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List Of Contents | Contents of Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry
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in which the world has been pleased to hold me.  I have now an
opportunity of proving my gratitude, and I beseech of you to
assist my endeavors."

"But tell me, first," cried I, "what is the nature of this very
important service you say madame de Boncault has rendered you;
is it a secret, or may I hear it?"

"Certainly," replied the countess, "although the recital is
calculated to bring the blush of shame into my cheek.  Are we
alone, and secure from interruption?"

I rang and gave orders that no person should be suffered to
disturb us; after which madame de Forcalquier proceeded
as follows:--

"I was scarcely seventeen years old, when my parents informed me
that they had disposed of my hand, and that I must prepare myself
to receive a husband immediately.  My sentiments were not inquired
into, nor, to confess the truth, was such an investigation usual,
or deemed a matter of any import.  A young female of any rank
has no voice in any transaction till the day which follows her
marriage; until then her wishes are those of her family, and her
desires bounded by the rules of worldly etiquette.  I had scarcely
conversed twice or thrice with my future lord, and then only for
a few minutes at a time, before he conducted me to the foot of
the altar, there to pronounce the solemn vow which bound me his
for life.  I had scarcely seen him, and barely knew whether he
was agreeable or disagreeable.  He was neither young nor old,
handsome nor ugly, pleasing nor displeasing; just one of those
persons of whom the world is principally composed; one of those
men who enter or leave a saloon without the slightest curiosity
being excited respecting him.  I had been told that I ought to
love my husband, and accordingly I taught myself to do so; but
scarcely had the honeymoon waned, than my fickle partner transferred
his affections from me to one of my attendants; and to such a
height did his guilty passion carry him, that he quitted his home
for Italy, carrying with him the unfortunate victim of his seductive
arts.  It was during his absence that I first became acquainted
with madame Boncault; she was my own age, and equally unfortunate
in her domestic life; the same tests, griefs, and a great similarity
of temper and disposition soon united us in the bonds of the
firmest friendship; but as she possessed a stronger and more
reasonable mind than I did, she forgot her own sorrows to administer
to mine.  However, if the whole truth must be owned, I ought to
confess that my chief consolation was derived from a young cousin
of my own, who freely lavished upon me that unbounded affection
I would fain have sought from my husband.

"Meanwhile, wearied of his folly, this latter returned; and,
after having transferred his capricious fancies to at least half
a dozen mistresses, he finished where he should have begun by
attaching himself to her, who, as his wife, had every claim to
his homage.  Men are unaccountable creatures, but unfortunately
for my husband his senses returned too late; my heart was too
entirely occupied to restore him to that place he had so hastily
vacated.  My affections were no longer mine to bestow, but equally
shared by my estimable friend madame Boncault and my young and
captivating cousin.  I was a bad hand at dissimulating, and M. de
Forcalquier perceived enough of my sentiments to excite his jealous
suspicions, and immediately removed with me to one of his estates.

"However, my cousin (whom my husband was far from suspecting) and
madame Boncault accompanied me in my retreat; there myself and
my admirer, more thrown together than we had been at Paris, began
insensibly to lay aside the restraint we had hitherto imposed on
our inclinations, and commenced a train of imprudences which
would quickly have betrayed us had not friendship watched over
us.  The excellent madame Boncault, in order to save my reputation,
took so little care to preserve her own, that M. de Forcalquier
was completely caught by her manoeuvre.  One morning, finding
me alone, he said,

"' Madam, I am by no means satisfied with what is going on here.
Your friend is wholly devoid of shame and modesty; she has been
with us but one short fortnight, and is now the open and confessed
mistress of your cousin.'

"'Sir,' exclaimed I, trembling for what was to follow, 'you are,
you must be mistaken: the thing is impossible.  Madame Boncault
is incapable--'

"'Nonsense, madam,' replied M. de Forcalquier; 'I know what I am
saying.  Several things have induced me to suspect for a long
while what I now assert with perfect confidence of its truth; but
if you are still incredulous, behold this proof of guilt which I
found just now in your cousin's chamber.'

"So saying, my husband put into my hands a letter written by my
cousin evidently to some female in the chateau, whom he solicited
to admit him that evening to the usual place of rendezvous, where
he flattered himself their late misunderstanding would be cleared up.

