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List Of Contents | Contents of Martin Guerre, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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expected that Martin Guerre, rejoiced at being vindicated by this
public acknowledgment, would raise his wife and embrace her.  But he
remained cold and stern, and in a contemptuous tone--

"Your tears, madame," he said; "they do not move me in the least,
neither can you seek to excuse your credulity by the examples of my
sisters and my uncle.  A wife knows her husband more intimately than
his other relations, as you prove by your present action, and if she
is deceived it is because she consents to the deception.  You are the
sole cause of the misfortunes of my house, and to you only shall I
ever impute them."

Thunderstruck by this reproach, the poor woman had no strength to
reply, and was taken home more dead than alive.

The dignified language of this injured husband made another point in
his favour.  Much pity was felt for Bertrande, as being the victim of
an audacious deception; but everybody agreed that thus it beseemed
the real Martin Guerre to have spoken.  After the ordeal gone through
by the wife had been also essayed by the sisters and other relatives,
who one and all followed Bertrande's example and accepted the new-
comer, the court, having fully deliberated, passed the following
sentence, which we transcribe literally:

"Having reviewed the trial of Arnauld du Thill or Pansette, calling
himself Martin Guerre, a prisoner in the Conciergerie, who appeals
from the decision of the judge of Rieux, etc.,

"We declare that this court negatives the appeal and defence of the
said Arnauld du Thill; and as punishment and amends for the
imposture, deception, assumption of name and of person, adultery,
rape, sacrilege, theft, larceny, and other deeds committed by the
aforesaid du Thill, and causing the above-mentioned trial; this court
has condemned and condemns him to do penance before the church of
Artigue, kneeling, clad in his shirt only, bareheaded and barefoot, a
halter on his neck, and a burning torch in his hand, and there he
shall ask pardon from God, from the King, and from justice, from the
said Martin Guerre and Bertrande de Rolls, husband and wife: and this
done, the aforesaid du Thill shall be delivered into the hands of the
executioners of the King's justice, who shall lead him through the
customary streets and crossroads of the aforesaid place of Artigues,
and, the halter on his neck, shall bring him before the house of the
aforesaid Martin Guerre, where he shall be hung and strangled upon a
gibbet erected for this purpose, after which his body shall be burnt:
and for various reasons and considerations thereunto moving the
court, it has awarded and awards the goods of the aforesaid Arnauld
du Thill, apart from the expenses of justice, to the daughter born
unto him by the aforesaid Bertrande de Rolls, under pretence of
marriage falsely asserted by him, having thereto assumed the name and
person of the aforesaid Martin Guerre, by this mans deceiving the
aforesaid de Rolls; and moreover the court has exempted and exempts
from this trial the aforesaid Martin Guerre and Bertrande de Rolls,
also the said Pierre Guerre, uncle of the aforesaid Martin, and has
remitted and remits the aforesaid Arnauld du Thill to the aforesaid
judge of Rieux, in order that the present sentence may be executed
according to its form and tenor.  Pronounced judicially this 12th day
of September 1560."

This sentence substituted the gallows for the decapitation decreed by
the first judge, inasmuch as the latter punishment was reserved for
criminals of noble birth, while hanging was inflicted on meaner
persons.

When once his fate was decided, Arnauld du Thill lost all his
audacity.  Sent back to Artigues, he was interrogated in prison by
the judge of Rieux, and confessed his imposture at great length.  He
said the idea first occurred to him when, having returned from the
camp in Picardy, he was addressed as Martin Guerre by several
intimate friends of the latter.  He then inquired as to the sort of
life, the habits and relations of, this man, and having contrived to
be near him, had watched him closely during the battle.  He saw him
fall, carried him away, and then, as the reader has already seen,
excited his delirium to the utmost in order to obtain possession of
his secrets.  Having thus explained his successful imposture by
natural causes, which excluded any idea of magic or sorcery, he
protested his penitence, implored the mercy of God, and prepared
himself for execution as became a Christian.

The next day, while the populace, collecting from the whole
neighbourhood, had assembled before the parish church of Artigues in
order to behold the penance of the criminal, who, barefoot, attired
in a shirt, and holding a lighted torch in his hand, knelt at the
entrance of the church, another scene, no less painful, took place in
the house of Martin Guerre.  Exhausted by her suffering, which had
caused a premature confinement, Bertrande lay on her couch of pain,
and besought pardon from him whom she had innocently wronged,
entreating him also to pray for her soul.  Martin Guerre, sitting at
her bedside, extended his hand and blessed her.  She took his hand
and held it to her lips; she could no longer speak.  All at once a
loud noise was heard outside: the guilty man had just been executed
in front of the house.  When finally attached to the gallows, he
uttered a terrible cry, which was answered by another from inside the
house.  The same evening, while the body of the malefactor was being
consumed by fire, the remains of a mother and child were laid to rest
in consecrated ground.






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