by the Abbe Prevost
It is a strange thing to note the excess of this passion;
and how it braves the nature and value of things, by this--
that the speaking in a perpetual hyperbole is comely in nothing
but in love.--BACON.
"My interview with Tiberge was of the most friendly description.
I saw that his object was to discover the present temper of my
mind. I opened my heart to him without any reserve, except as to
the mere point of my intention of escaping. `It is not from such
a friend as you,' said I, `that I can ever wish to dissemble my
real feelings. If you flattered yourself with a hope that you
were at last about to find me grown prudent and regular in my
conduct, a libertine reclaimed by the chastisements of fortune,
released alike from the trammels of love, and the dominion that
Manon wields over me, I must in candour say, that you deceive
yourself. You still behold me, as you left me four months ago,
the slave--if you will, the unhappy slave--of a passion, from
which I now hope, as fervently and as confidently as I ever did,
to derive eventually solid comfort.'
"He answered, that such an acknowledgment rendered me utterly
inexcusable; that it was no uncommon case to meet sinners who
allowed themselves to be so dazzled with the glare of vice as to
prefer it openly to the true splendour of virtue; they were at
least deluded by the false image of happiness, the poor dupes of
an empty shadow; but the know and feel as I did, that the object
of my attachment was only calculated to render me culpable and
unhappy, and to continue thus voluntarily in a career of misery
and crime, involved a contradiction of ideas and of conduct
little creditable to my reason.
"`Tiberge,' replied I, `it is easy to triumph when your
arguments are unopposed. Allow me to reason for a few moments in
my turn. Can you pretend that what you call the happiness of
virtue is exempt from troubles, and crosses, and cares? By what
name will you designate the dungeon, the rack, the inflections
and tortures of tyrants? Will you say with the Mystics that
the soul derives pleasure from the torments of the body? You are
not bold enough to hold such a doctrine--a paradox not to be
maintained. This happiness, then, that you prize so much, has a
thousand drawbacks, or is, more properly speaking, but a tissue
of sufferings through which one hopes to attain felicity. If by
the power of imagination one can even derive pleasure from these
sufferings, hoping that they may lead to a happy end, why, let me
ask, do you deem my conduct senseless, when it is directed by
precisely the same principle? I love Manon: I wade through
sorrow and suffering in order to attain happiness with her. My
path is one indeed of difficulties, but the mere hope of reaching
the desired goal makes it easy and delightful; and I shall think
myself but too bountifully repaid by one moment of her society,
for all the troubles I encounter in my course. There appears
therefore no difference between us, or, if there be any, it is
assuredly in my favour; for the bliss I hope for is near and
tangible, yours is far distant, and purely speculative. Mine is
of the same kind as my sufferings, that is to say, evident to my
senses; yours is of an incomprehensible nature, and only
discernible through the dim medium of faith.'
 A favourite tenet of the Mystics, advocated by Madame de
Guyon, and adopted by the amiable and eloquent Fenelon, was, that
the love of the Supreme Being must be pure and disinterested;
that is, exempt from all views of interest, and all hope of
reward. See the controversy between Bossuet and Fenelon.
"Tiberge appeared shocked by my remarks. He retired two or
three paces from me, while he said, in the most serious tone,
that my argument was not only a violation of good sense, but that
it was the miserable sophistry of irreligion; `for the
comparison,' he added, `of the pitiful reward of your sufferings
with that held out to us by the divine revelation, is the essence
of impiety and absurdity combined.'
"`I acknowledge,' said I, `that the comparison is not a just
one, but my argument does not at all depend upon it. I was about
to explain what you consider a contradiction--the persevering in
a painful pursuit; and I think I have satisfactorily proved, that
if there be any contradiction in that, we shall be both equally
obnoxious to the charge. It was in this light, only, that I
could observe no difference in our cases, and I cannot as yet
"`You may probably answer, that the proposed end, the promised
reward, of virtue, is infinitely superior to that of love? No
one disputes it, but that is not the question--we are only
discussing the relative aid they both afford in the endurance of
affliction. Judge of that by the practical effect: are there not
multitudes who abandon a life of strict virtue? how few give up
the pursuits of love!
"`Again, you will reply that if there be difficulties in the
exercise of virtue, they are by no means universal and sure; that
the good man does not necessarily meet tyrants and tortures, and
that, on the contrary, a life of virtue is perfectly compatible
with repose and enjoyment. I can say with equal truth, that love
is often accompanied by content and happiness; and what makes
another distinction of infinite advantage to my argument, I may
add that love, though it often deludes, never holds out other
than hopes of bliss and joy, whilst religion exacts from her
votaries mortification and sorrow.
"`Do not be alarmed,' said I, perceiving that I had almost
offended his zealous feelings of devotion. `I only wish to say,
that there is no more unsuccessful method of weaning man's heart
from love, than by endeavouring to decry its enjoyments, and by
promising him more pleasure from the exercise of virtue. It is
an inherent principle in our nature, that our felicity consists
only in pleasure. I defy you to conceive any other notion of it;
and it requires little time to arrive at the conviction, that, of
all pleasures, those of love are immeasurably the most
enchanting. A man quickly discerns the delusion, when he hears
the promise made of livelier enjoyment, and the effect of such
misrepresentation is only to make him doubt the truth of a more
"`Let the preacher who seeks the reformation of a sinner tell
me that virtue is indispensably necessary, but not disguise its
difficulty and its attendant denials. Say that the enjoyments of
love are fleeting, if you will, that they are rigidly forbidden,
that they lead with certainty to eternal suffering; and, what
would assuredly make a deeper impression upon me than any other
argument, say that the more sweet and delectable they are, the
brighter will be the reward of Heaven for giving them up in
sacrifice; but do in the name of justice admit, that, constituted
as the heart of man is, they form here, on earth, our most
"My last sentence restored to Tiberge his good humour. He
allowed that my ideas were not altogether so unreasonable. The
only point he made, was in asking me why I did not carry my own
principle into operation, by sacrificing my passion to the hope
of that remuneration of which I had drawn so brilliant a picture.
`Oh! my dear friend,' replied I; `that it is which makes me
conscious of my own misery and weakness: true, alas! it is indeed
my duty to act according to my argument; but have I the power of
governing my own actions? What aid will enable me to forget
Manon's charms?' 'God forgive me,' said Tiberge, `I can almost
fancy you a Jansenist. `I know not of what sect I am,'
replied I, `nor do I indeed very clearly see to which I ought to
belong; but I cannot help feeling the truth of this at least of
 The first proposition of the Jansenists was, that there are
divine precepts which good men, notwithstanding their desire to
observe them, are nevertheless absolutely unable to obey: God not
having given them such a measure of grace as is essentially
necessary to render them capable of obedience.--Mosheim's Eccles.
Hist., ii. 397.
"One effect of our conversation was to revive my friend's pity
for me in all its force. He perceived that there was in my
errors more of weakness than of vice; and he was the more
disposed in the end to give me assistance; without which I should
infallibly have perished from distress of mind. However, I
carefully concealed from him my intention of escaping from St.
Lazare. I merely begged of him to take charge of my letter; I
had it ready before he came, and I soon found an excuse for the
necessity of writing. He faithfully transmitted it, and Lescaut
received before evening the one I had enclosed for him.
"He came to see me next morning, and fortunately was admitted
under my brother's name. I was overjoyed at finding him in my
room. I carefully closed the door. `Let us lose no time,' I
said. `First tell me about Manon, and then advise me how I am to
shake off these fetters.' He assured me that he had not seen his
sister since the day before my arrest, and that it was only by
repeated enquiries, and after much trouble, that he had at length
been able to discover her fate as well as mine; and that he had
two or three times presented himself at the Magdalen, and been
refused admittance. `Wretch!' muttered I to myself, `dearly
shall G---- M---- pay for this!'
`As to your escape,' continued Lescaut, `it will not be so easy
as you imagine. Last evening, I and a couple of friends walked
round this establishment to reconnoitre it; and we agreed that,
as your windows looked into a court surrounded by buildings, as
you yourself mentioned in your letter, there would be vast
difficulty in getting you out. Besides, you are on the third
story, and it would be impossible to introduce ropes or ladders
through the window. I therefore see no means from without--in
the house itself we must hit upon some scheme.'
"`No,' replied I; `I have examined everything minutely,
particularly since, through the governor's indulgence, my
confinement has been less rigorous. I am no longer locked into
my room; I have liberty to walk in the gallery; but there is,
upon every landing, a strong door kept closed night and day, so
that it is impossible that ingenuity alone, unaided by some
violent efforts, can rescue me.
"`Wait,' said I, after turning in my mind for a moment an idea
that struck me as excellent; `could you bring me a pistol?'
`Softly,' said Lescaut to me, `you don't think of committing
murder?' I assured him that I had so little intention of
shooting anyone, that it would not be even necessary to have the
pistol loaded. `Bring it to me tomorrow,' I added, `and do not
fail to be exactly opposite the great entrance with two or three
of your friends at eleven tomorrow night; I think I shall be able
to join you there.' He in vain requested me to explain my plan.
I told him that such an attempt as I contemplated could only
appear rational after it had succeeded. I begged of him to
shorten his visit, in order that he might with the less
difficulty be admitted next morning. He was accordingly admitted
as readily as on his first visit. He had put on so serious an
air, moreover, that a stranger would have taken him for a
"When I found in my hand the instrument of my liberty, I no
longer doubted my success. It was certainly a strange and a bold
project; but of what was I not capable, with the motives that
inspired me? I had, since I was allowed permission to walk in
the galleries, found opportunities of observing that every night
the porter brought the keys of all the doors to the governor, and
subsequently there always reigned a profound silence in the
house, which showed that the inmates had retired to rest. There
was an open communication between my room and that of the
Superior. My resolution was, if he refused quietly to surrender
the keys, to force him, by fear of the pistol, to deliver them
up, and then by their help to gain the street. I impatiently
awaited the moment for executing my purpose. The porter arrived
at his usual time, that is to say, soon after nine o'clock. I
allowed an hour to elapse, in order that the priests as well as
the servants might be all asleep. I at length proceeded with my
pistol and a lighted candle. I first gave a gentle tap at the
governor's door to awaken without alarming him. I knocked a
second time before he heard me; and supposing of course that it
was one of the priests who was taken ill and wanted assistance,
he got out of bed, dressed himself, and came to the door. He
had, however, the precaution to ask first who it was, and what
was wanted? I was obliged to mention my name, but I assumed a
plaintive tone, to make him believe that I was indisposed. `Ah!
it is you, my dear boy,' said he on opening the door; `what can
bring you here at this hour?' I stepped inside the door, and
leading him to the opposite side of the room, I declared to him
that it was absolutely impossible for me to remain longer at St.
Lazare; that the night was the most favourable time for going out
unobserved, and that I confidently expected, from his tried
friendship, that he would consent to open the gates for me, or
entrust me with the keys to let myself out.
"This compliment to his friendship seemed to surprise him. He
stood for a few moments looking at me without making any reply.
Finding that I had no time to lose, I just begged to assure him
that I had the most lively sense of all his kindnesses, but that
freedom was dearer to man than every other consideration,
especially so to me, who had been cruelly and unjustly deprived
of it; that I was resolved this night to recover it, cost what it
would, and fearing lest he might raise his voice and call for
assistance, I let him see the powerful incentive to silence which
I had kept concealed in my bosom. `A pistol!' cried he. `What!
my son? will you take away my life in return for the attentions I
have shown you?' `God forbid,' replied I; `you are too
reasonable to drive me to that horrible extremity: but I am
determined to be free, and so firmly determined, that if you
defeat my project, I will put an end to your existence.' `But,
my dear son!' said he, pale and frightened, `what have I done to
you? What reason have you for taking my life?' `No!' replied I,
impatiently, `I have no design upon your life, if you, yourself,
wish to live; open but the doors for me, and you will find me the
most attached of friends.' I perceived the keys upon the table.
I requested he would take them in his hand and walk before me,
making as little noise as he possibly could.
