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comprehended the bitterness of the question.

"You are severe, madam," replied he, "yet I can solemnly affirm
that circumstances, and not inclination, have kept me from your
presence until now."

"May I believe you?"  said I.  "Are you quite sure you have not
been imitating the policy of the abbe Terray?"  Upon which I
related the behaviour of the comptroller-general.

 "Priest-like," answered the prince.

"And is it not -like also?"  inquired I.

"Perhaps it may," rejoined M. de Soubise; "for the two species
of priest and courtier so nearly resemble each other in many
particulars, as to have become well nigh amalgamated into one;
but I claim your indulgence to make me an exception to the general
rule, and to class me as a soldier and a man of honour; besides
which, you are too lovely ever to be forgotten, and your past
goodness to me will ensure you my services let what may occur."

"Well, then," said I, extending my hand, "as a reward for your
candour, which I receive as genuine, I will request your
forgiveness for any annoyance I may have caused you on your
family's account, I ought never to have resented any thing they
have done.  My presence here could not fail of being highly
disagreeable to them; however, they will soon be relieved from
that source of uneasiness, my stay draws rapidly to a close."

The prince de Soubise, with a ready grace and obliging manner,
for which I shall ever remember him with a grateful recollection,
endeavoured to dispel my apprehensions as to the state of the
king; but whilst I acknowledged the kindness of his intention,
my heart refused all comfort in a case, which I too well knew
was utterly hopeless.

The state of affairs was now so manifest, that already an obsequious
crowd beseiged the doors of the dauphin, anxious to be first in the
demonstration of their adoration of the rising sun; but the young
prince, aided by the clear-minded advice of his august spouse,
refused, with admirable prudence, to receive such premature
homage; and since he was interdicted by the physicians from
visiting the royal invalid, he confined himself within his
apartments, admitting no person but a select few who possessed
his confidence.

The disappointed satellites, frustrated in their endeavours to in
gratiate themselves with the dauphin, turned their thoughts
towards the comte de Provence, imagining that this prince, spite
of his extreme youth, might have considerable influence over
the mind of his brother, the dauphin.  But this idea, however
plausible, was by no means correct; it was too much the interest
of ambitious and mercenary men to create a want of harmony
between the royal pair, and up to the moment in which I am writing,
no attempts have been made to produce a kinder and more fraternal
feeling between two such near relatives.

I quitted the king as little as possible, watching with deep
concern the progress of a malady, the nature of which was a secret
to himself alone; for, in the dread of incurring my displeasure,
no person had ventured to acquaint him with the awful fact.  By
the aid of the grand almoner, I had triumphed over the wishes of
the archbishop of Paris, and those of the confessor.  The princes
and princesses awaited the event; all was calm composure; when,
all at once, the barriers I had been so carefully erecting were
crushed beneath my feet, at one sudden and unexpected blow.

The king was by no means easy in his own mind with regard to his
illness.  The many messages that were continually whispered around
him, the remedies administered, and, above all, the absence of his
grandsons, all convinced him that something of a very unusual and
alarming nature was progressing.  His own feelings might,
likewise, well assure him that he was attacked by an illness of no
ordinary nature.  Tortured beyond further bearing by the suggestions
of his fancy, Louis XV at length resolved to ascertain the truth,
and, with this intent, closely questioned Bordeu and Lemonnier,
who did their best to deceive him.  Still, dissatisfied with their
evasive replies, he watched an opportunity, when they were both
absent, to desire La Martiniere would at once explain the true
malady with which he was then suffering.  La Martiniere puzzled
and confused, could only exclaim,

"I entreat of you, sire, not to fatigue yourself with conversation;
remember how strongly you have been forbidden all exertion."

"I am no child, La Martiniere," cried Louis XV, his cheeks glowing
with increased fire; "and I insist upon being made acquainted with
the precise nature of my present illness.  You have always served
me loyally and faithfully, and from you I expect to receive that
candid statement every one about me seems bent upon concealing."

"Endeavour to get some sleep, sire," rejoined La Martiniere, "and
do not exhaust yourself by speaking at present."

"La Martiniere, you irritate me beyond all endurance.  If you
love me, speak out, I conjure you, and tell me, frankly, the name
of my complaint."

 "Do you insist upon it, sire?"

"I do, my friend, I do."

"Then, sire, you have the small-pox; but be not alarmed, it is a
disease as frequently cured as many others."

