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Full text of "The house of de Mailly; a romance"

MARGARET 

HORTON 

POTTER 



'>- 



fe. A. FOY, Phone 




"THE PAPER DROPPED TO THE FLOOR 1 



I The House ofde Mailly f 

aQo J *S 9? 



Homance 



Margaret Horton Potter 

Illustrated by A. L Keller 




New York and London 

. 

Harper & Brothers Publishers 



Copyright, iqoi, by HARPER & BROTHERS. 
All right! rcterved. 



TO 
MY DEAREST FRIENDS 

AND 

KINDLIEST CRITICS 
MARIE AND FREDERIC GOOKIN 

THIS VOLUME IS 
AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED 



CONTENTS 

JBooft f 
CLAUDE 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I. M. DE GEVRES ENTERTAINS 3 

II. THE TOILET ; 27 

III. THE GALLERY OF MIRRORS 42 

IV. MARLY 58 

V. THE CHAPEL 75 

VI. CLAUDE'S FAREWELL 90 

JBoofe f I 
DEBORAH 

I. A SHIP COMES IN 103 

n. DR. CARROLL'S IDEA 120 

III. THE PLANTATION 136 

IV. ANNAPOLIS 148 

V. SAMBO , . 165 

VI. CLAUDE'S MEMORIES 182 

VII. THE PEARLS 195 

VIII. THE GOVERNOR'S BALL . 207 

IX. THE RECTOR, THE COUNT, AND SIR CHARLES . . 221 

X. PURITAN AND COURTIER 229 

XI. DISTANT VERSAILLES 244 

iii 



iv Contents 



flff 
THE POST 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I. FROM METZ ............... 251 

II. THE DISGRACE .............. 265 

III. NOVEMBER THIRTEENTH .......... 282 

IV. CLAUDE'S OWN .............. 296 

V. Two PRESENTATIONS ............ 313 

VI. SNUFF-BOXES ................ 327 

VII. CONCERNING MONSIEUR MAUREPAS ...... 341 

VIII. DEEP WATERS ........... . . . 355 

IX. THE DUKE SWIMS ............. 371 

X. "VOL-AU-VENT ROYALE" .......... 382 

XI. "THY GLORY" .............. 400 

XII. ONE MORE DE MAILLY? ........... 414 

XIII. THE HOTEL DE VILLE .......... , . 430 

XIV. VICTORINE MAKES END ........... 443 

XV. DEBORAH ...... ......... 451 

EPILOGUE. A TRAIL ON THE WATER . ,469 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

"THE PAPER DROPPED TO THE FLOOR" . . . Frontispiece 

" DE MAILLY HAD THROWN SIX AND SIX "... Facing p. 22 
" ' CLAUDE, TAKE THIS AND THROW IT OUT 

THERE ' " 38 

" HB SUDDENLY STOPPED AND TURNED HIS HEAD 

TOWARDS HER" 50 

" ' I GIVE YOU ONLY THIS "' " 98 

"THE YOUNG MAN ROSE AND BOWED" .... " 106 

"CLAUDE SAT SUDDENLY UP IN BED" .... " 132 

"SURROUNDED BY A GROUP OF PICKANINNIES" . " 140 
"HORSE AND RIDER HAD FLASHED OUT AT THE 

GATE" " 162 

"'GO ON, MONSIEUR,' MURMURED DEBORAH" . . " 192 
"DEBORAH PERMITTED HIM TO LEAD HER FROM 

THE BALLROOM" " 2l8 

"'I AM NOT THE DUCHESS OF CHATEAUROUX !'" . " 462 



JBOOft 1 

CLAUDE 




The House of de Mailly 



CHAPTER I 

M. de Gevres Entertains 

T was the evening of Tuesday, January I2th, 
in the year 1744. By six o'clock the gray of 
afternoon had deepened to the blackness of 
night, and a heavy rain began to fall, so that 
the Sevres road, a mile beyond the Paris bar- 
rier, was shortly thick with mud. The only light here 
visible came from the window of a wretched tavern at the 
way-side; and by this mine host, had he been watching, 
would have had some difficulty in perceiving the two 
riders who came to an uncertain halt by his door. 

" It is late, du Plessis, and we have still three miles to 
go. More than that, 'tis the worst cabaret in France." 