"He saw the necessity of consenting. We proceeded, and as he
opened each door, he repeated, always with a sigh, `Ah! my son,
who could have believed it?' `No noise, good Father, no noise,'
I as often answered in my turn. At length we reached a kind of
barrier, just inside the great entrance. I already fancied
myself free, and kept close behind the governor, with my candle
in one hand, and my pistol in the other.
"While he was endeavouring to open the heavy gate, one of the
servants, who slept in an adjoining room, hearing the noise of
the bolts, jumped out of bed, and peeped forth to see what was
passing. The good Father apparently thought him strong enough to
overpower me. He commanded him, most imprudently, to come to his
assistance. He was a powerful ruffian, and threw himself upon me
without an instant's hesitation. There was no time for
parleying--I levelled my pistol and lodged the contents in his
breast! `See, Father, of what mischief you have been the cause,'
said I to my guide; `but that must not prevent us from finishing
our work,' I added, pushing him on towards the last door. He did
not dare refuse to open it. I made my exit in perfect safety,
and, a few paces off, found Lescaut with two friends waiting for
me, according to his promise.
"We removed at once to a distance. Lescaut enquired whether he
had not heard the report of a pistol? `You are to blame,' said
I, `why did you bring it charged?' I, however, could not help
thanking him for having taken this precaution, without which I
doubtless must have continued much longer at St. Lazare. We went
to pass the night at a tavern, where I made up, in some degree,
for the miserable fare which had been doled out to me for nearly
three months. I was very far, however, from tasting perfect
enjoyment; Manon's sufferings were mine. `She must be released,'
said I to my companions: `this was my sole object in desiring my
own liberty. I rely on your aiding me with all your ingenuity;
as for myself, my life shall be devoted to the purpose.'
"Lescaut, who was not deficient in tact, and still less in that
better part of valour called discretion, dwelt upon the necessity
of acting with extreme caution: he said that my escape from St.
Lazare, and the accident that happened on my leaving it, would
assuredly create a sensation; that the lieutenant-general of
police would cause a strict search to be made for me, and it
would be difficult to evade him; in fine, that, unless disposed
to encounter something worse, perhaps, than St. Lazare, it would
be requisite for me to remain concealed for a few days, in order
to give the enemy's zeal time to cool. No doubt this was wise
counsel; but, one should have been wise oneself to have followed
it. Such calculating slowness little suited my passion. The
utmost I could bring myself to promise was, that I would sleep
through the whole of the next day. He locked me in my bedroom,
where I remained patiently until night.
"I employed great part of the time in devising schemes for
relieving Manon. I felt persuaded that her prison was even more
inaccessible than mine had been. Force was out of the question.
Artifice was the only resource; but the goddess of invention
herself could not have told me how to begin. I felt the
impossibility of working in the dark, and therefore postponed the
further consideration of my schemes until I could acquire some
knowledge of the internal arrangements of the Hospital, in which
she was confined.
"As soon as night restored to me my liberty, I begged of Lescaut
to accompany me. We were not long in drawing one of the porters
into conversation; he appeared a reasonable man. I passed for a
stranger who had often with admiration heard talk of the
Hospital, and of the order that reigned within it. I enquired
into the most minute details; and, proceeding from one subject to
another, we at length spoke of the managers, and of these I
begged to know the names and the respective characters. He gave
me such information upon the latter point as at once suggested an
idea which flattered my hopes, and I immediately set about
carrying it into execution.
I asked him (this being a matter essential to my plan) whether
any of the gentlemen had children. He said he could not answer
me with certainty as to all, but as for M. de T----, one of the
principal directors, he knew that he had a son old enough to be
married, and who had come several times to the Hospital with his
father. This was enough for my purpose.
