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List Of Contents | Contents of Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry
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advantage, but dictated to the duke the precise line of conduct he
himself would have pursued under similar circumstances.

"The first thing to be done," said he, "is to remember that the
king is a Christian, and to conform in every respect to the
customs of his predecessors.  You are aware, my lord duke, that
directly any member of the royal family is attacked by the small-pox,
he ought immediately to receive extreme unction; you will,
therefore, make the necessary arrangements, and apprize those
whose duty it becomes to administer it."

"This is, indeed, an unpleasant commission," replied the duke; "to
administer extreme unction to his majesty, is to announce to him
cruelly and abruptly that his last hour has arrived, and to bid
him prepare for death."

"The duty is nevertheless imperative," answered the comte de Muy,
"and you incur no slight responsibility by neglecting it."

The consequence of this conversation was, that the duke sent off
two couriers immediately, one to madame Louise, and the other
to the archbishop of Paris.  He also apprized the ministers of the
result of the consultation which had taken place, whilst the comte
de Muy took upon himself the painful office of acquainting the
dauphin with the dangerous state of his grandfather.  This young
prince, whose first impulses were always amiable, immediately
burst into tears; the dauphiness endeavoured to console him.
But from that moment her royal highness appeared to show by her
lofty and dignified bearing, her consciousness of the fresh
importance she had necessarily acquired in the eyes of the nation.
Meanwhile, the dauphin hastened to the sick room of his beloved
relative, anxious to bestow upon him the cares and attentions of
a son; but in the anteroom his progress was stopped by the duc
de la Vrilliere, who informed him, that the interests of the
throne would not permit his royal highness to endanger his life
by inhaling the contagious atmosphere of a room loaded with the
venom of the small-pox.  He adjured him, in the name of the king
and his country, not to risk such fearful chances.  The lords in
attendance, who did not partake the heroism the young prince,
added their entreaties to those of , and succeeded,
at length, in prevailing upon him to return to his apartments, to
the great joy of Marie Antoinette, who could not endure the
prospect of being separated from her husband at so important
a juncture.

No sooner had the princesses learned the danger of their august
parent, than without an instant's hesitation they hurried to him.
I was in his chamber when they arrived; they saluted me with
great gentleness and affability.  When the king saw them, he
inquired what had brought them thither at so unusual an hour.

"We are come to see you, my dearest father," replied madame
Adelaide; "we have heard of your indisposition, and trifling as
it is said to be, we could not rest without satisfying our anxious
wish to know how you found yourself."

The other sisters expressed themselves in similar terms.

"It is all very well, my children," said Louis XV, with a pleasing
smile, "and you are all three very excellent girls, but I would
rather you should keep away from this close room; it can do you
no good, and I promise to let you know if I find myself getting
any worse."

After a slight resistance the princesses feigned an obedience to
his will; but, in reality, they merely retired into an adjoining
chamber, concealed from the sight of their parent, where they
remained, until the moment when they undertook the charge of the
patient.  Their heroic devotion was the admiration of all France
and Europe.

Much as their presence constrained me, I still kept my place beside
 the sick-bed of his majesty, who would not suffer me to leave him
for a minute.

At an early hour the marechale de Mirepoix returned, according
to her promise.  I met her in the corridor as I was passing along
on my way to the king's apartment; her face was full of
cheerful smiles.

"How greatly am I obliged to you for your prompt succour," said
she, without even inquiring after my health or that of the king.
"Do you know, I was but just in time; ten minutes later, and I
should have been refused payment for your cheque.  M. de Laborde,
who was so devotedly your friend only yesterday, counted out to
me the glittering coin I was so anxious to obtain.  He even
accompanied me to my carriage, when behold, just at the moment,
when, with his hat in his hand, he was most gallantly bowing, and
wishing me a pleasant journey, a courier arrived from Versailles
bringing him the news of the king's illness.  He looked so
overwhelmed with consternation and alarm, that I could not prevent
myself from bursting into a hearty fit of laughter, nor has my
gaiety forsaken me up to the present moment."

"You are very fortunate," said I, "to be enabled thus to preserve
your good spirits."

"My dear creature, I would fain cheat time of some of his claims
upon me.  But now I think of it, what is the matter since I was
here?  Is the king worse, and what is this I hear whispered abroad
of the small-pox?"