"And you would be no more of a Jean- Jacques than 
necessary to-night eh, Claude?" returned the other good- 
humoredly. 

"I should prefer drowning or to perish of a rheum by 
the way than be poisoned by the liquor to be had here," 
returned the other, flicking his saddle restlessly with 
his riding-whip. 

"So be it, then. Come, we waste time. Mordil A 
little gently there, 1 beseech! It is raining mud." 

A dig of the spur in the thoroughbred's flank, a spat- 
tering of drops from the puddle in which they had stood, 
a quick apology, and the landlord had lost his guests, 



4 The House of de Mailly 

illustrious guests, who paid never a sou too much for their 
wine, but could make a drinking-place the fashion for 
weeks by five minutes' presence within it. 

The two rode for some minutes in silence, though no 
one of the finest apperception could have felt any enmity 
existent between them. The night lowered. The rain 
pelted coldly from the starless sky; and horses and riders 
alike shrank from the raw, streaming atmosphere. When 
the silence was again broken the lights of Paris were 
visible in the distance. This time it seemed that du 
Plessis the Due de Richelieu addressed his compan- 
ion's secret thoughts as though he had been reading 
them for some time past. 

" Believe me, Claude, you are unwise. She is not quite 
quite of your fibre. The elder branch, you will often 
find, if you study these things, is less quick in sensibility, 
though perhaps not lacking in finesse. The King, dear 
child, the King" 

" The King is a man. I also am one ; he, de Bourbon ; 
1, de Mailly." 

Richelieu laughed heartily. "Pretty pretty, Claude 1 
I must enter it in the unauthenticated register at Mme. 
Doublet's to-morrow! Why do you not lay the matter 
thus before Mme. de Chateauroux herself?" 

"Ah, monsieur, 1 think you understand her even less 
than I. 1 do not dare address her as my position admits. 
My cousin cannot be more proud of our family than am 
I; and yet and yet " 

In the darkness Louis Armand Francois du Plessis 
de Fronsac de Richelieu, from strong force of habit, 
snapped his fingers. "Afraid of a woman! Truly, we 
have schooled you well, Claude!" 

" You, Monsieur le Due, you yourself have you kissed 
my cousin on the lips?" 

"Oh, I do not infringe on his Majesty's rights." 

"MonDieu! If it were any but you ! " 

"Come, my dear Count, you are making an enormous 
mistake, permit me to. say. The one thing which no man 



M. de Gevres Entertains 5 

should ever do is to take himself in great seriousness. 
You have yet many a lesson to learn about women. Now 
hear from me a bit of gravity, which shall prove my friend- 
ship for all of you madame, yourself, and his Majesty. 
When it happens that a man chooses a woman, and the 
woman accepts that man, whether it be for love, or 
something else, it is the place of the world merely to 
look on. A third personality will not enter complaisantly 
into the te"te-a-tete. The King heaps upon his Duchess 
the favors which only a royal lover can confer. And 
madame certainly does not seem loath to accept them. 
A dozen besides yourself are sighing after her to-day. 
Yet remember d'Agenois, my friend. And and Mile. 
d'Angeville is charming in ' L/Ecole des Femmes/ ' 

De Richelieu smiled slightly, fumbled for his snuff-box, 
which was unobtainable at the moment, and never knew 
that Claude had angrily squared his shoulders and was 
cruelly hurting his horse with bit and spur. The men- 
tion of d'Angeville happily turned the subject, as the 
Duke had intended it to do, and by the time the barrier 
was reached the vicissitudes of the Count de Mailly and 
the position of Mme. de Chateauroux were, to all appear- 
ances, forgotten. 

Once in the city, with rivers of rain above and below, 
and filth, crime, poverty, and utter darkness about them, 
Claude de Mailly and his illustrious companion made 
their way with what rapidity they could down the Rue 
de Sevres, past St. Vincent de Paul and the Lazariste, 
through the little Rue Mi-Care*me, the Place du Dragon, 
Rue Dauphine, and so out upon the quays. After riding 
for three squares along the river-bank, with the waters 
of the Seine foaming below them, the two finally passed 
the Pont St. Louis, and, turning down a short side street, 
drew up before a doorway wherein lanterns were lighted, 
and before which two link-boys- and twice as many lackeys 
stood waiting. Above, upon a long iron arm, tossed by 
the ever-rising wind, swung a great painted sign, a har- 
lequin in cap and bells, throwing his parti-colored cap 



6 The House of de Mailly 

above his head. Below, in uncertain letters, were the 
words "Cafe" Procope." 

