Alexandre Dumas: The Man in the Iron Mask

61. Epilogue. (continued)

"Enough!" said D'Artagnan, pensively, and with a view of cutting short the conversation.

"Yes," said the keeper of the harriers, drawing towards them, "M. Fouquet is now at Pignerol; he has richly deserved it. He had the good fortune to be conducted there by you; he robbed the king sufficiently."

D'Artagnan launched at the master of the dogs one of his crossest looks, and said to him, "Monsieur, if any one told me you had eaten your dogs' meat, not only would I refuse to believe it; but still more, if you were condemned to the lash or to jail for it, I should pity you and would not allow people to speak ill of you. And yet, monsieur, honest man as you may be, I assure you that you are not more so than poor M. Fouquet was."

After having undergone this sharp rebuke, the keeper of the harriers hung his head, and allowed the falconer to get two steps in advance of him nearer to D'Artagnan.

"He is content," said the falconer, in a low voice, to the musketeer; "we all know that harriers are in fashion nowadays; if he were a falconer he would not talk in that way."

D'Artagnan smiled in a melancholy manner at seeing this great political question resolved by the discontent of such humble interest. He for a moment ran over in his mind the glorious existence of the surintendant, the crumbling of his fortunes, and the melancholy death that awaited him; and to conclude, "Did M. Fouquet love falconry?" said he.

"Oh, passionately, monsieur!" repeated the falconer, with an accent of bitter regret and a sigh that was the funeral oration of Fouquet.

D'Artagnan allowed the ill-humor of the one and the regret of the other to pass, and continued to advance. They could already catch glimpses of the huntsmen at the issue of the wood, the feathers of the outriders passing like shooting stars across the clearings, and the white horses skirting the bosky thickets looking like illuminated apparitions.

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