“Well!” said he, eagerly, “where is Pelisson! What is he doing?”
“Pelisson has returned from Paris.”
“Has he brought back the prisoners?”
“He has not even seen the concierge of the prison.”
“What! did he not tell him he came from me?”
“He told him so, but the concierge sent him this reply: ’If any one came to me from M. Fouquet, he would have a letter from M. Fouquet.’”
“Oh!” cried the latter, “if a letter is all he wants — "
“It is useless, monsieur!” said Pelisson, showing himself at the corner of the little wood, “useless! Go yourself, and speak in your own name.”
“You are right. I will go in, as if to work; let the horses remain harnessed, Pelisson. Entertain my friends, Gourville.”
“One last word of advice, monseigneur,” replied the latter.
“Do not go to the concierge save at the last minute; it is brave, but it is not wise. Excuse me, Monsieur Pelisson, if I am not of the same opinion as you; but take my advice, monseigneur, send again a message to this concierge, — he is a worthy man, but do not carry it yourself.”
“I will think of it,” said Fouquet; “besides, we have all the night before us.”
“Do not reckon too much on time; were the hours we have twice as many as they are, they would not be too much,” replied Pelisson; “it is never a fault to arrive too soon.”
“Adieu!” said the superintendent; “come with me, Pelisson. Gourville, I commend my guests to your care.” And he set off. The Epicureans did not perceive that the head of the school had left them; the violins continued playing all night long.
Fouquet, on leaving his house for the second time that day, felt himself less heavy and less disturbed than might have been expected. He turned towards Pelisson, who was meditating in the corner of the carriage some good arguments against the violent proceedings of Colbert.
“My dear Pelisson,” said Fouquet, “it is a great pity you are not a woman.”
“I think, on the contrary, it is very fortunate,” replied Pelisson, “for, monseigneur, I am excessively ugly.”
“Pelisson! Pelisson!” said the superintendent, laughing: “You repeat too often, you are ‘ugly’, not to leave people to believe that it gives you much pain.”
“In fact it does, monseigneur, much pain; there is no man more unfortunate than I: I was handsome, the small-pox rendered me hideous; I am deprived of a great means of attraction; now, I am your principal clerk, or something of that sort; I take great interest in your affairs, and if, at this moment, I were a pretty woman, I could render you an important service.”
“I would go and find the concierge of the Palais. I would seduce him, for he is a gallant man, extravagantly partial to women; then I would get away our two prisoners.”