As the two gentlemen dismounted, Richelieu called 
to one of the servants, who hastened forward to take his 
bridle. A second assisted Claude, while another, evi- 
dently under orders, turned and called back to some one 
inside. Instantly both doors were flung wide open, while 
the landlord of this most popular resort himself braved 
the weather and came out, candelabrum in hand, to greet 
his guests. 

"Ah, Cressin," deigned the Duke, nodding, as he en- 
tered the house, " are the rest not yet arrived?" 

" Indeed, my lord, they have waited for some time above 
Monsieur le Due de Ge'vres, Monsieur le Due d'Epernon, 
the Marquis de Mailly-Nesle, and the Baron d'Holbach." 

"Urn. 'Twas the hunt kept us. Light the way up." 

Claude lagged behind to throw off his wet riding-cloak, 
brush what water he could from his hat, and shake out 
his hair which had flattened beneath the protecting collar. 
Richelieu was kept waiting for some seconds, and the 
landlord had become ill at ease before the young precieuse 
signified his willingness to proceed to the room above, 
where his host waited. 

Not a bad-looking fellow was Claude de Mailly, albeit 
what individuality he possessed had some difficulty in 
asserting itself through the immaculate foppishness of his 
attire. His wig, a very fine one, was arranged & la brig- 
adiere, and tied with the regulation black ribbon. His 
forehead was broad and smooth, his eyes of a grayish 
green, shaded with heavy black lashes and good brows, 
which, however, were artificially pencilled. His nose 
was one bequeathed of ten generations of noble ancestry ; 
his mouth was sensitive, his complexion dark. The dress 
that he wore was not expensive, though its ruffles were 
of fine Mechlin, and he carried both patch and snuff box 
of ivory and gold. Richelieu, who preceded him up the 
narrow stairs, was a more striking figure taller, broader 
of frame, with well-shaped head, great brown eyes that 



M. de Gevres Entertains 7 

had carried him through life, a hand like a woman's, 
with muscles of steel, a smile that had won him a king's 
heart, and a charm, a power of presence which had made 
time stand still before him, so that his eight-and-forty 
years were something less than Claude de Mailly's twenty- 
three. 

Before the two noblemen and the landlord were half- 
way up-stairs there reached them from above the tones 
of familiar voices engaged in that species of conversa- 
tion, half witty, half absurd, which typified the times. 

" Parbleu, Baron, you will be calling Richelieu out to- 
morrow! Your carp will be ruined." 

" In such case, Marquis, I must order your cousin spitted. 
He will have been swimming the streets long enough, by 
the time he arrives, to have acquired an excellent flavor, 
of a kind." 

" Oh, 'tis more likely that the Count de Mailly's flavor 
would be rather cloying. All love is sweet; but his is 
so really violent, gentlemen, that " 

"For a month after you would sicken with the mere 
thought of a rissole," cried the Duke from the threshold. 

"And the epitaph which you would place over my 
picked bones," said Claude, from behind Richelieu's 
shoulder, "would be: 

Sa chair, meme, etant douce comme miel, < 

Sa nature etait aussi belle. 
II entra dans la vie reelle." 

"Bravo! Claude. We will forgive the lost feet. You 
have purchased pardon," cried d'Holbach, smiling. He 
and de Mailly-Nesle, Claude's cousin and the brother of 
Mme. de Chateauroux, went forward to greet the late- 
comers. D'Holbach, epicurean philosopher, and host of 
the small company, gave them a genial welcome. The 
Marquis grasped his cousin's hands, and bowed famil- 
iarly to the Duke, while the other two men in the room, 
d'Epernon and de Gevres, boon companions, both in- 
timates of the King, the one an amateur physician, the 



8 The House of de Mailly 

other an adept at embroidery, remained languidly seated, 
deigning a nod and smile to the last arrivals. 

