“Marquise!” cried Fouquet, in a tone of despair; “why not?”
“Because you are too much beloved,” said the young woman, in a low voice; “because you are too much beloved by too many people — because the splendor of glory and fortune wound my eyes, whilst the darkness of sorrow attracts them; because, in short, I, who have repulsed you in your proud magnificence; I who scarcely looked at you in your splendor, I came, like a mad woman, to throw myself, as it were, into your arms, when I saw a misfortune hovering over your head. You understand me now, monseigneur? Become happy again, that I may remain chaste in heart and in thought: your misfortune entails my ruin.”
“Oh! madame,” said Fouquet, with an emotion he had never before felt; “were I to fall to the lowest degree of human misery, and hear from your mouth that word which you now refuse me, that day, madame, you will be mistaken in your noble egotism; that day you will fancy you are consoling the most unfortunate of men, and you will have said, I love you, to the most illustrious, the most delighted, the most triumphant of the happy beings of this world.”
He was still at her feet, kissing her hand, when Pelisson entered precipitately, crying, in very ill-humor, “Monseigneur! madame! for Heaven’s sake! excuse me. Monseigneur, you have been here half an hour. Oh! do not both look at me so reproachfully. Madame, pray who is that lady who left your house soon after monseigneur came in?”
“Madame Vanel,” said Fouquet.
“Ha!” cried Pelisson, “I was sure of that.”
“Well! what then?”
“Why, she got into her carriage, looking deadly pale.”
“What consequence is that to me?”
“Yes, but what she said to her coachman is of consequence to you.”
“Kind heaven!” cried the marquise, “what was that?”
“To M. Colbert’s!” said Pelisson, in a hoarse voice.
“Bon Dieu! — begone, begone, monseigneur!” replied the marquise, pushing Fouquet out of the salon, whilst Pelisson dragged him by the hand.
“Am I, then, indeed,” said the superintendent, “become a child, to be frightened by a shadow?”
“You are a giant,” said the marquise, “whom a viper is trying to bite in the heel.”
Pelisson continued to drag Fouquet to the carriage. “To the Palais at full speed!” cried Pelisson to the coachman. The horses set off like lightening; no obstacle relaxed their pace for an instant. Only, at the arcade Saint-Jean, as they were coming out upon the Place de Greve, a long file of horsemen, barring the narrow passage, stopped the carriage of the superintendent. There was no means of forcing this barrier; it was necessary to wait till the mounted archers of the watch, for it was they who stopped the way, had passed with the heavy carriage they were escorting, and which ascended rapidly towards the Place Baudoyer. Fouquet and Pelisson took no further account of this