Make your own free website on

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

calling it the small-pox.

"And should it prove that horrible complaint?"  inquired I.

"There would, in that case, be considerable danger," replied
Bordeu, not without extreme embarrassment..

"Perhaps even to the extinction of all hope?"  asked I.

 "God alone can tell," returned Bordeu.

"I understand," interrupted I, quickly, "and, spite of the mystery
with which you would fain conceal the extent of his majesty's
danger, I know, and venture to assert, that you consider him
already as dead."

"Have a care, madam," exclaimed Bordeu, "how you admit such an
idea, and still more of proclaiming it.  I pledge you my word that
I do not consider the king is in danger; I have seen many cures
equally extraordinary with his."

I shook my head in token of disbelief.  I had uttered what I firmly
supposed the truth, and the sight of my evil genius in the person
of the prophet who had awaited my return to Versailles, turned
the encouraging words of Bordeu into a cold, heavy chill, which
struck to my heart.  Bordeu quitted me to resume his attendance
upon the king.  After him came the duc d'Aiguillon, whose features
bore the visible marks of care and disquiet.  He met me with the
utmost tenderness and concern, asked of me the very smallest
details of the disastrous events of the morning.  I concealed
nothing from him, and he listened to my recital with the most
lively interest; and the account of the apparition of the wonderful
being who seemed destined to follow me throughout my career was
not the least interesting part of our conversation.

"There are," said the duke, "many very extraordinary things in
this life, reason questions them, philosophy laughs at them, and
yet it is impossible to deny that there are various hidden causes,
or sudden inspirations, which have the greatest effect upon our
destiny.  As a proof, I will relate to you the following circumstance.
You are aware," continued the duke, "that the cardinal de
Richelieu, the author of our good fortune, spite of the superiority
of his mind, believed in judicial astrology.  When his own
immediate line became extinct by the unexpected death of his
family and relatives, he wished to ascertain what would be the
fate of those children belonging to his sister, whom he had
adopted as the successors of his name, arms, and fortune.  The
planets were consulted, and the answer received was, that two
centuries from the day on which Providence had so highly elevated
himself, the family, upon whom rested all his hopes of perpetuating
his name, should fail entirely in its male descent.  You see that
the duc de Fronsac has only one child, an infant not many days
old.  I also have but one, and these two feeble branches seem
but little calculated to falsify the prediction.  Judge, my dear
countess, how great must be my paternal anxiety!"

This relation on the part of the duc d'Aiguillon was but ill
calculated to restore my drooping spirits, and although I had
no reason for concluding that the astrologer had spoken
prophetically to the grand cardinal, I was not the less inclined
to believe, with increased confidence, the predictions uttered
respecting myself by my inexplicable visitor of the morning.  My
ever kind friend, the duchesse d'Aiguillon, was not long ere she
too made her appearance, with the view, and in the hope of
consoling me.  I could not resist her earnest endeavours to rouse
me from my grief, and a grateful sense of her goodness obliged
me to deck my features with at least the semblance of cheerfulness.
Every hour fresh accounts of the king's health were brought me,
of a most encouraging nature; by these bulletins one might naturally
suppose him rapidly recovering, and we all began to smile at our
folly in having been so soon alarmed; in fact, my spirits rose in
 proportion as those about me appeared full of fresh confidence,
and the mysterious visit of my evil genius gradually faded from
my recollection.

In this manner the day passed away.  I visited the king from
time to time, and he, although evidently much oppressed and
indisposed, conversed with me without any painful effort.  His
affection for me seemed to gain fresh strength as his bodily
vigour declined, and the fervent attachment he expressed for
me, at a time when self might reasonably have been expected to
hold possession of his mind, filled me with regret at not being able
 more fully to return so much tenderness.  In the evening I
wished to be alone, the marechale de Mirepoix had sent to request
a private interview, and I awaited her arrival in my chamber,
whilst an immense concourse of visitors filled my salons.  The
king's danger was not yet sufficiently decided for the courtiers
 to abandon me, and the chances continued too strongly in my
favour to warrant any one of them in withdrawing from me their
usual attentions.  Comte Jean, however, presented himself before
me, spite of the orders I had given to exclude every person but
the marechale.

