Full Online Books
BOOK CATEGORIES
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
LINKS
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Daniel Company
Twitter Twitter Add book
donate
Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Man In The Iron Mask - Chapter XIX - The Shadow of M Fouquet
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
The Man In The Iron Mask - Chapter XIX - The Shadow of M Fouquet Post by :kaybee Category :Long Stories Author :Alexandre Dumas Date :February 2011 Read :1954

Click below to download : The Man In The Iron Mask - Chapter XIX - The Shadow of M Fouquet (Format : PDF)

The Man In The Iron Mask - Chapter XIX - The Shadow of M Fouquet

D'Artagnan, still confused and oppressed by the conversation he had just
had with the king, could not resist asking himself if he were really in
possession of his senses, if he were really and truly at Vaux; if he,
D'Artagnan, were really the captain of the musketeers, and M. Fouquet the
owner of the chateau in which Louis XIV. was at that moment partaking of
his hospitality. These reflections were not those of a drunken man,
although everything was in prodigal profusion at Vaux, and the
surintendant's wines had met with a distinguished reception at the
_fete_. The Gascon, however, was a man of calm self-possession; and no
sooner did he touch his bright steel blade, than he knew how to adopt
morally the cold, keen weapon as his guide of action.

"Well," he said, as he quitted the royal apartment, "I seem now to be
mixed up historically with the destinies of the king and of the minister;
it will be written, that M. d'Artagnan, a younger son of a Gascon family,
placed his hand on the shoulder of M. Nicolas Fouquet, the surintendant
of the finances of France. My descendants, if I have any, will flatter
themselves with the distinction which this arrest will confer, just as
the members of the De Luynes family have done with regard to the estates
of the poor Marechal d'Ancre. But the thing is, how best to execute the
king's directions in a proper manner. Any man would know how to say to
M. Fouquet, 'Your sword, monsieur.' But it is not every one who would be
able to take care of M. Fouquet without others knowing anything about
it. How am I to manage, then, so that M. le surintendant pass from the
height of favor to the direst disgrace; that Vaux be turned into a
dungeon for him; that after having been steeped to his lips, as it were,
in all the perfumes and incense of Ahasuerus, he is transferred to the
gallows of Haman; in other words, of Enguerrand de Marigny?" And at this
reflection, D'Artagnan's brow became clouded with perplexity. The
musketeer had certain scruples on the matter, it must be admitted. To
deliver up to death (for not a doubt existed that Louis hated Fouquet
mortally) the man who had just shown himself so delightful and charming a
host in every way, was a real insult to one's conscience. "It almost
seems," said D'Artagnan to himself, "that if I am not a poor, mean,
miserable fellow, I should let M. Fouquet know the opinion the king has
about him. Yet, if I betray my master's secret, I shall be a false-
hearted, treacherous knave, a traitor, too, a crime provided for and
punishable by military laws - so much so, indeed, that twenty times, in
former days when wars were rife, I have seen many a miserable fellow
strung up to a tree for doing, in but a small degree, what my scruples
counsel me to undertake upon a great scale now. No, I think that a man
of true readiness of wit ought to get out of this difficulty with more
skill than that. And now, let us admit that I do possess a little
readiness of invention; it is not at all certain, though, for, after
having for forty years absorbed so large a quantity, I shall be lucky if
there were to be a pistole's-worth left." D'Artagnan buried his head in
his hands, tore at his mustache in sheer vexation, and added, "What can
be the reason of M. Fouquet's disgrace? There seem to be three good
ones: the first, because M. Colbert doesn't like him; the second, because
he wished to fall in love with Mademoiselle de la Valliere; and lastly,
because the king likes M. Colbert and loves Mademoiselle de la Valliere.
Oh! he is lost! But shall I put my foot on his neck, I, of all men, when
he is falling a prey to the intrigues of a pack of women and clerks? For
shame! If he be dangerous, I will lay him low enough; if, however, he be
only persecuted, I will look on. I have come to such a decisive
determination, that neither king nor living man shall change my mind. If
Athos were here, he would do as I have done. Therefore, instead of
going, in cold blood, up to M. Fouquet, and arresting him off-hand and
shutting him up altogether, I will try and conduct myself like a man who
understands what good manners are. People will talk about it, of course;
but they shall talk well of it, I am determined." And D'Artagnan,
drawing by a gesture peculiar to himself his shoulder-belt over his
shoulder, went straight off to M. Fouquet, who, after he had taken leave
of his guests, was preparing to retire for the night and to sleep
tranquilly after the triumphs of the day. The air was still perfumed, or
infected, whichever way it may be considered, with the odors of the
torches and the fireworks. The wax-lights were dying away in their
sockets, the flowers fell unfastened from the garlands, the groups of
dancers and courtiers were separating in the salons. Surrounded by his
friends, who complimented him and received his flattering remarks in
return, the surintendant half-closed his wearied eyes. He longed for
rest and quiet; he sank upon the bed of laurels which had been heaped up
for him for so many days past; it might almost have been said that he
seemed bowed beneath the weight of the new debts which he had incurred
for the purpose of giving the greatest possible honor to this _fete_.
Fouquet had just retired to his room, still smiling, but more than half-
asleep. He could listen to nothing more, he could hardly keep his eyes
open; his bed seemed to possess a fascinating and irresistible attraction
for him. The god Morpheus, the presiding deity of the dome painted by
Lebrun, had extended his influence over the adjoining rooms, and showered
down his most sleep-inducing poppies upon the master of the house.
Fouquet, almost entirely alone, was being assisted by his _valet de
chambre to undress, when M. d'Artagnan appeared at the entrance of the
room. D'Artagnan had never been able to succeed in making himself common
at the court; and notwithstanding he was seen everywhere and on all
occasions, he never failed to produce an effect wherever and whenever he
made his appearance. Such is the happy privilege of certain natures,
which in that respect resemble either thunder or lightning; every one
recognizes them; but their appearance never fails to arouse surprise and
astonishment, and whenever they occur, the impression is always left that
the last was the most conspicuous or most important.

