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

the parliament of Paris, to which he belonged.  The king detested
this man as much as he loved and cherished the brother, and that
is saying not a little.

The fourth guest was the duc de la Vauguyon, the really
 tutor to the princes of France, for he had educated
four successively.  He had displayed in the army both bravery and
talent, but he was a confirmed Jesuit, and conducted himself
towards me upon the strictest principles of his order.  He will
appear again on the scene hereafter, but for the present I must
lay him aside, whilst I return to my  to the saloon, which
I was about to enter.

Immediately after Lebel had conducted me into it, he was called
away, and quitted us.  The king rose and approached me, saluting
me with the most admirable gallantry, and addressing to me the
most encouraging and gratifying words.  His gentle, yet polished
manners, fine countenance, noble air, and the free and unrestrained
glances of admiration which sparkled in his eyes, communicated
to me a feeling of support and confidence which effectually
reassured me, and roused me from the involuntary emotion I had
felt at the moment when I first appeared in his presence.  The
king addressed a few words to comte Jean, and then regarded him
steadily, as tho' he were trying to recall his features; but his
eye quickly turned on me again, upon whom he bestowed the most
intoxicating attention.  Never was first sight more effective, and
never did a flame so rapidly increase as did the passion of my
noble adorer.  Ere we had seated ourselves at the supper-table,
he was ages gone in love.

It would have provoked a smile from any countenance to perceive
how the respect and admiration with which the three courtiers
regarded me increased in proportion as the sentiments of the king
towards me betrayed themselves more and more.  At first I had
been considered as a person of little or no importance.  Soon,
however, as their sagacious eyes discovered the state of their
master's mind, the air of familiarity with which they had regarded
me gave place to a more studied politeness, which, in its turn, as
matters progressed, was superseded by the most delicate attention;
and ere we rose from table these gentlemen watched my looks with
the most eager anxiety to obtain the honor of my notice, and hopes
of future patronage from one whom they easily foresaw would be
fully qualified to bestow it.  Comte Jean observed all that was
passing in profound silence.  As for me, I talked and laughed with
perfect freedom from restraint, and my frank unaffected mirth
appeared to enchant the king; I knew that he was weary of the
nice formalities of courtly beauty, and desired to refresh his
eyes and ears with something less refined, and I gratified him
to his heart's wish.  The conversation became lively and animated,
the merits of men of letters were discussed, the French and
Italian theatre passed in review before us, and finally, we amused
ourselves with anecdotes relative to the intrigues of court.  The
baron de Gonesse related to us a circumstance which had just
been communicated to him by a county magistrate.  I must here
apprize the reader that these administrators of justice were
directed to collect all the facts, scandalous, horrible, ridiculous,
or piquant, which occurred within their jurisdiction, in order that,
being forwarded to the king, they might aid in distracting his
mind from the heavy cares of government.  Alas! how many strange
and eventful things have I since learned by similar channels.

The supper terminated, the king's friends remained some time
conversing with us.  Whilst these noblemen were busily celebrating
my praises in words sufficiently loud to reach the king's ear, the
baron de Gonesse, standing by my side, was prosecuting his suit
in the most ardent terms.  I received his overtures with becoming
grace and modesty.  As I have before said, the exterior of the king
was very prepossessing, and what he wanted in youth, he made up
by all the mature graces of dignified royalty.  At last Lebel
appeared, and made me a sign to rise from my seat.  Up to this
period nothing had arisen to betray the incognito of the august
monarch, and in order to keep up my pretended ignorance of his
grandeur, I quitted the apartment with little ceremony.  Lebel
conducted me to an adjoining chamber, furnished with the utmost
magnificence.  When we were seated, he turned to the comte Jean,
who had followed us, and said, "It rests with yourself whether you
will return to Paris, or remain at Versailles.  But as for ,
who seems much fatigued, she will, we trust, honor us by accepting
a bed at the castle."

