List Of Contents | Contents of Marquise de Brinvilliers, by Dumas, Pere
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prosecutor who has demanded it, I thank them both most humbly, for my
salvation depends upon it."

The doctor was about to answer, encouraging her, when the door
opened: it was dinner coming in, for it was now half-past one.  The
marquise paused and watched what was brought in, as though she were
playing hostess in her own country house.  She made the woman and the
two men who watched her sit down to the table, and turning to the
doctor, said, "Sir, you will not wish me to stand on ceremony with
you; these good people always dine with me to keep me company, and if
you approve, we will do the same to-day.  This is the last meal," she
added, addressing them, "that I shall take with you."  Then turning
to the woman, "Poor Madame du Rus," said she, "I have been a trouble
to you for a long time; but have a little patience, and you will soon
be rid of me.  To-morrow you can go to Dravet; you will have time,
for in seven or eight hours from now there will be nothing more to do
for me, and I shall be in the gentleman's hands; you will not be
allowed near me.  After then, you can go away for good; for I don't
suppose you will have the heart to see me executed."  All this she
said quite calmly, but not with pride.  From time to time her people
tried to hide their tears, and she made a sign of pitying them.
Seeing that the dinner was on the table and nobody eating, she
invited the doctor to take some soup, asking him to excuse the
cabbage in it, which made it a common soup and unworthy of his
acceptance.  She herself took some soup and two eggs, begging her
fellow-guests to excuse her for not serving them, pointing out that
no knife or fork had been set in her place.

When the meal was almost half finished, she begged the doctor to let
her drink his health.  He replied by drinking hers, and she seemed to
be quite charmed by, his condescension.  "To-morrow is a fast day,"
said she, setting down her glass, "and although it will be a day of
great fatigue for me, as I shall have to undergo the question as well
as death, I intend to obey the orders of the Church and keep my

"Madame," replied the doctor, "if you needed soup to keep you up, you
would not have to feel any scruple, for it will be no self-
indulgence, but a necessity, and the Church does not exact fasting in
such a case."

"Sir," replied the marquise, "I will make no difficulty about it, if
it is necessary and if you order it; but it will not be needed, I
think: if I have some soup this evening for supper, and some more
made stronger than usual a little before midnight, it will be enough
to last me through to-morrow, if I have two fresh eggs to take after
the question."

"In truth," says the priest in the account we give here, "I was
alarmed by this calm behaviour.  I trembled when I heard her give
orders to the concierge that the soup was to be made stronger than
usual and that she was to have two cups before midnight.  When dinner
was over, she was given pen and ink, which she had already asked for,
and told me that she had a letter to write before I took up my pen to
put down what she wanted to dictate."  The letter, she explained,
which was difficult to write, was to her husband.  She would feel
easier when it was written.  For her husband she expressed so much
affection, that the doctor, knowing what had passed, felt much
surprised, and wishing to try her, said that the affection was not
reciprocated, as her husband had abandoned her the whole time of the
trial.  The marquise interrupted him:

"My father, we must not judge things too quickly or merely by
appearances.  M. de Brinvilliers has always concerned himself with
me, and has only failed in doing what it was impossible to do.  Our
interchange of letters never ceased while I was out of the kingdom;
do not doubt but that he would have come to Paris as soon as he knew
I was in prison, had the state of his affairs allowed him to come
safely.  But you must know that he is deeply in debt, and could not
appear in Paris without being arrested.  Do not suppose that he is
without feeling for me."

She then began to write, and when her letter was finished she handed
it to the doctor, saying, "You, sir, are the lord and master of all
my sentiments from now till I die; read this letter, and if you find
anything that should be altered, tell me."

This was the letter--

"When I am on the point of yielding up my soul to God, I wish to
assure you of my affection for you, which I shall feel until the last
moment of my life.  I ask your pardon for all that I have done
contrary to my duty.  I am dying a shameful death, the work of my
enemies: I pardon them with all my heart, and I pray you to do the
same.  I also beg you to forgive me for any ignominy that may attach
to you herefrom; but consider that we are only here for a time, and
that you may soon be forced to render an account to God of all your
actions, and even your idle words, just as I must do now.  Be mindful
of your worldly affairs, and of our children, and give them a good
example; consult Madame Marillac and Madame Couste.  Let as many
prayers as possible be said for me, and believe that in my death I am
still ever yours, D'AUBRAY."

