The Man in the Iron Mask
by Alexandre Dumas
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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