List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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whatever.  Fouquet, my friend! it is of immense importance."

"You astonish me, marquise; I will even say you almost frighten me.  You,
so serious, so collected; you who know the world we live in so well.  Is
it, then, important?"

"Oh! very important."

"In the first place, how did you come here?"

"You shall know that presently; but first to something of more
consequence."

"Speak, marquise, speak!  I implore you, have pity on my impatience."

"Do you know that Colbert is made intendant of the finances?"

"Bah! Colbert, little Colbert."

"Yes, Colbert, _little_ Colbert."

"Mazarin's factotum?"

"The same."

"Well! what do you see so terrific in that, dear marquise? little Colbert
is intendant; that is astonishing I confess, but is not terrible."

"Do you think the king has given, without pressing motive, such a place
to one you call a little _cuistre?_"

"In the first place, is it positively true that the king has given it to
him?"

"It is so said."

"Ay, but who says so?"

"Everybody."

"Everybody, that's nobody; mention some one likely to be well informed
who says so."

"Madame Vanel."

"Ah! now you begin to frighten me in earnest," said Fouquet, laughing;
"if any one is well informed, or ought to be well informed, it is the
person you name."

"Do not speak ill of poor Marguerite, Monsieur Fouquet, for she still
loves you."

"Bah! indeed?  That is scarcely credible.  I thought little Colbert, as
you said just now, had passed over that love, and left the impression
upon it of a spot of ink or a stain of grease."

"Fouquet!  Fouquet!  Is this the way you always treat the poor creatures
you desert?"

"Why, you surely are not going to undertake the defense of Madame Vanel?"

"Yes, I will undertake it; for, I repeat, she loves you still, and the
proof is she saves you."

"But your interposition, marquise; that is very cunning on her part.  No
angel could be more agreeable to me, or could lead me more certainly to
salvation.  But, let me ask you, do you know Marguerite?"

"She was my convent friend."

"And you say that she has informed you that Monsieur Colbert was named
intendant?"

"Yes, she did."

"Well, enlighten me, marquise; granted Monsieur Colbert is intendant - so
be it.  In what can an intendant, that is to say my subordinate, my
clerk, give me umbrage or injure me, even if he is Monsieur Colbert?"

"You do not reflect, monsieur, apparently," replied the marquise.

"Upon what?"

"This: that Monsieur Colbert hates you."

"Hates me?" cried Fouquet.  "Good heavens! marquise, whence do you come?
where can you live?  Hates me! why all the world hates me, he, of course,
as others do."

"He more than others."

"More than others - let him."

"He is ambitious."

"Who is not, marquise."

"Yes, but with him ambition has no bounds."

"I am quite aware of that, since he made it a point to succeed me with
Madame Vanel."

"And obtained his end; look at that."

"Do you mean to say he has the presumption to pass from intendant to
superintendent?"

"Have you not yourself already had the same fear?"

"Oh! oh!" said Fouquet, "to succeed with Madame Vanel is one thing, to
succeed me with the king is another.  France is not to be purchased so
easily as the wife of a _maitre des comptes_."

"Eh! monsieur, everything is to be bought; if not by gold, by intrigue."

"Nobody knows to the contrary better than you, madame, you to whom I have
offered millions."

"Instead of millions, Fouquet, you should have offered me a true, only
and boundless love: I might have accepted that.  So you see, still,
everything is to be bought, if not in one way, by another."

"So, Colbert, in your opinion, is in a fair way of bargaining for my
place of superintendent.  Make yourself easy on that head, my dear
marquise; he is not yet rich enough to purchase it."

"But if he should rob you of it?"

"Ah! that is another thing.  Unfortunately, before he can reach me, that
is to say, the body of the place, he must destroy, must make a breach in
the advanced works, and I am devilishly well fortified, marquise."

"What you call your advanced works are your creatures, are they not 
your friends?"

"Exactly so."

"And is M. d'Eymeris one of your creatures?"

"Yes, he is."

"Is M. Lyodot one of your friends?"

"Certainly."

"M. de Vanin?"

"M. de Vanin! ah! they may do what they like with him, but - "

"But - "

"But they must not touch the others!"

"Well, if you are anxious they should not touch MM. d'Eymeris and Lyodot,
it is time to look about you."

"Who threatens them?"

"Will you listen to me now?"

"Attentively, marquise."

"Without interrupting me?"

"Speak."

"Well, this morning Marguerite sent for me."

"And what did she want with you?"

"'I dare not see M. Fouquet myself,' said she."

"Bah! why should she think I would reproach her?  Poor woman, she vastly
deceives herself."

"'See him yourself,' said she, 'and tell him to beware of M. Colbert.'"

"What! she warned me to beware of her lover?"

"I have told you she still loves you."

"Go on, marquise."

