List Of Contents | Contents of The Man in the Iron Mask, by Dumas, Pere
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Chevreuse; does my mother prefer Madame de Chevreuse to the security of
the state and of my person?  Well, then, madame, I tell you Madame de
Chevreuse has returned to France to borrow money, and that she addressed
herself to M. Fouquet to sell him a certain secret."

"A certain secret!" cried Anne of Austria.

"Concerning pretended robberies that monsieur le surintendant had
committed, which is false," added Philippe.  "M. Fouquet rejected her
offers with indignation, preferring the esteem of the king to complicity
with such intriguers.  Then Madame de Chevreuse sold the secret to M.
Colbert, and as she is insatiable, and was not satisfied with having
extorted a hundred thousand crowns from a servant of the state, she has
taken a still bolder flight, in search of surer sources of supply.  Is
that true, madame?"

"You know all, sire," said the queen, more uneasy than irritated.

"Now," continued Philippe, "I have good reason to dislike this fury, who
comes to my court to plan the shame of some and the ruin of others.  If
Heaven has suffered certain crimes to be committed, and has concealed
them in the shadow of its clemency, I will not permit Madame de Chevreuse
to counteract the just designs of fate."

The latter part of this speech had so agitated the queen-mother, that her
son had pity on her.  He took her hand and kissed it tenderly; she did
not feel that in that kiss, given in spite of repulsion and bitterness of
the heart, there was a pardon for eight years of suffering.  Philippe
allowed the silence of a moment to swallow the emotions that had just
developed themselves.  Then, with a cheerful smile:

"We will not go to-day," said he, "I have a plan."  And, turning towards
the door, he hoped to see Aramis, whose absence began to alarm him.  The
queen-mother wished to leave the room.

"Remain where you are, mother," said he, "I wish you to make your peace
with M. Fouquet."

"I bear M. Fouquet no ill-will; I only dreaded his prodigalities."

"We will put that to rights, and will take nothing of the superintendent
but his good qualities."

"What is your majesty looking for?" said Henrietta, seeing the king's
eyes constantly turned towards the door, and wishing to let fly a little
poisoned arrow at his heart, supposing he was so anxiously expecting
either La Valliere or a letter from her.

"My sister," said the young man, who had divined her thought, thanks to
that marvelous perspicuity of which fortune was from that time about to
allow him the exercise, "my sister, I am expecting a most distinguished
man, a most able counselor, whom I wish to present to you all,
recommending him to your good graces.  Ah! come in, then, D'Artagnan."

"What does your majesty wish?" said D'Artagnan, appearing.

"Where is monsieur the bishop of Vannes, your friend?"

"Why, sire - "

"I am waiting for him, and he does not come.  Let him be sought for."

D'Artagnan remained for an instant stupefied; but soon, reflecting that
Aramis had left Vaux privately on a mission from the king, he concluded
that the king wished to preserve the secret.  "Sire," replied he, "does
your majesty absolutely require M. d'Herblay to be brought to you?"

"Absolutely is not the word," said Philippe; "I do not want him so
particularly as that; but if he can be found - "

"I thought so," said D'Artagnan to himself.

"Is this M. d'Herblay the bishop of Vannes?"

"Yes, madame."

"A friend of M. Fouquet?"

"Yes, madame; an old musketeer."

Anne of Austria blushed.

"One of the four braves who formerly performed such prodigies."

The old queen repented of having wished to bite; she broke off the
conversation, in order to preserve the rest of her teeth.  "Whatever may
be your choice, sire," said she, "I have no doubt it will be excellent."

All bowed in support of that sentiment.

"You will find in him," continued Philippe, "the depth and penetration of
M. de Richelieu, without the avarice of M. de Mazarin!"

"A prime minister, sire?" said Monsieur, in a fright.

"I will tell you all about that, brother; but it is strange that M.
d'Herblay is not here!"

He called out:

"Let M. Fouquet be informed that I wish to speak to him - oh! before you,
before you; do not retire!"

M. de Saint-Aignan returned, bringing satisfactory news of the queen, who
only kept her bed from precaution, and to have strength to carry out the
king's wishes.  Whilst everybody was seeking M. Fouquet and Aramis, the
new king quietly continued his experiments, and everybody, family,
officers, servants, had not the least suspicion of his identity, his air,
his voice, and manners were so like the king's.  On his side, Philippe,
applying to all countenances the accurate descriptions and key-notes of
character supplied by his accomplice Aramis, conducted himself so as not
to give birth to a doubt in the minds of those who surrounded him.
Nothing from that time could disturb the usurper.  With what strange
facility had Providence just reversed the loftiest fortune of the world
to substitute the lowliest in its stead!  Philippe admired the goodness
of God with regard to himself, and seconded it with all the resources of
his admirable nature.  But he felt, at times, something like a specter
gliding between him and the rays of his new glory.  Aramis did not
appear.  The conversation had languished in the royal family; Philippe,
preoccupied, forgot to dismiss his brother and Madame Henrietta.  The
latter were astonished, and began, by degrees, to lose all patience.
Anne of Austria stooped towards her son's ear and addressed some words to
him in Spanish.  Philippe was completely ignorant of that language, and
grew pale at this unexpected obstacle.  But, as if the spirit of the
imperturbable Aramis had covered him with his infallibility, instead of
appearing disconcerted, Philippe rose.  "Well! what?" said Anne of
Austria.

"What is all that noise?" said Philippe, turning round towards the door
of the second staircase.

And a voice was heard saying, "This way, this way!  A few steps more,
sire!"

"The voice of M. Fouquet," said D'Artagnan, who was standing close to the
queen-mother.

"Then M. d'Herblay cannot be far off," added Philippe.

But he then saw what he little thought to have beheld so near to him.
All eyes were turned towards the door at which M. Fouquet was expected to
enter; but it was not M. Fouquet who entered.  A terrible cry resounded
from all corners of the chamber, a painful cry uttered by the king and
all present.  It is given to but few men, even those whose destiny
contains the strangest elements, and accidents the most wonderful, to
contemplate such a spectacle similar to that which presented itself in
the royal chamber at that moment.  The half-closed shutters only admitted
the entrance of an uncertain light passing through thick violet velvet
curtains lined with silk.  In this soft shade, the eyes were by degrees
dilated, and every one present saw others rather with imagination than
with actual sight.  There could not, however, escape, in these
circumstances, one of the surrounding details; and the new object which
presented itself appeared as luminous as though it shone out in full
sunlight.  So it happened with Louis XIV., when he showed himself, pale
and frowning, in the doorway of the secret stairs.  The face of Fouquet
appeared behind him, stamped with sorrow and determination.  The queen-
mother, who perceived Louis XIV., and who held the hand of Philippe,
uttered a cry of which we have spoken, as if she beheld a phantom.
Monsieur was bewildered, and kept turning his head in astonishment from
one to the other.  Madame made a step forward, thinking she was looking
at the form of her brother-in-law reflected in a mirror.  And, in fact,
the illusion was possible.  The two princes, both pale as death - for we
renounce the hope of being able to describe the fearful state of Philippe
- trembling, clenching their hands convulsively, measured each other with
looks, and darted their glances, sharp as poniards, at each other.
Silent, panting, bending forward, they appeared as if about to spring
upon an enemy.  The unheard-of resemblance of countenance, gesture,
shape, height, even to the resemblance of costume, produced by chance 
for Louis XIV. had been to the Louvre and put on a violet-colored dress 
the perfect analogy of the two princes, completed the consternation of
Anne of Austria.  And yet she did not at once guess the truth.  There are
misfortunes in life so truly dreadful that no one will at first accept
them; people rather believe in the supernatural and the impossible.
Louis had not reckoned on these obstacles.  He expected that he had only
to appear to be acknowledged.  A living sun, he could not endure the
suspicion of equality with any one.  He did not admit that every torch
should not become darkness at the instant he shone out with his
conquering ray.  At the aspect of Philippe, then, he was perhaps more
terrified than any one round him, and his silence, his immobility were,
this time, a concentration and a calm which precede the violent
explosions of concentrated passion.

But Fouquet! who shall paint his emotion and stupor in presence of this
living portrait of his master!  Fouquet thought Aramis was right, that
this newly-arrived was a king as pure in his race as the other, and that,
for having repudiated all participation in this _coup d'etat_, so
skillfully got up by the General of the Jesuits, he must be a mad
enthusiast, unworthy of ever dipping his hands in political grand
strategy work.  And then it was the blood of Louis XIII. which Fouquet
was sacrificing to the blood of Louis XIII.; it was to a selfish ambition
he was sacrificing a noble ambition; to the right of keeping he
sacrificed the right of having.  The whole extent of his fault was
revealed to him at simple sight of the pretender.  All that passed in the
mind of Fouquet was lost upon the persons present.  He had five minutes
to focus meditation on this point of conscience; five minutes, that is to
say five ages, during which the two kings and their family scarcely found

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