"What! M. d'Artagnan?" said Fouquet, who had already taken his right arm
out of the sleeve of his doublet.

"At your service," replied the musketeer.

"Come in, my dear M. d'Artagnan."

"Thank you."

"Have you come to criticise the _fete? You are ingenious enough in your
criticisms, I know."

"By no means."

"Are not your men looked after properly?"

"In every way."

"You are not comfortably lodged, perhaps?"

"Nothing could be better."

"In that case, I have to thank you for being so amiably disposed, and I
must not fail to express my obligations to you for all your flattering
kindness."

These words were as much as to say, "My dear D'Artagnan, pray go to bed,
since you have a bed to lie down on, and let me do the same."

D'Artagnan did not seem to understand it.

"Are you going to bed already?" he said to the superintendent.

"Yes; have you anything to say to me?"

"Nothing, monsieur, nothing at all. You sleep in this room, then?"

"Yes; as you see."

"You have given a most charming _fete to the king."

"Do you think so?"

"Oh! beautiful!"

"Is the king pleased?"

"Enchanted."

"Did he desire you to say as much to me?"

"He would not choose so unworthy a messenger, monseigneur."

"You do not do yourself justice, Monsieur d'Artagnan."

"Is that your bed, there?"

"Yes; but why do you ask? Are you not satisfied with your own?"

"My I speak frankly to you?"

"Most assuredly."

"Well, then, I am not."

Fouquet started; and then replied, "Will you take my room, Monsieur
d'Artagnan?"

"What! deprive you of it, monseigneur? never!"

"What am I to do, then?"

"Allow me to share yours with you."

Fouquet looked at the musketeer fixedly. "Ah! ah!" he said, "you have
just left the king."

"I have, monseigneur."

"And the king wishes you to pass the night in my room?"

"Monseigneur - "

"Very well, Monsieur d'Artagnan, very well. You are the master here."

"I assure you, monseigneur, that I do not wish to abuse - "

Fouquet turned to his valet, and said, "Leave us." When the man had
left, he said to D'Artagnan, "You have something to say to me?"

"I?"

"A man of your superior intelligence cannot have come to talk with a man
like myself, at such an hour as the present, without grave motives."

"Do not interrogate me."

"On the contrary. What do you want with me?"

"Nothing more than the pleasure of your society."

"Come into the garden, then," said the superintendent suddenly, "or into
the park."

"No," replied the musketeer, hastily, "no."

"Why?"

"The fresh air - "

"Come, admit at once that you arrest me," said the superintendent to the
captain.

"Never!" said the latter.

"You intend to look after me, then?"