My self-created brother-in-law understood as well as I did the
significance of these words, and clearly read in their import how
far I had attracted the favor of the king.  In order to have
rendered the impression more lasting, we could have wished that
matters had been less precipitated, but we were under a roof
where everything yielded to the caprices of its master, and
resignation to his will became a matter of course.  And here I
trust I may be pardoned if I pass over certain details which
could not, at this lapse of time, interest or amuse any one;
besides, altho' I have found no difficulty in reciting former
events of my life, I find my pen more prudish and coy than were
my ears or mouth.  All I shall say is, that the following day, as
soon as I was left alone in my chamber, Lebel entered, and
prostrating himself at the side of my bed,--

"Madame la comtesse," said he, "is queen and mistress here.  Not
only has your noble lover failed to communicate to me the usual
signal of disgust or dislike, but he has spoken of you to me in the
most favorable light, declaring, that, for the first time in his life,
he felt the influence of a true and sincere affection; for this
reason he desired I would not convey to you the contents of
this casket, as originally intended."

"And what does it contain?"  asked I, with childish eagerness.

"Oh, a trifle unworthy of her who is now the mistress of his
warmest love; only a purse containing a hundred louis, and a
suit of emeralds worth a similar sum.  He bade me say it might
have served to recompense a mere fleeting fancy, but that it is
unworthy of your charms, nor can he insult you by the offer of it."

"Will he then see me again?" inquired I.

"To-morrow evening, if agreeable to you."

"Only say that his wishes are mine."

"Would you wish to see the comte Jean before you rise?  He has
been waiting with the utmost impatience to see you since seven
o'clock this morning."

"Let him come in."

The comte entered, and I saw by the triumphant joy painted on
his face, that Lebel had told him of propitious state of things.
He ran up to me with outstretched arms, congratulating me upon
my success, and putting at the same time several questions, to
which, either from mere womanly caprice, or presuming upon
my recent elevation to the character of prime favorite, I refused
to reply.

My folly drew down on me his severe anger, and several oaths
escaped his lips, which, echoed back by walls so unused to similar
violence, struck Lebel with terror.  That faithful ally placed his
hand over his mouth, imploring of him to recollect himself, and
the place he was in.  As for me, dreading some foolish burst of
his impetuosity, I tried some of my sweetest smiles, and inviting
him to sit beside me, related to him and Lebel those particulars
which my pen refuses to retrace.  Amongst other things, I told
them I had said to the king, that I had perfectly known who he
was all the preceding evening when supping with him, and that he
had the simplicity to say, "he was surprised I had not appeared
more embarrassed in his presence."

Our conversation terminated, I wished to return to Paris, and I
was, without further hindrance, allowed to depart.  Scarcely had
I arrived there an hour, than I received from his majesty a
magnificent diamond agraffe, worth at least 60,000 francs, and
bank notes to the amount of 200,000 livres.

Comte Jean and myself were well nigh stupefied with astonishment
at the sight of such treasures; to us, who had never in our lives
possessed such sums, they appeared inexhaustible.  My brother-in-law
divided them into two equal portions, one of which he put into
his pocket, and the other into my .  With this arrangement
I did not interfere; nothing seemed to me more simple than that he
should satisfy his need out of my superfluity.  I bestowed two
thousand crowns upon Henriette, and expended in the course of
the day at least a quarter of my riches in trifles, as unnecessary
as useless; and all this without once remembering that as I owed
my present abundance to a momentary inclination on the part of
the king, so the turn of an hour, or a fresh fancy on the part of
my munificent adorer, might reduce me to the unprovided state
in which I had been so lately.  That evening was passed
tete-a-tete with comte Jean; he thought, as I did, that the
foundation of our treasure was firm as a rock, and he gave me
many counsels for the future which I promised to observe; for
indeed it was to my own interest to do so.  Upon how many follies
did we then debate, which, but a few days afterwards we found
practicable.  The different ministers passed in review before us;
some we determined upon retaining, whilst others were dismissed,
and already I began in idea to act with sovereign power over these
illustrious personages, amongst whom I anticipated shortly playing
so important a part.  "After all," said I, "the world is but an
amusing theatre, and I see no reason why a pretty woman should
not play a principal part in it."


The king's message--Letter from the countess--A second supper at
Versailles--The duc d'Ayen--A short account of M. de Fleury--The
duc de Duras -Conversation with the king--The next day--A visit
from the duc de Richelieu--Visit from the duc de la Vauguyon--Visit
from comte Jean--Visit from the king--A third supper--Favor

Early the following day I received a message from the king,

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: