List Of Contents | Contents of The Man in the Iron Mask, by Dumas, Pere
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"Oh, but," thought D'Artagnan, becoming very anxious, "that is not a
common horse M. Fouquet is upon - let us see!"  And he attentively
examined with his infallible eye the shape and capabilities of the
courser.  Round full quarters - a thin long tail - large hocks - thin
legs, as dry as bars of steel - hoofs hard as marble.  He spurred his
own, but the distance between the two remained the same.  D'Artagnan
listened attentively; not a breath of the horse reached him, and yet he
seemed to cut the air.  The black horse, on the contrary, began to puff
like any blacksmith's bellows.

"I must overtake him, if I kill my horse," thought the musketeer; and he
began to saw the mouth of the poor animal, whilst he buried the rowels of
his merciless spurs into his sides.  The maddened horse gained twenty
toises, and came up within pistol-shot of Fouquet.

"Courage!" said the musketeer to himself, "courage! the white horse will
perhaps grow weaker, and if the horse does not fall, the master must pull
up at last."  But horse and rider remained upright together, gaining
ground by difficult degrees.  D'Artagnan uttered a wild cry, which made
Fouquet turn round, and added speed to the white horse.

"A famous horse! a mad rider!" growled the captain.  "Hola! _mordioux!_
Monsieur Fouquet! stop! in the king's name!"  Fouquet made no reply.

"Do you hear me?" shouted D'Artagnan, whose horse had just stumbled.

"_Pardieu!_" replied Fouquet, laconically; and rode on faster.

D'Artagnan was nearly mad; the blood rushed boiling to his temples and
his eyes.  "In the king's name!" cried he again, "stop, or I will bring
you down with a pistol-shot!"

"Do!" replied Fouquet, without relaxing his speed.

D'Artagnan seized a pistol and cocked it, hoping that the double click of
the spring would stop his enemy.  "You have pistols likewise," said he,
"turn and defend yourself."

Fouquet did turn round at the noise, and looking D'Artagnan full in the
face, opened, with his right hand, the part of his dress which concealed
his body, but he did not even touch his holsters.  There were not more
than twenty paces between the two.

"_Mordioux!_" said D'Artagnan, "I will not assassinate you; if you will
not fire upon me, surrender! what is a prison?"

"I would rather die!" replied Fouquet; "I shall suffer less."

D'Artagnan, drunk with despair, hurled his pistol to the ground.  "I will
take you alive!" said he; and by a prodigy of skill which this
incomparable horseman alone was capable, he threw his horse forward to
within ten paces of the white horse; already his hand was stretched out
to seize his prey.

"Kill me! kill me!" cried Fouquet, "'twould be more humane!"

"No! alive - alive!" murmured the captain.

At this moment his horse made a false step for the second time, and
Fouquet's again took the lead.  It was an unheard-of spectacle, this race
between two horses which now only kept alive by the will of their
riders.  It might be said that D'Artagnan rode, carrying his horse along
between his knees.  To the furious gallop had succeeded the fast trot,
and that had sunk to what might be scarcely called a trot at all.  But
the chase appeared equally warm in the two fatigued _athletoe_.
D'Artagnan, quite in despair, seized his second pistol, and cocked it.

"At your horse! not at you!" cried he to Fouquet.  And he fired.  The
animal was hit in the quarters - he made a furious bound, and plunged
forward.  At that moment D'Artagnan's horse fell dead.

"I am dishonored!" thought the musketeer; "I am a miserable wretch! for
pity's sake, M. Fouquet, throw me one of your pistols, that I may blow
out my brains!"  But Fouquet rode away.

"For mercy's sake! for mercy's sake!" cried D'Artagnan; "that which you
will not do at this moment, I myself will do within an hour, but here,
upon this road, I should die bravely; I should die esteemed; do me that
service, M. Fouquet!"

M. Fouquet made no reply, but continued to trot on.  D'Artagnan began to
run after his enemy.  Successively he threw away his hat, his coat, which
embarrassed him, and then the sheath of his sword, which got between his
legs as he was running.  The sword in his hand itself became too heavy,
and he threw it after the sheath.  The white horse began to rattle in its
throat; D'Artagnan gained upon him.  From a trot the exhausted animal
sunk to a staggering walk - the foam from his mouth was mixed with
blood.  D'Artagnan made a desperate effort, sprang towards Fouquet, and
seized him by the leg, saying in a broken, breathless voice, "I arrest
you in the king's name! blow my brains out, if you like; we have both
done our duty."

