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excuse alleged to have been used by the duc de Villeroi was
strictly the expression of that gentleman.

"I was wrong," said the duke, "not to have mentioned it to you,
but I was silent from a desire to preserve peace between you.
Now that the affair has been revealed to you, I will not sully
my lips with a falsehood for the pleasure of upholding an
unprincipled man."

"I will not ask you to tell me more," replied I.  "I know enough
to make me despise the cowardly spirit of him whom I reject as
unworthy of my friendship."  So saying, I ran to my writing-table,
and wrote to the duc de Villeroi the following note:--

"MONSIEUR LE DUC,--I love my friends with
all their faults, but I cannot pardon their perfidy;
and, since from what I have heard I am left to
conclude, that but for the charms of my attendant
Sophie, I should not have been favoured with so
many of your visits, I now write to warn you,
that I this day dismiss the unfortunate object of
your admiration from my service, and therefore
recommend you to cease all further communication.
Your presence in my house would be any thing
but agreeable to me; and since the fair object which
has hitherto attracted you will no longer dwell
under my roof, I presume your presenting yourself
before me would only be more painful than you have
hitherto found it.  The frankness of my conduct may
offend you, but it cannot surprise or grieve you
more than your duplicity has me.

"I remain with befitting sentiments, monsieur
le duc,

"Your most humble and obedient servant."

When I had completed my letter, I rang, and a footman attended.
"Go, "said I to him," carry this note immediately to the duc de
Villeroi, and wait, if it be necessary, the whole day, until you
can return with the assurance that you have delivered it into
his own hand."

Whilst I was thus speaking to the man, who had been engaged by
my steward, and very recently entered into my service, I chanced
to look at him inadvertently, when my attention was arrested by
seeing him rapidly change colour.  I could not at the moment
conceive what could thus agitate him, and making a sign for him
to depart immediately upon his commission, he slowly left the
room, regarding me as he went in such a manner, that I could not
fail recognising him: and here, my friend, I must lay aside every
particle of self-love and vanity ere I can make you a complete
confession; the retrospect of my life brings many events, of which
the remembrance is indeed painful to me, and only the solemn
promise I am under to conceal nothing restrains me from consigning
many particulars to oblivion.  I am once more about to incur the
chance of drawing down your contempt by my candour, but before I
enter upon the subject, permit me to conclude my affair with the
duc de Villeroi.

My letter was a thunderbolt to the duke.  He better than any one
knew the extent of my credit, which he dreaded, lest I might
employ it to his injury; he therefore hastened to reply to me in
the following words:--

"MADAME LA COMTESSE,--I am a most unhappy,
or rather a vilely calumniated man; and my enemies
have employed the most odious means of making me
appear despicable in your eyes.  I confess, that not
daring to aspire to you, I stopped at the footstool
of your throne, but I wholly deny the words which
have been laid to my charge.  I venture to expect
from your justice that you will grant me the favour
of an opportunity of exculpating myself from so
black a charge.  It would be cruel indeed to condemn
a man without hearing him.

"I am with the most profound respect, &c."

To this hypocritical epistle I replied by another note as follows:--

"Every bad and unfavourable case may be
denied, monsieur le duc, therefore I am not
astonished at your seeking to repel the charge of
having uttered the disrespectful words laid to
your charge.  As for the explanations you offer
me they would be fruitless; I will have none with
those who have either been my friends or appeared
to be such.  I must therefore beg you will cease
all attempts at a correspondence which can lead
to no good results.

"I have the honour to remain, &c., &c."

After this business was despatched, I caused Sophie to be sent
for to attend me.

"Well, Sophie," said I, " you perceive the confusion you have
occasioned through your folly.  Is it then true that the duc de
Villeroi has spoken of love to you?"

"Yes, indeed, madam," replied the poor girl, weeping bitterly.

"And you return his passion."

"I believe so, madam."

This  confession made me smile.  I continued--

"Then you are not quite sure of the fact?"

"No, madam; for when I do not see him I forget all about it; but
when he is before me, so handsome and so generous, so full of
love, I try to make myself equally fond of him; but somehow I
cannot help preferring his courier, M. l'Eclair."

These last words completely destroyed all attempts at preserving


my gravity, and I burst into the most uncontrollable laughter,
which, however, soon gave place to a painful recollection of how
soon this young and artless creature, as simple as she was beautiful,
was likely to lose this open-heartedness in the hands of her seducer.

