List Of Contents | Contents of The Man in the Iron Mask, by Dumas, Pere
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in arresting MM. de Chalais, de Cinq-Mars, and Montmorency."

Fouquet pricked up his ears at these words, pronounced without apparent
value.  "And what else?" said he.

"Oh! nothing but insignificant orders; such as guarding the castle,
guarding every lodging, allowing none of M. de Gesvres's guards to occupy
a single post."

"And as to myself," cried Fouquet, "what orders had you?"

"As to you, monseigneur? - not the smallest word."

"Monsieur d'Artagnan, my safety, my honor, perhaps my life are at stake.
You would not deceive me?"

"I? - to what end?  Are you threatened?  Only there really is an order
with respect to carriages and boats - "

"An order?"

"Yes; but it cannot concern you - a simple measure of police."

"What is it, captain? - what is it?"

"To forbid all horses or boats to leave Nantes, without a pass, signed by
the king."

"Great God! but - "

D'Artagnan began to laugh.  "All that is not to be put into execution
before the arrival of the king at Nantes.  So that you see plainly,
monseigneur, the order in nowise concerns you."

Fouquet became thoughtful, and D'Artagnan feigned not to observe his
preoccupation.  "It is evident, by my thus confiding to you the orders
which have been given to me, that I am friendly towards you, and that I
am trying to prove to you that none of them are directed against you."

"Without doubt! - without doubt!" said Fouquet, still absent.

"Let us recapitulate," said the captain, his glance beaming with
earnestness.  "A special guard about the castle, in which your lodging is
to be, is it not?"

"Do you know the castle?"

"Ah! monseigneur, a regular prison!  The absence of M. de Gesvres, who
has the honor of being one of your friends.  The closing of the gates of
the city, and of the river without a pass; but, only when the king shall
have arrived.  Please to observe, Monsieur Fouquet, that if, instead of
speaking to man like you, who are one of the first in the kingdom, I were
speaking to a troubled, uneasy conscience - I should compromise myself
forever.  What a fine opportunity for any one who wished to be free!  No
police, no guards, no orders; the water free, the roads free, Monsieur
d'Artagnan obliged to lend his horses, if required.  All this ought to
reassure you, Monsieur Fouquet, for the king would not have left me thus
independent, if he had any sinister designs.  In truth, Monsieur Fouquet,
ask me whatever you like, I am at your service; and, in return, if you
will consent to do it, do me a service, that of giving my compliments to
Aramis and Porthos, in case you embark for Belle-Isle, as you have a
right to do without changing your dress, immediately, in your _robe de
chambre_ - just as you are."  Saying these words, and with a profound
bow, the musketeer, whose looks had lost none of their intelligent
kindness, left the apartment.  He had not reached the steps of the
vestibule, when Fouquet, quite beside himself, hung to the bell-rope, and
shouted, "My horses! - my lighter!"  But nobody answered.  The
surintendant dressed himself with everything that came to hand.

"Gourville! - Gourville!" cried he, while slipping his watch into his
pocket.  And the bell sounded again, whilst Fouquet repeated, "Gourville!
- Gourville!"

Gourville at length appeared, breathless and pale.

"Let us be gone!  Let us be gone!" cried Fouquet, as soon as he saw him.

"It is too late!" said the surintendant's poor friend.

"Too late! - why?"

"Listen!"  And they heard the sounds of trumpets and drums in front of
the castle.

"What does that mean, Gourville?"

"It means the king is come, monseigneur."

"The king!"

"The king, who has ridden double stages, who has killed horses, and who
is eight hours in advance of all our calculations."

"We are lost!" murmured Fouquet.  "Brave D'Artagnan, all is over, thou
has spoken to me too late!"

The king, in fact, was entering the city, which soon resounded with the
cannon from the ramparts, and from a vessel which replied from the lower
parts of the river.  Fouquet's brow darkened; he called his _valets de
chambre_ and dressed in ceremonial costume.  From his window, behind the
curtains, he could see the eagerness of the people, and the movement of a
large troop, which had followed the prince.  The king was conducted to
the castle with great pomp, and Fouquet saw him dismount under the
portcullis, and say something in the ear of D'Artagnan, who held his
stirrup.  D'Artagnan, when the king had passed under the arch, directed
his steps towards the house Fouquet was in; but so slowly, and stopping
so frequently to speak to his musketeers, drawn up like a hedge, that it
might be said he was counting the seconds, or the steps, before
accomplishing his object.  Fouquet opened the window to speak to him in
the court.

