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List Of Contents | Contents of The Countess of Saint Geran, by Dumas, Pere
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at the wicket gate; this Baulieu was, in fact, the brother of the
fencing master, and godfather to Pigoreau's second son.  It is now
supposed that he was the unknown person who had placed the child of
quality with her, and who used to go and see him at his nurse's.  La
Pigoreau gave him a long account of her situation.  The major-domo
took the child with some emotion, and told la Pigoreau to wait his
answer a short distance off, in a place which he pointed out.

Baulieu's wife made a great outcry at the first proposal of an
increase of family; but he succeeded in pacifying her by pointing out
the necessities of his sister-in-law, and how easy and inexpensive it
was to do this good work in such a house as the count's.  He went to
his master and mistress to ask permission to bring up this child in
their hotel; a kind of feeling entered into the charge he was
undertaking which in some measure lessened the weight on his
conscience.

The count and countess at first opposed this project; telling him
that having already five children he ought not to burden himself with
any more, but he petitioned so earnestly that he obtained what he
wanted.  The countess wished to see it, and as she was about to start
for Moulins she ordered it to be put in her women's coach; when it
was shown her, she cried out, "What a lovely child!"  The boy was
fair, with large blue eyes and very regular features, She gave him a
hundred caresses, which the child returned very prettily.  She at
once took a great fancy to him, and said to Baulieu, "I shall not put
him in my women's coach; I shall put him in my own."

After they arrived at the chateau of Saint-Geran, her affection for
Henri, the name retained by the child, increased day by day.  She
often contemplated him with sadness, then embraced him with
tenderness, and kept him long on her bosom.  The count shared this
affection for the supposed nephew of Baulieu, who was adopted, so to
speak, and brought up like a child of quality.

The Marquis de Saint-Maixent and Madame de Bouille had not married,
although the old Marquis de Bouille had long been dead.  It appeared
that they had given up this scheme.  The marchioness no doubt felt
scruples about it, and the marquis was deterred from marriage by his
profligate habits.  It is moreover supposed that other engagements
and heavy bribes compensated the loss he derived from the
marchioness's breach of faith.

He was a man about town at that period, and was making love to the
demoiselle Jacqueline de la Garde; he had succeeded in gaining her
affections, and brought matters to such a point that she no longer
refused her favours except on the grounds of her pregnancy and the
danger of an indiscretion.  The marquis then offered to introduce to
her a matron who could deliver women without the pangs of labour, and
who had a very successful practice.  The same Jacqueline de la Garde
further gave evidence at the trial that M. de Saint-Maixent had often
boasted, as of a scientific intrigue, of having spirited away the son
of a governor of a province and grandson of a marshal of France; that
he spoke of the Marchioness de Bouille, said that he had made her
rich, and that it was to him she owed her great wealth; and further,
that one day having taken her to a pretty country seat which belonged
to him, she praised its beauty, saying "c'etait un beau lieu"; he
replied by a pun on a man's name, saying that he knew another Baulieu
who had enabled him to make a fortune of five hundred thousand
crowns.  He also said to Jadelon, sieur de la Barbesange, when
posting with him from Paris, that the Countess de Saint-Geran had
been delivered of a son who was in his power.

The marquis had not seen Madame de Bouille for a long time; a common
danger reunited them.  They had both learned with terror the presence
of Henri at the hotel de Saint-Geran.  They consulted about this; the
marquis undertook to cut the danger short.  However, he dared put in
practice nothing overtly against the child, a matter still more
difficult just then, inasmuch as some particulars of his
discreditable adventures had leaked out, and the Saint-Geran family
received him more than coldly.

Baulieu, who witnessed every day the tenderness of the count and
countess for the boy Henri, had been a hundred times on the point of
giving himself up and confessing everything. He was torn to pieces
with remorse.  Remarks escaped him which he thought he might make
without ulterior consequences; seeing the lapse of time, but they
were noted and commented on.  Sometimes he would say that he held in
his hand the life and honour of Madame the Marchioness de Bouille;
sometimes that the count and countess had more reasons than they knew
of for loving Henri.  One day he put a case of conscience to a
confessor, thus: "Whether a man who had been concerned in the
abduction of a child could not satisfy his conscience by restoring
him to his father and mother without telling them who he was?"  What
answer the confessor made is not known, but apparently it was not
what the major-domo wanted.  He replied to a magistrate of Moulins,
who congratulated him on having a nephew whom his masters
overburdened with kind treatment, that they ought to love him, since
he was nearly related to them.

