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List Of Contents | Contents of Ten Years Later, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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eyes."

"What is that, madame?" said Fouquet, astonished.

"That you have never loved me so much as at this moment; in the same
manner you can read, in my present step towards you, that I have not
forgotten you."

"Oh! madame," said Fouquet, whose face was for a moment lighted up by a
sudden gleam of joy, "you are indeed an angel, and no man can suspect
you.  All he can do is to humble himself before you and entreat
forgiveness."

"Your forgiveness is granted, then," said the marquise.  Fouquet was
about to throw himself upon his knees.  "No, no," she said, "sit here by
my side.  Ah! that is an evil thought which has just crossed your mind."

"How do you detect it, madame?"

"By the smile that has just marred the expression of your countenance.
Be candid, and tell me what your thought was - no secrets between
friends."

"Tell me, then, madame, why you have been so harsh these three or four
months past?"

"Harsh?"

"Yes; did you not forbid me to visit you?"

"Alas!" said Madame de Belliere, sighing, "because your visit to me was
the cause of your being visited with a great misfortune; because my house
is watched; because the same eyes that have seen you already might see
you again; because I think it less dangerous for you that I should come
here than that you should come to my house; and, lastly, because I know
you to be already unhappy enough not to wish to increase your unhappiness
further."

Fouquet started, for these words recalled all the anxieties connected
with his office of superintendent - he who, for the last few minutes, had
indulged in all the wild aspirations of the lover.  "I unhappy?" he said,
endeavoring to smile: "indeed, marquise, you will almost make me believe
I am so, judging from your own sadness.  Are your beautiful eyes raised
upon me merely in pity?  I was looking for another expression from them."

"It is not I who am sad, monsieur; look in the mirror, there - it is
yourself."

"It is true I am somewhat pale, marquise; but it is from overwork; the
king yesterday required a supply of money from me."

"Yes, four millions; I am aware of it."

"You know it?" exclaimed Fouquet, in a tone of surprise; "how can you
have learnt it?  It was after the departure of the queen, and in the
presence of one person only, that the king - "

"You perceive that I do know it; is that not sufficient?  Well, go on,
monsieur, the money the king has required you to supply - "

"You understand, marquise, that I have been obliged to procure it, then
to get it counted, afterwards registered - altogether a long affair.
Since Monsieur de Mazarin's death, financial affairs occasion some little
fatigue and embarrassment.  My administration is somewhat overtaxed, and
this is the reason why I have not slept during the past night."

"So you have the amount?" inquired the marquise, with some anxiety.

"It would indeed be strange, marquise," replied Fouquet, cheerfully, "if
a superintendent of finances were not to have a paltry four millions in
his coffers."

"Yes, yes, I believe you either have, or will have them."

"What do you mean by saying I shall have them?"

"It is not very long since you were required to furnish two millions."

"On the contrary, it seems almost an age; but do not let us talk of money
matters any longer."

"On the contrary, we will continue to speak of them, for that is my only
reason for coming to see you."

"I am at a loss to compass your meaning," said the superintendent, whose
eyes began to express an anxious curiosity.

"Tell me, monsieur, is the office of superintendent a permanent position?"

"You surprise me, marchioness, for you speak as if you had some motive or
interest in putting the question."

"My reason is simple enough; I am desirous of placing some money in your
hands, and naturally I wish to know if you are certain of your post."

"Really, marquise, I am at a loss what to reply; I cannot conceive your
meaning."

"Seriously, then, dear M. Fouquet, I have certain funds which somewhat
embarrass me.  I am tired of investing my money in lands, and am anxious
to intrust it to some friend who will turn it to account."

"Surely it does not press," said M. Fouquet.

"On the contrary, it is very pressing."

"Very well, we will talk of that by and by."

"By and by will not do, for my money is there," returned the marquise,
pointing out the coffer to the superintendent, and showing him, as she
opened it, the bundles of notes and heaps of gold.  Fouquet, who had
risen from his seat at the same moment as Madame de Belliere, remained
for a moment plunged in thought; then suddenly starting back, he turned
pale, and sank down in his chair, concealing his face in his hands.
"Madame, madame," he murmured, "what opinion can you have of me, when you
make me such an offer?"

"Of you!" returned the marquise.  "Tell me, rather, what you yourself
think of the step I have taken."

"You bring me this money for myself, and you bring it because you know me
to be embarrassed.  Nay, do not deny it, for I am sure of it.  Can I not
read your heart?"

