he found
Fouquet in the same position; the worthy musketeer had not the slightest
doubt that Fouquet, having given his word, would not even think of
failing to keep it, but he had thought it most likely that Fouquet would
turn his (D'Artagnan's) absence to the best advantage in getting rid of
all the papers, memorandums, and contracts, which might possibly render
his position, which was even now serious enough, more dangerous than
ever.  And so, lifting up his head like a dog who has regained the scent,
he perceived an odor resembling smoke he had relied on finding in the
atmosphere, and having found it, made a movement of his head in token of
satisfaction.  As D'Artagnan entered, Fouquet, on his side, raised his
head, and not one of D'Artagnan's movements escaped him.  And then the
looks of the two men met, and they both saw that they had understood each
other without exchanging a syllable.

"Well!" asked Fouquet, the first to speak, "and M. d'Herblay?"

"Upon my word, monseigneur," replied D'Artagnan, "M. d'Herblay must be
desperately fond of walking out at night, and composing verses by
moonlight in the park of Vaux, with some of your poets, in all
probability, for he is not in his own room."

"What! not in his own room?" cried Fouquet, whose last hope thus escaped
him; for unless he could ascertain in what way the bishop of Vannes could
assist him, he perfectly well knew that he could expect assistance from
no other quarter.

"Or, indeed," continued D'Artagnan, "if he is in his own room, he has very
good reasons for not answering."

"But surely you did not call him in such a manner that he could have
heard you?"

"You can hardly suppose, monseigneur, that having already exceeded my
orders, which forbade me leaving you a single moment - you can hardly
suppose, I say, that I should have been mad enough to rouse the whole
house and allow myself to be seen in the corridor of the bishop of

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