"My dear sister," cried he, as he entered, "Chamilly has just told
me that he has received the royal command to have Julie married
off without delay; now this is a piece of delicacy towards yourself
on the part of the king for which you owe him many thanks.  But
I have another communication to make you, of a less pleasing nature.
The unfortunate girl who has been left at Trianon, has called
incessantly for you the whole of this day; she asserts that she
has matters of importance to communicate to you."

Whatever surprise I experienced at this intelligence, it was
impossible it could be otherwise than true, for was it likely
that, at a time like the present, comte Jean would attempt to
impose such a tale upon me.

"What would you have me do?"  asked I of my brother-in-law.

"Hark ye, sister," replied he, "we are both of us in a very
critical situation just now, and should spare no endeavour to
extricate ourselves from it.  Very possibly this girl may be in
possession of facts more important than you at present conceive
possible; the earnestness with which she perseveres in her desire
of seeing you, and her repeated prayers to those around her to
beg your attendance, proves that it is something more than the
mere whim of a sick person, and in your place, I should not
hesitate to comply with her wishes."

"And how could we do so?  "said I.

"To-night," returned he, "when all your guests have retired, and
Versailles is in a manner deserted, I will fetch you; we have keys
which open the various gates in the park, and walking through
which, and the gardens, we can reach Trianon unobserved.  No
person will be aware of our excursion, and we shall return with
the same caution with which we went.  We will, after our visit,
cause our clothes to be burnt, take a bath, and use every possible
precaution to purify ourselves from all chance of infection.  When
that is done you may venture into the apartment of his majesty,
even if that malady which at present hangs over him should turn
out to be the small-pox."

I thought but little of the consequences of our scheme, or of the
personal danger I incurred, and I promised my brother-in-law
that I would hold myself in readiness to accompany him.  We then
conversed together upon the state of the king, and, what you will
have some difficulty in crediting, not one word escaped either of
us relative to our future plans or prospects; still it was the
point to which the thoughts of comte Jean must naturally
have turned.

We were interrupted in our < tete-a-tete > by the arrival of the
marechale, whose exactitude I could not but admire.  Comte Jean,
having hastily paid his compliments, left us together.

"Well, my dear countess," said she, taking my hand with a friendly
pressure, "and how goes on the dear invalid?"

"Better, I hope," replied I, "and indeed, this illness, at first
so alarming to me, seems rather calculated to allay my former
fears and anxieties by affording the king calm and impartial
reflection; the result of it is that my dreaded rival of the
  is dismissed."

"I am delighted to hear this," replied madame de Mirepoix, "but,
my dear soul, let me caution you against too implicitly trusting
these deceitful appearances, to-morrow may destroy these flattering
hopes, and the next day--"

"Indeed!"  cried I, interrupting her, "the physicians answer
for his recovery."

"And suppose they should chance to be mistaken," returned my
cautious friend, "what then?  But, my dear countess, my regard
or you compels me to speak out, and to warn you of reposing in
tranquillity when you ought to be acting.  Do not deceive yourself,
leave nothing to chance; and if you have any favour to ask of
the king, lose no time in so doing while yet you have the opportunity."

"And what favour would you advise me to ask?"  said I

"You do not understand me, then?"  exclaimed the  marechale, "I
say that it is imperatively necessary for you to accept whatever
the king may feel disposed to offer you as a future provision,
and as affording you the means of passing the remainder of your
days in ease and tranquillity.  What would become of you in case
of the worst?  Your numerous creditors would besiege you with a
rapacity, still further excited by the support they would receive
from court.  You look at me with surprise because I speak the
language of truth; be a reasonable creature I implore of you
once in your life, and do not thus sacrifice the interests of
your life to a romantic disregard of self."

I could not feel offended with the marechale for addressing me
thus, but I could not help fancying the moment was ill chosen,
and unable to frame an answer to my mind, I remained silent.
Mistaken as to the cause of my taciturnity, she continued,

"Come, I am well pleased to see you thus reflecting upon what
I have said; but lose no time, strike the iron while it is hot.
Do as I have recommended either to-night or early to-morrow;
possibly, after that time it may be too late.  May I venture also
to remind you of your friends, my dear countess.  I am in great
trouble just now, and I trust you will not refuse to obtain for

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: