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The Man in the Iron Mask
by Alexandre Dumas
Events / Chapter Forty: The White Horse and the Black Horse
The Man in the Iron Mask Chapter Forty: The White Horse and the Black Horse Summary
D'Artagnan suspects something is going on, and investigates. As he walks down a staircase, D'Artagnan spots a white horse in the distance traveling at a very fast speed. D'Artagnan thinks nothing of this fact until he comes across fragments of the note Fouquet was reading. D'Artagnan recognizes Gourville's handwriting and manages to piece together "a white horse." D'Artagnan can now see that the horse is heading for the Loire River, and that it is definitely not an innocent gallop through the countryside. D'Artagnan saddles up his best horse and takes off after Fouquet, taking an alternate road that allows him to gain ten minutes. Still, Fouquet has a commanding lead. Just when he starts having doubts about catching Fouquet, he catches sight of the white horse. Fouquet eventually realizes he is being pursued. D'Artagnan is impressed by the white horse, which is not even gasping at this point. D'Artagnan's black horse is having difficulties breathing, although both horses are traveling at a furious pace. D'Artagnan pulls out his pistol and orders Fouquet to stop. Fouquet requests to be shot, saying he will then suffer less this way. D'Artagnan throws away his pistol and is determined to catch Fouquet alive. He edges closer. D'Artagnan's horse falters. In despair, D'Artagnan pulls out a second pistol and shoots at the white horse. At the same moment, his horse falls down dead. D'Artagnan begs Fouquet to kill him, saying that he wants to die bravely. Fouquet does not reply, so D'Artagnan starts pursuing him on foot. He strips off his extraneous clothing and throws away his weapons. Remarkably, D'Artagnan gains ground on the white horse, which is really starting to struggle at this point. Finally D'Artagnan grabs Fouquet by the leg and arrests him, then asks Fouquet to kill him. Fouquet throws away his two pistols, then gives the exhausted D'Artagnan his arm for support . D'Artagnan faints. When he comes to, Fouquet is waiting for him. D'Artagnan praises Fouquet for his nobility. The two men then need to figure out how to get back to Nantes. They attempt to both ride the white horse, but it soon staggers and falls down dead next to D'Artagnan's black horse. The two men have to walk back. Fouquet is ushered into a specially made carriage designed to prevent communication. He tells D'Artagnan to relay the message "St. Mande" to either Madame Belliere or Pelisson.
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