"Sophie," said I to her at last, "this unfortunate affair forbids
my retaining you any longer in my service; I am compelled to
send you from me.  I trust this noble lover of yours will never
forsake you; have a care only to conceal from him, should you
persist in encouraging his addresses, that he has a rival in the
person of his courier, l'Eclair."

Sophie threw herself weeping at my feet.  I raised and encouraged
her by the kindest words to pursue the right path, but I remained
steady in my determination of sending her from me.

I was not mistaken.  The duc de Villeroi became the possessor of
poor Sophie, and publicly boasted of having her under his protection.
He did not, however, proceed to these extreme measures until he
had essayed every possible means of effecting a reconciliation
with me, and he employed more than a hundred persons in the vain
attempt of inducing me to pardon him.  With this view the marechale
de Mirepoix, whose succour he had implored, observed to me that
it was sometimes necessary to feign to overlook an insult; I
replied, that dissimulation was an art I knew nothing of, nor did
I wish ever to acquire it.

"Really, my dear countess," cried she, "you should not live at
court, you are absolutely unfit for it."

"It may be so," replied I; "but I would rather quit Versailles
altogether than be surrounded by false and perfidious friends."

All the remonstrances of the good-natured marechale were fruitless,
I could not bring myself to pardon a man who had so openly
outraged my friendship.

Directly I saw the king, I related the whole affair to him.

"It must be confessed," said he, "that the duke has behaved very
ill towards you, but he has certainly shown his taste as far as
regards Sophie.  She is a sweet creature."

"Ah!  you are all alike," cried I.  "You gentlemen think a pretty
face an excuse for every fault; and he only deserves blame who
can attach himself where beauty is wanting."

"Because he is a simpleton for so doing," said Louis XV with the
utmost gravity, giving me at the same time an affectionate embrace.



CHAPTER XXIV


The prince des Deux Ponts--Prince Max--The dauphin and Marie
Antoinette--The comtesse du Barry and Bridget Rupert--The countess
and Genevieve Mathon--Noel--Fresh amours--Nocturnal adventure--
Conclusion of this intrigue

All my friends were not treacherous as the duc de Villeroi; and I
may gratefully assert I have possessed many true and sincere ones
who have ever faithfully adhered to my fortunes.  One in particular
I shall mention here, that I may recommend him to your warmest
esteem; for, although of high and distinguished rank, he did not
despise the good opinion of the meanest citizen.  I speak of the
prince de Deux Ponts, Charles Auguste Christian.  This prince, who
chanced to visit France during the zenith of my court favour, was
very desirous of seeing me, and both he and his brother were
presented to me by the comte de la Marche, their friend, and
they quickly requested the honor of my friendship.  Auguste
Christian pleased me most by his gentle and amiable manners,
although most persons gave the preference to his brother, Maximilian
Joseph, better known by the name of prince Max.  Auguste Christian,
in the fervour of his attachment, speaking openly to me of the
delicacy of the situation, proposed to me, in case of any reverse,
that I should seek an asylum in his dominions; and I must do him
the justice to say, that at the death of the king, far from
forgetting his proffer, he lost no time in reminding me of it.
Fidelity and attachment such as his, is sufficiently rare to
merit a place in my journal.  The prince des Deux Ponts was
presumptive heir to an immense inheritance, that of the electorate
of Bavaria, and the electorate Palatine, to the latter of which
he was direct heir after the decease of his cousin, the present
elector.  I could almost wish that he had already succeeded to
these possessions: he can never reign too soon for the happiness
of his subjects.

Prince Max had served in France; he was extremely well looked
upon at court both by the king and the princesses.  As for the
dauphiness, prejudiced against him as she was by her mother,
she naturally regarded him with an eye of cool mistrust, and
manifested her open dislike by never inviting him to any of her
parties.  Prince Max spoke of this pointed neglect to the king,
who immediately summoned the dauphin.  "My son," said he to
him, "I see with regret that prince Max is never an invited guest
at any of your balls and fetes.  Remember, he belongs to a family
which has been our most ancient ally, and do not take up the
quarrels of a house which, until your marriage, has ever been
disposed in deadly hatred to us."

If the dauphin was not gifted with a very extensive capacity, he
was possessed of sufficient plain sense to comprehend, and to

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