Ten Years Later
In which D'Artagnan finishes by at Length placing his Hand upon his Captain's
The reader guesses beforehand whom the usher preceded in announcing the courier
from Bretagne. This messenger was easily recognized. It was D'Artagnan, his clothes
dusty, his face inflamed, his hair dripping with sweat, his legs stiff; he lifted his feet
painfully at every step, on which resounded the clink of his blood-stained spurs. He
perceived in the doorway he was passing through, the superintendent coming out.
Fouquet bowed with a smile to him who, an hour before, was bringing him ruin and
death. D'Artagnan found in his goodness of heart, and in his inexhaustible vigor of body,
enough presence of mind to remember the kind reception of this man; he bowed then,
also, much more from benevolence and compassion, than from respect. He felt upon
his lips the word which had so many times been repeated to the Duc de Guise: "Fly."
But to pronounce that word would have been to betray his cause; to speak that word in
the cabinet of the king, and before an usher, would have been to ruin himself
gratuitously, and could save nobody. D'Artagnan then, contented himself with bowing to
Fouquet and entered. At this moment the king floated between the joy the last words of
Fouquet had given him, and his pleasure at the return of D'Artagnan. Without being a
courtier, D'Artagnan had a glance as sure and as rapid as if he had been one. He read,
on his entrance, devouring humiliation on the countenance of Colbert. He even heard
the king say these words to him: -
"Ah! Monsieur Colbert; you have then nine hundred thousand livres at the intendance?"
Colbert, suffocated, bowed but made no reply. All this scene entered into the mind of
D'Artagnan, by the eyes and ears, at once.
The first word of Louis to his musketeer, as if he wished it to contrast with what he was
saying at the moment, was a kind "good day." His second was to send away Colbert.
The latter left the king's cabinet, pallid and tottering, whilst D'Artagnan twisted up the
ends of his mustache.
"I love to see one of my servants in this disorder," said the king, admiring the martial
stains upon the clothes of his envoy.
"I thought, sire, my presence at the Louvre was sufficiently urgent to excuse my
presenting myself thus before you."
"You bring me great news, then, monsieur?"
"Sire, the thing is this, in two words: Belle-Isle is fortified, admirably fortified; Belle-Isle
has a double enceinte, a citadel, two detached forts; its ports contain three corsairs; and
the side batteries only await their cannon."