The Man in the Iron Mask
by Alexandre Dumas
The Man in the Iron Mask Chapter Thirty-Four: Among Women Summary
- D'Artagnan rides to Paris as quickly as possible.
- When he arrives, the King is hunting. D'Artagnan spends five hours getting up to speed on all the latest news at court. Some of the most important bits include: Madame is ill, de Guiche is out of town, Colbert is happy, and Fouquet is really ill.
- Apparently the King has been treating Fouquet nicely but refusing to let him out of his sight.
- The King is also closer to La Valliere than ever.
- D'Artagnan resolves to talk to the woman.
- La Valliere is sitting in the center of a number of ladies, who begin peppering him with questions.
- The court ladies ask for news about Beaufort's army and its campaign in Africa.
- A certain Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente asks if any of them have friends who are serving in the army. (She knows exactly what the answer is going to be.)
- D'Artagnan lists a few and mentions Raoul's name. La Valliere turns pale.
- Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente argues that all the men headed for Africa are ones who were unlucky in love at home.
- La Valliere is very pale at this point, but Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente is not satisfied. She is determined to make the woman blush. She tells La Valliere that her rejection of Raoul must be a great sin on her conscience.
- Montalais comes to La Valliere's defense, saying it is better to refuse a man you know you can't love rather than allow him to think there's a chance..
- Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente presses the point, accusing La Valliere of killing Raoul if he dies in Africa.
- La Valliere avoids having to respond by going for a private walk with D'Artagnan.
- She asks D'Artagnan why he wanted to speak with her. D'Artagnan confesses that his message was already aptly conveyed by Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente.
- La Valliere is clearly hurt. She goes into another room just as the King enters.
- King Louis XIV first looks immediately for his mistress, then spots D'Artagnan. The two men withdraw to talk business.
- D'Artagnan tells the King that the prisoner (i.e., the Man in the Iron Mask), came to his defense when he could have fled
- The King doesn't want to hear it.
- The King tells D'Artagnan that he needs him to assemble lodgings in Nantes because he has business there.
- The King tells D'Artagnan to leave sometime between this evening and tomorrow, then adds that he should bring a brigade of Musketeers.
- At the castle, the King tells D'Artagnan, he should place a guard at the door of each of his chief advisers (read: Fouquet).
- The King cautions D'Artagnan to get to the castle before Monsieur le Duc de Gesvres, captain of the guards.
- A clerk gives D'Artagnan a voucher for two hundred pistoles, to be collected from Fouquet.
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