"I immediately put an end to our interview, and, in returning, I
told Lescaut of the plan I had formed. `I have taken it,' said
I, `into my head, that M. de T----, the son, who is rich and of
good family, must have the same taste for pleasure that other
young men of his age generally have. He could hardly be so bad a
friend to the fair sex, nor so absurd as to refuse his services
in an affair of love. I have arranged a plan for interesting him
in favour of Manon. If he is a man of feeling and of right mind,
he will give us his assistance from generosity. If he is not to
be touched by a motive of this kind, he will at least do
something for a handsome girl, if it were only with the hope of
hereafter sharing her favours. I will not defer seeing him,'
added I, `beyond tomorrow. I really feel so elated by this
project, that I derive from it a good omen.'
"Lescaut himself allowed that the idea was not unreasonable, and
that we might fairly entertain a hope of turning it to account.
I passed the night less sorrowfully.
Next morning I dressed as well as, in my present state of
indigence, I could possibly contrive to do; and went in a hackney
coach to the residence of M. de T----. He was surprised at
receiving a visit from a perfect stranger. I augured favourably
from his countenance and the civility of his manner. I explained
my object in the most candid way; and, to excite his feelings as
much as possible, I spoke of my ardent passion and of Manon's
merit, as of two things that were unequalled, except by each
other. He told me, that although he had never seen Manon, he had
heard of her; at least, if the person I was talking of was the
same who had been the mistress of old G---- M----. I conjectured
that he must have heard of the part I had acted in that
transaction, and in order to conciliate him more and more by
treating him with confidence, I told him everything that had
occurred to Manon and myself. `You see, sir,' said I, `that all
that can interest me in life, all that can command my affections,
is in your hands. I have no reserve with you, because I have
been informed of your generous and noble character; and, being of
the same age, I trust I shall find some resemblance in our
"He seemed flattered by this mark of candour and confidence. He
replied in a manner that became a man of the world, and a man of
feeling also, for they are not always synonymous terms. He told
me that he appreciated my visit as a piece of good fortune; that
he considered my friendship as a valuable acquisition, and that
he would endeavour to prove himself worthy of it, by the
sincerity of his services. He could not absolutely promise to
restore Manon to my arms, because, as he said, he himself had
very little influence; but he offered to procure me the pleasure
of seeing her, and to do everything in his power to effect her
release. I was the more satisfied with this frank avowal as to
his want of influence, than I should have been by an unqualified
promise of fulfilling all my wishes. I found in his moderation a
pledge of his sincerity: in a word, I no longer doubted my entire
success. The promise alone of enabling me to see Manon filled me
with gratitude, and I testified it in so earnest a manner, as to
give him a favourable opinion of my heart and disposition; we
shook hands warmly, and parted sworn friends, merely from mutual
regard, and that natural feeling which prompts a man of kind and
generous sentiments to esteem another of congenial mind.
"He, indeed, exceeded me in the proofs of his esteem; for,
inferring from my adventures, and especially my late escape from
St. Lazare, that I might be in want of money, he offered me his
purse, and pressed me to accept it. I refused, but said to him,
`You are too kind, my dear sir! If in addition to such proofs of
kindness and friendship, you enable me to see Manon again, rely
on my eternal regard and gratitude. If you succeed in restoring
altogether this dear creature to my arms, I should think myself
happy in spilling the last drop of my blood in your service.'
"Before we parted, we agreed as to the time and place for our
meeting. He was so considerate as to appoint the afternoon of
the same day.
"I waited for him at a cafe, where he joined me about four
o'clock, and we went together towards the Magdalen; my knees
trembled under me as I crossed the courts. `Ye heavenly powers!'
said I, `then I shall once more behold the idol of my heart--the
dear object of so many sighs and lamentations! All I now ask of
Providence is, to vouchsafe me strength enough to reach her
presence, and after that, to dispose as it pleaseth of my future
fate, and of my life itself. Beyond this, I have no prayer to
"M. de T---- spoke to some of the porters of the establishment,
who appeared all anxious to please him. The quarter in which
Manon's room lay was pointed out to us, and our guide carried in
his hand the key of her chamber: it was of frightful size. I
asked the man who conducted us, and whose duty it was to attend
to Manon, how she passed her time? He said, that she had a
temper of the most angelic sweetness; that even he, disagreeable
as his official duties must render him, had never heard from her
a single syllable in the nature of rebuke or harshness; that her
tears had never ceased to flow during the first six weeks after
her arrival, but that latterly she seemed to bear her misfortunes
with more resignation, and that she employed herself from morning
till night with her needle, excepting some hours that she, each
day, devoted to reading. I asked whether she had been decently
provided for. He assured me that at least she had never felt the
want of necessaries.