"Yes, monseigneur, I do, upon my honor."

"Upon your honor - ah! that is quite another thing! So I am to be
arrested in my own house."

"Do not say such a thing."

"On the contrary, I will proclaim it aloud."

"If you do so, I shall be compelled to request you to be silent."

"Very good! Violence towards me, and in my own house, too."

"We do not seem to understand one another at all. Stay a moment; there
is a chess-board there; we will have a game, if you have no objections."

"Monsieur d'Artagnan, I am in disgrace, then?"

"Not at all; but - "

"I am prohibited, I suppose, from withdrawing from your sight."

"I do not understand a word you are saying, monseigneur; and if you wish
me to withdraw, tell me so."

"My dear Monsieur d'Artagnan, your mode of action is enough to drive me
mad; I was almost sinking for want of sleep, but you have completely
awakened me."

"I shall never forgive myself, I am sure; and if you wish to reconcile me
with myself, why, go to sleep in your bed in my presence; and I shall be
delighted."

"I am under surveillance, I see."

"I will leave the room if you say any such thing."

"You are beyond my comprehension."

"Good night, monseigneur," said D'Artagnan, as he pretended to withdraw.

Fouquet ran after him. "I will not lie down," he said. "Seriously, and
since you refuse to treat me as a man, and since you finesse with me, I
will try and set you at bay, as a hunter does a wild boar."

"Bah!" cried D'Artagnan, pretending to smile.

"I shall order my horses, and set off for Paris," said Fouquet, sounding
the captain of the musketeers.

"If that be the case, monseigneur, it is very difficult."

"You will arrest me, then?"

"No, but I shall go along with you."

"That is quite sufficient, Monsieur d'Artagnan," returned Fouquet,
coldly. "It was not for nothing you acquired your reputation as a man of
intelligence and resource; but with me all this is quite superfluous.
Let us come to the point. Do me a service. Why do you arrest me? What
have I done?"

"Oh! I know nothing about what you may have done; but I do not arrest
you - this evening, at least!"

"This evening!" said Fouquet, turning pale, "but to-morrow?"

"It is not to-morrow just yet, monseigneur. Who can ever answer for the
morrow?"

"Quick, quick, captain! let me speak to M. d'Herblay."

"Alas! that is quite impossible, monseigneur. I have strict orders to
see that you hold no communication with any one."

"With M. d'Herblay, captain - with your friend!"

"Monseigneur, is M. d'Herblay the only person with whom you ought to be
prevented holding any communication?"

Fouquet colored, and then assuming an air of resignation, he said: "You
are right, monsieur; you have taught me a lesson I ought not to have
evoked. A fallen man cannot assert his right to anything, even from
those whose fortunes he may have made; for a still stronger reason, he
cannot claim anything from those to whom he may never have had the
happiness of doing a service."

"Monseigneur!"

"It is perfectly true, Monsieur d'Artagnan; you have always acted in the
most admirable manner towards me - in such a manner, indeed, as most
becomes the man who is destined to arrest me. You, at least, have never
asked me anything."

"Monsieur," replied the Gascon, touched by his eloquent and noble tone of
grief, "will you - I ask it as a favor - pledge me your word as a man of
honor that you will not leave this room?"

"What is the use of it, dear Monsieur d'Artagnan, since you keep watch
and ward over me? Do you suppose I should contend against the most
valiant sword in the kingdom?"

"It is not that, at all, monseigneur; but that I am going to look for M.
d'Herblay, and, consequently, to leave you alone."

Fouquet uttered a cry of delight and surprise.

"To look for M. d'Herblay! to leave me alone!" he exclaimed, clasping his
hands together.

"Which is M. d'Herblay's room? The blue room is it not?"

"Yes, my friend, yes."

"Your friend! thank you for that word, monseigneur; you confer it upon me
to-day, at least, if you have never done so before."

"Ah! you have saved me."

"It will take a good ten minutes to go from hence to the blue room, and
to return?" said D'Artagnan.

"Nearly so."

"And then to wake Aramis, who sleeps very soundly, when he is asleep, I
put that down at another five minutes; making a total of fifteen minutes'
absence. And now, monseigneur, give me your word that you will not in
any way attempt to make your escape, and that when I return I shall find
you here again."

"I give it, monsieur," replied Fouquet, with an expression of the warmest and
deepest gratitude.

