Porthos obeyed, rose from his bed, opened his eyes, even before his intelligence seemed to be aroused. "We leave immediately," said Aramis. "Ah!" returned Porthos. "We shall go mounted, and faster than we have ever gone in our lives." "Ah!" repeated Porthos. "Dress yourself, my friend." And he helped the giant to dress himself, and thrust his gold and diamonds into his pocket. Whilst he was thus engaged, a slight noise attracted his attention, and on looking up, he saw D'Artagnan watching them through the half-opened door. Aramis started. "What the devil are you doing there in such an agitated manner?" said the musketeer. "Hush!" said Porthos. "We are going off on a mission of great importance," added the bishop. "You are very fortunate," said the musketeer. "Oh, dear me!" said Porthos, "I feel so wearied; I would far sooner have been fast asleep. But the service of the king...." "Have you seen M. Fouquet?" said Aramis to D'Artagnan. "Yes, this very minute, in a carriage." "What did he say to you?" "'Adieu;' nothing more." "Was that all?" "What else do you think he could say? Am I worth anything now, since you have got into such high favor?" "Listen," said Aramis, embracing the musketeer; "your good times are returning again. You will have no occasion to be jealous of any one." "Ah! bah!" "I predict that something will happen to you to-day which will increase your importance more than ever." "Really?" "You know that I know all the news?" "Oh, yes!" "Come, Porthos, are you ready? Let us go." "I am quite ready, Aramis." "Let us embrace D'Artagnan first." "Most certainly." "But the horses?" "Oh! there is no want of them here. Will you have mine?" "No; Porthos has his own stud. So adieu! adieu!" The fugitives mounted their horses beneath the very eyes of the captain of the musketeers, who held Porthos's stirrup for him, and gazed after them until they were out of sight. "On any other occasion," thought the Gascon, "I should say that those gentlemen were making their escape; but in these days politics seem so changed that such an exit is termed going on a mission. I have no objection; let me attend to my own affairs, that is more than enough for _me_," - and he philosophically entered his apartments. Chapter XXII: Showing How the Countersign Was Respected at the Bastile. Fouquet tore along as fast as his horses could drag him. On his way he trembled with horror at the idea of what had just been revealed to him. "What must have been," he thought, "the youth of those extraordinary men, who, even as age is stealing fast upon them, are still able to conceive such gigantic plans, and carry them through without a tremor?" At one moment he could not resist the idea that all Aramis had just been recounting to him was nothing more than a dream, and whether the fable itself was not the snare; so that when Fouquet arrived at the Bastile, he might possibly find an order of arrest, which would send him to join the dethroned king. Strongly impressed with this idea, he gave certain sealed orders on his route, while fresh horses were being harnessed to his carriage. These orders were addressed to M. d'Artagnan and to certain others whose fidelity to the king was far above suspicion. "In this way," said Fouquet to himself, "prisoner or not, I shall have performed the duty that I owe my honor. The orders will not reach them until after my return, if I should return free, and consequently they will not have been unsealed. I shall take them back again. If I am delayed; it will be because some misfortune will have befallen me; and in that case assistance will be sent for me as well as for the king." Prepared in this manner, the superintendent arrived at the Bastile; he had traveled at the rate of five leagues and a half the hour. Every circumstance of delay which Aramis had escaped in his visit to the Bastile befell Fouquet. It was useless giving his name, equally useless his being recognized; he could not succeed in obtaining an entrance. By dint of entreaties, threats, commands, he succeeded in inducing a sentinel to speak to one of the subalterns, who went and told the major. As for the governor they did not even dare disturb him. Fouquet sat in his carriage, at the outer gate of the fortress, chafing with rage and impatience, awaiting the return of the officers, who at last re-appeared with a sufficiently sulky air. "Well," said Fouquet, impatiently, "what did the major say?" "Well, monsieur," replied the soldier, "the major laughed in my face. He told me that M. Fouquet was at Vaux, and that even were he at Paris, M. Fouquet would not get up at so early an hour as the present." "_Mordieu!