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List Of Contents | Contents of Marquise de Brinvilliers, by Dumas, Pere
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presence of certain bodily humours sometimes produces similar
appearances, they durst not declare that the lieutenant's death could
not have come about by natural causes, and he was buried without
further inquiry.

It was as his private physician that Dr. Bachot had asked for the
autopsy of his patient's brother.  For the younger brother seemed to
have been attacked by the same complaint, and the doctor hoped to
find from the death of the one some means for preserving the life of
the other.  The councillor was in a violent fever, agitated
unceasingly both in body and mind: he could not bear any position of
any kind for more than a few minutes at a time.  Bed was a place of
torture; but if he got up, he cried for it again, at least for a
change of suffering.  At the end of three months he died.  His
stomach, duodenum, and liver were all in the same corrupt state as
his brother's, and more than that, the surface of his body was burnt
away.  This, said the doctors; was no dubious sign of poisoning;
although, they added, it sometimes happened that a 'cacochyme'
produced the same effect.  Lachaussee was so far from being
suspected, that the councillor, in recognition of the care he had
bestowed on him in his last illness, left him in his will a legacy of
a hundred crowns; moreover, he received a thousand francs from
Sainte-Croix and the marquise.

So great a disaster in one family, however, was not only sad but
alarming.  Death knows no hatred: death is deaf and blind, nothing
more, and astonishment was felt at this ruthless destruction of all
who bore one name.  Still nobody suspected the true culprits, search
was fruitless, inquiries led nowhere: the marquise put on mourning
for her brothers, Sainte-Croix continued in his path of folly, and
all things went on as before.  Meanwhile Sainte-Croix had made the
acquaintance of the Sieur de Saint Laurent, the same man from whom
Penautier had asked for a post without success, and had made friends
with him.  Penautier had meanwhile become the heir of his father-in-
law, the Sieur Lesecq, whose death had most unexpectedly occurred; he
had thereby gained a second post in Languedoc and an immense
property: still, he coveted the place of receiver of the clergy.
Chance now once more helped him: a few days after taking over from
Sainte-Croix a man-servant named George, M. de Saint-Laurent fell
sick, and his illness showed symptoms similar to those observed in
the case of the d'Aubrays, father and sons; but it was more rapid,
lasting only twenty-four hours.  Like them, M. de Saint-Laurent died
a prey to frightful tortures.  The same day an officer from the
sovereign's court came to see him, heard every detail connected with
his friend's death, and when told of the symptoms said before the
servants to Sainfray the notary that it would be necessary to examine
the body.  An hour later George disappeared, saying nothing to
anybody, and not even asking for his wages.  Suspicions were excited;
but again they remained vague.  The autopsy showed a state of things
not precisely to be called peculiar to poisoning cases the
intestines, which the fatal poison had not had time to burn as in the
case of the d'Aubrays, were marked with reddish spots like flea-
bites.  In June Penautier obtained the post that had been held by the
Sieur de Saint-Laurent.

But the widow had certain suspicions which were changed into
something like certainty by George's flight.  A particular
circumstance aided and almost confirmed her doubts.  An abbe who was
a friend of her husband, and knew all about the disappearance of
George, met him some days afterwards in the rue des Masons, near the
Sorbonne.  They were both on the same side, and a hay-cart coming
along the street was causing a block.  George raised his head and saw
the abbe, knew him as a friend of his late master, stooped under the
cart and crawled to the other side, thus at the risk of being crushed
escaping from the eyes of a man whose appearance recalled his crime
and inspired him with fear of punishment.  Madame de Saint-Laurent
preferred a charge against George, but though he was sought for
everywhere, he could never be found.  Still the report of these
strange deaths, so sudden and so incomprehensible, was bruited about
Paris, and people began to feel frightened.  Sainte-Croix, always in
the gay world, encountered the talk in drawing-rooms, and began to
feel a little uneasy.  True, no suspicion pointed as yet in his
direction; but it was as well to take precautions, and Sainte-Croix
began to consider how he could be freed from anxiety.  There was a
post in the king's service soon to be vacant, which would cost
100,000 crowns; and although Sainte-Croix had no apparent means, it
was rumoured that he was about to purchase it.  He first addressed
himself to Belleguise to treat about this affair with Penautier.
There was some difficulty, however, to be encountered in this
quarter.  The sum was a large one, and Penautier no longer required
help; he had already come into all the inheritance he looked for, and
so he tried to throw cold water on the project.

