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List Of Contents | Contents of Louise de la Valliere, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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blackbird, knowing that I was coming to Saint-Mande, implored me to bring
him with me, and, if possible, to present him to M. Fouquet."

"So that - "

"So that he is here; I left him in that part of the ground called Bel-
Air.  Well, M. Fouquet, what is your reply?"

"Well, it is not respectful towards Madame Vanel that her husband should
run the risk of catching cold outside my house; send for him, La
Fontaine, since you know where he is."

"I will go myself."

"And I will accompany you," said the Abbe Fouquet; "I will carry the
money bags."

"No jesting," said Fouquet, seriously; "let the business be a serious
one, if it is to be one at all.  But first of all, let us show we are
hospitable.  Make my apologies, La Fontaine, to M. Vanel, and tell him
how distressed I am to have kept him waiting, but that I was not was not
aware he was there."

La Fontaine set off at once, fortunately accompanied by Gourville, for,
absorbed in his own calculations, the poet would have mistaken the route,
and was hurrying as fast as he could towards the village of Saint-Mande.
Within a quarter of an hour afterwards, M. Vanel was introduced into the
superintendent's cabinet, a description of which has already been given
at the beginning of this story.  When Fouquet saw him enter, he called to
Pelisson, and whispered a few words in his ear.  "Do not lose a single
word of what I am going to say: let all the silver and gold plate,
together with my jewels of every description, be packed up in the
carriage.  You will take the black horses: the jeweler will accompany
you; and you will postpone the supper until Madame de Belliere's arrival."

"Will it be necessary to inform Madame de Belliere of it?" said Pelisson.

"No; that will be useless; I will do that.  So, away with you, my dear
friend."

Pelisson set off, not quite clear as to his friend's meaning or
intention, but confident, like every true friend, in the judgment of the
man he was blindly obeying.  It is that which constitutes the strength of
such men; distrust only arises in the minds of inferior natures.

Vanel bowed lowly to the superintendent, and was about to begin a speech.

"Do not trouble yourself, monsieur," said Fouquet, politely; "I am told
you wish to purchase a post I hold.  How much can you give me for it?"

"It is for you, monseigneur, to fix the amount you require.  I know that
offers of purchase have already been made to you for it."

"Madame Vanel, I have been told, values it at fourteen hundred thousand
livres."

"That is all we have."

"Can you give me the money immediately?"

"I have not the money with me," said Vanel, frightened almost by the
unpretending simplicity, amounting to greatness, of the man, for he had
expected disputes, difficulties, opposition of every kind.

"When will you be able to bring it?"

"Whenever you please, monseigneur;" for he began to be afraid that
Fouquet was trifling with him.

"If it were not for the trouble you would have in returning to Paris, I
would say at once; but we will arrange that the payment and the signature
shall take place at six o'clock to-morrow morning."

"Very good," said Vanel, as cold as ice, and feeling quite bewildered.

"Adieu, Monsieur Vanel, present my humblest respects to Madame Vanel,"
said Fouquet, as he rose; upon which Vanel, who felt the blood rushing to
his head, for he was quite confounded by his success, said seriously to
the superintendent, "Will you give me your word, monseigneur, upon this
affair?"

Fouquet turned round his head, saying, "_Pardieu_, and you, monsieur?"

Vanel hesitated, trembled all over, and at last finished by hesitatingly
holding out his hand.  Fouquet opened and nobly extended his own; this
loyal hand lay for a moment in Vanel's most hypocritical palm, and he
pressed it in his own, in order the better to convince himself of the
compact.  The superintendent gently disengaged his hand, as he again
said, "Adieu."  And then Vanel ran hastily to the door, hurried along the
vestibule, and fled as quickly as he could.


Chapter XLVII:
Madame de Belliere's Plate and Diamonds.

Fouquet had no sooner dismissed Vanel than he began to reflect for a few
moments - "A man never can do too much for the woman he has once loved.
Marguerite wishes to be the wife of a procureur-general - and why not
confer this pleasure upon her?  And, now that the most scrupulous and
sensitive conscience will be unable to reproach me with anything, let my
thoughts be bestowed on her who has shown so much devotion for me.
Madame de Belliere ought to be there by this time," he said, as he turned
towards the secret door.

After he had locked himself in, he opened the subterranean passage, and
rapidly hastened towards the means of communicating between the house at
Vincennes and his own residence.  He had neglected to apprise his friend
of his approach, by ringing the bell, perfectly assured that she would
never fail to be exact at the rendezvous; as, indeed, was the case, for
she was already waiting.  The noise the superintendent made aroused her;
she ran to take from under the door the letter he had thrust there, and
which simply said, "Come, marquise; we are waiting supper for you."  With
her heart filled with happiness Madame de Belliere ran to her carriage in
the Avenue de Vincennes, and in a few minutes she was holding out her
hand to Gourville, who was standing at the entrance, where, in order the
better to please his master, he had stationed himself to watch her
arrival.  She had not observed that Fouquet's black horse arrived at the
same time, all steaming and foam-flaked, having returned to Saint-Mande
with Pelisson and the very jeweler to whom Madame de Belliere had sold
her plate and her jewels.  Pelisson introduced the goldsmith into the
cabinet, which Fouquet had not yet left.  The superintendent thanked him
for having been good enough to regard as a simple deposit in his hands,
the valuable property which he had every right to sell; and he cast his
eyes on the total of the account, which amounted to thirteen hundred
thousand francs.  Then, going for a few moments to his desk, he wrote an
order for fourteen hundred thousand francs, payable at sight, at his
treasury, before twelve o'clock the next day.

"A hundred thousand francs profit!" cried the goldsmith.  "Oh,
monseigneur, what generosity!"

"Nay, nay, not so, monsieur," said Fouquet, touching him on the shoulder;
"there are certain kindnesses which can never be repaid.  This profit is
only what you have earned; but the interest of your money still remains
to be arranged."  And, saying this, he unfastened from his sleeve a
diamond button, which the goldsmith himself had often valued at three
thousand pistoles.  "Take this," he said to the goldsmith, "in
remembrance of me.  Farewell; you are an honest man."

"And you, monseigneur," cried the goldsmith, completely overcome, "are
the noblest man that ever lived."

Fouquet let the worthy goldsmith pass out of the room by a secret door,
and then went to receive Madame de Belliere, who was already surrounded
by all the guests.  The marquise was always beautiful, but now her
loveliness was more dazzling than ever.  "Do you not think, gentlemen,"
said Fouquet, "that madame is more than usually beautiful this evening?
And do you happen to know why?"

"Because madame is really the most beautiful of all women," said some one
present.

"No; but because she is the best.  And yet - "

"Yet?" said the marquise, smiling.

"And yet, all the jewels which madame is wearing this evening are nothing
but false stones."  At this remark the marquise blushed most painfully.

"Oh, oh!" exclaimed all the guests, "that can very well be said of one
who has the finest diamonds in Paris."

"Well?" said Fouquet to Pelisson, in a low tone.

"Well, at last I have understood you," returned the latter; "and you have
done exceedingly well."

"Supper is ready, monseigneur," said Vatel, with majestic air and tone.

The crowd of guests hurried, more quickly than is usually the case with
ministerial entertainments, towards the banqueting-room, where a
magnificent spectacle presented itself.  Upon the buffets, upon the side-
tables, upon the supper-table itself, in the midst of flowers and light,
glittered most dazzlingly the richest and most costly gold and silver
plate that could possibly be seen - relics of those ancient magnificent
productions the Florentine artists, whom the Medici family patronized,
sculptured, chased, and moulded for the purpose of holding flowers, at a
time when gold existed still in France.  These hidden marvels, which had
been buried during the civil wars, timidly reappeared during the
intervals of that war of good taste called La Fronde; at a time when
noblemen fighting against nobleman killed, but did not pillage each
other.  All the plate present had Madame de Belliere's arms engraved upon
it.  "Look," cried La Fontaine, "here is a P and a B."

But the most remarkable object present was the cover which Fouquet had
assigned to the marquise.  Near her was a pyramid of diamonds, sapphires,
emeralds, antique cameos, sardonyx stones, carved by the old Greeks of
Asia Minor, with mountings of Mysian gold; curious mosaics of ancient
Alexandria, set in silver; massive Egyptian bracelets lay heaped on a
large plate of Palissy ware, supported by a tripod of gilt bronze,
sculptured by Benvenuto Cellini.  The marquise turned pale, as she
recognized what she had never expected to see again.  A profound silence
fell on every one of the restless and excited guests.  Fouquet did not
even make a sign in dismissal of the richly liveried servants who crowded
like bees round the huge buffets and other tables in the room.
"Gentlemen," he said, "all this plate which you behold once belonged to
Madame de Belliere, who, having observed one of her friends in great
distress, sent all this gold and silver, together with the heap of jewels
now before her, to her goldsmith.  This noble conduct of a devoted friend
can well be understood by such friends as you.  Happy indeed is that man

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