_ you are an absolute set of fools," cried the minister, darting out of the carriage; and before the subaltern had time to shut the gate, Fouquet sprang through it, and ran forward in spite of the soldier, who cried out for assistance. Fouquet gained ground, regardless of the cries of the man, who, however, having at last come up with Fouquet, called out to the sentinel of the second gate, "Look out, look out, sentinel!" The man crossed his pike before the minister; but the latter, robust and active, and hurried away, too, by his passion, wrested the pike from the soldier and struck him a violent blow on the shoulder with it. The subaltern, who approached too closely, received a share of the blows as well. Both of them uttered loud and furious cries, at the sound of which the whole of the first body of the advanced guard poured out of the guardhouse. Among them there was one, however, who recognized the superintendent, and who called, "Monseigneur, ah! monseigneur. Stop, stop, you fellows!" And he effectually checked the soldiers, who were on the point of revenging their companions. Fouquet desired them to open the gate, but they refused to do so without the countersign; he desired them to inform the governor of his presence; but the latter had already heard the disturbance at the gate. He ran forward, followed by his major, and accompanied by a picket of twenty men, persuaded that an attack was being made on the Bastile. Baisemeaux also recognized Fouquet immediately, and dropped the sword he bravely had been brandishing. "Ah! monseigneur," he stammered, "how can I excuse - " "Monsieur," said the superintendent, flushed with anger, and heated by his exertions, "I congratulate you. Your watch and ward are admirably kept." Baisemeaux turned pale, thinking that this remark was made ironically, and portended a furious burst of anger. But Fouquet had recovered his breath, and, beckoning the sentinel and the subaltern, who were rubbing their shoulders, towards him, he said, "There are twenty pistoles for the sentinel, and fifty for the officer. Pray receive my compliments, gentlemen. I will not fail to speak to his majesty about you. And now, M. Baisemeaux, a word with you." And he followed the governor to his official residence, accompanied by a murmur of general satisfaction. Baisemeaux was already trembling with shame and uneasiness. Aramis's early visit, from that moment, seemed to possess consequences, which a functionary such as he (Baisemeaux) was, was perfectly justified in apprehending. It was quite another thing, however, when Fouquet in a sharp tone of voice, and with an imperious look, said, "You have seen M. d'Herblay this morning?" "Yes, monseigneur." "And are you not horrified at the crime of which you have made yourself an accomplice?" "Well," thought Baisemeaux, "good so far;" and then he added, aloud, "But what crime, monseigneur, do you allude to?" "That for which you can be quartered alive, monsieur - do not forget that! But this is not a time to show anger. Conduct me immediately to the prisoner." "To what prisoner?" said Baisemeaux, trembling. "You pretend to be ignorant? Very good - it is the best plan for you, perhaps; for if, in fact, you were to admit your participation in such a crime, it would be all over with you. I wish, therefore, to seem to believe in your assumption of ignorance." "I entreat you, monseigneur - " "That will do. Lead me to the prisoner." "To Marchiali?" "Who is Marchiali?" "The prisoner who was brought back this morning by M. d'Herblay." "He is called Marchiali?" said the superintendent, his conviction somewhat shaken by Baisemeaux's cool manner. "Yes, monseigneur; that is the name under which he was inscribed here." Fouquet looked steadily at Baisemeaux, as if he would read his very heart; and perceived, with that clear-sightedness most men possess who are accustomed to the exercise of power, that the man was speaking with perfect sincerity. Besides, in observing his face for a few moments, he could not believe that Aramis would have chosen such a confidant. "It is the prisoner," said the superintendent to him, "whom M. d'Herblay carried away the day before yesterday?" "Yes, monseigneur." "And whom he brought back this morning?" added Fouquet, quickly: for he understood immediately the mechanism of Aramis's plan. "Precisely, monseigneur." "And his name is Marchiali, you say?" "Yes, Marchiali. If monseigneur has come here to remove him, so much the better, for I was going to write about him." "What has he done, then?" "Ever since this morning he has annoyed me extremely. He has had such terrible fits of passion, as almost to make me believe that he would bring the Bastile itself down about our ears." "I will soon relieve you of his possession," said Fouquet. "Ah! so much the better." "Conduct me to his prison." "Will monseigneur give me the order?" "What order?" "An order from the king." "Wait until I sign you one." "That will not be sufficient, monseigneur. I must have an order from the king." Fouquet assumed an irritated expression. "As you are so scrupulous," he said, "with regard to allowing prisoners to leave, show me the order by which this one was set at liberty."
db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com