"After having read, or, to speak more correctly, guessed at the
contents of this fatal letter, I conjured my husband to replace
it where he had found it, lest his guests should suspect him of
having dishonorably obtained possession of their secret.  He
quitted me, and I hastened in search of my friend: I threw myself
on my knees before her, and related all that had passed, accusing
myself of the basest selfishness in having consented to save my
honor at the expense of hers; then rising with renewed courage I
declared my intention of confessing my imprudence to my husband.
Madame Boncault withheld me.  'Do you doubt my regard for you?'
asked she; 'if indeed you do justice to my sincere attachment to
you, permit me to make this one sacrifice for your safety.  Leave
your husband at liberty to entertain his present suspicions
respecting me, but grant me one favor in your turn.  Speak to
your cousin; request him to quit the  chateau, for should he
remain the truth will be discovered, and then, my friend, you are
lost past my endeavors to save you.'

"Less generous than madame Boncault, I consented to follow her
advice.  However, I have never forgotten her generous devotion;
and now that the opportunity has presented itself of proving my
gratitude, I beseech of you, my dear countess, to aid me in the
discharge of my debt of gratitude."

As madame de Forcalquier finished speaking, I threw myself into
her arms.  "From this moment," cried I, "madame Boncault is my
dear and esteemed ; and if I have any influence over
the mind of the king, she shall be appointed lady in waiting to
our young princess.  Such a woman is a treasure, and I heartily
thank you for having mentioned her to me."



CHAPTER XXXV


 Marriage of madame Boncault--The comte de Bourbon Busset --Marriage
of comte d'Hargicourt--Disgrace of the comte de Broglie--He is
replaced by M. Lemoine--The king complains of ennui--Conversations
on the subject--Entry into Paris

Spite of the merit of madame Boncault, and the many eulogiums I
bestowed on her whilst relating her history to the king, I could
not immediately obtain the post madame de Forcalquier had requested
for this paragon of friends.  His majesty replied to me by saying,
that no doubt so many virtues merited a high reward, but that
ere madame Boncault could be appointed lady in waiting to his
granddaughter, she must be presented at court under some other
name than the one she now bore.

"Oh, if that be all, sire,"' replied I, "it will soon be effected.
Ladies who have the good fortune to possess a rich dowry and
powerful friends need never look far for a choice of husbands.
Only let madame Boncault have reason to reckon upon your patronage,
and she will have no lack of admirers."

The king, always ready to oblige me, caused it to be understood
throughout the chateau that he was desirous of seeing madame
Boncault well established, as he had it in contemplation to confide
to her a place of great trust.  Immediately a score of suitors
presented themselves; the preference was given to the comte de
Bourbon Busset as the person most calculated in every respect to
answer our purpose; he possessed elegant manners, an unblemished
reputation, and a descent so illustrious as to be traced even to
the reigning family.  No sooner were the celebrations of this
marriage over, than I procured the formal appointment of madame
de Bourbon Busset to the post of lady in waiting to the new
princess.  This nomination tended greatly to increase the high
opinion entertained of the judgment and discrimination of the
comtesse de Forcalquier, and you may easily believe, from the f
friendship I bore this lady, that I fully entered into her triumph
on the occasion.

When the comtesse de Bourbon Busset came to return me her
acknowledgments for what I had done, she accompanied it with a
request for a fresh interference on my part: this was to obtain
for her husband the title of duke and peer.  Accordingly I
mentioned her wishes to the king, observing at the same time how
very surprising it was that one so nearly related to the house of
Bourbon should not have reached the honors of the ducal peerage:
to which Louis XV replied, that he had no desire to increase the
number of princes of the blood, of whom there were quite sufficient
of legitimate birth without placing the illegitimate upon the same
footing; that Louis XIV had been a sufficient warning of the folly
of acting too indulgently towards these latter, who were only so
many additional enemies to the royal authority.  To all this I
answered, that it was not fitting to treat the family of Bourbon
Busset, however illegitimate might be its origin, as though it
merely belonged to the , etc.; but my arguments
were in vain, and, as the proverb says, "I talked to the wind."
My friends recommended me not to press the subject, and the matter
ended there.  However, in order to smooth the refusal as much as
possible, I procured M. de Bourbon Busset the appointment of first
gentleman usher to the young prince.

The establishment of the comtesse d'Artois was now formed.  M.

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