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List Of Contents | Contents of Marquise de Ganges, by Dumas, Pere
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what he was doing, the chevalier had drawn his sword, which was very
short, and using it as a dagger, had struck her in the breast; this
first blow was followed by a second, which came in contact with the
shoulder blade, and so was prevented from going farther.  At these
two blows the marquise rushed towards the door, of the room into
which the ladies had retired, crying, "Help!  He is killing me!"

But during the time that she took to cross the room the chevalier
stabbed her five times in the back with his sword, and would no doubt
have done more, if at the last blow his sword had not broken; indeed,
he had struck with such force that the fragment remained embedded in
her shoulder, and the marquise fell forward on the floor, in a pool
of her blood, which was flowing all round her and spreading through
the room.

The chevalier thought he had killed her, and hearing the women
running to her assistance, he rushed from the room.  The abbe was
still at the door, pistol in hand; the chevalier took him by the arm
to drag him away, and as the abbe hesitated to follow, he said:--

"Let us go, abbe; the business is done."

The chevalier and the abbe had taken a few steps in the street when a
window opened and the women who had found the marquise expiring
called out for help: at these cries the abbe stopped short, and
holding back the chevalier by the arm, demanded

"What was it you said, chevalier?  If they are calling help, is she
not dead, after all?"

"'Ma foi', go and see for yourself," returned the chevalier.  "I have
done enough for my share; it is your turn now."

"'Pardieu', that is quite my opinion," cried the abbe; and rushing
back to the house, he flung himself into the room at the moment when
the women, lifting the marquise with great difficulty, for she was so
weak that she could no longer help herself, were attempting to carry
her to bed.  The abbe pushed them away, and arriving at the marquise,
put his pistol to her heart; but Madame Brunel, the same who had
previously given the marquise a box of orvietan, lifted up the barrel
with her hand, so that the shot went off into the air, and the bullet
instead of striking the marquise lodged in the cornice of the
ceiling.  The abbe then took the pistol by the barrel and gave Madame
Brunet so violent a blow upon the head with the butt that she
staggered and almost fell; he was about to strike her again, but all
the women uniting against him, pushed him, with thousands of
maledictions, out of the room, and locked the door behind him.  The
two assassins, taking advantage of the darkness, fled from Ganges,
and reached Aubenas, which is a full league away, about ten in the
evening.

Meanwhile the women were doing all they could for the marquise.
Their first intention, as we have already said, was to put her to
bed, but the broken sword blade made her unable to lie down, and they
tried in vain to pull it out, so deeply had it entered the bone.
Then the marquise herself showed Madame Brunei what method to take:
the operating lady was to sit on the bed, and while the others helped
to hold up the marquise, was to seize the blade with both hands, and
pressing her--knees against the patient's back, to pull violently and
with a great jerk.  This plan at last succeeded, and the marquise was
able to get to bed; it was nine in the evening, and this horrible
tragedy had been going on for nearly three hours.

The magistrates of Ganges, being informed of what had happened, and
beginning to believe that it was really a case of murder, came in
person, with a guard, to the marquise.  As soon as she saw them come
in she recovered strength, and raising herself in bed, so great was
her fear, clasped her hands and besought their protection; for she
always expected to see one or the other of her murderers return.  The
magistrates told her to reassure herself, set armed men to guard all
the approaches to the house, and while physicians and surgeons were,
summoned in hot haste from Montpellier, they on their part sent word
to the Baron de Trissan, provost of Languedoc, of the crime that had
just been committed, and gave him the names and the description of
the murderers.  That official at once sent people after them, but it
was already too late: he learned that the abbe and the chevalier had
slept at Aubenas on the night of the murder, that there they had
reproached each other for their unskilfulness, and had come near
cutting each other's throats, that finally they had departed before
daylight, and had taken a boat, near Agde, from a beach called the
"Gras de Palaval."

