The abbe obeyed.
“I have not observed their absence,” said Pelisson, who, at this moment, was turning his back to Fouquet, and walking the other way.
“I do not see M. Lyodot,” said Sorel, “who pays me my pension.”
“And I,” said the abbe, at the window, “do not see M. d’Eymeris, who owes me eleven hundred livres from our last game of brelan.”
“Sorel,” continued Fouquet, walking bent, and gloomily, “you will never receive your pension any more from M. Lyodot; and you, abbe, will never be paid you eleven hundred livres by M. d’Eymeris; for both are doomed to die.”
“To die!” exclaimed the whole assembly, arrested, in spite of themselves, in the comedy they were playing, by that terrible word.
“Recover yourselves, messieurs,” said Fouquet, “for perhaps we are watched — I said: to die!”
“To die!” repeated Pelisson; “what, the men I saw six days ago, full of health, gayety, and the spirit of the future! What then is man, good God! that disease should thus bring him down all at once!”
“It is not a disease,” said Fouquet.
“Then there is a remedy,” said Sorel.
“No remedy. Messieurs de Lyodot and D’Eymeris are on the eve of their last day.”
“Of what are these gentlemen dying, then?” asked an officer.
“Ask of him who kills them,” replied Fouquet.
“Who kills them? Are they being killed, then?” cried the terrified chorus.
“They do better still; the are hanging them,” murmured Fouquet, in a sinister voice, which sounded like a funeral knell in that rich gallery, splendid with pictures, flowers, velvet, and gold. Involuntarily every one stopped; the abbe quitted his window; the first fuses of the fireworks began to mount above the trees. A prolonged cry from the gardens attracted the superintendent to enjoy the spectacle. He drew near to a window, and his friends placed themselves behind him, attentive to his least wish.
“Messieurs,” said he, “M. Colbert has caused to be arrested, tried and will execute my two friends; what does it become me to do?”
“Mordieu!” exclaimed the abbe, the first one to speak, “run M. Colbert through the body.”
“Monseigneur,” said Pelisson, “you must speak to his majesty.”
“The king, my dear Pelisson, himself signed the order for the execution.”
“Well!” said the Comte de Charost, “the execution must not take place, then; that is all.”
“Impossible,” said Gourville, “unless we could corrupt the jailers.”
“Or the governor,” said Fouquet.
“This night the prisoners might be allowed to escape.”
“Which of you will take charge of the transaction?”
“I,” said the abbe, “will carry the money.”
“And I,” said Pelisson, “will be the bearer of the words.”
“Words and money,” said Fouquet, “five hundred thousand livres to the governor of the conciergerie that is sufficient; nevertheless, it shall be a million, if necessary.”