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List Of Contents | Contents of The Countess of Saint Geran, by Dumas, Pere
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the countess had never been confined;

In a third, that she had been delivered of a mole;

In a fourth, that she had been confined of a male infant, which
Baulieu had carried away in a basket;

And in a fifth, in which she answered from the dock, she maintained
that her evidence of the countess's accouchement had been extorted
from her by violence.  She made no charges against either Madame de
Bouille or the Marquis de Saint Maixent.  On the other hand, no
sooner was she under lock and key than she despatched her son
Guillemin to the marchioness to inform her that she was arrested.
The marchioness recognised how threatening things were, and was in a
state of consternation; she immediately sent the sieur de la
Foresterie, her steward, to the lieutenant-general, her counsel,
a mortal enemy of the count, that he might advise her in this
conjuncture, and suggest a means for helping the matron without
appearing openly in the matter.  The lieutenant's advice was to quash
the proceedings and obtain an injunction against the continuance of
the preliminaries to the action.  The marchioness spent a large sum
of money, and obtained this injunction; but it was immediately
reversed, and the bar to the suit removed.

La Foresterie was then ordered to pass to Riom, where the sisters
Quinet lived, and to bribe them heavily to secrecy.  The elder one,
on leaving the marchioness's service, had shaken her fist in her
face, feeling secure with the secrets in her knowledge, and told her
that she would repent having dismissed her and her sister, and that
she would make a clean breast of the whole affair, even were she to
be hung first.  These girls then sent word that they wished to enter
her service again; that the countess had promised them handsome terms
if they would speak; and that they had even been questioned in her
name by a Capuchin superior, but that they said nothing, in order to
give time to prepare an answer for them.  The marchioness found
herself obliged to take back the girls; she kept the younger, and
married the elder to Delisle, her house steward.  But la Foresterie,
finding himself in this network of intrigue, grew disgusted at
serving such a mistress, and left her house.  The marchioness told
him on his departure that if he were so indiscreet as to repeat a
word of what he had learned from the Quinet girls, she would punish
him with a hundred poniard stabs from her major-domo Delisle.  Having
thus fortified her position, she thought herself secure against any
hostile steps; but it happened that a certain prudent Berger,
gentleman and page to the Marquis de Saint-Maixent, who enjoyed his
master's confidence and went to see him in the Conciergerie, where he
was imprisoned, threw some strange light on this affair.  His master
had narrated to him all the particulars of the accouchement of the
countess and of the abduction of the child.

"I am astonished, my lord," replied the page, "that having so many
dangerous affairs on hand; you did not relieve your conscience of
this one."

"I intend," replied the marquis, "to restore this child to his
father: I have been ordered to do so by a Capuchin to whom I
confessed having carried off from the midst of the family, without
their knowing it, a grandson of a marshal of France and son of a
governor of a province."

The marquis had at that time permission to go out from prison
occasionally on his parole.  This will not surprise anyone acquainted
with the ideas which prevailed at that period on the honour of a
nobleman, even the greatest criminal.  The marquis, profiting by this
facility, took the page to see a child of about seven years of age,
fair and with a beautiful countenance.

"Page," said he, "look well at this child, so that you may know him
again when I shall send you to inquire about him."

He then informed him that this was the Count de Saint-Geran's son
whom he had carried away.

Information of these matters coming to the ears of justice, decisive
proofs were hoped for; but this happened just when other criminal
informations were lodged against the marquis, which left him helpless
to prevent the exposure of his crimes.  Police officers were
despatched in all haste to the Conciergerie; they were stopped by the
gaolers, who told them that the marquis, feeling ill, was engaged
with a priest who was administering the sacraments, to him.  As they
insisted on seeing him; the warders approached the cell: the priest
came out, crying that persons must be sought to whom the sick man had
a secret to reveal; that he was in a desperate state, and said he had
just poisoned himself; all entered the cell.

M. de Saint-Maixent was writhing on a pallet, in a pitiable
condition, sometimes shrieking like a wild beast, sometimes
stammering disconnected words.  All that the officers could hear was

"Monsieur le Comte .  .  .  call .  .  .  the Countess .  .  .  de
Saint-Geran .  .  .  let them come.  .  .  ."  The officers earnestly
begged him to try to be more explicit.

