About the Author
Alexandre Dumas (1802 – 1870) was born on July 23, 1802, to Thomas-Alexandre Dumas and his wife, Marie-Louise Elisabeth. His father had served as a general under Napoleon but had fallen out of favor with him. The elder Dumas died when Alexandre was four, leaving him and his mother with limited resources. A local priest provided Dumas with limited education, and Dumas left for Paris when he was twenty-one. He launched a successful career as a writer and wrote prolifically throughout his life.
Point of View: third-person omniscient
Setting: France, 1800s
Themes: vengeance, greed, love, power
A young French sailor, Edmond Dantes, is falsely accused of treason and imprisoned for 14 years. After his miraculous escape, he finds hidden treasure and returns to France as the wealthy and prestigious Count of Monte Cristo. He implements plans for retribution on those who betrayed him, believing that he is God’s instrument of vengeance. After he goes beyond the limits of rightful retaliation, he realizes that supreme power and wisdom are in God’s hands alone.
Source for Story
Dumas based his protagonist, Edmond Dantes, i.e. the Count of Monte Cristo, on a true story he heard about a cobbler who was wrongfully imprisoned for seven years. After his release, the cobbler tracked down and killed each one of his enemies.
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 – 1821) was Italian by birth and entered the royal military school at Paris when a young boy. He was involved in the French Revolution which broke out in 1789. After varied military assignments and alliances, Napoleon eventually was named to command of the French Army of Italy. In 1799, he seized power in France and in 1804, crowned himself Emperor of the French, established a new government of three members called the Consulate, and became First Consul, dictator of France. Napoleon was exiled to, and became the ruler of, the tiny island of Elba off the coast of Italy. In February 1815, he sailed from Elba with 1100 followers and began a march to Paris, where he was again hailed as emperor. This began his reign of “The Hundred Days,” which ended with his defeat at Waterloo in June 1815. He was exiled to Saint Helen and died there in 1821. A follower of Napoleon was called a Bonapartist. Dumas’ father was a general in Napoleon’s army, and the character Noirtier in the novel is apparently patterned after Dumas’ father.
The Reign of Terror revers to the French Revolution under the Jacobin government who established a policy of terror against revels, supporters of the king; 18,000 death sentences were carried out, including that of Marie Antoinette.
Marseilles is the oldest and second largest city in France. It is also the country’s main seaport.
Monte Cristo is a small Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea, comprised primarily of a mountain of granite that rises 2,000 feet above sea level. Benedictine monks once had a monastery there.
Glossary of Titles
Web site to visit: http://mscottonenglish.weebly.com
Author of the text: indicated on the source document of the above text
THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
Adapted by H.Q. Mitchell.
ARAMIS STOOD AT THE WINDOW OF HIS APARTMENT AND WATCHED as the Duchess, Madame de Chevreuse, stepped out of her carriage. The Duchess had sent a letter to Aramis a few days earlier, informing him that she had a very important matter to discuss with him. She claimed to have certain documents in her possession which could be very harmful to one of his closest friends.
Aramis had met the Duchess several years before, when he was a musketeer serving in the Queen's guard. He knew that she was a cunning and manipulative woman; he also knew that she had lost the support of the royal family and that she was very close to bankruptcy. Whatever Madame de Chevreuse wanted to discuss, it definitely had something to do with money.
The Duchess knocked on the door and Aramis walked slowly across the room to open it.
"Good day, my dear Duchess," he said with a smile.
"How do you do, my dear Aramis," replied Madame de Chevreuse.
"It's been a long time," said Aramis as he led the Duchess to the sitting room.
"Too long," said the Duchess. "I hear you are the Bishop of Vannes now."
Aramis laughed lightly. "Yes. My musketeer days are long gone."
Aramis offered the Duchess some tea and asked her about her family.
"My children are fine, I suppose," said the Duchess. "They don't speak to me any more, not since they took practically everything I own, including my home."
"How terrible, dear Duchess," said Aramis.
"Terrible indeed," said the Duchess. "Actually, Aramis, that's why I've come to see you today."
"Oh really?" said Aramis, raising an eyebrow.
"The truth is that I am in serious debt, and as a result I have been forced to turn to questionable means to earn a living..."
The Duchess waited for Aramis to respond, but he said nothing.
She cleared her throat and continued: "Anyway, I have acquired some important papers from Monsieur Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the King's adviser. The papers prove that Monsieur Nicolas Fouquet, the King's trusted treasurer, has been stealing money from the State - 30 million francs to be exact. I know that you and Fouquet are friends, and I'm sure you'd like to protect his reputation... So I'll give you the papers for five hundred thousand francs."
"Five hundred thousand francs!" exclaimed Aramis. "You want me to buy the papers from you for five hundred thousand francs? Madame, I'm afraid you have wasted your time coming here today. In the first place, we all know that Colbert is a weasel who will stop at nothing to harm Fouquet in order to take his place as treasurer. And secondly, Fouquet is an honourable man who would never steal from the State, so I'm quite sure the papers you have are false."
The Duchess looked annoyed. "You won't buy the papers then?"
"I see. Then, perhaps I should speak to the Queen Mother; I'm sure I can persuade her to help me out."
"I strongly doubt that," said Aramis.
"Do not underestimate me, Aramis," said the Duchess. "The Queen Mother and I used to be best friends - we may have had our differences in the past, but I'm quite capable of winning her over again."
"Well then, perhaps you should be on your way," said Aramis through his teeth.
The Duchess glared at Aramis and got up to leave. The Bishop showed her to the door and then slammed it shut behind her.
But Aramis wasn't really angry with the Duchess; in fact, he was grateful to her. Her greed had given him an opportunity to set his own plan in motion - a plan that would benefit all of France. Aramis decided to pay Nicolas Fouquet a visit as soon as possible.
"Oh, the pain!" said the Queen Mother as she lay on her bed holding her
chest. Her lady-in-waiting, Madame de Motteville, was sitting anxiously at her bedside. "I think I'm having another attack," groaned the Queen Mother.
Madame de Motteville frowned. "Your Majesty, do you remember when you first started experiencing these pains?" she asked.
"Yes," said the Queen Mother with a sigh. "It was on the fifth of September, twenty-three years ago.
Madame de Motteville looked puzzled. "But that's the day your Majesty gave birth to a son, a glorious son named Louis, who is now the ruler of our land."
The Queen Mother cried out and then buried her face in her hands. "Yes... that was a day of great joy, followed by great sorrow... Oh, the pain!"
Just then, the two women heard a knock at the door.
"The remedy!" cried Madame de Motteville, jumping up excitedly.
"What remedy?" asked the Queen Mother.
"Oh, I met a nun at the market yesterday who was selling herbal medicines -1 told her that you suffer from nervous attacks," said Madame de Motteville. "The nun said that she had a special remedy that might help you and she offered to come see you today."
The Queen Mother frowned. "All right, let her in," she said.
Madame de Motteville opened the door and a masked woman entered the room.
"Your Majesty," said the woman as she bowed her head slightly.
The Queen Mother looked surprised. "Why are you wearing that mask?" she asked.
"All will be revealed soon, your Majesty," said the nun. "But, first, I would like to talk to you in private."
The masked woman glanced at Madame de Motteville, who, in turn, glanced at the Queen Mother. The Queen Mother hesitated for a moment, then reluctantly sent away her lady-in-waiting.
"Your Majesty, you will be happy to know that your illness can be cured very easily," said the nun.
"That's good to hear," said the Queen Mother.
"I know that your nervous attacks began when your son, the King, was born..."
"And I know that there is a secret surrounding the birth of your son..." The nun paused for a moment. "It's a secret very few people know... On that day, twenty-three years ago, you gave birth not to one son, but two -identical twins named Louis and Philippe!"
