List Of Contents | Contents of The Man in the Iron Mask, by Dumas, Pere
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I have begun; it is now your turn!"

"I will do you justice, monsieur," replied D'Artagnan, "and implore you
to tell the king that the first opportunity that shall offer, he may
depend upon a victory, or to behold me dead - _or both_."

"Then I will have the _fleurs-de-lis_ for your _marechal's baton_
prepared immediately," said Colbert.

On the morrow, Aramis, who was setting out for Madrid, to negotiate the
neutrality of Spain, came to embrace D'Artagnan at his hotel.

"Let us love each other for four," said D'Artagnan.  "We are now but two."

"And you will, perhaps, never see me again, dear D'Artagnan," said
Aramis; "if you knew how I have loved you!  I am old, I am extinct - ah,
I am almost dead."

"My friend," said D'Artagnan, "you will live longer than I shall:
diplomacy commands you to live; but, for my part, honor condemns me to

"Bah! such men as we are, monsieur le marechal," said Aramis, "only die
satisfied with joy in glory."

"Ah!" replied D'Artagnan, with a melancholy smile, "I assure you,
monsieur le duc, I feel very little appetite for either."

They once more embraced, and, two hours after, separated - forever.

The Death of D'Artagnan.

Contrary to that which generally happens, whether in politics or morals,
each kept his promises, and did honor to his engagements.

The king recalled M. de Guiche, and banished M. le Chevalier de Lorraine;
so that Monsieur became ill in consequence.  Madame set out for London,
where she applied herself so earnestly to make her brother, Charles II.,
acquire a taste for the political counsels of Mademoiselle de Keroualle,
that the alliance between England and France was signed, and the English
vessels, ballasted by a few millions of French gold, made a terrible
campaign against the fleets of the United Provinces.  Charles II. had
promised Mademoiselle de Keroualle a little gratitude for her good
counsels; he made her Duchess of Portsmouth.  Colbert had promised the
king vessels, munitions, victories.  He kept his word, as is well known.
At length Aramis, upon whose promises there was least dependence to be
placed, wrote Colbert the following letter, on the subject of the
negotiations which he had undertaken at Madrid:

"MONSIEUR COLBERT, - I have the honor to expedite to you the R. P. Oliva,
general _ad interim_ of the Society of Jesus, my provisional successor.
The reverend father will explain to you, Monsieur Colbert, that I
preserve to myself the direction of all the affairs of the order which
concern France and Spain; but that I am not willing to retain the title
of general, which would throw too high a side-light on the progress of
the negotiations with which His Catholic Majesty wishes to intrust me.  I
shall resume that title by the command of his majesty, when the labors I
have undertaken in concert with you, for the great glory of God and His
Church, shall be brought to a good end.  The R. P. Oliva will inform you
likewise, monsieur, of the consent His Catholic Majesty gives to the
signature of a treaty which assures the neutrality of Spain in the event
of a war between France and the United Provinces.  This consent will be
valid even if England, instead of being active, should satisfy herself
with remaining neutral.  As for Portugal, of which you and I have spoken,
monsieur, I can assure you it will contribute with all its resources to
assist the Most Christian King in his war.  I beg you, Monsieur Colbert,
to preserve your friendship and also to believe in my profound
attachment, and to lay my respect at the feet of His Most Christian
Majesty.  Signed,

Aramis had performed more than he had promised; it remained to be seen
how the king, M. Colbert, and D'Artagnan would be faithful to each
other.  In the spring, as Colbert had predicted, the land army entered on
its campaign.  It preceded, in magnificent order, the court of Louis
XIV., who, setting out on horseback, surrounded by carriages filled with
ladies and courtiers, conducted the _elite_ of his kingdom to this
sanguinary _fete_.  The officers of the army, it is true, had no other
music save the artillery of the Dutch forts; but it was enough for a
great number, who found in this war honor, advancement, fortune - or

M. d'Artagnan set out commanding a body of twelve thousand men, cavalry,
and infantry, with which he was ordered to take the different places
which form knots of that strategic network called La Frise.  Never was an
army conducted more gallantly to an expedition.  The officers knew that
their leader, prudent and skillful as he was brave, would not sacrifice a
single man, nor yield an inch of ground without necessity.  He had the
old habits of war, to live upon the country, keeping his soldiers singing
and the enemy weeping.  The captain of the king's musketeers well knew
his business.  Never were opportunities better chosen, _coups-de-main_
better supported, errors of the besieged more quickly taken advantage of.