The doctor read this letter carefully; then he told her that one of
her phrases was not right--the one about her enemies.  "For you have
no other enemies," said he, "than your own crimes.  Those whom you
call your enemies are those who love the memory of your father and
brothers, whom you ought to have loved more than they do."

"But those who have sought my death," she replied, "are my enemies,
are they not, and is it not a Christian act to forgive them?"

"Madame," said the doctor, "they are not your enemies, but you are
the enemy of the human race: nobody can think without, horror of your

"And so, my father," she replied, "I feel no resentment towards them,
and I desire to meet in Paradise those who have been chiefly
instrumental in taking me and bringing me here."

"Madame," said the doctor, "what mean you by this?  Such words are
used by some when they desire people's death.  Explain, I beg, what
you mean."

"Heaven forbid," cried the marquise, "that you should understand me
thus!  Nay, may God grant them long prosperity in this world and
infinite glory in the next!  Dictate a new letter, and I will write
just what you please."

When a fresh letter had been written, the marquise would attend to
nothing but her confession, and begged the doctor to take the pen for
her.  "I have done so many wrong thing's," she said, "that if I only
gave you a verbal confession, I should never be sure I had given a
complete account."

Then they both knelt down to implore the grace of the Holy Spirit.
They said a 'Veni Creator' and a 'Salve Regina', and the doctor then
rose and seated himself at a table, while the marquise, still on her
knees, began a Confiteor and made her whole confession.  At nine
o'clock, Father Chavigny, who had brought Doctor Pirot in the
morning, came in again.  The marquise seemed annoyed, but still put a
good face upon it.  "My father," said she, "I did not expect to see
you so late; pray leave me a few minutes longer with the doctor."  He
retired.  "Why has he come?" asked the marquise.

"It is better for you not to be alone," said the doctor.

"Then do you mean to leave me?" cried the marquise, apparently

"Madame, I will do as you wish," he answered; "but you would be
acting kindly if you could spare me for a few hours.  I might go
home, and Father Chavigny would stay with you."

"Ah!" she cried, wringing her hands, "you promised you would not
leave me till I am dead, and now you go away.  Remember, I never saw
you before this morning, but since then you have become more to me
than any of my oldest friends."

"Madame," said the good doctor, "I will do all I can to please you.
If I ask for a little rest, it is in order that I may resume my place
with more vigour to-morrow, and render you better service than I
otherwise could.  If I take no rest, all I say or do must suffer.
You count on the execution for tomorrow; I do not know if you are
right; but if so, to-morrow will be your great and decisive day, and
we shall both need all the strength we have.  We have already been
working for thirteen or fourteen hours for the good of your
salvation; I am not a strong man, and I think you should realise,
madame, that if you do not let me rest a little, I may not be able to
stay with you to the end."

"Sir," said the marquise, "you have closed my mouth.  To-morrow is
for me a far more important day than to-day, and I have been wrong:
of course you must rest to-night.  Let us just finish this one thing,
and read over what we have written."

It was done, and the doctor would have retired; but the supper came
in, and the marquise would not let him go without taking something.
She told the concierge to get a carriage and charge it to her.  She
took a cup of soup and two eggs, and a minute later the concierge
came back to say the carriage was at the door.  Then the marquise
bade the doctor good-night, making him promise to pray for her and to
be at the Conciergerie by six o'clock the next morning.  This he
promised her.

The day following, as he went into the tower, he found Father
Chavigny, who had taken his place with the marquise, kneeling and
praying with her.  The priest was weeping, but she was calm, and
received the doctor in just the same way as she had let him go.  When
Father Chavigny saw him, he retired.  The marquise begged Chavigny to
pray for her, and wanted to make him promise to return, but that he
would not do.  She then turned to the doctor, saying, "Sir, you are
punctual, and I cannot complain that you have broken your promise;
but oh, how the time has dragged, and how long it has seemed before
the clock struck six!"

"I am here, madame," said the doctor; "but first of all, how have you
spent the night?"

"I have written three letters," said the marquise, "and, short as
they were, they took a long time to write: one was to my sister, one

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