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Chapter 39: How the King, Louis XIV., Played His Little Part.
As Fouquet was alighting from his carriage, to enter the castle of Nantes, a man of mean appearance went up to him with marks of the greatest respect, and gave him a letter. D'Artagnan endeavored to prevent this man from speaking to Fouquet, and pushed him away, but the message had been given to the surintendant. Fouquet opened the letter and read it, and instantly a vague terror, which D'Artagnan did not fail to penetrate, was painted on the countenance of the first minister. Fouquet put the paper into the portfolio which he had under his arm, and passed on towards the king's apartments. D'Artagnan, through the small windows made at every landing of the donjon stairs, saw, as he went up behind Fouquet, the man who had delivered the note, looking round him on the place and making signs to several persons, who disappeared in the adjacent streets, after having themselves repeated the signals. Fouquet was made to wait for a moment on the terrace of which we have spoken, - a terrace which abutted on the little corridor, at the end of which the cabinet of the king was located. Here D'Artagnan passed on before the surintendant, whom, till that time, he had respectfully accompanied, and entered the royal cabinet.
"Well?" asked Louis XIV., who, on perceiving him, threw on to the table covered with papers a large green cloth.
"The order is executed, sire."
"Monsieur le surintendant follows me," said D'Artagnan.
"In ten minutes let him be introduced," said the king, dismissing D'Artagnan again with a gesture. The latter retired; but had scarcely reached the corridor at the extremity of which Fouquet was waiting for him, when he was recalled by the king's bell.
"Did he not appear astonished?" asked the king.
"Fouquet," replied the king, without saying monsieur, a peculiarity which confirmed the captain of the musketeers in his suspicions.
"No, sire," replied he.
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