The army commanded by D'Artagnan took twelve small places within a
month.  He was engaged in besieging the thirteenth, which had held out
five days.  D'Artagnan caused the trenches to be opened without appearing
to suppose that these people would ever allow themselves to be taken.
The pioneers and laborers were, in the army of this man, a body full of
ideas and zeal, because their commander treated them like soldiers, knew
how to render their work glorious, and never allowed them to be killed if
he could help it.  It should have been seen with what eagerness the
marshy glebes of Holland were turned over.  Those turf-heaps, mounds of
potter's clay, melted at the word of the soldiers like butter in the
frying-pans of Friesland housewives.

M. d'Artagnan dispatched a courier to the king to give him an account of
the last success, which redoubled the good humor of his majesty and his
inclination to amuse the ladies.  These victories of M. d'Artagnan gave
so much majesty to the prince, that Madame de Montespan no longer called
him anything but Louis the Invincible.  So that Mademoiselle de la
Valliere, who only called the king Louis the Victorious, lost much of his
majesty's favor.  Besides, her eyes were frequently red, and to an
Invincible nothing is more disagreeable than a mistress who weeps while
everything is smiling round her.  The star of Mademoiselle de la Valliere
was being drowned in clouds and tears.  But the gayety of Madame de
Montespan redoubled with the successes of the king, and consoled him for
every other unpleasant circumstance.  It was to D'Artagnan the king owed
this; and his majesty was anxious to acknowledge these services; he wrote
to M. Colbert:

"MONSIEUR COLBERT, - We have a promise to fulfil with M. d'Artagnan, who
so well keeps his.  This is to inform you that the time is come for
performing it.  All provisions for this purpose you shall be furnished
with in due time.

In consequence of this, Colbert, detaining D'Artagnan's envoy, placed in
the hands of that messenger a letter from himself, and a small coffer of
ebony inlaid with gold, not very important in appearance, but which,
without doubt, was very heavy, as a guard of five men was given to the
messenger, to assist him in carrying it.  These people arrived before the
place which D'Artagnan was besieging towards daybreak, and presented
themselves at the lodgings of the general.  They were told that M.
d'Artagnan, annoyed by a sortie which the governor, an artful man, had
made the evening before, and in which the works had been destroyed and
seventy-seven men killed, and the reparation of the breaches commenced,
had just gone with twenty companies of grenadiers to reconstruct the

M. Colbert's envoy had orders to go and seek M. d'Artagnan, wherever he
might be, or at whatever hour of the day or night.  He directed his
course, therefore, towards the trenches, followed by his escort, all on
horseback.  They perceived M. d'Artagnan in the open plain, with his gold-
laced hat, his long cane, and gilt cuffs.  He was biting his white
mustache, and wiping off, with his left hand, the dust which the passing
balls threw up from the ground they plowed so near him.  They also saw,
amidst this terrible fire, which filled the air with whistling hisses,
officers handling the shovel, soldiers rolling barrows, and vast
fascines, rising by being either carried or dragged by from ten to twenty
men, cover the front of the trench reopened to the center by this
extraordinary effort of the general.  In three hours, all was
reinstated.  D'Artagnan began to speak more mildly; and he became quite
calm when the captain of the pioneers approached him, hat in hand, to
tell him that the trench was again in proper order.  This man had
scarcely finished speaking, when a ball took off one of his legs, and he
fell into the arms of D'Artagnan.  The latter lifted up his soldier, and
quietly, with soothing words, carried him into the trench, amidst the
enthusiastic applause of the regiments.  From that time it was no longer
a question of valor - the army was delirious; two companies stole away to
the advanced posts, which they instantly destroyed.

When their comrades, restrained with great difficulty by D'Artagnan, saw
them lodged upon the bastions, they rushed forward likewise; and soon a
furious assault was made upon the counterscarp, upon which depended the
safety of the place.  D'Artagnan perceived there was only one means left
of checking his army - to take the place.  He directed all his force to
the two breaches, where the besieged were busy in repairing.  The shock
was terrible; eighteen companies took part in it, and D'Artagnan went
with the rest, within half cannon-shot of the place, to support the
attack by _echelons_.  The cries of the Dutch, who were being poniarded
upon their guns by D'Artagnan's grenadiers, were distinctly audible.  The
struggle grew fiercer with the despair of the governor, who disputed his
position foot by foot.  D'Artagnan, to put an end to the affair, and to
silence the fire, which was unceasing, sent a fresh column, which

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