List Of Contents | Contents of Marquise de Ganges, by Dumas, Pere
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there are a thousand different ways of obliging her to respond to
that love.  The error is to make a mistake in the way that one
employs--that is the whole of the matter."

"And may I inquire which you have chosen?" asked the marquise, with a
crushing smile of contempt.

"The only one that could succeed with a calm, cold, strong woman like
you, the conviction that your interest requires you to respond to my

"Since you profess to know me so well," answered the marquise, with
another effort, as unsuccessful as the former, to free the bridle of
her horse, "you should know how a woman like me would receive such an
overture; say to yourself what I might say to you, and above all,
what I might say to my husband."

The abbe smiled.

"Oh, as to that," he returned, "you can do as you please, madame.
Tell your husband whatever you choose; repeat our conversation word
for word; add whatever your memory may furnish, true or false, that
may be most convincing against me; then, when you have thoroughly
given him his cue, when you think yourself sure of him, I will say
two words to him, and turn him inside out like this glove.  That is
what I had to say to you, madame I will not detain you longer.  You
may have in me a devoted friend or a mortal enemy.  Reflect."

At these words the abbe loosed his hold upon the bridle of the
marquise's horse and left her free to guide it as she would.  The
marquise put her beast to a trot, so as to show neither fear nor
haste.  The abbe followed her, and both rejoined the hunt.

The abbe had spoken truly.  The marquise, notwithstanding the threat
which she had made, reflected upon the influence which this man had
over her husband, and of which she had often had proof she kept
silence, therefore, and hoped that he had made himself seem worse
than he was, to frighten her.  On this point she was strangely

The abbe, however, wished to see, in the first place, whether the
marquise's refusal was due to personal antipathy or to real virtue.
The chevalier, as has been said, was handsome; he had that usage of
good society which does instead of mind, and he joined to it the
obstinacy of a stupid man; the abbe undertook to persuade him that he
was in love with the marquise.  It was not a difficult matter.  We
have described the impression made upon the chevalier by the first
sight of Madame de Ganges; but, owing beforehand the reputation of
austerity that his sister-in-law had acquired, he had not the
remotest idea of paying court to her.  Yielding, indeed, to the
influence which she exercised upon all who came in contact with her,
the chevalier had remained her devoted servant; and the marquise,
having no reason to mistrust civilities which she took for signs of
friendliness, and considering his position as her husband's brother,
treated him with less circumspection than was her custom.

The abbe sought him out, and, having made sure they were alone, said,
"Chevalier, we both love the same woman, and that woman is our
brother's wife; do not let us thwart each other: I am master of my
passion, and can the more easily sacrifice it to you that I believe
you are the man preferred; try, therefore, to obtain some assurance
of the love which I suspect the marquise of having for you; and from
the day when you reach that point I will withdraw, but otherwise, if
you fail, give up your place civilly to me, that I may try, in my
turn, whether her heart is really impregnable, as everybody says."

The chevalier had never thought of the possibility of winning the
marquise; but from the moment in which his brother, with no apparent
motive of personal interest, aroused the idea that he might be
beloved, every spark of passion and of vanity that still existed in
this automaton took fire, and he began to be doubly assiduous and
attentive to his sister-in-law.  She, who had never suspected any evil
in this quarter, treated the chevalier at first with a kindliness
that was heightened by her scorn for the abbe.  But, before long, the
chevalier, misunderstanding the grounds of this kindliness, explained
himself more clearly.  The marquise, amazed and at first incredulous,
allowed him to say enough to make his intentions perfectly clear;
then she stopped him, as she had done the abbe, by some of those
galling words which women derive from their indifference even more
than from their virtue.

At this check, the chevalier, who was far from possessing his
brother's strength and determination, lost all hope, and came
candidly to own to the latter the sad result of his attentions and
his love.  This was what the abbe had awaited, in the first place for
the satisfaction of his own vanity, and in the second place for the
means of carrying out his schemes.  He worked upon the chevalier's
humiliation until he had wrought it into a solid hatred; and then,
sure of having him for a supporter and even for an accomplice, he
began to put into execution his plan against the marquise.

