List Of Contents | Contents of Marquise de Brinvilliers, by Dumas, Pere
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was at her service in any other way.  So she asked him for pen and
paper, and wrote this letter:

"DEAR THERIA,--I am in the hands of Desgrais, who is taking me by
road from Liege to Paris.  Come quickly and save me."

Antoine Barbier took the letter, promising to deliver it at the right
address; but he gave it to Desgrais instead.  The next day, finding
that this letter had not been pressing enough, she wrote him another,
saying that the escort was only eight men, who could be easily
overcome by four or five determined assailants, and she counted on
him to strike this bald stroke.  But, uneasy when she got no answer
and no result from her letters, she despatched a third missive to
Theria.  In this she implored him by his own salvation, if he were
not strong enough to attack her escort and save her, at least to kill
two of the four horses by which she was conveyed, and to profit by
the moment of confusion to seize the chest and throw it into the
fire; otherwise, she declared, she was lost.  Though Theria received
none of these letters, which were one by one handed over by Barbier
to Desgrais, he all the same did go to Maestricht, where the marquise
was to pass, of his own accord.  There he tried to bribe the archers,
offering much as 10,000 livres, but they were incorruptible.  At
Rocroy the cortege met M. Palluau, the councillor, whom the
Parliament had sent after the prisoner, that he might put questions
to her at a time when she least expected them, and so would not have
prepared her answers.  Desgrais told him all that had passed, and
specially called his attention to the famous box, the object of so
much anxiety and so many eager instructions.  M. de Palluau opened
it, and found among other things a paper headed "My Confession."
This confession was a proof that the guilty feel great need of
discovering their crimes either to mankind or to a merciful God.
Sainte-Croix, we know, had made a confession that was burnt, and here
was the marquise equally imprudent.  The confession contained seven
articles, and began thus, "I confess to God, and to you, my father,"
and was a complete avowal, of all the crimes she had committed.

In the first article she accused herself of incendiarism;

In the second, of having ceased to be a virgin at seven years of age;

In the third of having poisoned her father;

In the fourth, of having poisoned her two brothers;

In the fifth, that she had tried to poison her sister, a Carmelite

The two other articles were concerned with the description of strange
and unnatural sins.  In this woman there was something of Locusta and
something of Messalina as well: antiquity could go no further.

M. de Palluau, fortified by his knowledge of this important document,
began his examination forthwith.  We give it verbatim, rejoicing that
we may substitute an official report for our own narrative.

Asked why she fled to Liege, she replied that she left France on
account of some business with her sister-in-law.

Asked if she had any knowledge of the papers found in the box, she
replied that in the box there were several family papers, and among
them a general confession which she desired to make; when she wrote
it, however, her mind was disordered; she knew not what she had said
or done, being distraught at the time, in a foreign country, deserted
by her relatives, forced to borrow every penny.

Asked as to the first article, what house it was she had burnt, she
replied that she had not burnt anything, but when she wrote that she
was out of her senses.

Asked about the six other articles she replied that she had no
recollection of them.

Asked if she had not poisoned her father and brothers, she replied
that she knew nothing at all about it.

Asked if it were not Lachaussee who poisoned her brothers, she
replied that she knew nothing about it.

Asked if she did not know that her sister could not live long, having
been poisoned, she said that she expected her sister to die, because
she suffered in the same way as her brothers; that she had lost all
memory of the time when she wrote this confession; admitted that she
left France by the advice of her relations.

Asked why her relations had advised her thus, she replied that it was
in connection with her brothers' affairs; admitted seeing Sainte-
Croix since his release from the Bastille.

Asked if Sainte-Croix had not persuaded her to get rid of her father,
she replied that she could not remember; neither did she remember if
Sainte-Croix had given her powders or other drugs, nor if Sainte-
Croix had told her he knew how to make her rich.

Eight letters having been produced, asked to whom she had written
them, she replied that she did not remember.

Asked why she had promised to pay 30,000 livres to Sainte-Croix, she
replied that she intended to entrust this sum to his care, so that
she might make use of it when she wanted it, believing him to be her
friend; she had not wished this to be known, by reason of her
creditors; that she had an acknowledgment from Sainte-Croix, but had
lost it in her travels; that her husband knew nothing about it.