Sainte-Croix thus wrote to Belleguise:

"DEAR FRIEND,--Is it possible that you need any more talking to about
the matter you know of, so important as it is, and, maybe, able to
give us peace and quiet for the rest of our days!  I really think the
devil must be in it, or else you simply will not be sensible: do show
your common sense, my good man, and look at it from all points of
view; take it at its very worst, and you still ought to feel bound to
serve me, seeing how I have made everything all right for you: all
our interests are together in this matter.  Do help me, I beg of you;
you may feel sure I shall be deeply grateful, and you will never
before have acted so agreeably both for me and for yourself.  You
know quite enough about it, for I have not spoken so openly even to
my own brother as I have to you.  If you can come this afternoon,
I shall be either at the house or quite near at hand, you know where
I mean, or I will expect you tomorrow morning, or I will come and
find you, according to what you reply.--Always yours with all my
heart."


The house meant by Sainte-Croix was in the rue des Bernardins, and
the place near at hand where he was to wait for Belleguise was the
room he leased from the widow Brunet, in the blind alley out of the
Place Maubert.  It was in this room and at the apothecary Glazer's
that Sainte-Croix made his experiments; but in accordance with
poetical justice, the manipulation of the poisons proved fatal to the
workers themselves.  The apothecary fell ill and died; Martin was
attacked by fearful sickness, which brought, him to death's door.
Sainte-Croix was unwell, and could not even go out, though he did not
know what was the matter.  He had a furnace brought round to his
house from Glazer's, and ill as he was, went on with the experiments.
Sainte-Croix was then seeking to make a poison so subtle that the
very effluvia might be fatal.  He had heard of the poisoned napkin
given to the young dauphin, elder brother of Charles VII, to wipe his
hands on during a game of tennis, and knew that the contact had
caused his death; and the still discussed tradition had informed him
of the gloves of Jeanne d'Albret; the secret was lost, but Sainte-
Croix hoped to recover it.  And then there happened one of those
strange accidents which seem to be not the hand of chance but a
punishment from Heaven.  At the very moment when Sainte-Croix was
bending over his furnace, watching the fatal preparation as it became
hotter and hotter, the glass mask which he wore over his face as a
protection from any poisonous exhalations that might rise up from the
mixture, suddenly dropped off, and Sainte-Croix dropped to the ground
as though felled by a lightning stroke.  At supper-time, his wife
finding that he did not come out from his closet where he was shut
in, knocked at the door, and received no answer; knowing that her
husband was wont to busy himself with dark and mysterious matters,
she feared some disaster had occurred.  She called her servants, who
broke in the door.  Then she found Sainte-Croix stretched out beside
the furnace, the broken glass lying by his side.  It was impossible
to deceive the public as to the circumstances of this strange and
sudden death: the servants had seen the corpse, and they talked.  The
commissary Picard was ordered to affix the seals, and all the widow
could do was to remove the furnace and the fragments of the glass
mask.

The noise of the event soon spread all over Paris.  Sainte-Croix was
extremely well known, and the, news that he was about to purchase a
post in the court had made him known even more widely.  Lachaussee
was one of the first to learn of his master's death; and hearing that
a seal had been set upon his room, he hastened to put in an objection
in these terms:

"Objection of Lachaussee, who asserts that for seven years he was in
the service of the deceased; that he had given into his charge, two
years earlier, 100 pistoles and 200 white crowns, which should be
found in a cloth bag under the closet window, and in the same a paper
stating that the said sum belonged to him, together with the transfer
of 300 livres owed to him by the late M. d'Aubray, councillor; the
said transfer made by him at Laserre, together with three receipts
from his master of apprenticeship, 100 livres each: these moneys and
papers he claims."

To Lachaussee the reply was given that he must wait till the day when
the seals were broken, and then if all was as he said, his property
would be returned.

But Lachaussee was not the only person who was agitated about the
death of Sainte-Croix.  The, marquise, who was familiar with all the
secrets of this fatal closet, had hurried to the commissary as 2496
soon as she heard of the event, and although it was ten o'clock at
night had demanded to speak with him.  But he had replied by his head
clerk, Pierre Frater, that he was in bed; the marquise insisted,
begging them to rouse him up, for she wanted a box that she could not

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