D'Artagnan disappeared. Fouquet looked at him as he quitted the room,
waited with a feverish impatience until the door was closed behind him,
and as soon as it was shut, flew to his keys, opened two or three secret
doors concealed in various articles of furniture in the room, looked
vainly for certain papers, which doubtless he had left at Saint-Mande,
and which he seemed to regret not having found in them; then hurriedly
seizing hold of letters, contracts, papers, writings, he heaped them up
into a pile, which he burnt in the extremest haste upon the marble hearth
of the fireplace, not even taking time to draw from the interior of it
the vases and pots of flowers with which it was filled. As soon as he
had finished, like a man who has just escaped an imminent danger, and
whose strength abandons him as soon as the danger is past, he sank down,
completely overcome, on a couch. When D'Artagnan returned, he found
Fouquet in the same position; the worthy musketeer had not the slightest
doubt that Fouquet, having given his word, would not even think of
failing to keep it, but he had thought it most likely that Fouquet would
turn his (D'Artagnan's) absence to the best advantage in getting rid of
all the papers, memorandums, and contracts, which might possibly render
his position, which was even now serious enough, more dangerous than
ever. And so, lifting up his head like a dog who has regained the scent,
he perceived an odor resembling smoke he had relied on finding in the
atmosphere, and having found it, made a movement of his head in token of
satisfaction. As D'Artagnan entered, Fouquet, on his side, raised his
head, and not one of D'Artagnan's movements escaped him. And then the
looks of the two men met, and they both saw that they had understood each
other without exchanging a syllable.

"Well!" asked Fouquet, the first to speak, "and M. d'Herblay?"

"Upon my word, monseigneur," replied D'Artagnan, "M. d'Herblay must be
desperately fond of walking out at night, and composing verses by
moonlight in the park of Vaux, with some of your poets, in all
probability, for he is not in his own room."

"What! not in his own room?" cried Fouquet, whose last hope thus escaped
him; for unless he could ascertain in what way the bishop of Vannes could
assist him, he perfectly well knew that he could expect assistance from
no other quarter.

"Or, indeed," continued D'Artagnan, "if he is in his own room, he has very
good reasons for not answering."

"But surely you did not call him in such a manner that he could have
heard you?"

"You can hardly suppose, monseigneur, that having already exceeded my
orders, which forbade me leaving you a single moment - you can hardly
suppose, I say, that I should have been mad enough to rouse the whole
house and allow myself to be seen in the corridor of the bishop of
Vannes, in order that M. Colbert might state with positive certainty that
I gave you time to burn your papers."

"My papers?"

"Of course; at least that is what I should have done in your place. When
any one opens a door for me I always avail myself of it."

"Yes, yes, and I thank you, for I have availed myself of it."

"And you have done perfectly right. Every man has his own peculiar
secrets with which others have nothing to do. But let us return to
Aramis, monseigneur."

"Well, then, I tell you, you could not have called loud enough, or Aramis
would have heard you."

"However softly any one may call Aramis, monseigneur, Aramis always hears
when he has an interest in hearing. I repeat what I said before - Aramis
was not in his own room, or Aramis had certain reasons for not
recognizing my voice, of which I am ignorant, and of which you may be
even ignorant yourself, notwithstanding your liege-man is His Greatness
the Lord Bishop of Vannes."

Fouquet drew a deep sigh, rose from his seat, took three or four turns in
his room, and finished by seating himself, with an expression of extreme
dejection, upon his magnificent bed with velvet hangings, and costliest
lace. D'Artagnan looked at Fouquet with feelings of the deepest and
sincerest pity.

"I have seen a good many men arrested in my life," said the musketeer,
sadly; "I have seen both M. de Cinq-Mars and M. de Chalais arrested,
though I was very young then. I have seen M. de Conde arrested with the
princes; I have seen M. de Retz arrested; I have seen M. Broussel
arrested. Stay a moment, monseigneur, it is disagreeable to have to
say, but the very one of all those whom you most resemble at this moment
was that poor fellow Broussel. You were very near doing as he did,
putting your dinner napkin in your portfolio, and wiping your mouth with
your papers. _Mordioux! Monseigneur Fouquet, a man like you ought not
to be dejected in this manner. Suppose your friends saw you?"

