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List Of Contents | Contents of Marquise de Ganges, by Dumas, Pere
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found some strength in trusting herself to God; but there, where God
had suffered one of the fairest and purest creatures that ever
existed to perish by so cruel a death, she dared not appeal to Him,
for He seemed to have turned away from this family.

She waited, therefore, in growing terror; spending her days, as much
as she could, with the women of rank who lived in the little town of
Ganges, and some of whom, eye-witnesses of her mother-in-law's
murder, increased her terrors by the accounts which they gave of it,
and which she, with the despairing obstinacy of fear, asked to hear
again and again.  As to her nights, she spent the greater part of
them on her knees, and fully dressed, trembling at the smallest
sound; only breathing freely as daylight came back, and then
venturing to seek her bed for a few hours' rest.

At last the marquis's attempts became so direct and so pressing, that
the poor young woman resolved to escape at all costs from his hands.
Her first idea was to write to her father, explain to him her
position and ask help; but her father had not long been a Catholic,
and had suffered much on behalf of the Reformed religion, and on
these accounts it was clear that her letter would be opened by the
marquis on pretext of religion, and thus that step, instead of
saving, might destroy her.  She had thus but one resource: her
husband had always been a Catholic; her husband was a captain of
dragoons, faithful in the service of the king and faithful in the
service of God; there could be no excuse for opening a letter to him;
she resolved to address herself to him, explained the position in
which she found herself, got the address written by another hand, and
sent the letter to Montpellier, where it was posted.

The young marquis was at Metz when he received his wife's missive.
At that instant all his childish memories awoke; he beheld himself at
his dying mother's bedside, vowing never to forget her and to pray
daily for her.  The image presented itself of this wife whom he
adored, in the same room, exposed to the same violence, destined
perhaps to the same fate; all this was enough to lead him to take
positive action: he flung himself into a post-chaise, reached
Versailles, begged an audience of the king, cast himself, with his
wife's letter in his hand, at the feet of Louis XIV, and besought him
to compel his father to return into exile, where he swore upon has
honour that he would send him everything he could need in order to
live properly.

The king was not aware that the Marquis do Ganges had disobeyed the
sentence of banishment, and the manner in which he learned it was not
such as to make him pardon the contradiction of his laws.  In
consequence he immediately ordered that if the Marquis de Ganges were
found in France he should be proceeded against with the utmost
rigour.

Happily for the marquis, the Comte de Ganges, the only one of his
brothers who had remained in France, and indeed in favour, learned
the king's decision in time.  He took post from Versailles, and
making the greatest haste, went to warn him of the danger that was
threatening; both together immediately left Ganges, and withdrew to
Avignon.  The district of Venaissin, still belonging at that time to
the pope and being governed by a vice-legate, was considered as
foreign territory.  There he found his daughter, Madame d'Urban, who
did all she could to induce him to stay with her; but to do so would
have been to flout Louis XIV's orders too publicly, and the marquis
was afraid to remain so much in evidence lest evil should befall him;
he accordingly retired to the little village of l'Isle, built in a
charming spot near the fountain of Vaucluse; there he was lost sight
of; none ever heard him spoken of again, and when I myself travelled
in the south of France in 1835, I sought in vain any trace of the
obscure and forgotten death which closed so turbulent and stormy an
existence.

As, in speaking of the last adventures of the Marquis de Ganges, we
have mentioned the name of Madame d'Urban, his daughter, we cannot
exempt ourselves from following her amid the strange events of her
life, scandalous though they may be; such, indeed, was the fate of
this family, that it was to occupy the attention of France through
well-nigh a century, either by its crimes or by its freaks.

On the death of the marquise, her daughter, who was barely six years
old, had remained in the charge of the dowager Marquise de Ganges,
who, when she had attained her twelfth year, presented to her as her
husband the Marquis de Perrant, formerly a lover of the grandmother
herself.  The marquis was seventy years of age, having been born in
the reign of Henry IV; he had seen the court of Louis XIII and that
of Louis XIV's youth, and he had remained one of its most elegant and
favoured nobles; he had the manners of those two periods, the
politest that the world has known, so that the young girl, not
knowing as yet the meaning of marriage and having seen no other man,
yielded without repugnance, and thought herself happy in becoming the
Marquise de Perrant.

