“I hope to be able to do so myself, although I am not a pretty woman,” replied Fouquet.
“Granted, monseigneur; but you are compromising yourself very much.”
“Oh!” cried Fouquet, suddenly, with one of those secret transports which the generous blood of youth, or the remembrance of some sweet emotion, infuses into the heart. “Oh! I know a woman who will enact the personage we stand in need of, with the lieutenant-governor of the concierge.”
“And, on my part, I know fifty, monseigneur; fifty trumpets, which will inform the universe of your generosity, of your devotion to your friends, and, consequently, will ruin you sooner or later in ruining themselves.”
“I do not speak of such women, Pelisson; I speak of a noble and beautiful creature who joins to the intelligence and wit of her sex the valor and coolness of ours; I speak of a woman, handsome enough to make the walls of a prison bow down to salute her, discreet enough to let no one suspect by whom she has been sent.”
“A treasure!” said Pelisson; “you would make a famous present to monsieur the governor of the concierge! Peste! monseigneur, he might have his head cut off; but he would, before dying, have had such happiness as no man had enjoyed before him.”
“And I add,” said Fouquet, “that the concierge of the Palais would not have his head cut off, for he would receive of me my horses, to effect his escape, and five hundred thousand livres wherewith to live comfortably in England: I add, that this lady, my friend, would give him nothing but the horses and the money. Let us go and seek her, Pelisson.”
The superintendent reached forth his hand towards the golden and silken cord placed in the interior of his carriage, but Pelisson stopped him. “Monseigneur,” said he, “you are going to lose as much time in seeking this lady as Columbus took to discover the new world. Now, we have but two hours in which we can possibly succeed; the concierge once gone to bed, how shall we get at him without making a disturbance? When daylight dawns, how can we conceal our proceedings? Go, go yourself, monseigneur, and do not seek either woman or angel to-night.”
“But, my dear Pelisson, here we are before her door.”
“What! before the angel’s door?”
“This is the hotel of Madame de Belliere!”
“Ah! Good Lord!” exclaimed Pelisson.
“What have you to say against her?”
“Nothing, alas! and it is that which causes my despair. Nothing, absolutely nothing. Why can I not, on the contrary, say ill enough of her to prevent your going to her?”
But Fouquet had already given orders to stop, and the carriage was motionless. “Prevent me!” cried Fouquet; “why, no power on earth should prevent my going to pay my compliments to Madame de Plessis-Belliere; besides, who knows that we shall not stand in need of her!”