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deprive me of even the taste for, as well as the power of, doing
good.  This took place at Choisy, which we very shortly after
quitted for Compiegne, where I passed my time very agreeably.
The king would not suffer either the duchesse de Grammont or the
comtesses d'Egmont and de Brienne to accompany us upon this
excursion.  It has likewise been asserted, that neither the duchesse
de Grammont nor the princesse de Beauvau was present during the
king's first visit to Chantilly: that is not correct; it was at
the second that they were forbidden by Louis to join the party.
Those who fabricated such accounts, in all probability derived
their information from either the stable or the kitchen, which
was all they knew of the court of Louis XV.

During my abode at Compiegne I dined several times at the house
of my brother-in-law, Cleon du Barry, then a captain in the
regiment de Beauce, who was, with a detachment, quartered in
the neighborhood of the castle; and he, with the rest of his brother
officers, vied in endeavors to please and amuse me.  They gave
fetes in my honor, were perpetually devising fresh schemes to
render the place agreeable to me; and in that they perfectly
succeeded, for I quitted Compiegne with no other regret than
that my stay there was at an end.

The king appeared each day more and more solicitous to render me
happy, and even anticipated any wishes I might form.  Amongst
other marks of his favor, he bestowed upon me the splendid pavilion
de Lucienne, sold by the duc de Penthievre after the death of his
son, the prince de Lamballe.  You know this charming spot, which
both nature and art have so liberally contributed to adorn: I have
converted it into the most perfect and delightful habitation in
which a mortal could desire to end her days.  Nevertheless, this
hope of passing my life tranquilly and happily within its sheltering
bosom will prove but fallacious, if I may credit a prediction
which has been verified already in part.  You doubtlessly remember
the young man who so obstinately pursued me to announce the high
destiny to which I should attain, ere I had for one moment
contemplated such an elevation.  Well!  You will scarcely credit
me when I declare, that all recollection of him had entirely
escaped me; but, in truth, the constant vortex of a court life
leaves no time for the recollection of the past, and fills our
minds with no other ideas but to provide for the present, and
occasionally to glance at the future.

However, I thought no more of my young prophet, when one Sunday,
after my return to Versailles from Compiegne, I attended mass at
the castle; all at once I caught a glimpse of my mysterious
acquaintance, leaning his back against the wall behind the altar.
He was examining my countenance with a deep and fixed attention.
You may picture to yourself my astonishment and surprise at
recognising in this place the person who had so long ago foretold
my brilliant destiny.  The color rushed to my cheeks, and he could
distinctly observe how much I was agitated by his presence, and
his beautiful countenance was lit up with a pleasant smile; after
which he gracefully waved his hand round his head as tho' he
would say, "Are you not queen of France?"  This gesture excited
my astonishment still further; however, I returned his mute inquiry
by a slight inclination of the head, intended to say, "You are
right."  In a moment a sort of cloud seemed to cover my eyes.  So
soon as I could recover from the sudden dimness which obscured
my vision, I endeavored to bend my looks in an opposite direction;
for so greatly was I the point of general observation, that I
feared to awaken suspicion by an indiscreet attention to one
particular person or place: and when after some little time had
elapsed, and I ventured to turn my eyes again to the spot where
the young man had been standing, he had disappeared.

I was unable to recover my astonishment at the whole affair, and
the suddenness of his departure inspired me with a lively desire to
know more of him, whether he were man or demon.  I mentioned it
to Chon the same day, who, having listened to me with extreme
attention, "Upon my word," said she, "this is a most marvellous
event in your history.  Why do you not mention the fact to M.
de Sartines?  "

"Because it appears to me folly to disturb or annoy a person who
has given me no offence; and were I to put him into the hands of
the police, I might possibly find reason to repent having acted
so.  On the other hand, I would give any sum of money for one
more interview with this wonderful person."

