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List Of Contents | Contents of Louise de la Valliere, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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"Of Jesuits?"

"Yes.  The general - I mean the Franciscan - was sent to me; and, for the
purpose of conforming with the requisitions of the statues of the order,
and of entitling me to the pension, I was reputed to be in a position to
render certain services.  You are aware that that is the rule?"

"No, I did not know it," said Aramis.

Madame de Chevreuse paused to look at Aramis, but it was perfectly dark.
"Well, such is the rule, however," she resumed.  "I had, therefore, to
appear to possess a power of usefulness of some kind or other, and I
proposed to travel for the order, and I was placed on the list of
affiliated travelers.  You understand it was a formality, by means of
which I received my pension, which was very convenient for me."

"Good heavens! duchesse, what you tell me is like a dagger-thrust.  _You_
obliged to receive a pension from the Jesuits?"

"No, chevalier! from Spain."

"Except for a conscientious scruple, duchesse, you will admit that it is
pretty nearly the same thing."

"No, not at all."

"But surely of your magnificent fortune there must remain - "

"Dampierre is all that remains."

"And that is handsome enough."

"Yes; but Dampierre is burdened, mortgaged, and almost fallen to ruin,
like its owner."

"And can the queen-mother know and see all that, without shedding a
tear?" said Aramis, with a penetrating look, which encountered nothing
but darkness.

"Yes.  She has forgotten everything."

"You, I believe, attempted to get restored to favor?"

"Yes; but, most singularly, the young king inherits the antipathy his
dear father had for me.  You will, perhaps, tell me that I am indeed a
woman to be hated, and that I am no longer one who can be loved."

"Dear duchesse, pray come quickly to the cause that brought you here; for
I think we can be of service to each other."

"Such has been my own thought.  I came to Fontainebleau with a double
object in view.  In the first place, I was summoned there by the
Franciscan whom you knew.  By the by, how did you know him? - for I have
told you my story, and have not yet heard yours."

"I knew him in a very natural way, duchesse.  I studied theology with him
at Parma.  We became fast friends; and it happened, from time to time,
that business, or travel, or war, separated us from each other."

"You were, of course, aware that he was the general of the Jesuits?"

"I suspected it."

"But by what extraordinary chance did it happen that you were at the
hotel when the affiliated travelers met together?"

"Oh!" said Aramis, in a calm voice, "it was the merest chance in the
world.  I was going to Fontainebleau to see M. Fouquet, for the purpose
of obtaining an audience of the king.  I was passing by, unknown; I saw
the poor dying monk in the road, and recognized him immediately.  You
know the rest - he died in my arms."

"Yes; but bequeathing to you so vast a power that you issue your
sovereign orders and directions like a monarch."

"He certainly did leave me a few commissions to settle."

"And what for me?"

"I have told you - a sum of twelve thousand livres was to be paid to
you.  I thought I had given you the necessary signature to enable you to
receive it.  Did you not get the money?"

"Oh! yes, yes.  You give your orders, I am informed, with so much
mystery, and such a majestic presence, that it is generally believed you
are the successor of the defunct chief."

Aramis colored impatiently, and the duchesse continued: "I have obtained
my information," she said, "from the king of Spain himself; and he
cleared up some of my doubts on the point.  Every general of the Jesuits
is nominated by him, and must be a Spaniard, according to the statutes of
the order.  You are not a Spaniard, nor have you been nominated by the
king of Spain."

Aramis did not reply to this remark, except to say, "You see, duchesse,
how greatly you were mistaken, since the king of Spain told you that."

"Yes, my dear Aramis; but there was something else which I have been
thinking of."

"What is that?"

"You know, I believe, something about most things, and it occurred to me
that you know the Spanish language."

"Every Frenchman who has been actively engaged in the Fronde knows
Spanish."

"You have lived in Flanders?"

"Three years."

"And have stayed at Madrid?"

"Fifteen months."

"You are in a position, then, to become a naturalized Spaniard, when you
like."

"Really?" said Aramis, with a frankness which deceived the duchesse.

"Undoubtedly.  Two years' residence and an acquaintance with the language
are indispensable.  You have upwards of four years - more than double the
time necessary."

"What are you driving at, duchesse?"

"At this - I am on good terms with the king of Spain."

"And I am not on bad terms," thought Aramis to himself.

"Shall I ask the king," continued the duchesse, "to confer the succession
to the Franciscan's post upon you?"

"Oh, duchesse!"

"You have it already, perhaps?" she said.

"No, upon my honor."

"Very well, then, I can render you that service."