The marquis, who was very rich, had quarrelled With his younger
brother, and regarded him with such hatred that he was marrying only
to deprive his brother of the inheritance that would rightfully
accrue to him, should the elder die childless.  Unfortunately, the
marquis soon perceived that the step which he had taken, however
efficacious in the case of another man, was likely to be fruitless in
his own.  He did not, however, despair, and waited two or three
years, hoping every day that Heaven would work a miracle in his
favour; but as every day diminished the chances of this miracle, and
his hatred for his brother grew with the impossibility of taking
revenge upon him, he adopted a strange and altogether antique scheme,
and determined, like the ancient Spartans, to obtain by the help of
another what Heaven refused to himself.

The marquis did not need to seek long for the man who should give him
his revenge: he had in his house a young page, some seventeen or
eighteen years old, the son of a friend of his, who, dying without
fortune, had on his deathbed particularly commended the lad to the
marquis.  This young man, a year older than his mistress, could not
be continually about her without falling passionately in love with
her; and however much he might endeavour to hide his love, the poor
youth was as yet too little practised in dissimulation to succeed iii
concealing it from the eyes of the marquis, who, after having at
first observed its growth with uneasiness, began on the contrary to
rejoice in it, from the moment when he had decided upon the scheme
that we have just mentioned.

The marquis was slow to decide but prompt to execute.  Having taken
his resolution, he summoned his page, and, after having made him
promise inviolable secrecy, and having undertaken, on that condition,
to prove his gratitude by buying him a regiment, explained what was
expected of him.  The poor youth, to whom nothing could have been
more unexpected than such a communication, took it at first for a
trick by which the marquis meant to make him own his love, and was
ready to throw himself at his feet and declare everything; but the
marquis seeing his confusion, and easily guessing its cause,
reassured him completely by swearing that he authorised him to take
any steps in order to attain the end that the marquis had in view.
As in his inmost heart the aim of the young man was the same, the
bargain was soon struck: the page bound himself by the most terrible
oaths to keep the secret; and the marquis, in order to supply
whatever assistance was in his power, gave him money to spend,
believing that there was no woman, however virtuous, who could resist
the combination of youth, beauty, and fortune: unhappily for the
marquis, such a woman, whom he thought impossible, did exist, and was
his wife.

The page was so anxious to obey his master, that from that very day
his mistress remarked the alteration that arose from the permission
given him--his prompt obedience to her orders and his speed in
executing them, in order to return a few moments the sooner to her
presence.  She was grateful to him, and in the simplicity of her
heart she thanked him.  Two days later the page appeared before her
splendidly dressed; she observed and remarked upon his improved
appearance, and amused herself in conning over all the parts of his
dress, as she might have done with a new doll.  All this familiarity
doubled the poor young man's passion, but he stood before his
mistress, nevertheless, abashed and trembling, like Cherubino before
his fair godmother.  Every evening the marquis inquired into his
progress, and every evening the page confessed that he was no farther
advanced than the day before; then the marquis scolded, threatened to
take away his fine clothes, to withdraw his own promises, and finally
to address himself to some other person.  At this last threat the
youth would again call up his courage, and promise to be bolder
to-morrow; and on the morrow would spend the day in making a thousand
compliments to his mistress's eyes, which she, in her innocence, did
not understand.  At last, one day, Madame de Perrant asked him what
made him look at her thus, and he ventured to confess his love; but
then Madame de Perrant, changing her whole demeanour, assumed a face
of sternness and bade him go out of her room.

The poor lover obeyed, and ran, in despair, to confide his grief to
the husband, who appeared sincerely to share it, but consoled him by
saying that he had no doubt chosen his moment badly; that all women,
even the least severe, had inauspicious hours in which they would not
yield to attack, and that he must let a few days pass, which he must
employ in making his peace, and then must take advantage of a better
opportunity, and not allow himself to be rebuffed by a few refusals;
and to these words the marquis added a purse of gold, in order that
the page might, if necessary, win over the marquise's waiting-woman.

Guided thus by the older experience of the husband, the page began to

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