Asked if the promise was made before or after the death of her
brothers, she replied that she could not remember, and it made no

Asked if she knew an apothecary called Glazer, she replied that she
had consulted him three times about inflammation.

Asked why she wrote to Theria to get hold of the box, she replied
that she did not understand.

Asked why, in writing to Theria, she had said she was lost unless he
got hold of the box, she replied that she could not remember.

Asked if she had seen during the journey with her father the first
symptoms of his malady, she replied that she had not noticed that her
father was ill on the journey, either going or coming back in 1666.

Asked if she had not done business with Penautier, she replied that
Penautier owed her 30,000 livres.

Asked how this was, she replied that she and her husband had lent
Penautier 10,000 crowns, that he had paid it back, and since then
they had had no dealings with him.

The marquise took refuge, we see, in a complete system of denial:
arrived in Paris, and confined in the Conciergerie, she did the same;
but soon other terrible charges were added, which still further
overwhelmed her.

The sergeant Cluet deposed: that, observing a lackey to M. d'Aubray,
the councillor, to be the man Lachaussee, whom he had seen in the
service of Sainte-Croix, he said to the marquise that if her brother
knew that Lachaussee had been with Sainte-Croix he would not like it,
but that Madame de Brinvilliers exclaimed, "Dear me, don't tell my
brothers; they would give him a thrashing, no doubt, and he may just
as well get his wages as any body else."  He said nothing to the
d'Aubrays, though he saw Lachaussee paying daily visits to Sainte-
Croix and to the marquise, who was worrying Sainte-Croix to let her
have her box, and wanted her bill for two or three thousand pistoles.
Other wise she would have had him assassinated.  She often said that
she was very anxious that no one should see the contents of the box;
that it was a very important matter, but only concerned herself.
After the box was opened, the witness added, he had told the
marquise, that the commissary Picard said to Lachaussee that there
were strange things in it; but the lady blushed, and changed the
subject.  He asked her if she were not an accomplice.  She said,
"What! I?" but then muttered to herself: "Lachaussee ought to be
sent off to Picardy."  The witness repeated that she had been after
Sainte-Croix along time about the box, and if she had got it she
would have had his throat cut.  The witness further said that when he
told Briancourt that Lachaussee was taken and would doubtless confess
all, Briancourt, speaking of the marquise, remarked, "She is a lost
woman."  That d'Aubray's daughter had called Briancourt a rogue, but
Briancourt had replied that she little knew what obligations she was
under to him; that they had wanted to poison both her and the
lieutenant's widow, and he alone had hindered it.  He had heard from
Briancourt that the marquise had often said that there are means to
get rid of people one dislikes, and they can easily be put an end to
in a bowl of soup.

The girl Edme Huet, a woman of Brescia, deposed that Sainte-Croix
went to see the marquise every day, and that in a box belonging to
that lady she had seen two little packets containing sublimate in
powder and in paste: she recognised these, because she was an
apothecary's daughter.  She added that one day Madame de
Brinvilliers, after a dinner party, in a merry mood, said, showing
her a little box, "Here is vengeance on one's enemies: this box is
small, but holds plenty of successsions!"  That she gave back the box
into her hands, but soon changing from her sprightly mood, she cried,
"Good heavens, what have I said?  Tell nobody."  That Lambert, clerk
at the palace, told her he had brought the packets to Madame from
Sainte-Croix; that Lachaussee often went to see her; and that she
herself, not being paid ten pistoles which the marquise owed her,
went to complain to Sainte-Croix, threatening to tell the lieutenant
what she had seen; and accordingly the ten pistoles were paid;
further, that the marquise and Sainte-Croix always kept poison about
them, to make use of, in case of being arrested.

Laurent Perrette, living with Glazer, said that he had often seen a
lady call on his mistress with Sainte-Croix; that the footman told
him she was the Marquise de Brinvilliers; that he would wager his
head on it that they came to Glazer's to make poison; that when they
came they used to leave their carriage at the Foire Saint-Germain.

Marie de Villeray, maid to the marquise, deposed that after the death
of M. d'Aubray the councillor, Lachaussee came to see the lady and
spoke with her in private; that Briancourt said she had caused the
death of a worthy men; that Briancourt every day took some electuary
for fear of being poisoned, and it was no doubt due to this
precaution that he was still alive; but he feared he would be

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