Make your own free website on Tripod.com

List Of Contents | Contents of Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

any message to him?"

"M. Morand," was my reply, "what are you thinking of?  A
woman of my rank throw herself at any person's head?"

"No, certainly not; but you can send him a kind word, or some
affectionate token."

"I could not think of it; M. Lebel appeared to me a most agreeable
man, and I shall be at all times delighted to see him."

Morand asked nothing more than this, and there our conversation ended.

Two days elapsed without being marked by any event.  Comte Jean
had spent them with much anxiety.  He was absent, when, on the
third morning, Henriette came hastily into my room.  "Madame," she
said, "the  of the king is in the drawing-room,
and inquires if you will receive him."

At this news I was surprised and vexed.  M. Lebel took me unawares;
my toilette was not begun.  I gave a hasty glance at my mirror, "Let
M. Lebel come in"; and M. Lebel, who was on the heels of my maid,
entered instantly.  After having saluted me, he said,

"It is only you, Madame, whom one might thus surprise.  Your
beauty needs no ornament, your charms are decoration sufficient."

I replied to this compliment with (of course) much modesty,
according to custom.  We entered into conversation, and I found
that Lebel really thought me the sister-in-law of comte Jean; and
I remarked the involuntary respect that attended even his familiarity.
I left him in his error, which was material to my interests.  He
talked to me some time of my attractions, of the part which a
female like myself might assume in France.  But fearing to
compromise myself, I made no reply, but preserved the reserve
which my character imposed upon me.  I am not clever, my friend,
I never could conduct an intrigue: I feared to speak or do wrong;
and whilst I kept a tranquil appearance, I was internally agitated
at the absence of comte Jean.

Fortune sent him to me.  He was passing the street, when he saw
at our door a carriage with the royal livery.  Lebel always used
it when his affairs did not demand a positive incognito.  This
equipage made him suspect a visit from Lebel, and he came in
opportunely to extricate me from my embarrassment.

"Sir," said Lebel to him, when he entered, "here is the lady
whose extreme modesty refuses to listen to what I dare not
thus explain to her."

"Is it anything I may hear for her?"  said the comte,
with a smiling air.

"Yes, I am the ambassador of a mighty power: you are the
minister plenipotentiary of the lady, and with your leave, we
will go into your private room to discuss the articles of the
secret treaty which I have been charged to propose to you.
What says madame?"

"I consent to anything that may come from such an  ambassador."

Comte Jean instantly led him into another room, and when they
were alone, Lebel said to him, "Do you know that your sister-in-
law is a most fascinating creature?  She has occupied my thoughts
since I have known her, and in my enthusiasm I could not help
speaking of her in a certain quarter.  So highly have I eulogized
her, that his majesty desires an interview with her, that he may
judge with his own eyes if I am an appreciator of beauty."

At these words comte Jean felt a momentary agitation, but soon
recovering himself, he replied:

"I am exceedingly obliged to you, sir, for the favorable disposition
you have evinced towards the comtesse du Barry.  She and I have
as much respect as love for his majesty; but my sister-in-law has
not been presented, and, consequently, I can scarcely see how
she can be allowed to pay her respects to his majesty."

"Do not let that disturb you; it is not intended that she shall go
and partake of the magnificence of Versailles, but be admitted
to an intimacy much more flattering.  Would you refuse to grant
him that pleasure?"

"It would be a crime of ," said the comte Jean,
laughing, "and my family have too much respect for their monarch.
We should not be content with a fugitive favor."

"You may expect everything from the charms of the comtesse; I am
certain they will have the utmost success; but for me, I can give
you no guarantee.  You must run the chance."

"Your protection, however, is the only thing which encourages my
sister-in-law in this affair.  But tell me when is this meeting to
take place?"

"Instantly.  The king is impatient to see the comtesse and I have
promised that she will sup with him to-morrow evening in my
apartment at Versailles."

"How is she to be introduced to the king?"

"I am to entertain four of my friends."

"Who are they?"

"'First, the baron de Gonesse."

"Who is he?"

"The king himself."

"Well, who next?"

"The duc de Richelieu."

"Who else?"

"The marquis de Chauvelin."

"Well?"

"The duc de la Vauguyon."

"What, the devotee?"

"The hypocrite.  But never mind: the main point is, that you must
not appear to recognize the king.  Instruct your sister-in-law to
this effect."