These remarks were noticed by others than those principally
concerned.  One day a wine merchant came to propose to Baulieu the
purchase of a pipe of Spanish wine, of which he gave him a sample
bottle; in the evening he was taken violently ill.  They carried him
to bed, where he writhed, uttering horrible cries.  One sole thought
possessed him when his sufferings left him a lucid interval, and in
his agony he repeated over and over again that he wished to implore
pardon from the count and countess for a great injury which he had
done them.  The people round about him told him that was a trifle,
and that he ought not to let it embitter his last moments, but he
begged so piteously that he got them to promise that they should be
sent for.

The count thought it was some trifling irregularity, some
misappropriation in the house accounts; and fearing to hasten the
death of the sufferer by the shame of the confession of a fault, he
sent word that he heartily forgave him, that he might die tranquil,
and refused to see him.  Baulieu expired, taking his secret with him.
This happened in 1648.

The child was then seven years old.  His charming manners grew with
his age, and the count and countess felt their love for him increase.
They caused him to be taught dancing and fencing, put him into
breeches and hose, and a page's suit of their livery, in which
capacity he served them.  The marquis turned his attack to this
quarter.  He was doubtless preparing some plot as criminal as the
preceding, when justice overtook him for some other great crimes of
which he had been guilty.  He was arrested one day in the street when
conversing with one of the Saint-Geran footmen, and taken to the
Conciergerie of the Palace of Justice.

Whether owing to these occurrences, or to grounds for suspicion
before mentioned, certain reports spread in the Bourbonnais embodying
some of the real facts; portions of them reached the ears of the
count and countess, but they had only the effect of renewing their
grief without furnishing a clue to the truth.

Meanwhile, the count went to take the waters at Vichy.  The countess
and Madame de Bouille followed him, and there they chanced to
encounter Louise Goillard, the midwife.  This woman renewed her
acquaintance with the house, and in particular often visited the
Marchioness de Bouille.  One day the countess, unexpectedly entering
the marchioness's room, found them both conversing in an undertone.
They stopped talking immediately, and appeared disconcerted.

The countess noticed this without attaching any importance to it, and
asked the subject of their conversation.

"Oh, nothing," said the marchioness.

"But what is it?" insisted the countess, seeing that she blushed.

The marchioness, no longer able to evade the question, and feeling
her difficulties increase, replied--

"Dame Louise is praising my brother for bearing no ill-will to her."

"Why?" said the countess, turning to the midwife,--"why should you
fear any ill-will on the part of my husband?"

"I was afraid," said Louise Goillard awkwardly, "that he might have
taken a dislike to me on account of all that happened when you
expected to be confined."

The obscurity of these words and embarrassment of the two women
produced a lively effect upon the countess; but she controlled
herself and let the subject drop.  Her agitation, however, did not
escape the notice of the marchioness, who the next day had horses put
to her coach and retired to hey estate of Lavoine.  This clumsy
proceeding strengthened suspicion.

The first determination of the countess was to arrest Louise
Goillard; but she saw that in so serious a matter every step must be
taken with precaution.  She consulted the count and the countess
dowager.  They quietly summoned the midwife, to question her without
any preliminaries.  She prevaricated and contradicted herself over
and over again; moreover, her state of terror alone sufficed to
convict her of a crime.  They handed her over to the law, and the
Count de Saint-Geran filed an information before the vice-seneschal
of Moulins.

The midwife underwent a first interrogatory.  She confessed the truth
of the accouchement, but she added that the countess had given birth
to a still-born daughter, which she had buried under a stone near the
step of the barn in the back yard.  The judge, accompanied by a
physician and a surgeon, repaired to the place, where he found
neither stone, nor foetus, nor any indications of an interment.  They
searched unsuccessfully in other places.

When the dowager countess heard this statement, she demanded that
this horrible woman should be put on her trial.  The civil
lieutenant, in the absence of the criminal lieutenant, commenced the
proceedings.

In a second interrogation, Louise Goillard positively declared that

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