The Marquis de Ganges was at Avignon, where he was prosecuting a
servant of his who had robbed him of two hundred crowns; when he
heard news of the event.  He turned horribly pale as he listened to
the messenger's story, then falling into a violent fury against his
brothers, he swore that they should have no executioners other than
himself.  Nevertheless, though he was so uneasy about the marquise's
condition, he waited until the next day in the afternoon before
setting forth, and during the interval he saw some of his friends at
Avignon without saying anything to them of the matter.  He did not
reach Ganges until four days after the murder, then he went to the
house of M. Desprats and asked to see his wife, whom some kind
priests had already prepared for the meeting; and the marquise, as
soon as she heard of his arrival, consented to receive him.  The
marquis immediately entered the room, with his eyes full of tears,
tearing his hair, and giving every token of the deepest despair.

The marquise receivers her husband like a forgiving wife and a dying
Christian.  She scarcely even uttered some slight reproaches about
the manner in which he had deserted her; moreover, the marquis having
complained to a monk of these reproaches, and the monk having
reported his complaints to the marquise, she called her husband to
her bedside, at a moment when she was surrounded by people, and made
him a public apology, begging him to attribute the words that seemed
to have wounded him to the effect of her sufferings, and not to any
failure in her regard for him.  The marquis, left alone with his
wife, tried to take advantage of this reconciliation to induce her to
annul the declaration that she had made before the magistrates of
Avignon; for the vice-legate and his officers, faithful to the
promises made to the marquise, had refused to register the fresh
donation which she had made at Ganges, according to the suggestions
of the abbe, and which the latter had sent off, the very moment it
was signed, to his brother.  But on this point the marquise was
immovably resolute, declaring that this fortune was reserved for her
children and therefore sacred to her, and that she could make no
alteration in what had been done at Avignon, since it represented her
genuine and final wishes.  Notwithstanding this declaration, the
marquis did not cease to--remain beside his wife and to bestow upon
her every care possible to a devoted and attentive husband.

Two days later than the Marquis de Ganges arrived Madame de Rossan
great was her amazement, after all the rumours that were already in
circulation about the marquis, at finding her daughter in the hands
of him whom she regarded as one of her murderers.  But the marquise,
far from sharing that opinion, did all she could, not only to make
her mother feel differently, but even to induce her to embrace the
marquis as a son.  This blindness on the part of the marquise caused
Madame de Rossan so much grief that notwithstanding her profound
affection for her daughter she would only stay two days, and in spite
of the entreaties that the dying woman made to her, she returned
home, not allowing anything to stop her.  This departure was a great
grief to the marquise, and was the reason why she begged with renewed
entreaties to be taken to Montpellier.  The very sight of the place
where she had been so cruelly tortured continually brought before
her, not only the remembrance of the murder, but the image of the
murderers, who in her brief moments of sleep so haunted her that she
sometimes awoke suddenly, uttering shrieks and calling for help.
Unfortunately, the physician considered her too weak to bear removal,
and declared that no change of place could be made without extreme
danger.

Then, when she heard this verdict, which had to be repeated to her,
and which her bright and lively complexion and brilliant eyes seemed
to contradict, the marquise turned all her thoughts towards holy
things, and thought only of dying like a saint after having already
suffered like a martyr.  She consequently asked to receive the last
sacrament, and while it was being sent for, she repeated her
apologies to her husband and her forgiveness of his brothers, and
this with a gentleness that, joined to her beauty, made her whole
personality appear angelic.  When, however, the priest bearing the
viaticum entered, this expression suddenly changed, and her face
presented every token of the greatest terror.  She had just
recognised in the priest who was bringing her the last consolations
of Heaven the infamous Perette, whom she could not but regard as an
accomplice of the abbe and the chevalier, since, after having tried
to hold her back, he had attempted to crush her beneath the pitcher
of water which he had thrown at her from the window, and since, when
he saw her escaping, he had run to warn her assassins and to set them
on her track.  She recovered herself quickly, however, and seeing
that the priest, without any sign of remorse, was drawing near to her
bedside, she would not cause so great a scandal as would have been
caused by denouncing him at such a moment.  Nevertheless, bending
towards him, she said, "Father, I hope that, remembering what has
passed, and in order to dispel fears that--I may justifiably
entertain, you will make no difficulty of partaking with me of the
consecrated wafer; for I have sometimes heard it said that the body
of our Lord Jesus Christ, while remaining a token of salvation, has
been known to be made a principle of death."

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