List Of Contents | Contents of Marquise de Brinvilliers, by Dumas, Pere
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was faithful to her mission, and never left him for an hour.  At
list, after four days of agony, he died in his daughter's arms,
blessing the woman who was his murderess.  Her grief then broke forth
uncontrolled.  Her sobs and tears were so vehement that her brothers'
grief seemed cold beside hers.  Nobody suspected a crime, so no
autopsy was held; the tomb was closed, and not the slightest
suspicion had approached her.

But the marquise had only gained half her purpose.  She had now more
freedom for her love affairs, but her father's dispositions were not
so favourable as she expected: the greater part of his property,
together with his business, passed to the elder brother and to the
second brother, who was Parliamentary councillor; the position of,
the marquise was very little improved in point of fortune.

Sainte-Croix was leading a fine and joyous life.  Although nobody
supposed him to be wealthy, he had a steward called Martin, three
lackeys called George, Lapierre, and Lachaussee, and besides his
coach and other carriages he kept ordinary bearers for excursions at
night.  As he was young and good-looking, nobody troubled about where
all these luxuries came from.  It was quite the custom in those days
that a well-set-up young gentleman should want for nothing, and
Sainte-Croix was commonly said to have found the philosopher's stone.
In his life in the world he had formed friendships with various
persons, some noble, some rich: among the latter was a man named
Reich de Penautier, receiver-general of the clergy and treasurer of
the States of Languedoc, a millionaire, and one of those men who are
always successful, and who seem able by the help of their money to
arrange matters that would appear to be in the province of God alone.
This Penautier was connected in business with a man called d'Alibert,
his first clerk, who died all of a sudden of apoplexy.  The attack
was known to Penautier sooner than to his own family: then the papers
about the conditions of partnership disappeared, no one knew how, and
d'Alibert's wife and child were ruined.  D'Alibert's brother-in-law,
who was Sieur de la Magdelaine, felt certain vague suspicions
concerning this death, and wished to get to the bottom of it; he
accordingly began investigations, which were suddenly brought to an
end by his death.

In one way alone Fortune seemed to have abandoned her favourite:
Maitre Penautier had a great desire to succeed the Sieur of
Mennevillette, who was receiver of the clergy, and this office was
worth nearly 60,000 livres.  Penautier knew that Mennevillette was
retiring in favour of his chief clerk, Messire Pierre Hannyvel, Sieur
de Saint-Laurent, and he had taken all the necessary, steps for
buying the place over his head: the Sieur de Saint-Laurent, with the
full support of the clergy, obtained the reversion for nothing--a
thing that never happened before.  Penautier then offered him 40,000
crowns to go halves, but Saint-Laurent refused.  Their relations,
however, were not broken off, and they continued to meet.  Penautier
was considered such a lucky fellow that it was generally expected he
would somehow or other get some day the post he coveted so highly.
People who had no faith in the mysteries of alchemy declared that
Sainte-Croix and Penautier did business together.

Now, when the period for mourning was over, the relations of the
marquise and Sainte-Croix were as open and public as before: the two
brothers d'Aubray expostulated with her by the medium of an older
sister who was in a Carmelite nunnery, and the marquise perceived
that her father had on his death bequeathed the care and supervision
of her to her brothers.  Thus her first crime had been all but in
vain: she had wanted to get rid of her father's rebukes and to gain
his fortune; as a fact the fortune was diminished by reason of her
elder brothers, and she had scarcely enough to pay her debts; while
the rebukes were renewed from the mouths of her brothers, one of
whom, being civil lieutenant, had the power to separate her again
from her lover.  This must be prevented.  Lachaussee left the service
of Sainte-Croix, and by a contrivance of the marquise was installed
three months later as servant of the elder brother, who lived with
the civil lieutenant.  The poison to be used on this occasion was not
so swift as the one taken by M. d'Aubray so violent a death happening
so soon in the same family might arouse suspicion.  Experiments were
tried once more, not on animals--for their different organisation
might put the poisoner's science in the wrong--but as before upon
human subjects; as before, a 'corpus vili' was taken.  The marquise
had the reputation of a pious and charitable lady; seldom did she
fail to relieve the poor who appealed: more than this, she took part
in the work of those devoted women who are pledged to the service of
the sick, and she walked the hospitals and presented wine and other
medicaments.  No one was surprised when she appeared in her ordinary
way at l'Hotel-Dieu.  This time she brought biscuits and cakes for
the convalescent patients, her gifts being, as usual, gratefully
received.  A month later she paid another visit, and inquired after
certain patients in whom she was particularly interested: since the
last time she came they had suffered a relapse--the malady had
changed in nature, and had shown graver symptoms.  It was a kind of
deadly fatigue, killing them by a slows strange decay.  She asked
questions of the doctors but could learn nothing: this malady was
unknown to them, and defied all the resources of their art.
A fortnight later she returned.  Some of the sick people were dead,
others still alive, but desperately ill; living skeletons, all that
seemed left of them was sight, speech, and breath.  At the end of two
months they were all dead, and the physicians had been as much at a
loss over the post-mortems as over the treatment of the dying.