After a few further words of greeting and explanation, 
the party of six arranged themselves about the oval table, 
on which were already placed the hors-d'oeuvres and 
sweet wines, while Cressin hurried away towards his 
kitchens to command the attendance of two waiters and 
the first course of the supper. Only part of the even- 
ing's entertainment was being given by the Baron d 'Hoi- 
bach. M. de Gevres had arranged an amusement for the 
night which promised some novelty even to these utterly 
blase gentlemen. He proposed conducting his friends 
across the river to his hdtel, which, by royal permission, 
had, very conveniently for his pocket, been turned into 
a public gambling - house. Its redoubtable owner, when 
not at Versailles, lived in exquisite style in his chateau 
at St. Ouen ; and, since there was always a place for him 
in the Tuileries, the H6tel Richelieu, or, more covertly, 
the Hotel de Sauvr6, in Paris, he had not yet felt any 
poignant discomfort through the loss of his ancestral 
house. On the contrary, the unique pleasure of appear- 
ing in its familiar rooms furnished with the rows of tables, 
frequented by bourgeois and dwellers in St. Antoine, with 
the presence of an occasional petty noble, was really veiy 
refreshing to the jaded spirit of this vaporish child of high- 
est France. 

It was a particularly select little company who gathered 
about the table in the private salon of the Cafe 1 Procope 
on this stormy night. All of them were of the bluest of 
blood ; all of them spent the greater part of their time about 
the person of the King; to all, the doors of any and every 
house or salon in Paris were open at any hour; and not 
one of them but had had hearts flung at him from the 
night of his first appearance in the Gallery of Mirrors to 
the present moment, when interest in the hors-d'oeuvres 
was beginning to wane, and the first course of the sup- 
per should have been making its appearance. D'Eper- 
non had commenced to bore them all with some remarks 



M. de Gevres Entertains 9 

upon the recent blood-letting of his Majesty after a rout 
at Choisy, when Claude jumped unceremoniously from 
the table, crossed the room to a mirror, and took out his 
patchbox. 

"Trust you'll have no women to-night, de Ge'vres," 
he remarked, breaking in upon d'Epernon. "I am wet 
through. My wig is in strings, and the powder has melted 
away like like snow in June. While my boots" 
taking out a large star and pasting it below the corner 
of his left eye "my boots will not be fit for my valet, 
when we return to-night." 

" Claude is standing there, my lords, aching with vanity 
to have me relate to you how crazily he has borne himself 
to-day, del ! Twould be driving me mad with anxiety 
to learn how soon I should be registering my presence 
at the Bastille, had I shown myself so little of a courtier, 
so utterly reckless for the sake of madame's admiration 
as has he." 

Before any one had time to voice his curiosity, Claude 
turned quickly from the mirror. " The Bastille, Richelieu ! 
The Bastille! Surely" 

" Why not, my child? I have been there thrice for less ; 
and the last time, had it not been for my ever-honored 
Duchess of Modena umph ! I had been carried out shorter 
by a head than when I went in \" 

The five gentlemen smiled broadly at certain memories 
still occasionally recalled on a rainy day at Versailles. 
But Henri, Claude's cousin, looked anxious. "What is 
your last exploit, Claude? Marie has been inciting you 
to rashness again?" 

Claude laughed. "Madame did not honor me by a 
single command. I rode a course, I shot a stag, and I 
won this, which was intended for a king, not me." 

Forthwith the young fellow drew from beneath his 
waistcoat something which even de Ge'vres leaned for- 
ward to see. It was a glove, a white gauntlet, weighted 
on the back with a crest heavily embroidered in gold, and 
set here and there with tiny sapphires of the color lately 



ID The House of de Mailly 

known as oeil du Roi ; while upon the smooth leather 
palm was painted a very good miniature of his gracious 
Majesty, Louis XV. 

The little group of courtiers glanced from the trophy 
to the face of its owner, who was gazing upon them with 
a smile not wholly unconscious, but wisely tempered with 
cynicism. Presently the Baron reached forward and 
took the costly article from Claude. Holding : , s^ith a 
delicate touch in the light of a waxen candle, he smiled 
as he observed: 

"Madame should not have removed this ere she gave 
it to you, my dear Count." 

" I would to God she had not !" cried de Mailly-Nesle. 

Four pairs of brows went gently up, but Claude's eyes 
met those of his cousin with such an expression of af- 
fection and melancholy that for an instant he seemed 
to be transformed to some other order of man. 