"Monsieur d'Artagnan," returned the surintendant, with a smile full of
gentleness, "you do not understand me; it is precisely because my friends
are not looking on, that I am as you see me now. I do not live, exist
even, isolated from others; I am nothing when left to myself. Understand
that throughout my whole life I have passed every moment of my time in
making friends, whom I hoped to render my stay and support. In times of
prosperity, all these cheerful, happy voices - rendered so through and by
my means - formed in my honor a concert of praise and kindly actions. In
the least disfavor, these humbler voices accompanied in harmonious
accents the murmur of my own heart. Isolation I have never yet known.
Poverty (a phantom I have sometimes beheld, clad in rags, awaiting me at
the end of my journey through life) - poverty has been the specter with
which many of my own friends have trifled for years past, which they
poetize and caress, and which has attracted me towards them. Poverty! I
accept it, acknowledge it, receive it, as a disinherited sister; for
poverty is neither solitude, nor exile, nor imprisonment. Is it likely I
shall ever be poor, with such friends as Pelisson, as La Fontaine, as
Moliere? with such a mistress as - Oh! if you knew how utterly lonely and
desolate I feel at this moment, and how you, who separate me from all I
love, seem to resemble the image of solitude, of annihilation - death
itself."

"But I have already told you, Monsieur Fouquet," replied D'Artagnan,
moved to the depths of his soul, "that you are woefully exaggerating.
The king likes you."

"No, no," said Fouquet, shaking his head.

"M. Colbert hates you."

"M. Colbert! What does that matter to me?"

"He will ruin you."

"Ah! I defy him to do that, for I am ruined already."

At this singular confession of the superintendent, D'Artagnan cast his
glance all round the room; and although he did not open his lips, Fouquet
understood him so thoroughly, that he added: "What can be done with such
wealth of substance as surrounds us, when a man can no longer cultivate
his taste for the magnificent? Do you know what good the greater part of
the wealth and the possessions which we rich enjoy, confer upon us?
merely to disgust us, by their very splendor even, with everything which
does not equal it! Vaux! you will say, and the wonders of Vaux! What of
it? What boot these wonders? If I am ruined, how shall I fill with
water the urns which my Naiads bear in their arms, or force the air into
the lungs of my Tritons? To be rich enough, Monsieur d'Artagnan, a man
must be too rich."

D'Artagnan shook his head.

"Oh! I know very well what you think," replied Fouquet, quickly. "If
Vaux were yours, you would sell it, and would purchase an estate in the
country; an estate which should have woods, orchards, and land attached,
so that the estate should be made to support its master. With forty
millions you might - "

"Ten millions," interrupted D'Artagnan.

"Not a million, my dear captain. No one in France is rich enough to give
two millions for Vaux, and to continue to maintain it as I have done; no
one could do it, no one would know how."

"Well," said D'Artagnan, "in any case, a million is not abject misery."

"It is not far from it, my dear monsieur. But you do not understand me.
No; I will not sell my residence at Vaux; I will give it to you, if you
like;" and Fouquet accompanied these words with a movement of the
shoulders to which it would be impossible to do justice.

"Give it to the king; you will make a better bargain."

"The king does not require me to give it to him," said Fouquet; "he will
take it away from me with the most absolute ease and grace, if it pleases
him to do so; and that is the very reason I should prefer to see it
perish. Do you know, Monsieur d'Artagnan, that if the king did not
happen to be under my roof, I would take this candle, go straight to the
dome, and set fire to a couple of huge chests of fusees and fireworks
which are in reserve there, and would reduce my palace to ashes."

"Bah!" said the musketeer, negligently. "At all events, you would not be
able to burn the gardens, and that is the finest feature of the place."

"And yet," resumed Fouquet, thoughtfully, "what was I saying? Great
heavens! burn Vaux! destroy my palace! But Vaux is not mine; these
wonderful creations are, it is true, the property, as far as sense of
enjoyment goes, of the man who has paid for them; but as far as duration
is concerned, they belong to those who created them. Vaux belongs to
Lebrun, to Lenotre, to Pelisson, to Levau, to La Fontaine, to Moliere;
Vaux belongs to posterity, in fact. You see, Monsieur d'Artagnan, that
my very house has ceased to be my own."

