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List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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may lead to fortune; we should never despair.  Go, monsieur, and go at
once."

"But that garrison, so carefully chosen, the king will change it
directly."

"That garrison, monsieur, was the king's when it entered Belle-Isle; it
is yours now; it is the same with all garrisons after a fortnight's
occupation.  Let things go on, monsieur.  Do you see any inconvenience in
having an army at the end of a year, instead of two regiments?  Do you
not see that your garrison of to-day will make you partisans at La
Rochelle, Nantes, Bordeaux, Toulouse - in short, wherever they may be
sent to?  Go to the king, monsieur; go; time flies, and D'Artagnan, while
we are losing time, is flying, like an arrow, along the high-road."

"Monsieur d'Herblay, you know that each word from you is a germ which
fructifies in my thoughts.  I will go to the Louvre."

"Instantly, will you not?"

"I only ask time to change my dress."

"Remember that D'Artagnan has no need to pass through Saint-Mande; but
will go straight to the Louvre; that is cutting off an hour from the
advantage that yet remains to us."

"D'Artagnan may have everything except my English horses.  I shall be at
the Louvre in twenty-five minutes."  And, without losing a second,
Fouquet gave orders for his departure.

Aramis had only time to say to him, "Return as quickly as you go; for I
shall await you impatiently."

Five minutes after, the superintendent was flying along the road to
Paris.  During this time, Aramis desired to be shown the chamber in which
Porthos was sleeping.  At the door of Fouquet's cabinet he was folded in
the arms of Pelisson, who had just heard of his arrival, and had left his
office to see him.  Aramis received, with that friendly dignity which he
knew so well how to assume, these caresses, respectful as earnest; but
all at once stopping on the landing-place, "What is that I hear up
yonder?"

There was, in fact, a hoarse, growling kind of noise, like the roar of a
hungry tiger, or an impatient lion.  "Oh, that is nothing," said
Pelisson, smiling.

"Well; but - "

"It is M. du Vallon snoring."

"Ah! true," said Aramis: "I had forgotten.  No one but he is capable of
making such a noise.  Allow me, Pelisson, to inquire if he wants
anything."

"And you will permit me to accompany you?"

"Oh, certainly;" and both entered the chamber.  Porthos was stretched
upon the bed; his face was violet rather than red; his eyes were swelled;
his mouth was wide open.  The roaring which escaped from the deep
cavities of his chest made the glass of the windows vibrate.  To those
developed and clearly defined muscles starting from his face, to his hair
matted with sweat, to the energetic heaving of his chin and shoulders, it
was impossible to refuse a certain degree of admiration.  Strength
carried to this point is semi-divine.  The Herculean legs and feet of
Porthos had, by swelling, burst his stockings; all the strength of his
huge body was converted into the rigidity of stone.  Porthos moved no
more than does the giant of granite which reclines upon the plains of
Agrigentum.  According to Pelisson's orders, his boots had been cut off,
for no human power could have pulled them off.  Four lackeys had tried in
vain, pulling at them as they would have pulled capstans; and yet all
this did not awaken him.  They had hacked off his boots in fragments, and
his legs had fallen back upon the bed.  They then cut off the rest of his
clothes, carried him to a bath, in which they let him soak a considerable
time.  They then put on him clean linen, and placed him in a well-warmed
bed - the whole with efforts and pains which might have roused a dead
man, but which did not make Porthos open an eye, or interrupt for a
second the formidable diapason of his snoring.  Aramis wished on his
part, with his nervous nature, armed with extraordinary courage, to
outbrave fatigue, and employ himself with Gourville and Pelisson, but he
fainted in the chair in which he had persisted sitting.  He was carried
into the adjoining room, where the repose of bed soon soothed his failing
brain.


Chapter LXXV:
In which Monsieur Fouquet Acts.

In the meantime Fouquet was hastening to the Louvre, at the best speed of
his English horses.  The king was at work with Colbert.  All at once the
king became thoughtful.  The two sentences of death he had signed on
mounting his throne sometimes recurred to his memory; they were two black
spots which he saw with his eyes open; two spots of blood which he saw
when his eyes were closed.  "Monsieur," said he rather sharply, to the
intendant; "it sometimes seems to me that those two men you made me
condemn were not very great culprits."

"Sire, they were picked out from the herd of the farmers of the
financiers, which wanted decimating."

"Picked out by whom?"

"By necessity, sire," replied Colbert, coldly.

"Necessity! - a great word," murmured the young king.

"A great goddess, sire."

"They were devoted friends of the superintendent, were they not?"

"Yes, sire; friends who would have given up their lives for Monsieur
Fouquet."

"They have given them, monsieur," said the king.

"That is true; - but uselessly, by good luck, - which was not their
intention."

"How much money had these men fraudulently obtained?"

"Ten millions, perhaps; of which six have been confiscated."

"And is that money in my coffers?" said the king with a certain air of
repugnance.

"It is there, sire; but this confiscation, whilst threatening M. Fouquet,
has not touched him."

"You conclude, then, M. Colbert - "

"That if M. Fouquet has raised against your majesty a troop of factious
rioters to extricate his friends from punishment, he will raise an army
when he has in turn to extricate _himself_ from punishment."

The king darted at his confidant one of those looks which resemble the
livid fire of a flash of lightning, one of those looks which illuminate
the darkness of the basest consciences.  "I am astonished," said he,
"that, thinking such things of M. Fouquet, you did not come to give me
your counsels thereupon."

"Counsels upon what, sire?"

"Tell me, in the first place, clearly and precisely, what you think, M.
Colbert."

"Upon what subject, sire?"

"Upon the conduct of M. Fouquet."

"I think, sire, that M. Fouquet, not satisfied with attracting all the
money to himself, as M. Mazarin did, and by that means depriving your
majesty of one part of your power, still wishes to attract to himself all
the friends of easy life and pleasure - of what idlers call poetry, and
politicians, corruption.  I think that, by holding the subjects of your
majesty in pay, he trespasses upon the royal prerogative, and cannot, if
this continues so, be long in placing your majesty among the weak and the
obscure."

"How would you qualify all these projects, M. Colbert?"

"The projects of M. Fouquet, sire?"

"Yes."

"They are called crimes of _lese majeste_."

"And what is done to criminals guilty of _lese majeste?_"

"They are arrested, tried, and punished."

"You are quite certain that M. Fouquet has conceived the idea of the
crime you impute to him?"

"I can say more, sire; there is even a commencement of the execution of
it."

"Well, then, I return to that which I was saying, M. Colbert."

"And you were saying, sire?"

"Give me counsel."

"Pardon me, sire; but in the first place, I have something to add."

"Say - what?"

"An evident, palpable, material proof of treason."

"And what is that?"

"I have just learnt that M. Fouquet is fortifying Belle-Isle."

"Ah, indeed!"

"Yes, sire."

"Are you sure?"

"Perfectly.  Do you know, sire, what soldiers there are in Belle-Isle?"

"No, _ma foi!_  Do you?"

"I am ignorant, likewise, sire; I should therefore propose to your
majesty to send somebody to Belle-Isle?"

"Who?"

"Me, for instance."

"And what would you do at Belle-Isle?"

"Inform myself whether, after the example of the ancient feudal lords, M.
Fouquet was battlementing his walls."

"And with what purpose could he do that?"

"With the purpose of defending himself someday against his king."

"But, if it be thus, M. Colbert," said Louis, "we must immediately do as
you say; M. Fouquet must be arrested."

"That is impossible."

"I thought I had already told you, monsieur, that I suppressed that word
in my service."

"The service of your majesty cannot prevent M. Fouquet from being
surintendant-general."

"Well?"

"That, in consequence of holding that post, he has for him all the
parliament, as he has all the army by his largesses, literature by his
favors, and the _noblesse_ by his presents."

"That is to say, then, that I can do nothing against M. Fouquet?"

"Absolutely nothing, - at least at present, sire."

"You are a sterile counselor, M. Colbert."

"Oh, no, sire; for I will not confine myself to pointing out the peril to
your majesty."

"Come, then, where shall we begin to undermine this Colossus; let us
see;" and his majesty began to laugh bitterly.

"He has grown great by money; kill him by money, sire."

"If I were to deprive him of his charge?"

"A bad means, sire."

"The good - the good, then?"

"Ruin him, sire, that is the way."

"But how?"

"Occasions will not be wanting; take advantage of all occasions."

"Point them out to me."

"Here is one at once.  His royal highness Monsieur is about to be
married; his nuptials must be magnificent.  That is a good occasion for
your majesty to demand a million of M. Fouquet.  M. Fouquet, who pays
twenty thousand livres down when he need not pay more than five thousand,
will easily find that million when your majesty demands it."

"That is all very well; I _will_ demand it," said Louis.

"If your majesty will sign the _ordonnance_ I will have the money got
together myself."  And Colbert pushed a paper before the king, and
presented a pen to him.

At that moment the usher opened the door and announced monsieur le
surintendant.  Louis turned pale.  Colbert let the pen fall, and drew
back from the king, over whom he extended his black wings like an evil

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