found, to my surprise, that he said nothing to me concerning it for several days, when suddenly madame la marechale de Mirepoix was announced. At this name and this title I rose quite in a fluster, without clearly knowing what could be the object of this visit, for which I was unprepared. The marechale, who followed closely on the valet's heels, did not give me time for much reflection. She took me really , and I had not time to go and meet her. "Madame la marechale," said I, accosting her, "what lucky chance brings you to a place where the desire to have your society is so great?" "It is the feeling of real sympathy," she replied, with a gracious smile; "for I also have longed for a considerable time to visit you, and have yielded to my wishes as soon as I was certain that my advances would not be repulsed." "Ah, madame.," said I, "had you seriously any such fear? That tells me much less of the mistrust you had of yourself than of the bad opinion you had conceived of me. The honor of your visits--" "The honor of my visits! That's admirable! I wish to obtain a portion of your friendship, and to testify to the king that I am sincerely attached to him." "You overwhelm me, madame," cried I, much delighted, "and I beg you to give me your confidence." "Well, now, all is arranged between us: I suit you and you please me. It is long since I was desirous of coming to you, but we are all under the yoke of the must absurd tyranny: soon we shall have no permission to go, to come, to speak, to hold our tongues, without first obtaining the consent of a certain family. This yoke has wearied me; and on the first word of the chancellor of France I hastened to you." "I had begged him, madame, to express to you how much I should be charmed to have you when the king graced me with his presence. He likes you, he is accustomed to the delights of your society; and I should have been deeply chagrined had I come here only to deprive him of that pleasure." "He is a good master," said the marechale, "he is worthy of all our love. I have had opportunities of knowing him thoroughly, for I was most intimate with madame de Pompadour; and I believe that my advice will not be useless to you." "I ask it of you, madame la marechale, for it will be precious to me." "Since we are friends, madame," said she, seating herself in a chair, "do not think ill of me if I establish myself at my ease, and take my station as in the days of yore. The king loves you: so much the better. You will have a double empire over him. He did not love the marquise, and allowed himself to be governed by her; for with him--I ask pardon of your excessive beauty--custom does all. It is necessary, my dear countess, to use the double lever you have, of your own charms and his constant custom to do to-morrow what he does to-day because he did it yesterday, and for this you lack neither grace nor wit." I had heard a great deal concerning madame de Mirepoix; but I own to you, that before I heard her speak I had no idea what sort of a person she would prove. She had an air of so much frankness and truth, that it was impossible not to be charmed by it. The greater part of the time I did not know how to defend myself from her--at once so natural and so perfidious; and occasionally I allowed myself to love her with all my heart, so much did she seem to cherish me with all enthusiasm. She had depth of wit, a piquancy of expression, and knew how to disguise those interested adulations with turns so noble and beautiful that I have never met, neither before nor since, any woman worthy of being compared with her. She was, in her single self, a whole society; and certainly there was no possibility of being wearied when she was there. Her temper was most equable, a qualification rarely obtained without a loss of warmth of feeling. She always pleased because her business was to please and not to love; and it always sufficed her to render others enthusiastic and ardent. Except this tendency to egotism, she was the charm of society, the life of the party whom she enlivened by her presence. She knew precisely when to mourn with the afflicted, and joke with the merry-hearted. The king had much pleasure in her company: he knew that she only thought how to amuse him; and, moreover, as he had seen her from morning till evening with the marquise de Pompadour, her absence from my parties was insupportable to him, and almost contrary to the rules of etiquette at the chateau. I cannot tell you how great was his satisfaction, when, at the first supper which followed our intimacy, he saw her enter. He ran to meet her like a child, and gave a cry of joy, which must have been very pleasing to the marechale. "You are a dear woman," he said to her, with an air which accorded with his words, "I always find you when I want you; and you can nowhere be more in place than here. I ask your friendship for our dear countess." "She has it already, sire, from