"That is all well and good," said D'Artagnan; "the idea is agreeable
enough, and I recognize M. Fouquet himself in it. That idea, indeed,
makes me forget that poor fellow Broussel altogether; and I now fail to
recognize in you the whining complaints of that old Frondeur. If you
are ruined, monsieur, look at the affair manfully, for you too,
_mordioux! belong to posterity, and have no right to lessen yourself in
any way. Stay a moment; look at me, I who seem to exercise in some
degree a kind of superiority over you, because I am arresting you; fate,
which distributes their different parts to the comedians of this world,
accorded me a less agreeable and less advantageous part to fill than
yours has been. I am one of those who think that the parts which kings
and powerful nobles are called upon to act are infinitely of more worth
than the parts of beggars or lackeys. It is far better on the stage - on
the stage, I mean, of another theater than the theater of this world - it
is far better to wear a fine coat and to talk a fine language, than to
walk the boards shod with a pair of old shoes, or to get one's backbone
gently polished by a hearty dressing with a stick. In one word, you have
been a prodigal with money, you have ordered and been obeyed - have been
steeped to the lips in enjoyment; while I have dragged my tether after
me, have been commanded and have obeyed, and have drudged my life away.
Well, although I may seem of such trifling importance beside you,
monseigneur, I do declare to you, that the recollection of what I have
done serves me as a spur, and prevents me from bowing my old head too
soon. I shall remain unto the very end a trooper; and when my turn
comes, I shall fall perfectly straight, all in a heap, still alive, after
having selected my place beforehand. Do as I do, Monsieur Fouquet, you
will not find yourself the worse for it; a fall happens only once in a
lifetime to men like yourself, and the chief thing is, to take it
gracefully when the chance presents itself. There is a Latin proverb -
the words have escaped me, but I remember the sense of it very well, for
I have thought over it more than once - which says, 'The end crowns the
work!'"

Fouquet rose from his seat, passed his arm round D'Artagnan's neck, and
clasped him in a close embrace, whilst with the other hand he pressed his
hand. "An excellent homily," he said, after a moment's pause.

"A soldier's, monseigneur."

"You have a regard for me, in telling me all that."

"Perhaps."

Fouquet resumed his pensive attitude once more, and then, a moment after,
he said: "Where can M. d'Herblay be? I dare not ask you to send for him."

"You would not ask me, because I would not do it, Monsieur Fouquet.
People would learn it, and Aramis, who is not mixed up with the affair,
might possibly be compromised and included in your disgrace."

"I will wait here till daylight," said Fouquet.

"Yes; that is best."

"What shall we do when daylight comes?"

"I know nothing at all about it, monseigneur."

"Monsieur d'Artagnan, will you do me a favor?"

"Most willingly."

"You guard me, I remain; you are acting in the full discharge of your
duty, I suppose?"

"Certainly."

"Very good, then; remain as close to me as my shadow if you like; and I
infinitely prefer such a shadow to any one else."

D'Artagnan bowed to the compliment.

"But, forget that you are Monsieur d'Artagnan, captain of the musketeers;
forget that I am Monsieur Fouquet, surintendant of the finances; and let
us talk about my affairs."

"That is rather a delicate subject."

"Indeed?"

"Yes; but, for your sake, Monsieur Fouquet, I will do what may almost be
regarded as an impossibility."

"Thank you. What did the king say to you?"

"Nothing."

"Ah! is that the way you talk?"

"The deuce!"

"What do you think of my situation?"

"I do not know."

"However, unless you have some ill feeling against me - "

"Your position is a difficult one."

"In what respect?"

"Because you are under your own roof."

"However difficult it may be, I understand it very well."

"Do you suppose that, with any one else but yourself, I should have
shown so much frankness?"

"What! so much frankness, do you say? you, who refuse to tell me the
slightest thing?"

"At all events, then, so much ceremony and consideration."

"Ah! I have nothing to say in that respect."

"One moment, monseigneur: let me tell you how I should have behaved
towards any one but yourself. It might be that I happened to arrive at
your door just as your guests or your friends had left you - or, if they
had not gone yet, I should wait until they were leaving, and should then
catch them one after the other, like rabbits; I should lock them up
quietly enough, I should steal softly along the carpet of your corridor,
and with one hand upon you, before you suspected the slightest thing
amiss, I should keep you safely until my master's breakfast in the
morning. In this way, I should just the same have avoided all publicity,
all disturbance, all opposition; but there would also have been no
warning for M. Fouquet, no consideration for his feelings, none of those
delicate concessions which are shown by persons who are essentially
courteous in their natures, whenever the decisive moment may arrive.
Are you satisfied with the plan?"

