Alexandre Dumas: The Man in the Iron Mask

Chapter 52: M. de Gesvres's Round.

D'Artagnan was little used to resistance like that he had just experienced. He returned, profoundly irritated, to Nantes. Irritation, with this vigorous man, usually vented itself in impetuous attack, which few people, hitherto, were they king, were they giants, had been able to resist. Trembling with rage, he went straight to the castle, and asked an audience with the king. It might be about seven o'clock in the morning, and, since his arrival at Nantes, the king had been an early riser. But on arriving at the corridor with which we are acquainted, D'Artagnan found M. de Gesvres, who stopped him politely, telling him not to speak too loud and disturb the king. "Is the king asleep?" said D'Artagnan. "Well, I will let him sleep. But about what o'clock do you suppose he will rise?"

"Oh! in about two hours; his majesty has been up all night."

D'Artagnan took his hat again, bowed to M. de Gesvres, and returned to his own apartments. He came back at half-past nine, and was told that the king was at breakfast. "That will just suit me," said D'Artagnan. "I will talk to the king while he is eating."

M. de Brienne reminded D'Artagnan that the king would not see any one at meal-time.

"But," said D'Artagnan, looking askant at Brienne, "you do not know, perhaps, monsieur, that I have the privilege of entree anywhere - and at any hour."

Brienne took the captain's hand kindly, and said, "Not at Nantes, dear Monsieur d'Artagnan. The king, in this journey, has changed everything."

D'Artagnan, a little softened, asked about what o'clock the king would have finished his breakfast.

"We don't know."

"Eh? - don't know! What does that mean? You don't know how much time the king devotes to eating? It is generally an hour; and, if we admit that the air of the Loire gives an additional appetite, we will extend it to an hour and a half; that is enough, I think. I will wait where I am."

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