Experiments of this kind were reassuring; so Lachaussee had orders to
carry out his instructions.  One day the civil lieutenant rang his
bell, and Lachaussee, who served the councillor, as we said before,
came up for orders.  He found the lieutenant at work with his
secretary, Couste what he wanted was a glass of wine and water.  In a
moment Lachaussee brought it in.  The lieutenant put the glass to his
lips, but at the first sip pushed it away, crying, "What have you
brought, you wretch?  I believe you want to poison me."  Then handing
the glass to his secretary, he added, "Look at it, Couste: what is
this stuff?"  The secretary put a few drops into a coffee-spoon,
lifting it to his nose and then to his mouth: the drink had the smell
and taste of vitriol.  Meanwhile Lachaussee went up to the secretary
and told him he knew what it must be: one of the councillor's valets
had taken a dose of medicine that morning, and without noticing he
must have brought the very glass his companion had used.  Saying
this, he took the glass from the secretary's hand, put it to his
lips, pretending to taste it himself, and then said he had no doubt
it was so, for he recognised the smell.  He then threw the wine into
the fireplace.

As the lieutenant had not drunk enough to be upset by it, he soon
forgot this incident and the suspicions that had been aroused at the
moment in his mind.  Sainte-Croix and the marquise perceived that
they had made a false step, and at the risk of involving several
people in their plan for vengeance, they decided on the employment of
other means.  Three months passed without any favourable occasion
presenting itself; at last, on one of the early days of April 1670,
the lieutenant took his brother to his country place, Villequoy, in
Beauce, to spend the Easter vacation.  Lachaussee was with his
master, and received his instructions at the moment of departure.

The day after they arrived in the country there was a pigeon-pie for
dinner: seven persons who had eaten it felt indisposed after the
meal, and the three who had not taken it were perfectly well.  Those
on whom the poisonous substance had chiefly acted were the
lieutenant, the councillor, and the commandant of the watch.  He may
have eaten more, or possibly the poison he had tasted on the former
occasion helped, but at any rate the lieutenant was the first to be
attacked with vomiting two hours later, the councillor showed the
same symptoms; the commandant and the others were a prey for several
hours to frightful internal pains; but from the beginning their
condition was not nearly so grave as that of the two brothers.  This
time again, as usual, the help of doctors was useless.  On the 12th
of April, five days after they had been poisoned, the lieutenant and
his brother returned to Paris so changed that anyone would have
thought they had both suffered a long and cruel illness.  Madame de
Brinvilliers was in the country at the time, and did not come back
during the whole time that her brothers were ill.  From the very
first consultation in the lieutenant's case the doctors entertained
no hope.  The symptoms were the same as those to which his father had
succumbed, and they supposed it was an unknown disease in the family.
They gave up all hope of recovery.  Indeed, his state grew worse and
worse; he felt an unconquerable aversion for every kind of food, and
the vomiting was incessant.  The last three days of his life he
complained that a fire was burning in his breast, and the flames that
burned within seemed to blaze forth at his eyes, the only part of his
body that appeared to live, so like a corpse was all the rest of him.
On the 17th of June 1670 he died: the poison had taken seventy-two
days to complete its work.  Suspicion began to dawn: the lieutenant's
body was opened, and a formal report was drawn up.  The operation was
performed in the presence of the surgeons Dupre and Durant, and
Gavart, the apothecary, by M. Bachot, the brothers' private
physician.  They found the stomach and duodenum to be black and
falling to pieces, the liver burnt and gangrened.  They said that
this state of things must have been produced by poison, but as the

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