"'M. Colbert,' she added, 'came to me two hours ago, to inform me he was
appointed intendant.'"

"I have already told you, marquise, that M. Colbert would only be the
more in my power for that."

"Yes, but that is not all: Marguerite is intimate, as you know, with
Madame d'Eymeris and Madame Lyodot."

"I know it."

"Well, M. Colbert put many questions to her, relative to the fortunes of
these two gentlemen, and as to the devotion they had for you."

"Oh, as to those two, I can answer for them; they must be killed before
they will cease to be mine."

"Then, as Madame Vanel was obliged to quit M. Colbert for an instant to
receive a visitor, and as M. Colbert is industrious, scarcely was the new
intendant left alone, before he took a pencil from his pocket, and, there
was paper on the table, began to make notes."

"Notes concerning d'Eymeris and Lyodot?"

"Exactly."

"I should like to know what those notes were about."

"And that is just what I have brought you."

"Madame Vanel has taken Colbert's notes and sent them to me?"

"No; but by a chance which resembles a miracle, she has a duplicate of
those notes."

"How could she get that?"

"Listen; I told you that Colbert found paper on the table."

"Yes."

"That he took a pencil from his pocket."

"Yes."

"And wrote upon that paper."

"Yes."

"Well, this pencil was a lead-pencil, consequently hard; so, it marked in
black upon the first sheet, and in white upon the second."

"Go on."

"Colbert, when tearing off the first sheet, took no notice of the second."

"Well?"

"Well, on the second was to be read what had been written on the first;
Madame Vanel read it, and sent for me."

"Yes, yes."

"Then, when she was assured I was your devoted friend, she gave me the
paper, and told me the secret of this house."

"And this paper?" said Fouquet, in some degree of agitation.

"Here it is, monsieur - read it," said the marquise.

Fouquet read:

"Names of the farmers of revenue to be condemned by the Chamber of
Justice: D'Eymeris, friend of M. F.; Lyodot, friend of M. F.; De Vanin,
indif."

"D'Eymeris and Lyodot!" cried Fouquet, reading the paper eagerly again.

"Friends of M. F.," pointed the marquise with her finger.

"But what is the meaning of these words: 'To be condemned by the Chamber
of Justice'?"

"_Dame!_" said the marquise, "that is clear enough, I think.  Besides,
that is not all.  Read on, read on;" and Fouquet continued, - "The two
first to death, the third to be dismissed, with MM. d'Hautemont and de la
Vallette, who will only have their property confiscated."

"Great God!" cried Fouquet, "to death, to death!  Lyodot and D'Eymeris.
But even if the Chamber of Justice should condemn them to death, the king
will never ratify their condemnation, and they cannot be executed without
the king's signature."

"The king has made M. Colbert intendant."

"Oh!" cried Fouquet, as if he caught a glimpse of the abyss that yawned
beneath his feet, "impossible! impossible!  But who passed a pencil over
the marks made by Colbert?"

"I did.  I was afraid the first would be effaced."

"Oh! I will know all."

"You will know nothing, monsieur; you despise your enemy too much for
that."

"Pardon me, my dear marquise; excuse me; yes, M. Colbert is my enemy, I
believe him to be so; yes, M. Colbert is a man to be dreaded, I admit.
But I!  I have time, and as you are here, as you have assured me of your
devotion, as you have allowed me to hope for your love, as we are alone
- "

"I came here to save you, Monsieur Fouquet, and not to ruin myself," said
the marquise, rising - "therefore, beware! - "

"Marquise, in truth you terrify yourself too much at least, unless this
terror is but a pretext - "

"He is very deep, very deep; this M. Colbert: beware!"

Fouquet, in his turn, drew himself up.  "And I?" asked he.

"And you, you have only a noble heart.  Beware! beware!"

"So?"

"I have done what was right, my friend, at the risk of my reputation.
Adieu!"

"Not adieu, _au revoir!_"

"Perhaps," said the marquise, giving her hand to Fouquet to kiss, and
walking towards the door with so firm a step, that he did not dare to bar
her passage.  As to Fouquet, he retook, with his head hanging down and a
fixed cloud on his brow, the path of the subterranean passage along which
ran the metal wires that communicated from one house to the other,
transmitting, through two glasses, the wishes and signals of hidden
correspondents.


Chapter LV:
The Abbe Fouquet.

Fouquet hastened back to his apartment by the subterranean passage, and
immediately closed the mirror with the spring.  He was scarcely in his
 closet, when he heard some one knocking violently at the door, and a
well-known voice crying: - "Open the door, monseigneur, I entreat you,
open the door!"  Fouquet quickly restored a little order to everything
that might have revealed either his absence or his agitation: he spread
his papers over the desk, took up a pen, and, to gain time, said, through

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