"Ah!" cried D'Artagnan, on perceiving him, "are you still there,

And that word _still_ completed the proof to Fouquet of how much
information and how many useful counsels were contained in the first
visit the musketeer had paid him.  The surintendant sighed deeply.
"Good heavens! yes, monsieur," replied he.  "The arrival of the king has
interrupted me in the projects I had formed."

"Oh, then you know that the king has arrived?"

"Yes, monsieur, I have seen him; and this time you come from him - "

"To inquire after you, monseigneur; and, if your health is not too bad,
to beg you to have the kindness to repair to the castle."

"Directly, Monsieur d'Artagnan, directly!"

"Ah, _mordioux!_" said the captain, "now the king is come, there is no
more walking for anybody - no more free will; the password governs all
now, you as much as me, me as much as you."

Fouquet heaved a last sigh, climbed with difficulty into his carriage, so
great was his weakness, and went to the castle, escorted by D'Artagnan,
whose politeness was not less terrifying this time than it had just
before been consoling and cheerful.

Chapter XXXIX:
How the King, Louis XIV., Played His Little Part.

As Fouquet was alighting from his carriage, to enter the castle of
Nantes, a man of mean appearance went up to him with marks of the
greatest respect, and gave him a letter.  D'Artagnan endeavored to
prevent this man from speaking to Fouquet, and pushed him away, but the
message had been given to the surintendant.  Fouquet opened the letter
and read it, and instantly a vague terror, which D'Artagnan did not fail
to penetrate, was painted on the countenance of the first minister.
Fouquet put the paper into the portfolio which he had under his arm, and
passed on towards the king's apartments.  D'Artagnan, through the small
windows made at every landing of the donjon stairs, saw, as he went up
behind Fouquet, the man who had delivered the note, looking round him on
the place and making signs to several persons, who disappeared in the
adjacent streets, after having themselves repeated the signals.  Fouquet
was made to wait for a moment on the terrace of which we have spoken, - a
terrace which abutted on the little corridor, at the end of which the
cabinet of the king was located.  Here D'Artagnan passed on before the
surintendant, whom, till that time, he had respectfully accompanied, and
entered the royal cabinet.

"Well?" asked Louis XIV., who, on perceiving him, threw on to the table
covered with papers a large green cloth.

"The order is executed, sire."

"And Fouquet?"

"Monsieur le surintendant follows me," said D'Artagnan.

"In ten minutes let him be introduced," said the king, dismissing
D'Artagnan again with a gesture.  The latter retired; but had scarcely
reached the corridor at the extremity of which Fouquet was waiting for
him, when he was recalled by the king's bell.

"Did he not appear astonished?" asked the king.

"Who, sire?"

"_Fouquet_," replied the king, without saying monsieur, a peculiarity
which confirmed the captain of the musketeers in his suspicions.

"No, sire," replied he.

"That's well!"  And a second time Louis dismissed D'Artagnan.

Fouquet had not quitted the terrace where he had been left by his guide.
He reperused his note, conceived thus:

"Something is being contrived against you.  Perhaps they will not dare to
carry it out at the castle; it will be on your return home.  The house is
already surrounded by musketeers.  Do not enter.  A white horse is in
waiting for you behind the esplanade!"

Fouquet recognized the writing and zeal of Gourville.  Not being willing
that, if any evil happened to himself, this paper should compromise a
faithful friend, the surintendant was busy tearing it into a thousand
morsels, spread about by the wind from the balustrade of the terrace.
D'Artagnan found him watching the snowflake fluttering of the last scraps
in space.

"Monsieur," said he, "the king awaits you."

Fouquet walked with a deliberate step along the little corridor, where
MM. de Brienne and Rose were at work, whilst the Duc de Saint-Aignan,
seated on a chair, likewise in the corridor, appeared to be waiting for
orders, with feverish impatience, his sword between his legs.  It
appeared strange to Fouquet that MM. Brienne, Rose, and de Saint-Aignan,
in general so attentive and obsequious, should scarcely take the least
notice, as he, the surintendant, passed.  But how could he expect to find
it otherwise among courtiers, he whom the king no longer called anything
but _Fouquet?_  He raised his head, determined to look every one and
everything bravely in the face, and entered the king's apartment, where a
little bell, which we already know, had already announced him to his

The king, without rising, nodded to him, and with interest: "Well! how
are you, Monsieur Fouquet?" said he.

"I am in a high fever," replied the surintendant; "but I am at the king's

"That is well; the States assemble to-morrow; have you a speech ready?"

Fouquet looked at the king with astonishment.  "I have not, sire,"
replied he; "but I will improvise one.  I am too well acquainted with
affairs to feel any embarrassment.  I have only one question to ask; will

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