"Alas, madam," answered I, much hurt at the insensibility she
displayed, "we run but too great danger of losing our friend and
benefactor for ever."

"Dear me, how very shocking!  But what has he settled on you?
What have you asked him for?"

"Nothing!"  replied I, coolly.



"Nothing!  very admirable, indeed; but, my good soul, these fine
sentiments sometimes leave people to eat the bread of charity.
So, then, you have not followed my advice.  Once more, I repeat,
lose not the present opportunity, and, in your place, I would set
about securing my own interest without one instant's delay."

"That I could not do, madam," said I; "it is wholly foreign to
my nature to take advantage of the weakness of a dying man."

"Dying man!"  repeated the marechale incredulously, "come, come,

he is not dead yet; and whilst there is life there is hope; and I
suppose you have carried your ideas of disinterestedness so far
as to omit mentioning your friends, likewise.  You will never
have any worldly sense, I believe.  My dear soul," said she,
stooping down and whispering in my ear, "you are surrounded by a
set of selfish wretches, who care nothing for you unless you can f
forward their interests."

"I see it, I know it," exclaimed I impatiently; "but though I
beg my bread, I will not importune the king."

"As you please," cried madame de Mirepoix, "pray do not let me
disturb your intentions.  Silly woman that you are, leave others
to act the sublime and grand, your part should be that of a
reasonable creature.  Look at myself, suppose I had not seized
the ball at the bound."

"You were born at Versailles," answered I, smiling in spite
of myself.

"True, and I confess that with me the greatest of all sense is
common sense, which produces that instinctive feeling of
self-preservation implanted even in animals.  But is the king
indeed so very ill?"

"He is, indeed, dangerously ill."

"I am very sorry," answered she, "his majesty and myself were
such old friends and companions; but things will now be very
different, and we shall soon see the court filled with new faces,
whilst you and I, my poor countess, may hide our diminished
heads.  A set of hungry wretches will drive us away from the
princely banquet at which we have so long regaled, and scarcely
will their eagerness leave us a few scattered crumbs--how dreadful!
Yes, I repeat that for many reasons, we shall have just cause for
regretting the late king."

"The  king!"  exclaimed I.  "His majesty is not yet dead,
madame la marechale."

"I know that, but he will die; and by speaking of the event as
if it had already taken place, we prepare our minds to meet the
blow with greater resignation when it does fall.  I am much
concerned, I can assure you; but let us quit the close confined
air of this corridor, and go where we may breathe a purer atmosphere."

She took me by the arm with a greater familiarity than she had
ever before assumed, and led the way to my chamber, where I
found the duc de la Vrilliere awaiting me, to request I would
return to the king, who had asked for me more than once.  This
consummate hypocrite seized the present opportunity of renewing
his assurances of an unalterable attachment to me, vowing an
eternal friendship.  I was weak enough to believe him, and when
I gave him my hand in token of reconciliation, I espied the marechale
standing behind him, making signals to me to distrust his professions.

I know not the reason of this conduct on the part of the duc de l
a Vrilliere, but I can only suppose it originated in his considering
the king in less danger than he was said to be; however, I suffered
him to lead me to the chamber of the invalid.  When Louis XV
saw me return, he inquired why I had quitted him?  I replied,
because I was fearful of wearying him; upon which he assured
me, that he only felt easy and comfortable so long as I was with him.

"But, perhaps, there is some contagion in my present complaint?"
 exclaimed he, as though labouring under some painful idea.

"Certainly not," replied I; "it is but a temporary eruption of
the skin, which will, no doubt, carry off the fever you have
suffered with."

"I feared it was of a more dangerous nature," answered the king.

"You torment yourself needlessly, sire," said I; "why should
you thus create phantoms for your own annoyance and alarm?
Tranquillize yourself, and leave the task of curing you to us."

I easily penetrated the real import of his words; he evidently
suspected the truth, and was filled with the most cruel dread
of having his suspicions confirmed.  During the whole of this
day he continued in the same state of uncertainty; the strictest
watch was set around him that no imprudent confession should
reveal to him the real nature of his situation.  I continued
sitting beside him in a state of great constraint, from the
knowledge of my being closely observed by the princesses, of
 whose vicinity we durst not inform him, in the fear of exciting

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