The Queen Mother looked horrified. She started to speak but the nun held up her hand.
"Let me finish," she said. "When the King heard the news, he was amazed. He was concerned that having two heirs to the throne would only lead to trouble for France. His exact words were: 'One prince is peace an safety for the State; two competitors are civil war and anarchy!' So one so: became King and the other was hidden away... Your Majesty, it is my opinion that your nervous attacks are caused by your guilt!"
The Queen Mother's face was as pale as death. "How do you know all this?" she whispered.
"Because, old friend, I was there!" said the Duchess as she removed her mask.
The Queen Mother gasped. "Madame de Chevreuse!"
"Yes... And I am the only person who knows your secret, besides! Aramis."
The Queen Mother felt an enormous wave of relief. "It's been years since we last saw each other," she said as she embraced her friend. "But why the disguise?"
"Well, I didn't think you'd agree to see me otherwise..." said the Duchess. "Our friendship must not mean very much to you... You heard that I lost everything but you have done nothing to help."
The Queen Mother nodded. "It was wrong of me to neglect you," she said. "I'm sorry."
"So how is Philippe?" asked the Duchess. "The last time I saw him, he was at Noisy-le-Sec with his tutor."
The Queen Mother paused for a moment. She knew that the Duchess was planning something, but wasn't quite sure what. She decided that il would be better not to tell the Duchess that her son was locked up in jail "Philippe is dead," she lied. "He died of fever a few years ago."
"He's dead?" the Duchess exclaimed. The news truly shocked her could she still go ahead with her plan to blackmail the Queen Mother now?
"Yes, I'm afraid so."
"I am so sorry to hear that, old friend," said the Duchess, as she kneelec before the Queen Mother and kissed her hand. "Please know that I an your most faithful and loyal servant and that your secret will always be safe with me."
The Queen Mother sighed. "Thank you," she said.
"Your Majesty..." said the Duchess. "I hate to do this, but as you know I am in a difficult financial position at the moment.
"How much money do you need?" asked the Queen Mother.
"Perhaps you could lend me five hundred thousand francs? I wil definitely pay you back when I can."
"Fine," said the Queen Mother. She signed an order for five hundrec thousand francs and handed it to the Duchess.
"Oh, thank you, your Majesty," said the Duchess. The two women talked briefly and then the Duchess left, happily clutching the order in he: greedy little hands.
Hello, aramis! It's so good to see you again!" said Fouquet as Aramis walked into his office. "Hello, Nicolas," said Aramis. "Yes, it's good to see you again, too."
"So what brings you here today?" asked the treasurer.
"I thought you might want to know who came to visit me yesterday," said Aramis as he sat down on a chair opposite Fouquet.
Fouquet looked at Aramis curiously. "Who came to visit you?" he asked.
"Madame de Chevreuse."
"The old Duchess? Was it perhaps her ghost you saw?" said Fouquet with a laugh.
"No, it was the Duchess herself," Aramis replied.
"What did she want?"
She told me that she has some documents which prove that you've stolen 30 million francs from the State.
Fouquet gasped. "What? That's an outrageous lie! Where did she get those papers?"
"She said that she got them from Colbert; as you know, those two have been good friends for years," said Aramis. "It looks like Colbert is determined to ruin your good name."
Fouquet removed a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his forehead. "Good gracious," he murmured. "I know he wants to take over my position as treasurer, but I never thought he was capable of something like this... What will happen if he shows those false papers to the King?"
"I'm sure he will," said Aramis. "But I have a solution to your troubles, if you're interested.
"Of course! What do you suggest I do?"
"Well, now that your country estate, Vaux, has just been renovated..."
"And I must thank you for overseeing the entire project," Fouque interrupted. "You did a remarkable job."
"My pleasure, Nicolas," said Aramis. "Anyway, I think Vaux would b the perfect place for an extravagant party in the King's honour. It really isj the only way to get the King on your side."
Fouquet considered this for a moment. "But a party at Vaux could cost up to 20 million francs. I haven't got that kind of money to spare."
"Don't worry about that," said Aramis. "I'll lend you the money."
Fouquet's eyes brightened. "You will? You truly are a good friend, Aramis."
Aramis smiled. "Just make sure the party is as extravagant as possible; it takes a lot to impress Louis."
"Yes, yes. You're right about that," said Fouquet. "I'll start arranging everything immediately."
"Very good, Nicolas. Anyway, I must go now, but I'll see you again in a few days."
"Yes, and thank you again, Aramis!" said Fouquet as the Bishop closed the door behind him.
That evening, Aramis's trusted friends and former musketeers, Portho and Athos, arrived at Aramis's apartment for dinner. As they dined, they talked about Athos's farm and Porthos's various business ventures, then the conversation turned to the party at Vaux.
"D'Artagnan told me that Fouquet is planning a party for the King al
Vaux," said Athos. "Are you going to go, Aramis?"
"My my, news does travel fast," said Aramis as he took a sip of water. "Yes, I am going to the party... So how is our old friend, D'Artagnan?"
"He's very well," said Porthos. He's just been promoted to Captain of the Musketeers."
Aramis smiled and nodded. "So I heard," he said.
"I'm glad I'm no longer a musketeer," said Athos. "I could never serve under a king as selfish and arrogant as Louis XIV."
"Me neither!" said Porthos as he bit into a chicken leg.
"Yes," Aramis agreed. "France is certainly in need of a new king - a wise and noble man who will put the needs of his people before his own."
"Sounds like you have someone in mind..." said Athos jokingly.
"Actually," Aramis replied, "I do."
Athos and Porthos stopped eating and stared at Aramis in surprise.
"What do you mean? Are you planning something, Aramis?" asked Athos.
"Yes, I am... But, as you both know, I only ever do things for the good of France," said the Bishop. "So what do you say, are you two willing to help me?"
Athos shook his head. "I'm afraid you'll have to count me out, old friend. I hung up my musket a long time ago..."
"What about you, Porthos?" asked Aramis.
"Absolutely!" said Porthos. "All for one and one for all, it's the rule I live by!"
Aramis smiled. "Well, then... listen carefully..."
The next day, Aramis paid a visit to his old friend Baisemeaux, who was governor of the Bastille, a prison in Paris. Aramis convinced the governor that he had been sent to hear the confession of one of the prisoners, a young man named "Marchiali". Only Aramis knew that the unfortunate prisoner's real name was Philippe. Baisemeaux led the Bishop to the prisoner's cell, and unlocked the door.
"Will you let me hear his confession in private?" asked Aramis.
Baisemeaux nodded. Aramis walked into the cell and Baisemeaux closed the door behind him. The cell was dark, but Aramis could see the figure of a young man lying on the bed.
"Who are you? What do you want?" asked the young man.
"I have come to hear your confession," Aramis replied.
"I do not wish to confess anything," said the young man.
"In that case," said Aramis, "I will confess something to you."
The young man sat up and stared at Aramis. "You look familiar," he said. "What's your name?"
"I am Aramis, the Bishop of Vannes. You are correct, Philippe, we have met before... Many years ago when you were a young boy living at Noisy-le-Sec with your nurse, Perronnette, and your tutor, Monsieur La Porte."
The young man's eyes lit up as memories of a happier time came back to him. "That's right! You used to come and visit me with the.. .uh... well-dressed lady of the court," said Philippe.
"Do you know who that woman was?" asked Aramis.
"I didn't know who she was until I found a letter she had written to Perronnette. In the letter, she told Perronnette to take good care of me, and she signed it 'Anne of Austria'. It was then that Perronnette confirmed that my mother was the Queen of France..."
That must have been quite a shock," said Aramis. "What happened next?"
"Perronnette and Monsieur La Porte felt obliged to tell the Queen that
had found the letter... " Philippe's eyes darkened. "And then, my own
mother put me here in the Bastille. I never saw Perronnette or Monsieur La
Porte again... Aramis, if I had known the consequences of reading that
letter, I would never have told anyone about it."
Aramis sighed. "It is a tragic story indeed," he said.
"So what did you come to confess?" asked Philippe.
"You do not know the whole story, Philippe; you don't know the reason| why you are in this prison."
"Well then, tell me," said the young man.
"Perhaps I should show you instead," said Aramis. "I know you did grow up with mirrors in your house, and I'm quite sure you've seer portraits of the King. Here..." Aramis handed Philippe a mirror and the young man looked at his reflection.
"Why, it is like looking at the King himself!" the young man exclaimedJ
"Exactly. You are the King's identical twin," said Aramis. "Your parents) were afraid that you and your brother would fight over the throne, so of you had to be hidden away from the world."
Philippe placed the mirror on a table and sighed. "Now I know that will never be set free..." he murmured.
"On the contrary," said Aramis. "You will be set free, Philippe, becaus I believe that you have a purer heart than your brother and that it is your destiny to rule France."
"That's madness, Aramis!" Philippe exclaimed. "I will never be able tol escape from this prison! And how can I possibly take my brother's place?] He will fight me to the death... No, my destiny is to be a prisoner, sir."
Aramis lowered his voice. "Philippe, listen to me. I can help you escape from here. And I can arrange for your brother to take your place. Louis iq arrogant and selfish and I know that you are noble and good. You shouk be on the throne, you are France's only hope!"
Philippe remained silent. "I will return in a few days. In the meantime,] think about what I have said."
Aramis bent down on one knee and kissed Philippe's hand. "Your Majesty," he said.
A guard opened the door a minute later, and Aramis left the young man| to his thoughts.
THREE DAYS LATER, ARAMIS RETURNED TO FoUQUET's OFFICE find the treasurer in a frantic state. "Oh, Aramis, I'm glad you^ here," said Fouquet when he saw the Bishop at the door. "The pai is three days away and I still have so much to do!"
"You worry too much, Nicolas," said Aramis. "I'm sure the party be a great success!"
Fouquet removed his glasses and rubbed the lenses furiously with cloth. "There's something else we need to discuss, dear Aramis," he begaj "The.. .uh.. .money you promised me... When do you think you'll be al to give it to me?"
"I'll only be able to give it to you the day after the King arrives at Vai Aramis replied.
Fouquet put his glasses on and stared at Aramis.
"You doubt that I keep my promises?" asked the Bishop.
"Uh... No, no, it's not that," Fouquet mumbled. "It's just that I've h< to borrow money from the State to pay for this party and I'm anxious pay it back as soon as possible..."
Aramis nodded. "Have no fear, my dear Nicolas, you will have money soon. Now, the reason I came to see you today is because I nee you to sign an order of release."
"An order of release? For whom?"
"A man named Seldon," Aramis replied. "He was imprisoned in tl Bastille ten years ago for writing some very unflattering poems about tl King. His mother wrote me a long letter begging me to help her son."
"Writing poems? Are you sure that is his only crime?" asked FouquetJ
"All right then," said Fouquet as he quickly wrote something on a pie< of paper. "Here you are."
Fouquet handed Aramis the sheet of paper and the Bishop folded it uj and put it in his pocket. "Thank you, Nicolas. I will see you at Vaux in few days."
"Yes, see you then, old friend," said Fouquet.
Aramis left Fouquet's office feeling quite pleased with himself; his plan as progressing smoothly, and it would be a matter of days before France aad a new king. Of course, Aramis had no intention of ever giving Fouquet 20 million francs; but Fouquet would never know that.
The Bishop made his way to the market, where he bought expensive nfts for the governor of the Bastille, with whom he was to have dinner that evening. Then, he gave the order of release to a royal messenger and instructed him to deliver it to the Bastille that night.
Aramis arrived at the Bastille at 7 o'clock and was shown into the governor's dining room by one of the guards. He found the governor [seated at a table and gasped when he saw the feast that had been prepared roast game, fried ham, potatoes, soup, and a leg of lamb - it was enough |food for an army.
"Aramis! Welcome!" said Baisemeaux as he stood up to shake the bishop's hand. "I'm so pleased that you finally accepted my invitation to come to dinner!"
"So am I!" said Aramis as he surveyed the food.
The Bishop sat down and the two men began to eat. They chatted cheerfully about France and the Bastille and, while the governor was fcelling Aramis a story about one of his prisoners, the Bishop secretly slipped a sleeping pill into his host's drink. The Bishop sat down and the two men began to eat. They chatted Cheerfully about France and the Bastille and, while the governor was jtelling Aramis a story about one of his prisoners, the Bishop secretly [slipped a sleeping pill into his host's drink.
At about 10 o'clock, a guard walked into the dining room and handed the governor a letter. Baisemeaux read the letter, then threw it on the table.
"Pah!" he said. "An order of release at this hour? I'm sure the prisoner can wait until tomorrow!"
"Who's it for?" asked Aramis.
"A prisoner named Seldon," said Baisemeaux.
Aramis looked at the piece of paper. "But it says 'Urgent' - perhaps you should release the prisoner now," he said.
"He's been here ten years, I'm sure he can wait another night!" said the governor.
"Baisemeaux," said Aramis, "I feel it is my duty as a priest to remind you that this man has suffered for many years. You have the power to end that suffering right now - use your power wisely."
Baisemeaux sighed. "Oh, all right," he said.
The governor turned around to call one of his guards and, as he did so, Aramis replaced the order on the table with one he had hidden in his pocket.
Baisemeaux turned around to face Aramis again. "But where will Seldon go at this time of night?" he asked. "He's not French and he doesn't know Paris at all."
"I have a carriage waiting for me outside," said Aramis. "I'll take him wherever he wishes to go."
Baisemeaux nodded. While the governor gave the guard his instructions, Aramis picked up the order of release.
"Wait a minute!" he exclaimed. "Did you say Seldon? This is an order of release for Marchiali!"
Baisemeaux frowned. "What? No, I'm sure it's for Seldon.
"See for yourself," said Aramis as he waved the order in front of Baisemeaux's face.
"That's strange..." the governor said between his teeth. "I must have misread it... I have to say I am feeling quite sleepy all of a sudden... Guard, take Marchiali to the Bishop's carriage."
Aramis smiled to himself. Half an hour later, the prisoner Marchiali was sitting in the carriage and the Bishop was saying goodbye to the governor.
"Thank you for dinner," said Aramis.
"My pleasure," said Baisemeauxwith a yawn. "Hope to see you again soon."
Aramis climbed into the carriage and ordered the driver to leave. They came to a halt twenty minutes later, in the middle of the forest of Senarl.
"Why are we stopping?" asked Philippe.
"Because we need to talk in private," Aramis replied. "Have you considered my proposition?"
"I have... But I am not sure that it is the right thing to do," said Philippe.
"Of course it is! You are royalty! You are entitled to the throne! Your brother is a selfish, spoiled man and the leader of a corrupt government. France needs a noble king, France needs you, Philippe! And you won't have to rule alone either - if you make me your prime minister, I will be there to guide you every step of the way..."
"And what will become of my brother?"
"He will go to jail."
"And how will I convince everyone that I am Louis?"
"I will help you. I've already written some notes describing Louis's habits," said Aramis.
Philippe sighed and looked out of the carriage window at the starry night sky.
"You are still not convinced?" said Aramis. "All right, I do not wish to force you into this. If you do not want to take your brother's place, I can arrange for you to go live on a farm far away from Paris. There you can enjoy the rest of your days in peace."
"I need some time to think about this," said Philippe. "Would you mind if I went for a walk?"
"Not at all. Just don't go too far," said Aramis.
The young man stepped out of the carriage and disappeared into the forest. When he returned a short while later, he said to Aramis: "I prayed and the answer came to me, Aramis. You are right, this is my destiny. I will take my brother's place."
"Sire!" said Aramis, his eyes shining with joy. "You will be a great king!"
He kissed Philippe's hand and then instructed the driver to take them to Vaux.
ARAMIS'S CARRIAGE PASSED THROUGH THE BEAUTIFUL GOLD GATES of Vaux early the next morning. Surrounded by parks, gardens and waterfalls, Vaux was indeed one of the most magnificent mansions in France and was almost as impressive as any royal palace. Aramis gave Philippe a disguise to wear and then led him to his room, where the young man was to remain hidden for the duration of the party. The house was full of servants rushing from one place to another. After a brief search, Aramis found Fouquet inspecting the food in the kitchen.
"Nicolas!" said Aramis with a broad smile.
"Oh, Aramis, hello!" said Fouquet.
"Everything looks wonderful, you've done a fine job!"
"Yes, well I hope the King has a good time tonight," said Fouquet. "I've planned a huge banquet which is to be followed by a ball and a fireworks display. Do you think the King will be pleased?"
"Oh, I'm sure he will!" said Aramis.
"Have you decided which room you'll be staying in?" asked Fouquet.
"Yes," Aramis replied. "I've chosen the Blue Room."
Fouquet looked surprised. "Why, that's the room above the King's room. You do know you'll have to be very quiet in there; we wouldn't want to disturb the King's sleep."
"No, of course not," said Aramis. "I'll be as quiet as a church mouse."
At around the same time, the King was making his way to Vaux. D'Artagnan was sitting in the King's carriage, discussing the party with him.
"D'Artagnan," said Louis. "You know I trust you more than anyone, so I'm going to ask your honest opinion about something."
"Of course, sire," said D'Artagnan.
"Do you think Fouquet has a secret motive for throwing this party?"
"I'm not sure, sire," D'Artagnan replied. "Why do you ask?"
"Well, Colbert keeps insisting that Fouquet has been stealing money from the State. Is this party an attempt to win my favour, perhaps?"
"I can't say for sure, sire," said D'Artagnan. "Does Colbert have any proof that Fouquet has been stealing?"
"He says he has some receipts he wants to show me tonight, after the party," Louis replied.
"I see," said D'Artagnan. "I didn't know that Fouquet had invited Colbert to the party."
"He didn't," the King replied. "I did."
D'Artagnan nodded. He did not tell the King that he had his suspicions too. He was not concerned about Fouquet's motives though, it was Aramis's behaviour that worried him. Aramis had become very involved in Fouquet's affairs recently, and it was his idea to hold the party at Vaux. D'Artagnan sensed that Aramis was up to something, but what?
At 6 o'clock in the evening, the trumpets sounded at Vaux, signalling the King's arrival. He was welcomed by Fouquet and Aramis, and then shown to the banquet room where he and all the royal guests were treated to several courses of delicious food. The guests drank out of sparkling silver cups, ate off shining gold plates and talked and laughed merrily; the King, however, didn't say a word to anyone.
In fact, Louis seemed to be getting angrier and angrier as the time passed. He was extremely jealous of Fouquet - the treasurer's house was filled with magnificent paintings and furniture which even he, the King of France did not possess. And where did Fouquet get the money to throw such an extravagant party? The King began to think that there was some truth to Colbert's accusations after all.
After dinner, the guests attended the grand ball and then watched the fireworks display in the park. At 11 o' clock, the King unwillingly thanked Fouquet for the party and made his way to his room. A short while later, Louis called Colbert to his chambers for an urgent meeting.
Aramis, meanwhile, had been watching the King the whole night and
when he saw him leave the party, he too went to his room. D'Artagnan, who had been watching Aramis, promptly followed the Bishop to the Blue
"Aramis!" D'Artagnan shouted, as the Bishop unlocked his bedroom
"D'Artagnan!" Aramis exclaimed. "Are you enjoying the party?"
"Yes, I am. Could I speak to you for a moment?"
"Of course, old friend, come in," said Aramis, hoping that Philippe was still hiding in the cupboard. Luckily, he was. "So, what do you think of Monsieur Fouquet? He's a gracious host isn't he?"
D'Artagnan nodded. "Gracious, yes. But the King thinks he's been stealing money and I think this party proves it. Why did you encourage Fouquet to have the party?"
"To impress the King," Aramis replied.
"But he's done the opposite. He's made the King angry and made
himself look guilty."
D'Artagnan stared at Aramis intently. "Aramis, you, Athos and Porthos are my friends and advisers. You taught me how to be a musketeer and I am forever indebted to you for that. But I suspect that you are not telling me the whole truth. Is something going on that I should know about? Is
the King in any danger?"
Aramis put a hand on D'Artagnan's shoulder. "D'Artagnan, I can assure you that nothing is going on. Now, if you'll excuse rue, I'm very tired and I'd like to get some sleep."
"Yes... Yes, of course," said D'Artagnan. "Good night, Aramis."
"Good night, D'Artagnan," said Aramis as he showed his friend out of the room and closed the door.
"Philippe!" Aramis called.
The cupboard door opened and the young man stepped out. "Your friend D'Artagnan is very clever," said Philippe.
"He is. And, unfortunately for us, he's probably the only one who will be able to tell you and your brother apart. Did you memorise the notes I
"Yes," Philippe answered.
"Good," said Aramis. Then, the Bishop kneeled down on the floor and removed one of the panels. Philippe gasped when he saw a hole in the floor. " "This will allow us to see into the King's room," Aramis whispered. "Be very quiet so that he doesn't hear us."
Philippe bent down and looked through the hole in Louis's ceiling.
"I see the King!" he said. "Colbert is with him and D'Artagnan has just arrived!"
"Can you understand what they're saying?"
Philippe pressed his ear to the floor and listened carefully.
"...And these receipts prove that Fouquet used State money to pay for this rather extravagant party," said Colbert.
The King examined the receipts carefully. "I was willing to give Fouquet the benefit of the doubt, until now, that is. D'Artagnan, I want you to arrest him immediately," said Louis.
D'Artagnan was shocked. "But, sire, it is not right to arrest a man in his own house. Especially after he has thrown a party in your honour."
"I can do whatever I wish, D'Artagnan," said Louis. "I am the King of France."
"Yes, sire, but I beg you to reconsider," D'Artagnan asked the King. "At least wait until morning. You will feel calmer and then you will be able to make the right decision."
The King thought for a moment. "Fine. Guard him tonight, and tomorrow I will tell you what I have decided to do."
"Yes, sire," said D'Artagnan. The Captain bowed and left the room, followed closely by Colbert.
Philippe told Aramis what he had heard and the Bishop was delighted. "Excellent! All you have to do now is wait for the King to fall asleep; then you can make your move... Porthos is waiting for me and I must go immediately."
Aramis placed a hand on Philippe's shoulder. "Good luck, sire," he said.
"Good luck to you, too," said the young man.
THE WEARY KING LAY DOWN ON HIS BED AND CLOSED HIS EYES. He was slowly falling asleep when he started to feel as if his bed was sinking into the floor. Suddenly, the room became ice cold; Louis opened his eyes and, to his great surprise, saw that he was in a damp, gloomy passageway.
"I must be dreaming," he murmured to himself.
"I'm afraid this is not a dream," said a voice.
Louis almost jumped out of his skin. In the darkness he saw two masked men standing before him.
"Who are you?" he exclaimed. "What do you want? Did Fouquet send you?"
"It doesn't matter who sent us," said one of the masked men. "All that matters is that you do exactly as we tell you."
"Is this some kind of joke?" said Louis. "I don't think it's very funny."
"It is not a joke," said the man.
"Well, what do you want?" asked the frightened King.
"You will soon find out," the man replied. "Now come with us."
The masked men led the King through a long, winding passageway. They walked for about twenty minutes, until they reached an enormous iron gate. The men pushed the gate open and the King saw that they were in the woods outside Vaux. He noticed a carriage waiting nearby and began to feel very uneasy.
"Where are you taking me?" he asked.
"Never mind, just get in," said one of the men.
The men forced the King into the carriage and it sped off into the night. A few hours later, the carriage arrived at the Bastille. One of the masked men stepped out of the carriage and told the guard to call the governor. A short while later, a very confused Baisemeaux appeared in the courtyard in his dressing gown.
"What's the matter?" he asked. "What's going on?"
The kidnapper removed his mask and greeted Baisemeaux quietly.
"Aramis!" said Baisemeaux. "What are you doing here?"
"I'm returning a prisoner," Aramis replied. "Remember that order of release that we thought was for Marchiali?"
"Well, it turns out that you were right - it was actually for Seldon. Look, I have it here."
Aramis removed the real order from his pocket and showed it to Baisemeaux.
"Oh, heavens! This is terrible!" said the governor.
"Don't worry," said Aramis. "I have Marchiali in the carriage."
"You do? Oh, thank goodness!" said Baisemeaux.
"Now, Baisemeaux," said Aramis, "I'm sure you've noticed that Marchiali closely resembles the King. . ."
"Yes, I have noticed that," the governor replied.
"Well Marchiali has been attempting to use that to his advantage. He's been telling everyone that he's Louis XIV of France. He's quite mad, actually."
"Good gracious!" said Baisemeaux. "All right, let's get him back to his cell."
The second masked man helped the prisoner out of the carriage and the governor and a guard accompanied him to his cell, while Aramis remained hidden in the shadows.
"Let me go!" Louis yelled. "I am the King of France! I don't belong here!"
The governor ignored the prisoner's pleas, and once the cell door had been securely locked, he returned to the courtyard where the Bishop was waiting for him.
"Baisemeaux, I don't think Marchiali should have any visitors; he's a dangerous man and should be kept in isolation," said Aramis.
"Yes, all right," said Baisemeaux.
"And don't forget to let Seldon out," said Aramis as he climbed into the carriage.
"I won't!" said Baisemeaux, waving goodbye to his friend.
"All right, Porthos," said Aramis. "You can take your mask off now."
Porthos removed his mask and smiled at Aramis. "That was a job well done!" he said.
"Indeed!" Aramis agreed. "Now, let's go back to Vaux."
Meanwhile, the King of France was struggling to adapt to his new environment. He looked around his jail cell and saw two rats fighting over a piece of dry bread. The sight of the rats made the King feel quite sick.
"I am a prisoner in the Bastille!" he cried. "How could this have happened?"
The King sat down on his hard, old mattress and buried his face in his hands. "Fouquet is behind this!" he said to himself. "And I'm sure I recognised Aramis's voice in the courtyard earlier. They are working together to destroy me!"
The King was suddenly furious. "Those traitors!" he cried as he picked up a wooden chair and smashed it against the bars of his cell.
Some prisoners shouted at him to be quiet; Louis had disturbed their sleep. The King listened to their angry voices and realised that he was the one who had put them in prison. Now, he was a prisoner too.
An hour later, a guard unlocked the jail cell and handed Louis a plate of food. He looked at the broken chair and shook his head in disapproval.
"Have you gone mad?" he asked. "You've always been so well-behaved."
Louis was confused. What did the guard mean by that? How could he have always been so well-behaved when he had never been here before?
"I want to see the governor," Louis demanded.
"That won't be possible," said the guard as he locked the cell door.
"But I really must see him!"
The guard walked away without a word, leaving Louis all alone, and very afraid, for the first time in his life.
d'artagnan was troubled by the king's decision to arrest Fouquet, but he was obliged to follow orders, so he decided to pay Fouquet a visit. The treasurer was just about to go to bed, when he heard a knock at the door.
"D'Artagnan!" said Fouquet when he opened his bedroom door. "How can I help you?"
"I've come to discuss a very serious matter with you," replied the Captain. "May I come in?"
"Of course," said Fouquet. "What's the problem?"
"Sir..." D'Artagnan began, "I'm not sure how to tell you this, but the King has asked me to place you under arrest."
Fouquet was shocked. "What?" he exclaimed. "But... Why?"
"I'm afraid Colbert gave the King receipts which prove that you stole money from the State... "
Fouquet sat down on the edge of his bed and buried his face in his hands. "I... I didn't steal the money... I borrowed it. Ask Aramis, he'll back me up."
D'Artagnan frowned. "Aramis? Did he tell you to 'borrow' the money?"
"No. He told me he'd give me the money to pay for the party. But he wasn't able to raise the money in time, so I borrowed money from the State. It was foolish, I know, but I had every intention of paying it back, I swear!"
"I see," said D'Artagnan. The Captain thought for a moment. Then he said:
"Monsieur Fouquet, I'm going to go to Aramis's room to confirm that what you have said is the truth. Please, don't leave your room until I come back"
"I promise I'll stay right here," said the treasurer.
D'Artagnan left Fouquet's room and walked quickly to the Blue Room. He knocked on the door several times, but there was no response. The Captain sighed and quickly returned to Fouquet's room.
"Did you speak to him?" asked the treasurer.
"He's not in his room. Either that or he's decided not to answer the door," said D'Artagnan.
"What?" said Fouquet. "Where can he be?"
D'Artagnan shrugged. "I don't know sir, but I'm afraid that I'll have to stand guard outside your room tonight and arrest you in the morning, once the King has given me the official order."
Fouquet nodded. "I understand," he murmured.
The treasurer looked so upset that D'Artagnan actually began to feel sorry for him.
"I'll be outside, sir," said D'Artagnan, as he made his way to the door.
In another part of the house, Philippe was lying in his brother's bed, trying to get some sleep. The new King had entered the room through a secret door in the ceiling which Aramis had installed when he was overseeing the renovations. Aramis had also designed the mechanism which allowed the bed to automatically move up once the King had been lowered into the underground passageway.
Philippe tossed and turned, but he couldn't fall asleep. He felt anxious about taking his brother's place and was terrified that someone would realise that he was an impostor.
"I am now face to face with my destiny," said Philippe to himself. "There's no turning back... I must be strong."
It was almost dawn by the time Aramis and Porthos returned to Vaux. Porthos immediately went to his room to get some sleep, while Aramis quietly let himself into the King's bedroom.
"Well, how did it go?" asked Philippe as he sat up in his bed.
"Just as we planned."
"Did he resist?"
"Did the governor suspect anything?"
"Not a thing."
"Good," said Philippe.
Suddenly, the two men heard footsteps in the corridor.
"That must be D'Artagnan," said Aramis. "He's coming to see you about
"What will I say?" asked Philippe.
"Let me take care of it," said the Bishop. "It is too soon for D'Artagnan to see you. He knows the King better than anyone and he might suspect something if he talks to you now."
A minute later, there was a knock at the door.
"Sire, it is I, D'Artagnan."
Philippe gave Aramis a worried look and the Bishop motioned to him to
be quiet. Then, he opened the door slowly.
"Aramis!" exclaimed D'Artagnan when he saw his friend. "What are you
"Good morning, D'Artagnan," said Aramis. "I'm afraid you won't be able to see the King now. His Majesty had trouble sleeping last night and is very tired. He has asked not to be disturbed."
D'Artagnan looked surprised. "But we had an appointment for this
"Yes," said Aramis as he handed D'Artagnan a piece of paper. "The King
has asked me to give you this order regarding Monsieur Fouquet."
D'Artagnan took the paper from Aramis and read it. "Set free?" he
exclaimed. "The King wants Fouquet to be set free?" "Apparently so," said the Bishop. "So that's why you're here," said D'Artagnan. "You persuaded the King to
pardon Fouquet, is that it?"
"It was entirely the King's decision," said Aramis. "Anyway, I'd like to
accompany you to Fouquet's room, to tell him the good news."
D'Artagnan looked at Aramis suspiciously. "All right," he said. "Let's go." The two men made their way to the treasurer's room, where Fouquet was
waiting anxiously to hear his fate.
FOUQUET FELT RELIEVED WHEN HE SAW ARAMIS STANDING NEXT TO D'Artagnan in the corridor. "Ah, D'Artagnan, I see you have found the Bishop," said the treasurer.
"Yes," replied D'Artagnan, "and I have good news. The King has ordered me to set you free."
Fouquet's eyes widened in surprise. "What? That's such wonderful news! Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
"No need to thank me," said D'Artagnan, "Aramis is the one who persuaded the King to pardon you."
"Oh, my lord Bishop! I am forever in your debt!" said Fouquet. Aramis smiled and bowed his head slightly. He then turned to D'Artagnan and said: "If you don't mind D'Artagnan, there's something I need to discuss with Monsieur Fouquet in private."
D'Artagnan nodded. "Fine," he said. "I'll be in my room." The Captain walked away quickly and Aramis entered Fouquet's room. He closed the door and Fouquet invited him to sit down.
"So what did you say to the King to make him change his mind?" asked
"Nicolas," Aramis began, "the King believed that you were guilty of stealing money from the State. Do you really think that anything I had to say would make him change his mind about arresting you?"
"I don't understand..." said Fouquet. "You said that the King pardoned me..."
"The King did pardon you," said Aramis.
"But you still haven't told me why," said Fouquet.
Aramis stood up and walked over to the window. "I will have to start at the beginning," he said. "Do you remember the birth of Louis XIV?"
"Yes, like it was yesterday."
"Well, there is a secret surrounding the birth of the King that very few people know," Aramis continued.
"What secret?" asked Fouquet.
"On the day that the King was born, the Queen gave birth to not one son, but two. Identical twins, to be precise.
"Identical twins?" exclaimed Fouquet. "What happened to the other prince? Did he die?"
"No, the other prince is very much alive," Aramis replied. "You see, the King was worried that having two heirs to the throne would lead to civil war. So, one of the princes was sent to live in the country with his tutor and a nanny. Later on, he was imprisoned in the Bastille and given a false name, Marchiali. His only crime was that he was the King's identical twin."
Fouquet was in horror. "But that is terrible! How could the Queen allow something like that?"
Aramis shrugged. "She felt it was better to send one son to jail than risk someone discovering the secret."
"But how do you know all this?" asked Fouquet.
"I have been the Queen Mother's close friend and adviser for years," said Aramis.
"And the King? Does the King know about his brother?" asked Fouquet.
"No," Aramis replied. "He doesn't know a thing. And the worst part is that the poor young man in the Bastille is much nobler and wiser than his brother, Louis, will ever be."
Aramis paused for a moment. "A great injustice has been done, Nicolas, and it is our duty to set things right. Don't you agree?"
"Well, yes... but what can we do?"
"I have already taken the matter into my own hands," said Aramis mysteriously.
"What did you do?" asked Fouquet.
"Last night, Porthos and I switched the two brothers: Louis is now a prisoner in the Bastille, and his brother Philippe is asleep in the King's room as we speak."
Fouquet was shocked to hear this and his face turned white. "What?" he shouted. "You kidnapped the King and took him to the Bastille and all this happened under my roof?"
Aramis looked surprised. "Well, yes. Now France has a true and noble king and you no longer have to go to jail."
Fouquet looked stunned. "Have you gone mad?" he exclaimed. "You have dishonoured me, Aramis! You have just committed treason in my house!"
"But I did it for France and for you, Nicolas..." said Aramis.
"You have committed a terrible crime, Aramis. I realise you were trying to help me, but that does not excuse your behaviour. You must leave this house immediately, and take Porthos with you!"
Aramis was shocked. "What? What are you saying, Nicolas?"
"You have been a good friend to me, Aramis, so I will give you four hours before I tell the King what you've done. Four hours is enough time to travel to Belle Isle -1 have a house on the island. You can hide there."
The Bishop could hardly believe his ears. "Don't you see that France is better off now, Nicolas? Don't you see that you are better off now?"
Fouquet's cheeks burned with anger. "I am going to the Bastille to rescue the King. I expect you to be gone when I get back," he said coldly.
Fouquet rushed out of the room, while Aramis stood there speechless. His plan had gone horribly wrong. Now he and Porthos were both in grave danger. The Bishop ran to Porthos's room and woke him up. He explained what had happened with Fouquet, and told him that they had to leave immediately. Within minutes, the two men were galloping away from
Vaux, while D'Artagnan watched from his bedroom window.
"Strange," he murmured to himself. "They look like they're running away from something. What on earth is going on?"
Meanwhile, Fouquet was making his way to the Bastille. He arrived at the prison in record time and demanded to see the prisoner that the Bishop had brought in earlier. The governor was puzzled. "But Aramis said that Marchiali was not to have any visitors..." said Baisemeaux.
"Never mind what Aramis said!" said Fouquet. "I am in charge of Marchiali now. Take me to him!"
The governor led Fouquet to Louis's cell, where the prisoner was shouting and banging on the iron bars.
"Help! Help!" he cried. "I am the King of France, let me out! Fouquet put me in here, help me, please!"
The governor opened the cell door and a moment later Fouquet and the King were face to face with each other.
"You!" exclaimed the King. "You traitor!"
“Get away from me!" yelled the King, as he grabbed a piece of wood to defend himself against Fouquet. "Sire, please, I am your friend and loyal servant," said the treasurer, "I only want what's good for you."
"Liar!" shouted the King. "You're the one who put me here!"
"No, no!" Fouquet protested. "I had nothing to do with this! It was Aramis! He did it all!"
"Aramis, eh? I knew he was involved somehow!" said the King.
"Sire, I have something very important to tell you," Fouquet continued. "This may come as a great shock to you, but I have just found out that you have a twin brother named Philippe who has spent the past few years in this exact jail cell. Aramis and Porthos switched you with your brother and he has taken your place as the King!"
The King narrowed his eyes and glared at Fouquet. "What are you talking about? I don't have a brother!"
"Sire, according to Aramis, you do. And he is your identical twin!" said Fouquet.
"And where is this supposed brother of mine?" asked the King.
"He's at Vaux, sire," replied the treasurer.
"Erm, no..." said Fouquet. "Sire, Aramis has been a good friend to me for many years and even though he has committed this terrible crime against you, I felt the need to protect him... So I told him to leave Vaux with Porthos and seek refuge at my house on Belle Isle, just off the coast of France. Your soldiers have no authority to arrest anyone there, sire."
"We'll see about that!" said the King. "Anyway, I'll deal with Aramis and Porthos later. Right now, I must return to Vaux."
"Yes, sire!" said Fouquet. "But perhaps we should stop at the palace on the way, so that you can change your clothes."
