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.