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The extensive wars wherewith Louis XIV was burdened during his reign, while draining the State's treasury and exhausting the substance of the people, none the less contained the secret that led to the prosperity of a swarm of those bloodsuckers who are always on the watch for public calamities, which, instead of appeasing, they promote or invent so as, precisely, to be able to profit from them the more advantageously. The end of this so very sublime reign was perhaps one of the periods in the history of the French Empire when one saw the emergence of the greatest number of these mysterious fortunes whose origins are as obscure as the lust and debauchery that accompany them. It was toward the close of this period, and not long before the Regent sought, by means of the famous tribunal which goes under the name of the Chambre de Justice, to flush this multitude of traffickers, that four of them conceived the idea for the singular revels whereof we are going to give an account. One must not suppose that it was exclusively the low-born and vulgar sort which did this swindling; gentlemen of the highest note led the pack. The Duc de Blangis and his brother the Bishop of X***, each of whom had thuswise amassed immense fortunes, are in themselves solid proof that, like the others, the nobility neglected no opportunities to take this road to wealth. These two illustrious figures, through their pleasures and business closely associated with the celebrated Durcet and the Président de Curval, were the first to hit upon the debauch we propose to chronicle, and having communicated the scheme to their two friends, all four agreed to assume the major roles in these unusual orgies.