There the conversation ended; but my sister-in-law, by an unpardonable
curiosity she ought not to have indulged in, wrote, unknown to
me, to the lieutenant of the police, entreating of him to use the
most active measures to trace out the object of my curiosity.  M.
de Sartines delighted at having an opportunity of proving to me and
mine his skill and zeal, turned all his bloodhounds loose upon the
track of this unfortunate being.  During these proceedings I
received a letter, sealed with five black seals, bearing the
impress of a death's head.  I thought at first that it was to
notify the decease of some friend, and I looked upon the style as
gloomy as it was strange; but, upon opening it, I found it to
contain the following words:--

"MADAME LA COMTESSE,--I am perfectly aware
that the strict pursuit made after me in your name
is without your knowledge or sanction: those sent
in search of me have spared no pains nor trouble
 to ascertain my name and abode.  My abode!
Let all as they value themselves avoid meeting
me there; for, when they enter it, it will be never
to quit it more.  Who am I?  That can only be known
when this life has been exchanged for another.  I
charge you, madame, to command the lieutenant,
M. de Sartines., to cease his researches after me;
they would be fruitless, and might only compromise
your safety.  Remember, I predicted your good
fortune; was I not correct in it?  I have also
foretold reverses: I am equally correct in them also.
You will see me twice more; and should I
unfortunately cross your path a third time, prepare
to bid adieu to the light of heaven and the pleasures
of this world."

It is impossible to convey an idea of the excessive terror with
which I was filled upon the perusal of this billet.  I summoned
my sister-in-law, and complained of the harshness of conduct
thus adopted against my pleasure.  Chon was equally alarmed,
and confessed to me what she had done in asking the aid of M.
de Sartines; at the same time that she was the first to declare that
it was requisite to put an end to all further search, which, in
one shape or other, might bring on the most fatal consequences.
I therefore wrote myself to M. de Sartines, thanking him for his
exertions; but saying, that my sister-in-law and myself had
learned from the lips of the mysterious stranger all we were
desirous of knowing, and that any future researches being
unpleasant to him would be equally disagreeable to me.  M. de
Sartines obeyed my request; and from that period till the death
of the king I heard no more of this singular personage.



CHAPTER XXI


Extraordinary anecdote of Louis XIV and madame de Maintenon--
The comtesse du Barry at Chantilly--Opinion of king and comte de
la Marche respecting the "Iron Mask"--Madame du Barry visits
madame de Lagarde

My acquaintance with the singular being I was speaking of in the
last chapter did not end here, as you will find in the sequel.  I
will now give you an account of an equally strange affair, in
nearly the same words as Louis XV himself related it to me.
Altho' strongly recommended by my sister-in-law and M. de Sartines
to conceal the whole story of my mysterious friend from the
king, yet, unaccustomed to the prudential observation of court
reserve, I, one fine evening, in order to fill up a long blank in
the conversation, related the story from beginning to end.  His
majesty listened with attention until I had concluded.

"This is indeed," said he, "a most singular history; and I think
you have acted very wisely in putting an end to all such interference
on the part of the police; for in such cases you frequently run
great risks to procure a trifling gratification.  We have seen
something of the same sort in our family."

This discourse excited my curiosity; and I entreated of him to
explain himself more fully.  "I ought not to do so," replied he;
"such transactions should be kept for ever concealed; but as more
than half a century has elapsed since the event I allude to took
place, I think I may venture to break the silence I have religiously
observed until now.  You are the only person I have ever mentioned
it to, and I must bind you to the strictest secrecy."

This I faithfully promised; and so long as Louis XV lived I kept
my word.

"At the conclusion of the last century, during the month of
September," resumed the king, "it happened that Louis XIV, and
madame de Maintenon formed the wish of consulting together some
learned astrologer, in order to ascertain whether the coming age
would be productive of good or ill to them.  As neither of them
knew to whom to apply, in order to attain their object, madame de
Maintenon was compelled to confide her wishes to her friend,
madame de Montchevreuil, who readily engaged to find for her the
person she required; for, spite of the severity with which the law
visited such practices, there was no scarcity of dealers in augury,
who promised good or bad fortune accordingly as they were paid for it.

"Whilst this lady was making diligent search after one perfectly
competent to satisfy madame de Maintenon, this latter, in
conjunction with the king, despite the superiority of their minds,
was greatly disturbed at the probable consequences of the step
they meditated.  Their desire to penetrate into futurity appeared
to them as ridiculous as it was criminal, but their weaker feelings
triumphed; and the result of their deliberations was that far
from relinquishing their intention of searching the book of fate,

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