"Certainly; if she must sin, she had better do so with some reason."

While these gentlemen were thus disposing of me, what was I
doing?  Alone, in my room, I waited the result of their conference
with mortal impatience.  The character I had to play was a superb
one, and at the moment was about to enter on the stage, I felt all
the difficulties of my part.  I feared I should not succeed, but fail
amid the insulting hisses of the Versailles party.

My fears at once disappeared, and then I pictured myself sitting
on a throne, magnificently attired; my imagination wandered in
all the enchantments of greatness; --then, as if from remorse, I
recalled my past life.  The former lover of Nicholas blushed
before the future mistress of Louis XV.  A thousand different
reflections crowded upon me, and mingled in my brain.  If to live
is to think, I lived a whole age in one quarter of an hour.  At
length I heard some doors open, a carriage rolled away, and comte
Jean entered my chamber.

"Victory!"  cried he, embracing me with transport.  "Victory! my
dear Jeanne, to-morrow you sup with the king."

On this information I turned pale, my strength forsook me, and I
was compelled to sit down, or rather to fall into a chair; for,
according to Jean Jacques Rousseau, my legs shook under me
().  This, however, was the only movement of weakness
which I betrayed.  When I recovered a little, the comte Jean told
me the conversation he had had with Lebel.  I joked about the title
of baron de Gonesse, and I promised to treat the king as if
ignorant of his incognito.  One thing only made me uneasy, and
that was supping with the duc de Richelieu, who had seen me
before at madame de Lagarde's; but the idea that he would not
remember me gave me renewed courage.

On so important an occasion, comte Jean did not forget to repeat
his instructions over again.  These are nearly his words, for I
think I learnt them by heart.

"Remember that it is on your first interview that your safety
depends.  Let him learn, through you, those utter tendernesses
which have been sought for him in vain heretofore.  He is like
the monarch of old, who was willing to pay the half of his crown
for an unknown pleasure.  Lebel is wearied in seeking every week
for new fruit.  He is quite disposed to serve you, and will second
you in the best manner.  You are about to become the centre of
attraction to all courtiers, and noble .  You must
expect that they will endeavor to cry you down, because you will
have carried off from them a gem to which every family has its
pretensions.  You must at first stand firmly before the storm, but
afterward you will find all enlist themselves under your banner,
who have no wife, sister, nor daughter; that is, all who have no
mistress to offer to the king.  You must attach these to you by
place and favor: they must be first thought of, and then you must
think of yourself and me, my dear girl."

"All this is well enough," I replied, "but as yet I am nothing."

"!  to-morrow you will be everything," cried comte
Jean, with his determined energy.  "But we must think about
this morrow.  Make haste, noble comtesse; go to all the milliners,
seek what is elegant rather than what is rich.  Be as lovely,
pleasing, and gay as possible; this is the main point, and God
will do all the rest."

He pronounced this blasphemy in a laughing tone, and I confess I
could not help joining in the laugh, and then hastened to comply
with his directions.



CHAPTER II


A slight preface--Arrival at Versailles--<"La toilette">--Portrait
of the king--The duc de Richelieu--The marquis de Chauvelin--The
duc de la Vauguyon-Supper with the king--The first night--The
following day--The curiosity of comte Jean--Presents from the
king--How disposed of

The chances against our succeeding in our enterprise were at least
a thousand to one.  The sea upon which, trusting to the favorable
influence of my leading star, we were about to venture, was filled
with rocks and shoals which threatened the poor mariner who should
direct his bark near them.  In the first place, I had to dread my
obscure birth, as well as the manner in which my life had been
passed; and still more had I to fear the indifferent reputation of
comte Jean.  There was more than sufficient in all this to disturb
a head far stronger than I could boast.  However, thanks to my
thoughtfulness, no troublesome thoughts interfered to break my
rest on the night preceding a day so important to me, and I slept as
tranquilly as though upon waking I had no other occupation for my
time than a walk on the boulevards, or a drive to the Bois de Boulogne.

Comte Jean, however, had passed a very different night; for once,
the whisperings of ambition had overcome even his natural
indifference and carelessness, and tired of tossing upon a
sleepless pillow, he arose at the first break of day, reproached
me for slumbering so long, and allowed me neither peace nor
rest till I joined him dressed for our journey.  At length, we
set out according to our agreement with Lebel; I was closely
muffled up in my large --the carriage rolled along till

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >



Other sites:

db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com