Alexandre Dumas: The Man in the Iron Mask

Chapter 44: Result of the Ideas of the King, and the Ideas of D'Artagnan. (continued)

And he painfully subsided into the little boat, which started, favored by wind and tide, for the coast of France. The king's guards embarked with him. The musketeer still preserved the hope of reaching Nantes quickly, and of pleading the cause of his friends eloquently enough to incline the king to mercy. The bark flew like a swallow. D'Artagnan distinctly saw the land of France profiled in black against the white clouds of night.

"Ah! monsieur," said he, in a low voice, to the officer to whom, for an hour, he had ceased speaking, "what would I give to know the instructions for the new commander! They are all pacific, are they not? and - "

He did not finish; the thunder of a distant cannon rolled athwart the waves, another, and two or three still louder. D'Artagnan shuddered.

"They have commenced the siege of Belle-Isle," replied the officer. The canoe had just touched the soil of France.

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