Fouquet raised his brow, streaming with sweat, murmuring, “Oh! Lyodot and D’Eymeris! dead! dead! dead! and I dishonored.”
The abbe turned round, and perceiving his brother, despairing and livid, “Come, come,” said he, “it is a blow of fate, monsieur; we must not lament thus. Our attempt has failed because God — "
“Be silent, abbe! be silent!” cried Fouquet; “your excuses are blasphemies. Order that man up here, and let him relate the details of this terrible event.”
“But, brother — "
The abbe made a sign, and in half a minute the man’s step was heard upon the stairs. At the same time Gourville appeared behind Fouquet, like the guardian angel of the superintendent, pressing one finger on his lips to enjoin observation even amidst the bursts of his grief. The minister resumed all the serenity that human strength left at the disposal of a heart half broken with sorrow. Danicamp appeared. “Make your report,” said Gourville.
“Monsieur,” replied the messenger, “we received orders to carry off the prisoners, and to cry ‘Vive Colbert!’ whilst carrying them off.”
“To burn them alive, was it not, abbe?” interrupted Gourville.
“Yes, yes, the order was given to Menneville. Menneville knew what was to be done, and Menneville is dead.”
This news appeared rather to reassure Gourville than to sadden him.
“Yes, certainly to burn them alive,” said the abbe, eagerly.
“Granted, monsieur, granted,” said the man, looking into the eyes and the faces of the two interlocutors, to ascertain what there was profitable or disadvantageous to himself in telling the truth.
“Now, proceed,” said Gourville.
“The prisoners,” cried Danicamp, “were brought to the Greve, and the people, in a fury, insisted upon their being burnt instead of being hung.”
“And the people were right,” said the abbe. “Go on.”
“But,” resumed the man, “at the moment the archers were broken, at the moment the fire was set to one of the houses of the Place destined to serve as a funeral-pile for the guilty, this fury, this demon, this giant of whom I told you, and who, we had been informed, was the proprietor of the house in question, aided by a young man who accompanied him, threw out of the window those who kept the fire, called to his assistance the musketeers who were in the crowd, leaped himself from the window of the first story into the Place, and plied his sword so desperately that the victory was restored to the archers, the prisoners were retaken, and Menneville killed. When once recaptured, the condemned were executed in three minutes.” Fouquet, in spite of his self-command, could not prevent a deep groan escaping him.
“And this man, the proprietor of the house, what is his name?” said the abbe.
“I cannot tell you, not having even been able to get sight of him; my post had been appointed in the garden, and I remained at my post: only the affair was related to me as I repeat it. I was ordered, when once the affair was at an end, to come at best speed and announce to you the manner in which it finished. According to this order, I set out, full gallop, and here I am.”