The consequence was soon shown in a renewal of alienation on the part
of M. de Ganges.  A young man whom the marquise sometimes met in
society, and to whom, on account of his wit, she listened perhaps a
little more willingly than to others, became, if not the cause, at
least the excuse of a fresh burst of jealousy.  This jealousy was
exhibited as on previous occasions, by quarrels remote from the real
grievance; but the marquise was not deceived: she recognised in this
change the fatal hand of her brother-in-law.  But this certainty,
instead of drawing her towards him, increased her repulsion; and
thenceforward she lost no opportunity of showing him not only that
repulsion but also the contempt that accompanied it.

Matters remained in this state for some months.  Every day the
marquise perceived her husband growing colder, and although the spies
were invisible she felt herself surrounded by a watchfulness that
took note of the most private details of her life.  As to the abbe
and the chevalier, they were as usual; only the abbe had hidden his
hate behind a smile that was habitual, and the chevalier his
resentment behind that cold and stiff dignity in which dull minds
enfold themselves when they believe themselves injured in their

In the midst of all this, M. Joannis de Nocheres died, and added to
the already considerable fortune of his granddaughter another fortune
of from six to seven hundred thousand livres.

This additional wealth became, on accruing to the marquise, what was
then called, in countries where the Roman law prevailed, a
'paraphernal' estate that is to say that, falling in, after marriage?
it was not included in the dowry brought by the wife, and that she
could dispose freely both of the capital and the income, which might
not be administered even by her husband without a power of attorney,
and of which she could dispose at pleasure, by donation or by will.
And in fact, a few days after the marquise had entered into
possession of her grandfather's estate, her husband and his brothers
learned that she had sent for a notary in order to be instructed as
to her rights.  This step betokened an intention of separating this
inheritance from the common property of the marriage; for the
behaviour of the marquis towards his wife--of which within himself he
often recognised the injustice--left him little hope of any other

About this time a strange event happened.  At a dinner given by the
marquise, a cream was served at dessert: all those who partook of
this cream were ill; the marquis and his two brothers, who had not
touched it, felt no evil effects.  The remainder of this cream, which
was suspected of having caused illness to the guests, and
particularly to the marquise, who had taken of it twice, was
analysed, and the presence of arsenic in it demonstrated.  Only,
having been mixed with milk, which is its antidote, the poison had
lost some of its power, and had produced but half the expected
effect.  As no serious disaster had followed this occurrence, the
blame was thrown upon a servant, who was said to have mistaken
arsenic for sugar, and everybody forgot it, or appeared to forget it.

The marquis, however, seemed to be gradually and naturally drawing
nearer again to his wife; but this time Madame de Ganges was not
deceived by his returning kindness.  There, as in his alienation, she
saw the selfish hand of the abbe: he had persuaded his brother that
seven hundred thousand livres more in the house would make it worth
while to overlook some levities of behaviour; and the marquis,
obeying the impulse given, was trying, by kind dealing, to oppose his
wife's still unsettled intention of making a will.

Towards the autumn there was talk of going to spend that season at
Ganges, a little town situated in Lower Languedoc, in the diocese of
Montpellier, seven leagues from that town, and nineteen from Avignon.
Although this was natural enough, since the marquis was lord of the
town and had a castle there, the marquise was seized by a strange
shudder when she heard the proposal.  Remembrance of the prediction
made to her returned immediately to her mind.  The recent and ill
explained attempt to poison her, too, very naturally added to her

Without directly and positively suspecting her brothers-in-law of
that crime, she knew that in them she had two implacable enemies.
This journey to a little town, this abode in a lonely castle, amid
new, unknown neighbours, seemed to her of no good omen; but open
opposition would have been ridiculous.  On what grounds, indeed,
could she base resistance?  The marquise could only own her terrors
by accusing her husband and her brothers-in-law.  And of what could
she accuse them?  The incident of the poisoned cream was not a
conclusive proof.  She resolved accordingly to lock up all her fears
in her heart, and to commit herself to the hands of God.

Nevertheless, she would not leave Avignon without signing the will
which she had contemplated making ever since M. de Nocheres' death.
A notary was called in who drew up the document.  The Marquise de

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