"Good idea," said the King. "Now get me out of here!" "Baisemeaux!" shouted Fouquet. A moment later, the two men heard heavy footsteps and the governor appeared.
"I want this prisoner released immediately," said the treasurer.
Baisemeaux shook his head. "I cannot release this man to you unless I have an order signed by the King."
"Fine," said Fouquet impatiently. The treasurer handed the King a piece of paper and the governor watched as he wrote a few lines on it.
The King handed the paper to Baisemeaux and he and Fouquet hurried
past him and out of the jail.
"But..." said Baisemeaux as he unfolded the paper. It was an order of release, and it was signed "Louis XIV of France". The governor gasped. "Louis XIV of France? It couldn't be? Could it?" he asked himself.
In the meantime, the new King was preparing to appear in public for the first time in one of the reception rooms at Vaux. It did not take Philippe long to learn all his brother's habits, and no one suspected a thing when he entered the room and smiled at the sea of unfamiliar faces.
Noblemen and ministers bowed before him as Philippe nervously made his way to the throne.
A moment later, Philippe's mother entered the room and sat down next to her son. Philippe almost gasped when he saw her. She looked old and weak, and although she was responsible for his many years of suffering, he could not help but feel happy to see her again.
"Well, my son," said the Queen Mother, "have you decided what you will do with Monsieur Fouquet?"
"I am not worried about Fouquet, Mother," Philippe replied. "He is not a bad man. I am more concerned about truly dishonest people, like Madame de Chevreuse, for example."
"Madame de Chevreuse!" exclaimed the Queen Mother. "Why do you mention her?"
"Aramis said that she paid you a visit the other day," Philippe replied. "He also said that she asked you for money to keep a terrible secret..."
The Queen Mother's face turned pale. "Secret? What are you talking about, my son?"
"Never mind," said Philippe. "That is a matter which we will discuss another time."
Philippe turned to call D'Artagnan.
"Good morning, sire," said the Captain.
"Good morning," said Philippe. "I was wondering, D'Artagnan, do you know where Aramis is? I've been looking for him the whole morning."
"He's gone, your Majesty," D'Artagnan replied. "He left early this morning with Porthos. I don't know where they went."
Philippe was horrified. "Gone? What do you mean, gone?"
Just then, there was a big fuss in the corridor.
"What's all that noise?" asked Philippe.
"I think I hear Fouquet's voice," said D'Artagnan.
"Good," said Philippe. "Then Aramis cannot be far behind."
But Philippe couldn't have been more wrong. The doors burst open and in came Louis XIV, followed closely by Fouquet.
The entire court gasped in surprise. The Queen Mother screamed when she saw both her sons in the same room, and Philippe's face turned as white as a sheet. D'Artagnan stood to one side, shaking his head in disbelief.
Then, Louis walked slowly towards his brother and carefully examined
his face. Philippe began to tremble and he grasped the arms of the throne nervously.
Louis turned to look at his mother. "Mother! Tell them that I am Louis, King of France!"
"No!" said Philippe. "I am Louis, King of France!"
The Queen Mother began to cry hysterically, and Louis turned to D'Artagnan.
"Captain!" he said. "Look at both our faces. One of us has been in jail for the past few years and is much paler than the other. Can you tell who the impostor is?"
Without hesitation, D'Artagnan walked up to Philippe and placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Monsieur," he said, "you are my prisoner."
Once again, the court gasped.
Philippe turned to face his mother. "If I were not your son, I would have cursed you for all the unhappiness you have caused me," he said.
The Queen Mother cried out and Madame de Motteville rushed to her aid. D'Artagnan was just about to take his prisoner away, when Fouquet handed him a note signed by the King.
"What does it say?" asked Philippe.
"Read it," said D'Artagnan.
Philippe read the note. It said:
Monsieur D'Artagnan will take the impostor to a prison on the island of Sainte Marguerite. The prisoner will be made to wear an iron mask to bide bis face. If he dares remove the mask, he will be killed.
"It is the right thing to do," said Philippe with a sigh. "I committed a crime and I must pay for it. I am ready to go now, Monsieur D'Artagnan."
"Aramis was right," Fouquet whispered to D'Artagnan. "He is nobler than his brother."
"Indeed," replied D'Artagnan as he accompanied his prisoner out of the room.
ARAMIS AND PORTHOS DID NOT TRAVEL TO BELLE ISLE immediately. They decided to pay a visit to Athos first, to say goodbye to him. The two men arrived at Athos's house in the country later that evening. Of course, Athos was delighted to see his old friends again and he invited them in for supper.
"So gentlemen," said Athos as they sat down at the dinner table. "What brings you both here tonight?"
Aramis explained the story to Athos while they ate, pausing only to take bites of the delicious meal Athos had prepared.
"Well, that wasn't exactly the outcome you were hoping for," said Athos once Aramis had finished talking. "It was a great idea, Aramis, but also a great mistake. What will you do now?"
"We are going to go to Fouquet's house on Belle Isle," Aramis replied. "The King's soldiers are not permitted to set foot on the island, so we should be safe there for a while. Then, we will make our way to Spain."
Athos nodded. "I suppose that's your only option. But I am sad to see you go; I fear that we may never see each other again."
"You may be right," said Aramis with a sigh.
"Remember, my friends," said Athos, "the King is a cunning man. You say that he is not legally permitted to send troops to Belle Isle, but the law has never stopped him before. Will you leave in the morning?"
"No," Porthos replied. "I think we should leave as soon as we've eaten."
"All right," said Athos. "I'll give you two of my best horses and some provisions. If you leave soon, you can be at the harbour by dawn. I have a friend named Grimaud who owns a small fishing boat. I'll arrange for him to take you to Belle Isle."
"Thank you, Athos," said Aramis.
"All for one and one for all!" said Porthos, raising his glass. "Just like the old days!"
The following morning, while Aramis and Porthos were settling in at Fouquet's house on Belle Isle, the King summoned D'Artagnan to his chambers.
"So, D'Artagnan, you are no doubt aware that your friends, Aramis and Porthos, were responsible for putting me in prison?" "Yes, sire," said D'Artagnan.
"And I'm sure you've heard that they plan to take refuge at Belle Isle?" "Yes, sire."
"Well, I want you to go to Belle Isle to capture them."
"But, sire," said D'Artagnan, "we are not allowed to go to Belle Isle, the treaty you signed..."
"I don't care about treaties!" the King interrupted. "Aramis and Porthos committed treason, and it is your duty to bring them back dead or alive, understand?"
D'Artagnan sighed deeply. "Yes sire, of course."
The Captain left the King's chambers with a heavy heart. He didn't know whether he should be loyal to his friends or to the King. But, D'Artagnan had to follow orders, and a couple of hours later, he and a group of officers set sail for Belle Isle.
They arrived on the island at lunchtime, and D'Artagnan and a fellow officer disembarked and made their way to Fouquet's residence on foot. Aramis and Porthos had seen the ship arrive from one of the balconies, so they were not surprised to see their friend standing at the front door.
"D'Artagnan!" said Aramis. "It is good to see you, even under these circumstances."
"Gentlemen," said D'Artagnan. "This is a very difficult situation for all of us. I'm here to convince you to surrender; otherwise we have been instructed to take you back by force."
"We will never surrender," said Aramis. "And by sending you here, the King is breaking the treaty he signed with the people of Belle Isle."
D'Artagnan felt his cheeks burn with anger. "Don't be so stubborn, Aramis! Don't you see I'm trying to save your lives?"
"So that we can live out the rest of our days in the Bastille? No thank you!" said Aramis.
D'Artagnan turned to the officer who had accompanied him to the house and instructed him to wait outside. The officer nodded and did as he was told.
