M. Turcaret lavished gifts and immense sums of money upon the Baroness, whom he had asked to marry him. The Baroness in turn poured equal amounts into the pockets of the wheedling Knight. Marine admonished her mistress to use her reasoning. The discerning Marine knew the Baroness’ motivation in keeping the Knight. He had been the first to offer her, a widow, love. Marine outlined a judicious pattern for the Baroness: drop the Knight, because M. Turcaret might not like the idea of her having “friends” and accept M. Turcaret’s gifts. Then, should he not want to marry her, she would have wealth and possessions and could marry some needy gentleman. To be sure, the world might talk a little about her rejection by M. Turcaret, but a husband, needy or not, could restore her reputation by marriage.
An early gift was a small coffer, delivered by Flamand, M. Turcaret’s valet. It contained two notes: one a bill of exchange for ten thousand crowns and written by M. Turcaret; the other a quatrain, dedicated to the Baroness. Marine was anxious to read the verse of the second to see whether it was as good as the prose of the first.
Enraged by her mistress’ gullibility with the Knight, Marine quit her job with the Baroness. She announced, in quitting, that she would report to M. Turcaret that the Baroness was little more than the middleman for his money, as it passed from M. Turcaret to the Knight.
Frontin quipped that such a servant as Marine with all her righteousness was worse than a mother. As to her exposing them to M. Turcaret, Frontin added that waiting maids were like pious ladies performing their charitable deeds as a means of avenging themselves. Frontin knew exactly the young woman, Lisette, to replace Marine as the Baroness’ maid.
To show her animosity for M. Turcaret and her kind thoughts for the Knight, the Baroness gave the Knight the ten-thousand-crown note given her by M. Turcaret to redeem her diamond ring (also a gift from M. Turcaret), which she had given the distraught Knight to pawn so that he might pay a gambling debt.
Frontin gave a succinct summary of the life of the times, when he traced the source of income. He and the Knight had a coquette who milked the man of affairs who made his money pillaging the taxpayers. It made, he thought, a diverting circumstance of trickery.
The Knight returned the ring, but not the change from the note. His action was timely, as M. Turcaret, having heard Marine’s story of the Baroness’ generosity toward the Knight, appeared and asked to see the ring. When the Baroness produced it, Marine’s report to M. Turcaret was undermined. The ring incident served as prima facie evidence that the Baroness had the note also. M. Turcaret became putty in the Baroness’ hands as she reprimanded him for believing Marine’s report.
M. Turcaret’s undisciplined character was demonstrated fully, just prior to this scene of abject apology, as he went about the Baroness’ room smashing her largest...
(The entire section is 1236 words.)