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List Of Contents | Contents of Marquise de Ganges, by Dumas, Pere
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Ganges made her mother, Madame de Rossan, her sole inheritor, and
left in her charge the duty of choosing between the testatrix's two
children as to which of them should succeed to the estate.  These two
children were, one a boy of six years old, the other a girl of five.
But this was not enough for the marquise, so deep was her impression
that she would not survive this fatal journey; she gathered together,
secretly and at night, the magistrates of Avignon and several persons
of quality, belonging to the first families of the town, and there,
before them, verbally at first, declared that, in case of her death,
she begged the honourable witnesses whom she had assembled on
purpose, not to recognise as valid, voluntary, or freely written
anything except the will which she had signed the day before, and
affirmed beforehand that any later will which might be produced would
be the effect of fraud or of violence.  Then, having made this verbal
declaration, the marquise repeated it in writing, signed the paper
containing it, and gave the paper to be preserved by the honour of
those whom she constituted its guardians.  Such a precaution, taken
with such minute detail, aroused the lively curiosity of her hearers.
Many pressing questions were put to the marquise, but nothing could
be extracted from her except that she had reasons for her action
which she could not declare.  The cause of this assemblage remained a
secret, and every person who formed part of it promised the marquise
not to reveal it.

On the next day, which was that preceding her departure for Ganges,
the marquise visited all the charitable institutions and religious
communities in Avignon; she left liberal alms everywhere, with the
request that prayers and masses should be said for her, in order to
obtain from God's grace that she should not be suffered to die
without receiving the sacraments of the Church.  In the evening, she
took leave of all her friends with the affection and the tears of a
person convinced that she was bidding them a last farewell; and
finally she spent the whole night in prayer, and the maid who came to
wake her found her kneeling in the same spot where she, had left her
the night before.

The family set out for Ganges; the journey was performed without
accident.  On reaching the castle, the marquise found her mother-in-
law there; she was a woman of remarkable distinction and piety, and
her presence, although it was to be but temporary, reassured the poor
fearful marquise a little.  Arrangements had been made beforehand at
the old castle, and the most convenient and elegant of the rooms had
been assigned to the marquise; it was on the first floor, and looked
out upon a courtyard shut in on all sides by stables.

On the first evening that she was to sleep here, the marquise
explored the room with the greatest attention.  She inspected the
cupboards, sounded the walls, examined the tapestry, and found
nothing anywhere that could confirm her terrors, which, indeed, from
that time began to decrease.  At the end of a certain time; however,
the marquis's mother left Ganges to return to Montpellier.  Two, days
after her departure, the marquis talked of important business which
required him to go back to Avignon, and he too left the castle.  The
marquise thus remained alone with the abbe, the chevalier, and a
chaplain named Perette, who had been attached for five-and-twenty
years to the family of the marquis.  The rest of the household
consisted of a few servants.

The marquise's first care, on arriving at the castle, had been to
collect a little society for herself in the town.  This was easy: not
only did her rank make it an honour to belong to her circle, her
kindly graciousness also inspired at first-sight the desire of having
her for a friend.  The marquise thus endured less dulness than she
had at first feared.  This precaution was by no means uncalled for;
instead of spending only the autumn at Ganges, the marquise was
obliged, in consequence of letters from her husband, to spend the
winter there.  During the whole of this time the abbe and the
chevalier seemed to have completely forgotten their original designs
upon her, and had again resumed the conduct of respectful, attentive
brothers.  But with all this, M. de Ganges remained estranged, and
the marquise, who had not ceased to love him, though she began to
lose her fear, did not lose her grief.

One day the abbe entered her room suddenly enough to surprise her
before she had time to dry her tears; the secret being thus half
surprised, he easily obtained a knowledge of the whole.  The
marquise owned to him that happiness in this world was impossible for
her so long as her husband led this separate and hostile life.  The
abbe tried to console her; but amid his consolations he told her that
the grief which she was suffering had its source in herself; that her
husband was naturally wounded by her distrust of him--a distrust of
which the will, executed by her, was a proof, all the more
humiliating because public, and that, while that will existed, she
could expect no advances towards reconciliation from her husband.
For that time the conversation ended there.