"I knew you would never surrender," said D'Artagnan. "What's your plan, Aramis?"
"Well, some of the locals have agreed to help us. They've hidden a boat in a nearby cave; our plan was to set sail for Spain this afternoon...
"But we might have to come up with a new plan now," said Porthos.
D'Artagnan thought for a moment. "Right. I have an idea that might give you enough time to get away..."
D'Artagnan lowered his voice and explained his plan to his friends. Then, he wished them well and left.
"But, what about the prisoners?" said the officer when D'Artagnan reappeared alone.
"We'll come back for them. Let's go to the ship," D'Artagnan replied.
Once they were back on board, D'Artagnan called a meeting with his fellow officers.
"Gentlemen," D'Artagnan began, "I tried to negotiate with Aramis and Porthos, but the negotiations failed. So, I have decided that I can no longer be the leader of this mission. I am therefore resigning my position as Captain of the Musketeers."
The officers gasped in amazement and D'Artagnan felt quite pleased with himself. He knew that the mission to capture Aramis and Porthos could not go ahead without a captain and he knew that they would have to return to France to appoint a new leader. In the meantime, Aramis and Porthos would have enough time to escape from Belle Isle.
But D'Artagnan had underestimated the King. A moment later, one of the officers showed D'Artagnan an order which read as follows:
If D'Artagnan resigns his position as Captain of the Musketeers, he is to be treated as a prisoner and must be returned to France immediately with the officer who presented the order to him.
D'Artagnan's face turned pale. The officer escorted him to a small boat which had been lowered into the sea. Then, the two men set sail. In the distance, D'Artagnan could hear the sound of gunfire - the King's soldiers were attacking Belle Isle. Aramis and Porthos had no hope of escape now.
W hat was that?" asked Porthos, as he rushed out to join Aramis who was standing on the balcony. "Gunfire!" Aramis cried. "The soldiers are coming for us!"
"But what about D'Artagnan's plan?"
"It must have failed. Quick Porthos, we have to go to the cave immediately!"
The two men raced down the stairs of Fouquet's house and dashed out the front door. They ran along the beachfront in the direction of the Locmaria cave, where two locals, Yves and Goenne, had hidden the boat that would take them to safety.
Suddenly, Aramis heard Porthos cry out in pain. He turned around and, to his horror, saw his friend stumble and fall onto the soft sand.
"Porthos!" cried Aramis.
"I've been shot!" said Porthos. "Aramis, run for your life!"
"No!" said Aramis. "I won't leave you here!"
In the distance, the Bishop could see a group of soldiers racing towards them.
"The soldiers are chasing us!" Aramis shouted to the young men who were waiting for them.
Yves helped Aramis carry Porthos towards the cave, while Goenne pulled out his gun and started shooting at the soldiers.
"You don't have much time!" shouted Goenne.
Aramis and Yves laid Porthos on the ground and examined the bullet wound in his back.
"It's bad," said Yves. "You won't be able to take him with you."
Aramis's eyes filled with tears. "Oh, Porthos!" he exclaimed. "I'm so sorry! I wish I'd never involved you in all of this!"
"Aramis," Porthos said. "You must go, you must save yourself."
"Go!" whispered Porthos.
"He's right," said Yves. "They'll shoot you too if you stay." Yves helped the reluctant Aramis into the boat and pushed it out to sea.
"Good luck!" he shouted as the Bishop lifted up the sail and waited for the winds to carry him to Spain.
But it was not to be. Aramis had been sailing for an hour when he saw the King's ship following him in the distance. Soon, the ship caught up with him and the soldiers opened fire. The Bishop had no choice but to surrender. He waved a white cloth in the air and waited for the soldiers to arrest him.
Meanwhile, D'Artagnan had arrived in Paris where the King summoned him to his chambers once again.
"D'Artagnan, you ignored my orders in an attempt to save your friends," said the King.
D'Artagnan glared at the King angrily, but said nothing.
"Even though you disobeyed me," the King continued, "I have decided to give you a second chance. You have always been my most loyal servant and I want you to remain Captain of the Musketeers."
"Thank you, sire," said D'Artagnan. "But what about Aramis and Porthos? What happened to them?"
The King sighed. "Porthos was killed on Belle Isle. Aramis surrendered and is being taken to the Bastille as we speak. He is scheduled to be hanged in three days' time."
D'Artagnan gasped in horror. "No!" he cried. "Porthos dead... Aramis hanged? Please, sire, I beg you, please let him live! He is a good man and he was an outstanding musketeer! He has been a friend and au»iser to the royal family for years!"
"And he committed treason," said the King. "I'm afraid I cannot pardon that."
"But sire," said D'Artagnan, falling to his knees in front of the King. "I beg you, please!"
"My mind is made up, D'Artagnan," said the King.
D'Artagnan stood up and left the King's chambers without a word. Aramis was going to be hanged and there was nothing he could do to save his friend.
In the meantime, Aramis had arrived at the Bastille, where Baisemeaux was waiting to receive him.
"Old friend," he said to the Bishop as he locked him in his cell. "It pains me to do this to you."
"It pains me even more!" said Aramis.
The Bishop sat down on a wooden chair and sighed. He deeply regretted everything that had happened and was particularly saddened by the death of Porthos. All he could do now was accept his fate with dignity.
On the evening before Aramis's execution, a priest wearing a cloak which covered his face, came to the Bastille to listen to Aramis's confession. The priest's voice was rough and low, but Aramis was sure it sounded familiar. Once Aramis had confessed, the priest handed him a Bible.
"The solution to your problem is in here," said the priest.
Aramis thanked him for the Bible and the priest left in a hurry. The Bishop decided to read a few pages from the Bible before he went to sleep, so he lit a candle and settled down on the bed. When he opened the book, he gasped in surprise. There was a key inside the book - a key to his jail
Aramis jumped off the bed and danced around his cell with joy.
"D'Artagnan!" he whispered to himself. "I knew it was you!"
Aramis waited until he was sure the other prisoners were asleep. Then, he quietly unlocked his cell and carefully walked down the dark passageway. He was familiar with the guards' routes, so he knew that he had a few minutes to make his escape. By the time Aramis reached the courtyard, the guards outside had fallen asleep, and no one saw him climb over the gates and disappear into the surrounding forest. Moments later, Aramis saw a horse tied to a tree.
"He thought of everything!" Aramis exclaimed. He mounted the horse and found a note attached to the saddle. The note read:
It was the night thing to do. All for one and one and for all! Good luck, old fried!
Aramis smiled and put the letter into his pocket. Then, he galloped away from the Bastille as quickly as he could. The former musketeer knew exactly where he was going: to the island of Sainte Marguerite to free the man in the iron mask; a man whose only crime was that brother of the King. It was, after all, the right thing to do.
Web site to visit: http://www.bsip.miastorybnik.pl/
Author of the text: indicated on the source document of the above text
If you are the author of the text above and you not agree to share your knowledge for teaching, research, scholarship (for fair use as indicated in the United States copyrigh low) please send us an e-mail and we will remove your text quickly. Fair use is a limitation and exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the author of a creative work. In United States copyright law, fair use is a doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. Examples of fair use include commentary, search engines, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship. It provides for the legal, unlicensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another author's work under a four-factor balancing test. (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use)
The information of medicine and health contained in the site are of a general nature and purpose which is purely informative and for this reason may not replace in any case, the council of a doctor or a qualified entity legally to the profession.
The texts are the property of their respective authors and we thank them for giving us the opportunity to share for free to students, teachers and users of the Web their texts will used only for illustrative educational and scientific purposes only.
All the information in our site are given for nonprofit educational purposes