Wednesday, May 5, 2010

May 4, 1780

So much has happened that I must relate. To begin, I am once more at home in Auvergne; to be precise, at Opme Castle which being so far removed from society is the ideal place to recuperate. Pauline, who is with me, as well as Marianne now, is I think glad that we did not travel all the way to Saint Saturnin, but I will return to that shortly. The doctor has given strict instructions that I am to spend some time away from the city, for both my health and safety.

I did, as I mentioned in my last entry, suggest that the footman, Robert, be given some of what he insisted was medicine. At first he objected that he was not ill and it might do him harm, but when it was pointed out that the medicine clearly belonged to him and therefore was used for something he began to change his tune. He began by claiming that the medicine was not his, but was reluctant to name the true owner.

At this point F&R came to me to acquaint me of the situation, this was on the 24th of April, and I insisted on seeing him myself. We waited until night, and then I was surreptitiously returned to my residence at the Hotel de Sully, where Robert was confined to an inner room to prevent his escape. His face when he saw me was full of guilt and not a small measure of surprise. I threw off all pleasantries and demanded to know what was in the bottle. Clearly it was not medicine at all, and if he did not want us to test its contents and effects on him he should tell us the nature of the elixir and the name of its owner. He bargained with us that he did not know its contents, and had not believed it was of such a nature as to do me lasting harm, but that he had been approached by a lackey who offered to pay him to slip some of it from time to time into my food and drink.

My pulse raced, I asked him the name of the lackey, but he insisted he did not know. Asked who the man worked for, Robert hesitated a moment before claiming he was ignorant of that fact also. Surprising even myself, I turned to R- and told him that he should ask his servants to beat Robert until he either became unconscious or confessed the name of the person paying him. He sat tight-lipped and pale until the men arrived with canes, at which point he shouted that he would tell us all.

He asked for protection from the man he offered to betray, but I demanded to know the name first. He said that when he began to realize that it was a much stronger and potentially deadlier concotion that he had been given, he requested of the lackey more money. The man told him that it would be in his best interests to see to it that I succumbed to the poison. When queried as to why this was Robert hesitated a long time. At last he said that somehow the servant or his master had found out about his marriage to Pauline that I enforced, and that they also knew him to already be married. I closed my eyes at this; my poor Pauline!

He continued, saying that the man had insisted that with me dead he could disappear with whichever wife he chose and they would give him enough money to begin a new life somewhere far away, perhaps even in America, and no one would ever know. So it was that he began poisoning me again, just when I had seemed to recover; but he became suspicious that once the deed was done he would never see the money he had been promised. Another meeting with the lackey, and another demand for money, this time rebuffed more forcefully; but when the lackey left Robert followed him...right to the home of the Marquis de Menars. I knew that such a man would not suffer the loss of the duel with good grace, but I had not thought him capable of this!

Robert begged me to protect him, but I spoke not a word to him and left the room, F&R trailing after. In the library I outlined a plan. It was not generally known that I was so well-recovered, though my residence at my cousin's home was an open secret. We would let it be rumored that I had succumbed and send Robert unexpectedly to Menars to collect his reward, if the Marquis gave him the money then it was sufficient proof of his guilt and he could be publicly accused. However, if, as F- pointed out, he refused or feigned ignorance then we would have no proof upon which to condemn him. As we risked only a false rumor and letting Menars know that we were aware of his treachery, it was determined to put the plan in motion.


On the 25th we began the rumors by sending the servants gossiping, and Mme le Sang-Boeuf was dispatched to inquire after the prices of mourning clothes and jewelry. It did not take long before servants were bringing the news to their masters and mistresses at their Levers. That evening Robert was sent, under the watchful eye of F's men Menars. As we had feared, he refused to awknowledge any part in the plot, and Robert was sent roughly away, causing quite a spectacle in his fury as he shouted hysterically from the street. He was bundled away quickly again, and F's men returned to tell us of the unfortunate outcome.

That night I came away to Opme, leaving Robert with instructions to await my return. Whether he runs or stays the Marquis' men will find him, and if Menars was willing to assure my death he will do even more to cover it up. Robert is as good as dead unless he flees very far and very fast. He did one good thing though, he assured me, before we set the plan in motion, that Pauline had no knowledge of the poison and was not to be blamed in any particular, of which I am glad.

Soon F&R and Thierry are all to meet me here, and we will decide what is best to be done, for the Marquis is not likely to refrain from trying again so long as I remain unprotected.

Olympe, Comtesse

2 comments:

  1. My gracious!!!! I had a feeling it was that dreadful Robert with a hand in this! But the Marquis? I am quite in shocked but not in the least surprised!

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