the moment I saw her; and I consider my intimacy with her as one of the happiest chances of my life." The king showed the utmost good humor in the world during the rest of the evening. He scolded me, however, for the mystery I had made in concealing from him the agreeable visit of the marechale. I justified myself easily by the pleasure which this surprise caused him; and, on my side, gave my sincere thanks to the chancellor. "You owe me none," said he; "the good marechale felt herself somewhat ill at ease not to be on close terms with her who possesses the affections of the king. It is an indispensable necessity that she should play a part in the lesser apartments; and as the principal character no longer suits her, she is contented to perform that of confidante, and ran here on my first intimation." "Never mind the motive that brought her," I said; "she is a companion for me much more desirable than madame de Bearn." "First from her rank," said the chancellor, smiling maliciously, "and then by virtue of her cousinship with the Holy Virgin." I confess that I was ignorant of this incident in the house of Levi; and I laughed heartily at the description of the picture, in which one of the lords of this house is represented on his knees before the mother of God, who says to him, "
" I took care, however, how I joked on this point with the marechale, who listened to nothing that touched on the nobility of the ancestors of her husband or on those of her own family. Great had been the outcry in the palace against the duc de la Vauguyon and madame de Bearn, but how much louder did it become on the defection of the marquise de Mirepoix. The cabal was destroyed; for a woman of rank and birth like the marechale was to me a conquest of the utmost importance. The princesse de Guemenee and the duchesse de Grammont were wofully enraged. This they manifested by satirical sneers, epigrams, and verses, which were put forth in abundance. All these inffictions disturbed her but little; the main point in her eyes was to possess the favor of the master; and she had it, for he felt that he was bound to her by her complaisance. He was not long in giving her an unequivocal proof of his regard. The duc de Duras asked her, in presence of the king and myself, why she did not wear her diamonds as usual. "They are my representatives," was her reply. "What do you mean by representatives?" said I. "Why, my dear countess, they are with a Jew instead of my sign-manual. The rogue had no respect for the word of a relation of the Holy Virgin and the daughter of the Beauvau. I was in want of thirty thousand francs; and to procure it I have given up my ornaments, not wishing to send to the Jew the old plate of my family, altho' the hunks wanted it." We all laughed at her frankness, and the gaiety with which she gave this statement, but we went no further; to her great regret, no doubt, for I believe that the scene had been prepared between her and M. de Duras, either to let her profit in time of need, or else that she wished to pluck a feather from our wing. When I was alone with the king, he said, "The poor marechale pains me; I should like to oblige her and think I will give her five hundred louis." "What will such a petty sum avail her? You know what she wants; either send her the whole or none. A king should do nothing by halves." Louis XV answered me nothing; he only made a face, and began to walk up and down the room. "Ah," said I, "this excellent woman loves your majesty so much, that you ought to show your gratitude to her, were it only to recompense her for her intimacy with me." "Well, you shall carry her the sum yourself, which Lebel shall bring you from me. But thirty thousand francs, that makes a large pile of crown-pieces." "Then I must take it in gold." "No, but in good notes. We must not, even by a look, intimate that she has her visits to us. There are such creatures in the world!" The next morning Lebel brought me a very handsome rose-colored portfolio, embroidered with silver and auburn hair: it contained the thirty thousand francs in notes. I hastened to the marechale. We were then at Marly. "What good wind blows you hither?" said madame de Mirepoix. "A royal gallantry," I replied; "you appeared unhappy, and our excellent prince sends you the money necessary to redeem your jewels." The eyes of the lady became animated, and she embraced me heartily. "It is to you that I owe this bounty of the king." "Yes, partly, to make the present entire; he would only have given you half the sum." "I recognize him well in that he does not like to empty his casket. He would draw on the public treasury without hesitation for double the revenue of France, and would not make a division of a single crown of his own private ." I give this speech ; and this was all the gratitude which madame de Mirepoix manifested towards Louis XV. I was
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