List Of Contents | Contents of The Man in the Iron Mask, by Dumas, Pere
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"This evening - to-morrow - to-morrow evening; for you must stand in need
of rest."

"I have rested, sire."

"That is well.  Then between this and to-morrow evening, when you please."

D'Artagnan bowed as if to take his leave; but, perceiving the king very
much embarrassed, "Will you majesty," said he, stepping two paces
forward, "take the court with you?"

"Certainly I shall."

"Then you majesty will, doubtless, want the musketeers?"  And the eye of
the king sank beneath the penetrating glance of the captain.

"Take a brigade of them," replied Louis.

"Is that all?  Has your majesty no other orders to give me?"

"No - ah - yes."

"I am all attention, sire."

"At the castle of Nantes, which I hear is very ill arranged, you will
adopt the practice of placing musketeers at the door of each of the
principal dignitaries I shall take with me."

"Of the principal?"


"For instance, at the door of M. de Lyonne?"


"And that of M. Letellier?"


"Of M. de Brienne?"


"And of monsieur le surintendant?"

"Without doubt."

"Very well, sire.  By to-morrow I shall have set out."

"Oh, yes; but one more word, Monsieur d'Artagnan.  At Nantes you will
meet with M. le Duc de Gesvres, captain of the guards.  Be sure that your
musketeers are placed before his guards arrive.  Precedence always
belongs to the first comer."

"Yes, sire."

"And if M. de Gesvres should question you?"

"Question me, sire!  Is it likely that M. de Gesvres should question
me?"  And the musketeer, turning cavalierly on his heel, disappeared.
"To Nantes!" said he to himself, as he descended from the stairs.  "Why
did he not dare to say, from thence to Belle-Isle?"

As he reached the great gates, one of M. Brienne's clerks came running
after him, exclaiming, "Monsieur d'Artagnan!  I beg your pardon - "

"What is the matter, Monsieur Ariste?"

"The king has desired me to give you this order."

"Upon your cash-box?" asked the musketeer.

"No, monsieur; on that of M. Fouquet."

D'Artagnan was surprised, but he took the order, which was in the king's
own writing, and was for two hundred pistoles.  "What!" thought he, after
having politely thanked M. Brienne's clerk, "M. Fouquet is to pay for the
journey, then!  _Mordioux!_ that is a bit of pure Louis XI.  Why was not
this order on the chest of M. Colbert?  He would have paid it with such
joy."  And D'Artagnan, faithful to his principle of never letting an
order at sight get cold, went straight to the house of M. Fouquet, to
receive his two hundred pistoles.

Chapter XXXV:
The Last Supper.

The superintendent had no doubt received advice of the approaching
departure, for he was giving a farewell dinner to his friends.  From the
bottom to the top of the house, the hurry of the servants bearing dishes,
and the diligence of the _registres_, denoted an approaching change in
offices and kitchen.  D'Artagnan, with his order in his hand, presented
himself at the offices, when he was told it was too late to pay cash, the
chest was closed.  He only replied: "On the king's service."

The clerk, a little put out by the serious air of the captain, replied,
that "that was a very respectable reason, but that the customs of the
house were respectable likewise; and that, in consequence, he begged the
bearer to call again next day."  D'Artagnan asked if he could not see M.
Fouquet.  The clerk replied that M. le surintendant did not interfere
with such details, and rudely closed the outer door in the captain's
face.  But the latter had foreseen this stroke, and placed his boot
between the door and the door-case, so that the lock did not catch, and
the clerk was still nose to nose with his interlocutor.  This made him
change his tone, and say, with terrified politeness, "If monsieur wishes
to speak to M. le surintendant, he must go to the ante-chambers; these
are the offices, where monseigneur never comes."

"Oh! very well!  Where are they?" replied D'Artagnan.

"On the other side of the court," said the clerk, delighted to be free.
D'Artagnan crossed the court, and fell in with a crowd of servants.

"Monseigneur sees nobody at this hour," he was answered by a fellow
carrying a vermeil dish, in which were three pheasants and twelve quails.

"Tell him," said the captain, laying hold of the servant by the end of
his dish, "that I am M. d'Artagnan, captain of his majesty's musketeers."

The fellow uttered a cry of surprise, and disappeared; D'Artagnan
following him slowly.  He arrived just in time to meet M. Pelisson in the
ante-chamber: the latter, a little pale, came hastily out of the dining-
room to learn what was the matter.  D'Artagnan smiled.

"There is nothing unpleasant, Monsieur Pelisson; only a little order to
receive the money for."