"Why did you not render the same service to M. de Laicques, duchesse?  He
is a very talented man, and one you love, besides."

"Yes, no doubt; but, at all events, putting Laicques aside, will you have
it?"

"No, I thank you, duchesse."

She paused.  "He is nominated," she thought; and then resumed aloud, "If
you refuse me in this manner, it is not very encouraging for me,
supposing I should have something to ask of you."

"Oh! ask, pray, ask."

"Ask!  I cannot do so, if you have not the power to grant what I want."

"However limited my power and ability, ask all the same."

"I need a sum of money, to restore Dampierre."

"Ah!" replied Aramis, coldly - "money?  Well, duchesse, how much would
you require?"

"Oh! a tolerably round sum."

"So much the worse - you know I am not rich."

"No, no; but the order is - and if you had been the general - "

"You know I am not the general, I think."

"In that case, you have a friend who must be very wealthy - M. Fouquet."

"M. Fouquet!  He is more than half ruined, madame."

"So it is said, but I did not believe it."

"Why, duchesse?"

"Because I have, or rather Laicques has, certain letters in his
possession from Cardinal Mazarin, which establish the existence of very
strange accounts."

"What accounts?"

"Relative to various sums of money borrowed and disposed of.  I cannot
very distinctly remember what they are; but they establish the fact that
the superintendent, according to these letters, which are signed by
Mazarin, had taken thirteen millions of francs from the coffers of the
state.  The case is a very serious one."

Aramis clenched his hands in anxiety and apprehension.  "Is it possible,"
he said, "that you have such letters as you speak of, and have not
communicated them to M. Fouquet?"

"Ah!" replied the duchesse, "I keep such trifling matters as these in
reserve.  The day may come when they will be of service; and they can be
withdrawn from the safe custody in which they now remain."

"And that day has arrived?" said Aramis.

"Yes."

"And you are going to show those letters to M. Fouquet?"

"I prefer to talk about them with you, instead."

"You must be in sad want of money, my poor friend, to think of such
things as these - you, too, who held M. de Mazarin's prose effusions in
such indifferent esteem."

"The fact is, I am in want of money."

"And then," continued Aramis, in cold accents, "it must have been very
distressing to you to be obliged to have recourse to such a means.  It is
cruel."

"Oh! if had wished to do harm instead of good," said Madame de Chevreuse,
"instead of asking the general of the order, or M. Fouquet, for the five
hundred thousand francs I require, I - "

"_Five hundred thousand francs!_"

"Yes; no more.  Do you think it much?  I require at least as much as that
to restore Dampierre."

"Yes, madame."

"I say, therefore, that instead of asking for this amount, I should have
gone to see my old friend the queen-mother; the letters from her husband,
Signor Mazarini, would have served me as an introduction, and I should
have begged this mere trifle of her, saying to her, 'I wish, madame, to
have the honor of receiving you at Dampierre.  Permit me to put Dampierre
in a fit state for that purpose.'"

Aramis did not return a single word.  "Well," she said, "what are you
thinking about?"

"I am making certain additions," said Aramis.

"And M. Fouquet subtractions.  I, on the other hand, am trying my hand at
the art of multiplication.  What excellent calculators we all three are!
How well we might understand one another!"

"Will you allow me to reflect?" said Aramis.

"No, for with such an opening between people like ourselves, 'yes' or
'no' is the only answer, and that an immediate one."

"It is a snare," thought the bishop; "it is impossible that Anne of
Austria would listen to such a woman as this."

"Well?" said the duchesse.

"Well, madame, I should be very much astonished if M. Fouquet had five
hundred thousand francs at his disposal at the present moment."

"It is no use speaking of it, then," said the duchesse, "and Dampierre
must get restored how best it may."

"Oh! you are not embarrassed to such an extent as that, I suppose."

"No; I am never embarrassed."

"And the queen," continued the bishop, "will certainly do for you what
the superintendent is unable to do?"

"Oh! certainly.  But tell me, do you think it would be better that I
should speak, myself, to M. Fouquet about these letters?"

"Nay, duchesse, you will do precisely whatever you please in that
respect.  M. Fouquet either feels or does not feel himself to be guilty;
if he really be so, I know he is proud enough not to confess it; if he be
not so, he will be exceedingly offended at your menace."

"As usual, you reason like an angel," said the duchesse, as she rose from
her seat.

"And so, you are now going to denounce M. Fouquet to the queen," said
Aramis.

"'Denounce!'  Oh! what a disagreeable word.  I shall not 'denounce' my
dear friend; you know matters of policy too well to be ignorant how

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