List Of Contents | Contents of Marquise de Ganges, by Dumas, Pere
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appear very much ashamed and very penitent; but for a day or two the
marquise, in spite of his apparent humility, kept him at a distance:
at last, reflecting no doubt, with the assistance of her mirror and
of her maid, that the crime was not absolutely unpardonable, and
after having reprimanded the culprit at some length, while he stood
listening with eyes cast down, she gave a him her hand, forgave him,
and admitted him to her companionship as before.

Things went on in this way for a week.  The page no longer raised his
eyes and did not venture to open his mouth, and the marquise was
beginning to regret the time in which he used to look and to speak,
when, one fine day while she was at her toilet, at which she had
allowed him to be present, he seized a moment when the maid had left
her alone, to cast himself at her feet and tell her that he had
vainly tried to stifle his love, and that, even although he were to
die under the weight of her anger, he must tell her that this love
was immense, eternal, stronger than his life.  The marquise upon this
wished to send him away, as on the former occasion, but instead of
obeying her, the page, better instructed, took her in his arms.  The
marquise called, screamed, broke her bell-rope; the waiting-maid, who
had been bought over, according to the marquis's advice, had kept the
other women out of the way, and was careful not to come herself.
Then the marquise, resisting force by force, freed herself from the
page's arms, rushed to her husband's room, and there, bare-necked,
with floating hair, and looking lovelier than ever, flung herself
into his arms and begged his protection against the insolent fellow
who had just insulted her.  But what was the amazement of the
marquise, when, instead of the anger which she expected to see break
forth, the marquis answered coldly that what she was saying was
incredible, that he had always found the young man very well behaved,
and that, no doubt, having taken up some frivolous ground of
resentment against him, she was employing this means to get rid of
him; but, he added, whatever might be his love for her, and his
desire to do everything that was agreeable to her, he begged her not
to require this of him, the young man being his friend's son, and
consequently his own adopted child.  It was now the marquise who, in
her turn, retired abashed, not knowing what to make of such a reply,
and fully resolving, since her husband's protection failed her, to
keep herself well guarded by her own severity.

Indeed, from that moment the marquise behaved to the poor youth with
so much prudery, that, loving her as he did, sincerely, he would have
died of grief, if he had not had the marquis at hand to encourage and
strengthen him.  Nevertheless, the latter himself began to despair,
and to be more troubled by the virtue of his wife than another man
might have been by the levity of his.  Finally, he resolved, seeing
that matters remained at the same point and that the marquise did not
relax in the smallest degree, to take extreme measures.  He hid his
page in a closet of his wife's bedchamber, and, rising during her
first sleep, left empty his own place beside her, went out softly,
double-locked the door, and listened attentively to hear what would

He had not been listening thus for ten minutes when he heard a great
noise in the room, and the page trying in vain to appease it.  The
marquis hoped that he might succeed, but the noise increasing, showed
him that he was again to be disappointed; soon came cries for help,
for the marquise could not ring, the bell-ropes having been lifted
out of her reach, and no one answering her cries, he heard her spring
from her high bed, run to the door, and finding it locked rush to the
window, which she tried to open: the scene had come to its climax.

The marquis decided to go in, lest some tragedy should happen, or
lest his wife's screams should reach some belated passer-by, who next
day would make him the talk of the town.  Scarcely did the marquise
behold him when she threw herself into his arms, and pointing to the
page, said:--

"Well, monsieur, will you still hesitate to free me from this
insolent wretch?"

"Yes, madame," replied the marquis; "for this insolent wretch has
been acting for the last three months not only with my sanction but
even by my orders."

The marquise remained stupefied.  Then the marquis, without sending
away the page, gave his wife an explanation of all that had passed,
and besought her to yield to his desire of obtaining a successor,
whom he would regard as his own child, so long as it was hers; but
young though she was, the marquise answered with a dignity unusual at
her age, that his power over her had the limits that were set to it
by law, and not those that it might please him to set in their place,
and that however much she might wish to do what might be his
pleasure, she would yet never obey him at the expense of her soul and
her honour.

So positive an answer, while it filled her husband with despair,
proved to him that he must renounce the hope of obtaining an heir;
but since the page was not to blame for this, he fulfilled the
promise that he had made, bought him a regiment, and resigned himself
to having the most virtuous wife in France.  His repentance was not,
however, of long duration; he died at the end of three months, after
having confided to his friend, the Marquis d'Urban, the cause of his

The Marquis d'Urban had a son of marriageable age; he thought that he
could find nothing more suitable for him than a wife whose virtue had
come triumphantly through such a trial: he let her time of mourning
pass, and then presented the young Marquis d'Urban, who succeeded in
making his attentions acceptable to the beautiful widow, and soon
became her husband.  More fortunate than his predecessor, the Marquis
d'Urban had three heirs to oppose to his collaterals, when, some two
years and a half later, the Chevalier de Bouillon arrived at the
capital of the county of Venaissin.

The Chevalier de Bouillon was a typical rake of the period, handsome,
young, and well-grown; the nephew of a cardinal who was influential
at Rome, and proud of belonging to a house which had privileges of
suzerainty.  The chevalier, in his indiscreet fatuity, spared no
woman; and his conduct had given some scandal in the circle of Madame
de Maintenon, who was rising into power.  One of his friends, having
witnessed the displeasure exhibited towards him by Louis XIV, who was
beginning to become devout, thought to do him a service by warning
him that the king "gardait une dent" against him. [ Translator's
note.--"Garder une dent," that is, to keep up a grudge, means
literally "to keep a tooth" against him.]

"Pardieu!" replied the chevalier, "I am indeed unlucky when the only
tooth left to him remains to bite me."

This pun had been repeated, and had reached Louis XIV, so that the
chevalier presently heard, directly enough this time, that the king
desired him to travel for some years.  He knew the danger of
neglecting--such intimations, and since he thought the country after
all preferable to the Bastille, he left Paris, and arrived at
Avignon, surrounded by the halo of interest that naturally attends a
handsome young persecuted nobleman.

The virtue of Madame d'Urban was as much cried up at Avignon as the
ill-behaviour of the chevalier had been reprobated in Paris.  A
reputation equal to his own, but so opposite in kind, could not fail
to be very offensive to him, therefore he determined immediately upon
arriving to play one against the other.

Nothing was easier than the attempt.  M. d'Urban, sure of his wife's
virtue, allowed her entire liberty; the chevalier saw her wherever he
chose to see her, and every time he saw her found means to express a
growing passion.  Whether because the hour had come for Madame
d'Urban, or whether because she was dazzled by the splendour of the
chevalier's belonging to a princely house, her virtue, hitherto so
fierce, melted like snow in the May sunshine; and the chevalier,
luckier than the poor page, took the husband's place without any
attempt on Madame d'Urban's part to cry for help.

As all the chevalier desired was public triumph, he took care to make
the whole town acquainted at once with his success; then, as some
infidels of the neighbourhood still doubted, the chevalier ordered
one of his servants to wait for him at the marquise's door with a
lantern and a bell.  At one in the morning, the chevalier came out,
and the servant walked before him, ringing the bell.  At this
unaccustomed sound, a great number of townspeople, who had been
quietly asleep, awoke, and, curious to see what was happening, opened
their windows.  They beheld the chevalier, walking gravely behind his
servant, who continued to light his master's way and to ring
along the course of the street that lay between Madame d'Urban's
house and his own.  As he had made no mystery to anyone of his love
affair, nobody took the trouble even to ask him whence he came.
However, as there might possibly be persons still unconvinced, he
repeated this same jest, for his own satisfaction, three nights
running; so that by the morning of the fourth day nobody had any
doubts left.

As generally happens in such cases, M. d'Urban did not know a word of
what was going on until the moment when his friends warned him that
he was the talk of the town.  Then he forbade his wife to see her
lover again.  The prohibition produced the usual results: on the
morrow, as, soon as M. d'Urban had gone out, the marquise sent for
the chevalier to inform him of the catastrophe in which they were
both involved; but she found him far better prepared than herself for
such blows, and he tried to prove to her, by reproaches for her
imprudent conduct, that all this was her fault; so that at last the
poor woman, convinced that it was she who had brought these woes upon
them, burst into tears.  Meanwhile, M. d'Urban, who, being jealous
for the first time, was the more seriously so, having learned that

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