"We now approached her door. My heart. beat almost audibly in
my bosom. I said to M. de T----, `Go in alone, and prepare her
for my visit; I fear that she may be overcome by seeing me
unexpectedly.' The door was opened. I remained in the passage,
and listened to the conversation. He said that he came to bring
her consolation; that he was a friend of mine, and felt deeply
interested for the happiness of us both. She asked with the
tenderest anxiety, whether he could tell her what had become of
me. He promised that she should soon see me at her feet, as
affectionate and as faithful as ever. `When?' she asked. `This
very day,' said he; `the happy moment shall not be long delayed;
nay, this very instant even, if you wish it.' She at once
understood that I was at the door; as she was rushing towards it,
I entered. We embraced each other with that abounding and
impassioned tenderness, which an absence of many months makes so
delicious to those who truly love. Our sighs, our broken
exclamations, the thousand endearing appellations of love,
exchanged in languishing rapture, astonished M. de T----, and
affected him even to tears.
"`I cannot help envying you,' said he, as he begged us to be
seated; `there is no lot, however glorious, that I would hold as
comparable to the possession of a mistress at once so tender and
impassioned.' `Nor would I,' I replied, `give up her love for
"The remainder of an interview which had been so long and so
ardently desired by me, was of course as tender as the
commencement. Poor Manon related all her adventures, and I told
her mine: we bitterly wept over each other's story. M. de T----
consoled us by his renewed promises to exert himself in our
service. He advised us not to make this, our first interview, of
too long duration, that he might have the less difficulty in
procuring us the same enjoyment again. He at length induced us
to follow his advice. Manon especially could not reconcile
herself to the separation: she made me a hundred times resume my
seat. At one time she held me by my hands, at another by my
coat. `Alas!' she said, `in what an abode do you leave me! Who
will answer for my ever seeing you again?' M. de T---- promised
her that he would often come and see her with me. `As to the
abode,' he said, 'it must no longer be called the Magdalen; it is
Versailles! now that it contains a person who deserves the empire
of all hearts.'
"I made the man who attended a present as I went out, in order
to quicken his zeal and attentions. This fellow had a mind less
rough and vulgar than the generality of his class. He had
witnessed our interview, and was affected by it. The interest he
felt was doubtless increased by the louis d'or I gave him. He
took me aside as we went down into the courtyard. `Sir,' said
he, `if you will only take me into your service, or indemnify me
in any way for the loss of the situation which I fill here, I
think I should not have much difficulty in liberating the
"I caught readily at the suggestion, and, although at the moment
I was almost in a state of destitution, I gave him promises far
beyond his desires. I considered that it would be at all times
easy to recompense a man of his description. `Be assured, my
friend,' said I to him, `that there is nothing I will not be
ready to do for you, and that your fortune is just as certain as
my own.' I enquired what means he intended to employ. `None
other,' said he, `than merely to open the door of her cell for
her at night, and to conduct her to the street door, where you,
of course, will be to receive her.' I asked whether there was no
danger of her being recognised as she traversed the long
galleries and the courts. He admitted that there was danger, but
that nothing could be done without some slight risk.
"Although I was delighted to find him so determined, I called M.
de T----, and informed him of the project, and of the only
difficulty in the way. He thought it not so easy of execution.
He allowed the possibility of escaping thus: `But if she be
recognised,' continued he, `if she be stopped in the attempt, all
hope will be over with her, perhaps for ever. Besides, you would
be obliged to quit Paris instantly, for you could never evade the
search that would be made for you: they would redouble their
efforts as much on your own account as hers. A single man may
easily escape detection, but in company with a handsome woman, it
would be utterly impossible to remain undiscovered.'
