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The Man in the Iron Mask
by Alexandre Dumas
Events / Chapter Thirty-Seven: The Two Lighters
The Man in the Iron Mask Chapter Thirty-Seven: The Two Lighters Summary
Fouquet travels rapidly to Orleans, convinced that he is not being pursued. At Orleans, he hires a boat with eight rowers to take him down the Loire River. Fouquet hopes to be the first dignitary at Nantes. The rowers let out an exclamation, for behind them, and rapidly gaining ground, is a boat with twelve rowers. Fouquet and his friend Gourville are astonished; no one, not even the King, travels on a lighter with more than eight rowers. The rowers tell Fouquet that the boat is certainly from Orleans. Gourville and Fouquet are worried. Fouquet commands the rowers to stop so he can get a better look at the boat pursuing them. Fouquet spies Colbert. They wonder why he does not announce himself or draw up next to Fouquet's boat. The boat is also clearly filled with armed men. Fouquet orders his men to begin rowing again. The other boat follows, maintaining a regular distance all day between the two. Towards the evening, Fouquet tries an experiment. He orders the rowers to row closer to shore and pretend that Fouquet will disembark. By chance, a stableman was walking on the banks with three horses. The other boat stops and a handful of men with muskets disembark. Fouquet is pleased that he forced Colbert to show his hand. The two boats continue down the river. Colbert is careful to have his boat remain behind Fouquet's. When they reach Nantes, Fouquet jumps down and gives Colbert a public and ostentatious salute. Fouquet asks, irritated, why Colbert refused to join him or pass him. Colbert says it is out of respect. Fouquet hops into a carriage and makes his way to Nantes. He hears rumors that the King is coming with all speed and is expected in ten or twelve hours. As soon as D'Artagnan arrives, he asks to speak with Fouquet.
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