The marquis had another fit; when he opened his eyes, he said--

"Send for the countess .  .  .  let them forgive me .  .  .  I wish
to tell them everything."  The police officers asked him to speak;
one even told him that the count was there.  The marquis feebly
murmured--

"I am going to tell you----"  Then he gave a loud cry and fell back
dead.

It thus seemed as if fate took pains to close every mouth from which
the truth might escape.  Still, this avowal of a deathbed revelation
to be made to the Count de Saint-Geran and the deposition of the
priest who had administered the last sacraments formed a strong link
in the chain of evidence.

The judge of first instruction, collecting all the information he had
got, made a report the weight of which was overwhelming.  The
carters, the nurse, the domestic servants, all gave accounts
consistent with each other; the route and the various adventures of
the child were plainly detailed, from its birth till its arrival at
the village of Descoutoux.

Justice, thus tracing crime to its sources, had no option but to
issue a warrant for the arrest of the Marchioness de Bouilie; but it
seems probable that it was not served owing to the strenuous efforts
of the Count de Saint-Geran, who could not bring himself to ruin his
sister, seeing that her dishonour would have been reflected on him.
The marchioness hid her remorse in solitude, and appeared again no
more.  She died shortly after, carrying the weight of her secret till
she drew her last breath.

The judge of Moulins at length pronounced sentence on the midwife,
whom he declared arraigned and convicted of having suppressed the
child born to the countess; for which he condemned her to be tortured
and then hanged.  The matron lodged an appeal against this sentence,
and the case was referred to the Conciergerie.

No sooner had the count and countess seen the successive proofs of
the procedure, than tenderness and natural feelings accomplished the
rest.  They no longer doubted that their page was their son; they
stripped him at once of his livery and gave him his rank and
prerogatives, under the title of the Count de la Palice.

Meanwhile, a private person named Sequeville informed the countess
that he had made a very important discovery; that a child had been
baptized in 1642 at St. Jean-en-Greve, and that a woman named Marie
Pigoreau had taken a leading part in the affair.  Thereupon inquiries
were made, and it was discovered that this child had been nursed in
the village of Torcy.  The count obtained a warrant which enabled him
to get evidence before the judge of Torcy; nothing was left undone to
elicit the whole truth; he also obtained a warrant through which he
obtained more information, and published a monitory.  The elder of
the Quinet girls on this told the Marquis de Canillac that the count
was searching at a distance for things very near him.  The truth
shone out with great lustre through these new facts which gushed from
all this fresh information.  The child, exhibited in the presence of
a legal commissary to the nurses and witnesses of Torcy, was
identified, as much by the scars left by the midwife's nails on his
head, as by his fair hair and blue eyes.  This ineffaceable vestige
of the woman's cruelty was the principal proof; the witnesses
testified that la Pigoreau, when she visited this child with a man
who appeared to be of condition, always asserted that he was the son
of a great nobleman who had been entrusted to her care, and that she
hoped he would make her fortune and that of those who had reared him.

The child's godfather, Paul Marmiou, a common labourer; the grocer
Raguenet, who had charge of the two thousand livres; the servant of
la Pigoreau, who had heard her say that the count was obliged to take
this child; the witnesses who proved that la Pigoreau had told them
that the child was too well born to wear a page's livery, all
furnished convincing proofs; but others were forthcoming.

It was at la Pigoreau's that the Marquis de Saint-Maixent, living
then at the hotel de Saint-Geran, went to see the child, kept in her
house as if it were hers; Prudent Berger, the marquis's page,
perfectly well remembered la Pigoreau, and also the child, whom he
had seen at her house and whose history the marquis had related to
him.  Finally, many other witnesses heard in the course of the case,
both before the three chambers of nobles, clergy, and the tiers etat,
and before the judges of Torcy, Cusset, and other local magistrates,
made the facts so clear and conclusive in favour of the legitimacy of
the young count, that it was impossible to avoid impeaching the
guilty parties.  The count ordered the summons in person of la
Pigoreau, who had not been compromised in the original preliminary
proceedings.  This drastic measure threw the intriguing woman on her
beam ends, but she strove hard to right herself.

The widowed Duchess de Ventadour, daughter by her mother's second
marriage of the Countess dowager of Saint-Geran, and half-sister of
the count, and the Countess de Lude, daughter of the Marchioness de

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