"However sound this reasoning, it could not, in my mind,
outweigh the immediate prospect of restoring Manon to liberty. I
said as much to M. de T----, and trusted that he would excuse my
imprudence and rashness, on the ground of love. I added that it
was already my intention to quit Paris for some neighbouring
village, as I had once before done. We then settled with the
servant that he should carry his project into execution the
following day, and to render our success as certain as he could,
we resolved to carry into the prison men's clothes, in order to
facilitate her escape.
There was a difficulty to be surmounted in carrying them in, but
I had ingenuity enough to meet it. I begged of M. de T---- only
to put on two light waistcoats the next morning, and I undertook
to arrange the rest.
We returned the following day to the Hospital. I took with me
linen, stockings, etc., for Manon, and over my body-coat a
surtout, which concealed the bulk I carried in my pockets. We
remained but a moment in her room. M. de T---- left her one of
his waistcoats; I gave her my short coat, the surtout being
sufficient for me. She found nothing wanting for her complete
equipment but a pair of pantaloons, which in my hurry I had
"The want of so necessary an article might have amused us, if
the embarrassment it caused had been of a less serious kind. I
was in despair at having our whole scheme foiled by a trifling
omission of this nature. However, I soon hit on a remedy, and
determined to make my own exit sans-culotte, leaving that portion
of my dress with Manon. My surtout was long, and I contrived by
the help of a few pins to put myself in a decent condition for
passing the gate.
"The remainder of the day appeared to me of endless length.
When at last night came, we went in a coach to within a few yards
of the Hospital. We were not long waiting, when we saw Manon
make her appearance with her guide. The door of the coach being
opened, they both stepped in without delay. I opened my arms to
receive my adored mistress; she trembled like an aspen leaf. The
coachman asked where he was to drive? `To the end of the world!'
I exclaimed; `to some place where I can never again be separated
"This burst, which I could not control, was near bringing me
into fresh trouble. The coachman reflected upon what I said, and
when I afterwards told him the name of the street to which I
wished him to drive, he answered that he feared I was about to
implicate him in some bad business; that he saw plainly enough
that the good- looking young man whom I called Manon was a girl
eloping from the Hospital, and that he was little disposed indeed
to ruin himself for love of me.
"Extortion was the source of this scoundrel's delicacy. We were
still too near the Hospital to make any noise. `Silence!' said I
to him, `you shall have a louis d'or for the job': for less than
that he would have helped me to burn the Hospital.
"We arrived at Lescaut's house. As it was late, M. de T----
left us on the way, promising to visit us the next morning. The
servant alone remained.
"I held Manon in such close embrace in my arms, that we occupied
but one place in the coach. She cried for joy, and I could feel
her tears trickling down my cheeks.
"When we were about getting out at Lescaut's, I had a new
difficulty with the coachman, which was attended with the most
unfortunate results. I repented of having promised the fellow a
louis d'or, not only because it was extravagant folly, but for
another stronger reason, that it was at the moment out of my
power to pay him. I called for Lescaut, and he came down to the
door. I whispered to him the cause of my present embarrassment.
Being naturally rough, and not at all in the habit of treating
hackney-coachmen with respect, he answered that I could not be
serious. `A louis!' said he; `twenty blows of a cane would be
the right payment for that rascal!' I entreated him not to
destroy us; when he snatched my cane from my hand, and was about
to lay it on the coachman. The fellow had probably before
experienced the weight of a guardsman's arm, and instantly drove
off, crying out, that I had cheated him, and should hear of him
again. I in vain endeavoured to stop him.
"His flight caused me, of course, the greatest alarm. I had no
doubt that he would immediately give information to the police.
`You have ruined me,' said I to Lescaut; `I shall be no longer
safe at your house; we must go hence at once.' I gave Manon my
arm, and as quickly as possible got out of the dangerous
neighbourhood. Lescaut accompanied us."
The Chevalier des Grieux having occupied more than an hour with
his story, I begged him to give himself a little rest, and
meanwhile to share our supper. He saw, by the attention we paid
him, that we were amused, and promised that we should hear
something of perhaps greater interest in the sequel. When we had
finished supper, he continued in the following words.
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