"Ah!" said Fouquet's friend, breathing more freely; and he took the
captain by the hand, and, dragging him behind him, led him into the
dining-room, where a number of friends surrounded the surintendant,
placed in the center, and buried in the cushions of a _fauteuil_.  There
were assembled all the Epicureans who so lately at Vaux had done the
honors of the mansion of wit and money in aid of M. Fouquet.  Joyous
friends, for the most part faithful, they had not fled their protector at
the approach of the storm, and, in spite of the threatening heavens, in
spite of the trembling earth, they remained there, smiling, cheerful, as
devoted in misfortune as they had been in prosperity.  On the left of the
surintendant sat Madame de Belliere; on his right was Madame Fouquet; as
if braving the laws of the world, and putting all vulgar reasons of
propriety to silence, the two protecting angels of this man united to
offer, at the moment of the crisis, the support of their twined arms.
Madame de Belliere was pale, trembling, and full of respectful attentions
for madame la surintendante, who, with one hand on her husband's, was
looking anxiously towards the door by which Pelisson had gone out to
bring D'Artagnan.  The captain entered at first full of courtesy, and
afterwards of admiration, when, with his infallible glance, he had
divined as well as taken in the expression of every face.  Fouquet raised
himself up in his chair.

"Pardon me, Monsieur d'Artagnan," said he, "if I did not myself receive
you when coming in the king's name."  And he pronounced the last words
with a sort of melancholy firmness, which filled the hearts of all his
friends with terror.

"Monseigneur," replied D'Artagnan, "I only come to you in the king's name
to demand payment of an order for two hundred pistoles."

The clouds passed from every brow but that of Fouquet, which still
remained overcast.

"Ah! then," said he, "perhaps you also are setting out for Nantes?"

"I do not know whither I am setting out, monseigneur."

"But," said Madame Fouquet, recovered from her fright, "you are not going
so soon, monsieur le capitaine, as not to do us the honor to take a seat
with us?"

"Madame, I should esteem that a great honor done me, but I am so pressed
for time, that, you see, I have been obliged to permit myself to
interrupt your repast to procure payment of my note."

"The reply to which shall be gold," said Fouquet, making a sign to his
intendant, who went out with the order D'Artagnan handed him.

"Oh!" said the latter, "I was not uneasy about the payment; the house is

A painful smile passed over the pale features of Fouquet.

"Are you in pain?" asked Madame de Belliere.

"Do you feel your attack coming on?" asked Madame Fouquet.

"Neither, thank you both," said Fouquet.

"Your attack?" said D'Artagnan, in his turn; "are you unwell,

"I have a tertian fever, which seized me after the _fete_ at Vaux."

"Caught cold in the grottos, at night, perhaps?"

"No, no; nothing but agitation, that was all."

"The too much heart you displayed in your reception of the king," said La
Fontaine, quietly, without suspicion that he was uttering a sacrilege.

"We cannot devote too much heart to the reception of our king," said
Fouquet, mildly, to his poet.

"Monsieur meant to say the too great ardor," interrupted D'Artagnan, with
perfect frankness and much amenity.  "The fact is, monseigneur, that
hospitality was never practiced as at Vaux."

Madame Fouquet permitted her countenance to show clearly that if Fouquet
had conducted himself well towards the king, the king had hardly done the
like to the minister.  But D'Artagnan knew the terrible secret.  He alone
with Fouquet knew it; those two men had not, the one the courage to
complain, the other the right to accuse.  The captain, to whom the two
hundred pistoles were brought, was about to take his leave, when Fouquet,
rising, took a glass of wine, and ordered one to be given to D'Artagnan.

"Monsieur," said he, "to the health of the king, _whatever may happen_."

"And to your health, monseigneur, _whatever may happen_," said D'Artagnan.

He bowed, with these words of evil omen, to all the company, who rose as
soon as they heard the sound of his spurs and boots at the bottom of the

"I, for a moment, thought it was I and not my money he wanted," said
Fouquet, endeavoring to laugh.

"You!" cried his friends; "and what for, in the name of Heaven!"

"Oh! do not deceive yourselves, my dear brothers in Epicurus," said the
superintendent; "I do not wish to make a comparison between the most
humble sinner on the earth, and the God we adore, but remember, he gave
one day to his friends a repast which is called the Last Supper, and
which was nothing but a farewell dinner, like that which we are making at
this moment."

A painful cry of denial arose from all parts of the table.  "Shut the
doors," said Fouquet, and the servants disappeared.  "My friends,"
continued Fouquet, lowering his voice, "what was I formerly?  What am I
now?  Consult among yourselves and reply.  A man like me sinks when he
does not continue to rise.  What shall we say, then, when he really
sinks?  I have no more money, no more credit; I have no longer anything
but powerful enemies, and powerless friends."

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