"The small-pox!"  exclaimed the king, in a voice of horror; "have
 I indeed that fatal disease?  and do you talk of curing it?"

"Doubtless, sire; many die of it as well as other disorders, but
we are sanguine in our hopes and expectations of saving
your majesty."

The king made no reply, but, turned heavily in his bed and threw
the coverlet over his face.  A silence ensued, which lasted until
the return of the physicians, when, finding they made no allusion
to his condition, the king addressed them in a cool and
offended tone.

"Why," said he, "have you concealed from me the fact of my having
the small-pox?"  This abrupt inquiry petrified them with
astonishment, and unable to frame a proper reply, they stood
speechless with alarm and apprehension.  "Yes," resumed the king,
"but for La Martiniere, I should have died in ignorance of my
danger.  I know now the state in which I am, and before long I
shall be gathered to my forefathers."

All around him strove to combat this idea, and exerted their utmost
endeavours to persuade the royal patient that his disorder had
assumed the most favourable shape, and that not a shadow of
danger was perceptible, but in vain; for the blow had fallen, and
the hapless king, struck with a fatal presentiment of coming ill,
turned a deaf ear to all they could advance.

Bordeu, deeply concerned for what had transpired, hastened to
announce to the duc de Richelieu the turn which had taken place
in the face of affairs.  Nothing could exceed the rage with which
the news was received.  The duke hurried to the king's bedside.

"Is it, indeed, true, sire," inquired he, "that your majesty doubts
of your perfect restoration to health?  May I presume to inquire
whether any circumstance has occurred to diminish your confidence
in your medical attendants?"

"Duc de Richelieu," replied the king, looking as though he would
search into his very soul, "I have the small-pox.  "

"Well," returned the duke, "and, as I understand, of a most
favourable sort; perhaps, it might have been better that La
Martiniere had said nothing about it.  However, it is a malady
as readily subdued by art as any other; you must not allow yourself
to feel any uneasiness respecting it, science has now so much
improved in the treatment of this malady."

"I doubt not its ability to cure others, but me!  Indeed, duc de
Richelieu, I would much rather face my old parliament than this
inveterate disease."

"Your majesty's being able to jest is a good sign."

At this moment, ignorant of all that had taken place, I entered
the room; for, in the general confusion, no person had informed
me of it.  The moment Louis XV perceived me, he exclaimed in a

hollow tone,

"Dearest countess, I have the small-pox."

At these words a cry of terror escaped me.

"Surely, sire," exclaimed I, "this is some wandering of your
imagination, and your medical attendants are very wrong to permit
you to indulge it for a minute."

"Peace!"  returned Louis XV ; "you know not what you say.  I
have the small-pox, I repeat; and, thanks to La  Martiniere, I
now know my real state."

I now perceived whose hand had dealt the blow, and seeing at
once all the consequences of the disclosure, exclaimed in my
anger, turning towards La Martiniere,

"You have achieved a noble work, indeed, sir; you could not
restrain yourself within the bounds of prudence, and you see the
state to which you have reduced his majesty."

La Martiniere knew not what to reply; the king undertook his defence.

"Blame him not," said he; "but for him I should have quitted this
world like a heathen, without making my peace with an offended God."

At these words I fainted in the arms of doctor Bordeu, who, with
the aid of my attendants, carried me to my chamber, and, at length,
succeeded in restoring me.  My family crowded around me, and
sought to afford me that consolation they were in equal need
of themselves.

Spite of the orders I had given to admit no person, the duc
d'Aiguillon would insist upon seeing me.  He exerted his best
endeavours to persuade me to arm myself with courage, and, like
a true and attached friend, appeared to lose sight of his own
approaching fall from power in his ardent desire to serve me.

In this mournful occupation an hour passed away, and left my
dejected companions sighing over the present, and, anticipating
even worse prospects than those now before them.



CHAPTER XLIII


Terror of the king--A complication--Filial piety of the  princesses--
Last interview between madame du Barry and Louis XV--Conversation
with the marechale de Mirepoix--The chancellor Maupeou--The fragment--
Comte Jean

Perhaps no person ever entertained so great a dread of death as
Louis XV, consequently no one required to be more carefully
prepared for the alarming intelligence so abruptly communicated
by La  Martiniere, and which, in a manner, appeared to sign the

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