“Well?” said Fouquet.
“Well, monsieur, my Menneville spitted the joker, to the great astonishment of the spectators, and said to the cook: — ’Take this goose, my friend, for it is fatter than your fowl.’ That is the way, monsieur,” ended the abbe , triumphantly, “in which I spend my revenues; I maintain the honor of the family, monsieur.” Fouquet hung his head. “And I have a hundred as good as he,” continued the abbe.
“Very well,” said Fouquet, “give the account to Gourville, and remain here this evening.”
“Shall we have supper?”
“Yes, there will be supper.”
“But the chest is closed.”
“Gourville will open it for you. Leave us, monsieur l’abbe, leave us.”
“Then we are friends?” said the abbe, with a bow.
“Oh, yes, friends. Come, Gourville.”
“Are you going out? You will not stay to supper, then?”
“I shall be back in an hour; rest easy, abbe.”
Then aside to Gourville, — “Let them
put to my English horses,” said he, “and
coachman to stop at the Hotel de Ville de Paris.”
Carriages were already bringing the guests of Fouquet to Saint-Mande; already the whole house was getting warm with the preparations for supper, when the superintendent launched his fleet horses upon the roads to Paris, and going by the quays, in order to meet fewer people on the way, soon reached the Hotel de Ville. It wanted a quarter to eight. Fouquet alighted at the corner of the Rue de Long-Pont, and, on foot, directed his course towards the Place de Greve, accompanied by Gourville. At the turning of the Place they saw a man dressed in black and violet, of dignified mien, who was preparing to stop at Vincennes. He had before him a large hamper filled with bottles, which he had just purchased at the cabaret with the sign of “L’Image-de-Notre-Dame.”
“Eh, but! that is Vatel! my maitre d’hotel!” said Fouquet to Gourville.
“Yes, monseigneur,” replied the latter.
“What can he have been doing at the sign of L’Image-de-Notre-Dame?”
“Buying wine, no doubt.”
“What! buy wine for me, at a cabaret?” said Fouquet. “My cellar, then, must be in a miserable condition!” and he advanced towards the maitre d’hotel, who was arranging his bottles in the carriage with the most minute care.
“Hola! Vatel,” said he, in the voice of a master.
“Take care, monseigneur!” said Gourville, “you will be recognized.”
“Very well! Of what consequence? — Vatel!”
The man dressed in black and violet turned round. He had a good and mild countenance, without expression — a mathematician minus the pride. A certain fire sparkled in the eyes of this personage, a rather sly smile played round his lips; but the observer might soon have remarked that this fire and this smile applied to nothing, enlightened nothing. Vatel laughed like an absent man, and amused himself like a child. At the sound of his master’s voice he turned round, exclaiming: “Oh! monseigneur!”