Fouquet hurled far from him, into the river, the two pistols D'Artagnan
might have seized, and dismounting from his horse - "I am your prisoner,
monsieur," said he; "will you take my arm, for I see you are ready to

"Thanks!" murmured D'Artagnan, who, in fact, felt the earth sliding from
under his feet, and the light of day turning to blackness around him;
then he rolled upon the sand, without breath or strength.  Fouquet
hastened to the brink of the river, dipped some water in his hat, with
which he bathed the temples of the musketeer, and introduced a few drop
between his lips.  D'Artagnan raised himself with difficulty, and looked
about him with a wandering eye.  He beheld Fouquet on his knees, with his
wet hat in his hand, smiling upon him with ineffable sweetness.  "You are
not off, then?" cried he.  "Oh, monsieur! the true king of royalty, in
heart, in soul, is not Louis of the Louvre, or Philippe of Sainte-
Marguerite; it is you, proscribed, condemned!"

"I, who this day am ruined by a single error, M. d'Artagnan."

"What, in the name of Heaven, is that?"

"I should have had you for a friend!  But how shall we return to Nantes?
We are a great way from it."

"That is true," said D'Artagnan, gloomily.

"The white horse will recover, perhaps; he is a good horse!  Mount,
Monsieur d'Artagnan; I will walk till you have rested a little."

"Poor beast! and wounded, too?" said the musketeer.

"He will go, I tell you; I know him; but we can do better still, let us
both get up, and ride slowly."

"We can try," said the captain.  But they had scarcely charged the animal
with this double load, when he began to stagger, and then with a great
effort walked a few minutes, then staggered again, and sank down dead by
the side of the black horse, which he had just managed to come up to.

"We will go on foot - destiny wills it so - the walk will be pleasant,"
said Fouquet, passing his arm through that of D'Artagnan.

"_Mordioux!_" cried the latter, with a fixed eye, a contracted brow, and
a swelling heart - "What a disgraceful day!"

They walked slowly the four leagues which separated them from the little
wood behind which the carriage and escort were in waiting.  When Fouquet
perceived that sinister machine, he said to D'Artagnan, who cast down his
eyes, ashamed of Louis XIV., "There is an idea that did not emanate from
a brave man, Captain d'Artagnan; it is not yours.  What are these
gratings for?" said he.

"To prevent your throwing letters out."


"But you can speak, if you cannot write," said D'Artagnan.

"Can I speak to you?"

"Why, certainly, if you wish to do so."

Fouquet reflected for a moment, then looking the captain full in the
face, "One single word," said he; "will you remember it?"

"I will not forget it."

"Will you speak it to whom I wish?"

"I will."

"Saint-Mande," articulated Fouquet, in a low voice.

"Well! and for whom?"

"For Madame de Belliere or Pelisson."

"It shall be done."

The carriage rolled through Nantes, and took the route to Angers.

Chapter XLI:
In Which the Squirrel Falls, - the Adder Flies.

It was two o'clock in the afternoon.  The king, full of impatience, went
to his cabinet on the terrace, and kept opening the door of the corridor,
to see what his secretaries were doing.  M. Colbert, seated in the same
place M. de Saint-Aignan had so long occupied in the morning, was
chatting in a low voice with M. de Brienne.  The king opened the door
suddenly, and addressed them.  "What is it you are saying?"

"We were speaking of the first sitting of the States," said M. de
Brienne, rising.

"Very well," replied the king, and returned to his room.

Five minutes after, the summons of the bell recalled Rose, whose hour it

"Have you finished your copies?" asked the king.

"Not yet, sire."

"See if M. d'Artagnan has returned."

"Not yet, sire."

"It is very strange," murmured the king.  "Call M. Colbert."

Colbert entered; he had been expecting this all the morning.

"Monsieur Colbert," said the king, very sharply; "you must ascertain what
has become of M. d'Artagnan."

Colbert in his calm voice replied, "Where does your majesty desire him to
be sought for?"

"Eh! monsieur! do you not know on what I have sent him?" replied Louis,

"Your majesty did not inform me."

"Monsieur, there are things that must be guessed; and you, above all, are
apt to guess them."

"I might have been able to imagine, sire; but I do not presume to be

Colbert had not finished these words when a rougher voice than that of
the king interrupted the interesting conversation thus begun between the
monarch and his clerk.

"D'Artagnan!" cried the king, with evident joy.

D'Artagnan, pale and in evidently bad humor, cried to the king, as he
entered, "Sire, is it your majesty who has given orders to my musketeers?"

"What orders?" said the king.

"About M. Fouquet's house?"

"None!" replied Louis.

"Ha!" said D'Artagnan, biting his mustache; "I was not mistaken, then; it
was monsieur here;" and he pointed to Colbert.

"What orders?  Let me know," said the king.

"Orders to turn the house topsy-turvy, to beat M. Fouquet's servants, to
force the drawers, to give over a peaceful house to pillage!  _Mordioux!_
these are savage orders!"

"Monsieur!" said Colbert, turning pale.

"Monsieur," interrupted D'Artagnan, "the king alone, understand, - the

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