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The Man in the Iron Mask
by Alexandre Dumas
Events / Chapter Twenty-One: The King's Friend
The Man in the Iron Mask Chapter Twenty-One: The King's Friend Summary
Fouquet is anxious as he receives D'Artagnan and Aramis. He learns he is free, and that he has Aramis to thank. Fouquet is more humiliated than grateful. D'Artagnan asks Aramis if he can ask a question. D'Artagnan asks how Aramis became so close with the King, when he's only ever talked to him twice before. Aramis becomes very secretive and tells D'Artagnan that he's actually hung out with the King hundreds of times. They've just kept in a secret. D'Artagnan buys it. And now he's embarrassed. Aramis tells Fouquet that the King has really enjoyed the party. It's clear the two men have catching up to do. D'Artagnan can tell he's not wanted, but sticks around anyway. Aramis not-so-subtly tells the Musketeer to leave; he obliges. Aramis fills Fouquet in on the charges against him – the millions missing from the treasury, and the attempts to woo the King's mistress. Fouquet expresses his happiness that the King has clearly gotten over these issues. After some hemming and hawing, Aramis confesses everything to Fouquet. When Fouquet finally sees the light, he asks with horror and wonders what has happened to the King. Fouquet refuses to see Aramis's actions as divine favor. He is aghast that Aramis has dared to perpetrate this crime under his roof. He is so enraged he almost fights Aramis. Rejecting Aramis's actions and explanations, Fouquet tells Aramis to get out of Vaux, and to get out of France. He tells Aramis that he has four hours to get out of the King's reach. Fouquet is an honorable man, so he tells Aramis that he and Porthos can go to his fortress called Belle-Isle. No one can touch them there without Fouquet's permission. Fouquet gives two of his best horses to Aramis. As Aramis descends a secret staircase, he wonders what to do with either Porthos or Philippe. He decides to leave the Philippe to his own devices, but to take Porthos. After instructing Porthos that they are on a mission, the two men mount their horses right in front of D'Artagnan, who holds the stirrups and bids them farewell. D'Artagnan muses that in another time it would be said the two men were clearly trying to escape pursuit.
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