"If you know my heart, then, can you not see that it is my heart I offer
you?"

"I have guessed rightly, then," exclaimed Fouquet.  "In truth, madame, I
have never yet given you the right to insult me in this manner."

"Insult you," she said, turning pale, "what singular delicacy of
feeling!  You tell me you love me; in the name of that affection you wish
me to sacrifice my reputation and my honor, yet, when I offer you money
which is my own, you refuse me."

"Madame, you are at liberty to preserve what you term your reputation and
your honor.  Permit me to preserve mine.  Leave me to my ruin, leave me
to sink beneath the weight of the hatreds which surround me, beneath the
faults I have committed, beneath the load, even, of my remorse, but, for
Heaven's sake, madame, do not overwhelm me with this last infliction."

"A short time since, M. Fouquet, you were wanting in judgment; now you
are wanting in feeling."

Fouquet pressed his clenched hand upon his breast, heaving with emotion,
saying: "overwhelm me, madame, for I have nothing to reply."

"I offered you my friendship, M. Fouquet."

"Yes, madame, and you limited yourself to that."

"And what I am now doing is the act of a friend."

"No doubt it is."

"And you reject this mark of my friendship?"

"I do reject it."

"Monsieur Fouquet, look at me," said the marquise, with glistening eyes,
"I now offer you my love."

"Oh, madame," exclaimed Fouquet.

"I have loved you for a long while past; women, like men, have a false
delicacy at times.  For a long time past I have loved you, but would not
confess it.  Well, then, you have implored this love on your knees, and I
have refused you; I was blind, as you were a little while since; but as
it was my love that you sought, it is my love I now offer you."

"Oh! madame, you overwhelm me beneath a load of happiness."

"Will you be happy, then, if I am yours - entirely?"

"It will be the supremest happiness for me."

"Take me, then.  If, however, for your sake I sacrifice a prejudice, do
you, for mine, sacrifice a scruple."

"Do not tempt me."

"Do not refuse me."

"Think seriously of what you are proposing."

"Fouquet, but one word.  Let it be 'No,' and I open this door," and she
pointed to the door which led into the streets, "and you will never see
me again.  Let that word be 'Yes,' and I am yours entirely."

"Elise!  Elise!  But this coffer?"

"Contains my dowry."

"It is your ruin," exclaimed Fouquet, turning over the gold and papers;
"there must be a million here."

"Yes, my jewels, for which I care no longer if you do not love me, and
for which, equally, I care no longer if you love me as I love you."

"This is too much," exclaimed Fouquet.  "I yield, I yield, even were it
only to consecrate so much devotion.  I accept the dowry."

"And take the woman with it," said the marquise, throwing herself into
his arms.


Chapter XXIX:
Le Terrain de Dieu.

During the progress of these events Buckingham and De Wardes traveled in
excellent companionship, and made the journey from Paris to Calais in
undisturbed harmony together.  Buckingham had hurried his departure, so
that the greater part of his _adieux_ were very hastily made.  His visit
to Monsieur and Madame, to the young queen, and to the queen-dowager, had
been paid collectively - a precaution on the part of the queen-mother
which saved him the distress of any private conversation with Monsieur,
and also the danger of seeing Madame again.  The carriages containing the
luggage had already been sent on beforehand, and in the evening he set
off in his traveling carriage with his attendants.

De Wardes, irritated at finding himself dragged away in so abrupt a
manner by this Englishman, had sought in his subtle mind for some means
of escaping from his fetters; but no one having rendered him any
assistance in this respect, he was absolutely obliged, therefore, to
submit to the burden of his own evil thoughts and caustic spirit.

Such of his friends in whom he had been able to confide, had, in their
character of wits, rallied him upon the duke's superiority.  Others, less
brilliant, but more sensible, had reminded him of the king's orders
prohibiting dueling.  Others, again, and they the larger number, who, in
virtue of charity, or national vanity, might have rendered him
assistance, did not care to run the risk of incurring disgrace, and
would, at the best, have informed the ministers of a departure which
might end in a massacre on a small scale.  The result was, that, after
having fully deliberated upon the matter, De Wardes packed up his
luggage, took a couple of horses, and, followed only by one servant, made
his way towards the barrier, where Buckingham's carriage was to await him.

The duke received his adversary as he would have done an intimate
acquaintance, made room beside him on the same seat with himself, offered
him refreshments, and spread over his knees the sable cloak that had been
thrown on the front seat.  They then conversed of the court, without

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