"It makes me shudder."

"I thought you would not like it. It would have been very disagreeable
to have made my appearance to-morrow, without any preparation, and to
have asked you to deliver up your sword."

"Oh! monsieur, I should have died of shame and anger."

"Your gratitude is too eloquently expressed. I have not done enough to
deserve it, I assure you."

"Most certainly, monsieur, you will never get me to believe that."

"Well, then, monseigneur, if you are satisfied with what I have done, and
have somewhat recovered from the shock which I prepared you for as much
as I possibly could, let us allow the few hours that remain to pass away
undisturbed. You are harassed, and should arrange your thoughts; I beg
you, therefore, go to sleep, or pretend to go to sleep, either on your
bed, or in your bed; I will sleep in this armchair; and when I fall
asleep, my rest is so sound that a cannon would not wake me."

Fouquet smiled. "I expect, however," continued the musketeer, "the case
of a door being opened, whether a secret door, or any other; or the case
of any one going out of, or coming into, the room - for anything like
that my ear is as quick and sensitive as the ear of a mouse. Creaking
noises make me start. It arises, I suppose, from a natural antipathy to
anything of the kind. Move about as much as you like; walk up and down
in any part of the room, write, efface, destroy, burn, - nothing like
that will prevent me from going to sleep or even prevent me from snoring,
but do not touch either the key or the handle of the door, for I should
start up in a moment, and that would shake my nerves and make me ill."

"Monsieur d'Artagnan," said Fouquet, "you are certainly the most witty
and the most courteous man I ever met with; and you will leave me only
one regret, that of having made your acquaintance so late."

D'Artagnan drew a deep sigh, which seemed to say, "Alas! you have perhaps
made it too soon." He then settled himself in his armchair, while
Fouquet, half lying on his bed and leaning on his arm, was meditating on
his misadventures. In this way, both of them, leaving the candles
burning, awaited the first dawn of the day; and when Fouquet happened to
sigh too loudly, D'Artagnan only snored the louder. Not a single visit,
not even from Aramis, disturbed their quietude: not a sound even was
heard throughout the whole vast palace. Outside, however, the guards of
honor on duty, and the patrol of musketeers, paced up and down; and the
sound of their feet could be heard on the gravel walks. It seemed to act
as an additional soporific for the sleepers, while the murmuring of the
wind through the trees, and the unceasing music of the fountains whose
waters tumbled in the basin, still went on uninterruptedly, without being
disturbed at the slight noises and items of little moment that constitute
the life and death of human nature.

If you like this book please share to your friends :
NEXT BOOKS

The Man In The Iron Mask - Chapter XX - The Morning The Man In The Iron Mask - Chapter XX - The Morning

The Man In The Iron Mask - Chapter XX - The Morning
In vivid contrast to the sad and terrible destiny of the king imprisonedin the Bastile, and tearing, in sheer despair, the bolts and bars of hisdungeon, the rhetoric of the chroniclers of old would not fail topresent, as a complete antithesis, the picture of Philippe lying asleepbeneath the royal canopy. We do not pretend to say that such rhetoric isalways bad, and always scatters, in places where they have no right togrow, the flowers with which it embellishes and enlivens history. But weshall, on the present occasion, carefully avoid polishing the antithesisin question, but shall proceed to draw another
PREVIOUS BOOKS

The Man In The Iron Mask - Chapter XVIII - A Night at the Bastile The Man In The Iron Mask - Chapter XVIII - A Night at the Bastile

The Man In The Iron Mask - Chapter XVIII - A Night at the Bastile
Pain, anguish, and suffering in human life are always in proportion tothe strength with which a man is endowed. We will not pretend to saythat Heaven always apportions to a man's capability of endurance theanguish with which he afflicts him; for that, indeed, would not be true,since Heaven permits the existence of death, which is, sometimes, theonly refuge open to those who are too closely pressed - too bitterlyafflicted, as far as the body is concerned. Suffering is in proportionto the strength which has been accorded; in other words, the weak suffermore the trial is the same, than
NEXT 10 BOOKS | PREVIOUS 10 BOOKS | RANDOM 10 BOOKS
LEAVE A COMMENT