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CHAPTER XVII.

THE JESUIT TRIUMPHS.


The unfortunate Miss St. Yves entreated her friend to kill her; but this lady, who was fully as indulgent as the Jesuit, spoke to her still more clearly.

"Alas!" said she, "at this agreeable, gallant and famous court, business is always thus transacted. The most considerable, as well as the most indifferent places are seldom given away without a consideration. The dignities of war are solicited by the queen of love, and, without regard to merit, a place is often given to him who has the handsomest advocate.

"You are in a situation that is extremely critical. The object is to restore your lover to liberty and to marry him. It is a sacred duty that you are to fulfil. The world will applaud you. It will be said that you only allowed yourself to be guilty of a weakness through an excess of virtue."

"Heavens!" cried Miss St. Yves, "What kind of virtue is this? What a labyrinth of distress! What a world! What men to become acquainted with! A Father de la Chaise and a ridiculous bailiff imprison my lover; I am persecuted by my family; assistance is offered me, only that I may be dishonored! A Jesuit has ruined a brave man, another Jesuit wants to ruin me. On every side snares are laid for me, and I am upon the very brink of destruction! I must even speak to the king; I will throw myself at his feet as he goes to mass or to the theatre."

"His attendants will not let you approach," said her good friend; "and if you should be so unfortunate as to speak to him, M. de Louvois or the Reverend Father de la Chaise might bury you in a convent for the rest of your days."

While this generous friend thus increased the perplexities of Miss St. Yves's tortured soul and plunged the dagger deeper in her heart, a messenger arrived from M. de St. Pouange with a letter and two fine pendant earrings. Miss St. Yves, with tears, refused to accept of any part of the contents of the packet; but her friend took the charge of them upon herself.

As soon as the messenger had gone, the confidante read the letter, in which a petit-souper (a little supper) was proposed to the two friends for that night. Miss St. Yves protested she would not go, while her pious friend endeavored to make her try on the diamond earrings; but Miss St. Yves could not endure them and opposed it all the day long, being entirely wrapped up in the contemplation of her lover's imprisonment. At length, after a long resistence; after sighs, moans, and torrents of tears; driven by excitement almost to the verge of insanity; weakened with the conflict, overwhelmed and irresolute, the innocent victim, not knowing whither she was going, was dragged by this artful woman to the fatal supper of the "good Christian and protector of the good cause," M. de St. Pouange.