Some days later, the abbe came into the marquise's room with a letter
which he had just received from his brother.  This letter, supposed
confidential, was filled with tender complaints of his wife's conduct
towards him, and showed, through every sentence, a depth of affection
which only wrongs as serious as those from which the marquis
considered himself to be feeling could counterbalance.  The marquise
was, at first, very much touched by this letter; but having soon
reflected that just sufficient time had elapsed since the explanation
between herself and the abbe for the marquis to be informed of it,
she awaited further and stronger proofs before changing her mind.

From day to day, however, the abbe, under the pretext of reconciling
the husband and wife, became more pressing upon the matter of the
will, and the marquise, to whom this insistence seemed rather
alarming, began to experience some of her former fears.  Finally, the
abbe pressed her so hard as to make her reflect that since, after the
precautions which she had taken at Avignon, a revocation could have
no result, it would be better to seem to yield rather than irritate
this man, who inspired her with so great a fear, by constant and
obstinate refusals.  The next time that he returned to the subject
she accordingly replied that she was ready to offer her husband this
new proof of her love if it would bring him back to her, and having
ordered a notary to be sent for, she made a new will, in the presence
of the abbe and the chevalier, and constituted the marquis her
residuary legatee.  This second instrument bore date the 5th of May
1667.  The abbe and the chevalier expressed the greatest joy that
this subject of discord was at last removed, and offered themselves
as guarantees, on their brother's behalf, of a better future.  Some
days were passed in this hope, which a letter from the marquis came
to confirm; this letter at the same time announced his speedy return
to Ganges.

On the 16th of May; the marquise, who for a month or two had not been
well, determined to take medicine; she therefore informed the chemist
of what she wanted, and asked him to make her up something at his
discretion and send it to her the next day.  Accordingly, at the
agreed hour in the morning, the draught was brought to the marquise;
but it looked to her so black and so thick that she felt some doubt
of the skill of its compounder, shut it up in a cupboard in her room
without saying anything of the matter, and took from her dressing-
case some pills, of a less efficacious nature indeed, but to which
she was accustomed, and which were not so repugnant to her.

The hour in which the marquise was to take this medicine was hardly
over when the abbe and the chevalier sent to know how she was.  She
replied that she was quite well, and invited them to a collation
which she was giving about four o'clock to the ladies who made up her
little circle.  An hour afterwards the abbe and the chevalier sent a
second time to inquire after her; the marquise, without paying
particular attention to this excessive civility, which she remembered
afterwards, sent word as before that she was perfectly well.
The marquise had remained in bed to do the honours of her little
feast, and never had she felt more cheerful.  At the hour named all
her guests arrived; the abbe and the chevalier were ushered in, and
the meal was served.  Neither one nor the other would share it; the
abbe indeed sat down to table, but the chevalier remained leaning on
the foot of the bed.  The abbe appeared anxious, and only roused
himself with a start from his absorption; then he seemed to drive
away some dominant idea, but soon the idea, stronger than his will,
plunged him again into a reverie, a state which struck everyone the
more particularly because it was far from his usual temper.  As to
the chevalier, his eyes were fixed constantly upon his sister-in-law,
but in this there was not, as in his brother's behaviour, anything
surprising, since the marquise had never looked so beautiful.

The meal over, the company took leave.  The abbe escorted the ladies
downstairs; the chevalier remained with the marquise; but hardly had
the abbe left the room when Madame de Ganges saw the chevalier turn
pale and drop in a sitting position--he had been standing on the foot
of the bed.  The marquise, uneasy, asked what was the matter; but
before he could reply, her attention was called to another quarter.
The abbe, as pale and as disturbed as the chevalier, came back into
the room, carrying in his hands a glass and a pistol, and double-
locked the door behind him.  Terrified at this spectacle, the
marquise half raised herself in her bed, gazing voiceless and
wordless.  Then the abbe approached her, his lips trembling; his hair
bristling and his eyes blazing, and, presenting to her the glass and
the pistol, "Madame," said he, after a moment of terrible silence,

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