The slight pause was broken by the entrance of the first 
course proper of the supper. The Count took back his 
gage and thrust it again to the conventional resting-place 
over his heart; and while the innumerable dishes were 
being placed upon the table or passed about, he returned 
the patch-box to his pocket and seated himself between 
his cousin and Richelieu. 

"Now that Claude has given you his meagre idea of 
the crisis through which he passed to-day," remarked 
Claude's companion, helping himself to a fillet of par- 
tridge, " permit me to advance to him my own opinion of 
the affair, as well as to lay the tale before you all. His 
coming fate shall be surmised by you. Now hark: His 
Majesty and a little suite rode to Rambouillet yesterday, 
in the afternoon. The hunters were to follow this morn- 
ing; but they say that de Rosset never permits the King 
to rise earlier than eight o'clock, so that he is fain to be 
near the forest on the day of the chase. 1 was with him ; 
but, for some royal reason, Madame la Duchesse, despite 
some very eloquent pleading on my part, had refused 
to go. Possibly Mme. de Toulouse is of family too scru- 



M. de Gevres Entertains n 

pulous to receive her. " * The Dukes and d'Holbach smiled. 
"Claude, however, was of the royal train, for, mark you, 
gentlemen, Louis adores the Count at twenty miles dis- 
tance from madame his cousin. Well, then, at ten this 
morning the meet was called at the edge of the forest. 
His Majesty was in a frenzy of eagerness, and looked 
did he not look like a little god, my dear Count ? Hein ? 
But for the point. The first deer had not yet been started 
by the keepers when a diversion occurred. His Majesty 
was talking with the head man. There was a murmur 
behind us. 1 turned about, and saw " 

"Monsieur le Comte perishing of loneliness," murmur- 
ed de Gevres, feebly. 

"Not at all. On the contrary. It was Monsieur le 
Comte dismounted, standing beside the newly arrived coach 
of Mme. de Chateauroux, with his head so very far inside 
the window that it set some of us thinking many things. 
Parbleu ! 1 would that you had seen Louis' face." 

"Madame must have risen very early," remarked 
d'Epernon, helping himself to a cream. 

"Madame is always wonderful. When she stepped 
from the conveyance to greet her liege she looked more 
of a queen than her Majesty ever did. Small wonder that 
the King was all devotion. Before he had finished his 
first compliment, the heartless Leroy came forward to an- 
nounce that stags do not wait. Madame was very gra- 
cious, and instantly mounted the horse prepared for her. 
She had driven from Versailles in her crimson habit. When 
all was ready, the King turned in his saddle and cried 
out before us : ' What reward have you to offer, madame, 
to him who shall present you with the antlers to-day?' 
We all watched her. She smiled charmingly for an in- 
stant. Some turned their eyes then upon the King. I 
was more subtle. 1 gazed at Claude." 

" He is certainly very pleasant to look upon," observed 
d'Holbach, absently. 

* The Count of Toulouse was a legitimated son of Louis XIV. 



12 The House of de Mailly 

" 'Twas not his beauty, Baron. I am most tender of 
his modesty. But, next time 1 plead with Mile. Mercier 
for life and hope, 1 shall imitate the look he wore at that 
moment." 

"Take care, my dear Richelieu. She will marry you 
if you do." 

"On my faith, that would not be bad. 'Tis an excel- 
lent way to rid one's self of a woman. Baron, the carp 
is marvellous. Madame, of course, offered the glove that 
you have seen as gage of triumph. It is worth eighty 
livres. Lesage himself did the miniatures. When we finally 
set off, Louis' eyes were bright with certainty of success ; 
for who would dare to engage in rivalry with the King?" 

"Come, come, du Plessis, finish the tale. You are 
straining the budding nonchalance of de Mailly here to 
an alarming degree." 

Richelieu shrugged. "We started, madame follow- 
ing at a little distance, though half a dozen ladies rode. 
After a quarter of an hour we got sight of the animal, 
and de Sauvre fired at it, but missed. By the manner 
in which his Majesty sat his horse, as we raced along 
to gain on the beast, we all knew that our shots must go 
astray to-day. Gradually the King drew away from the 
rest of us, and we reined the horses a little. That is, all 
but one of us played good courtier. The one was Claude." 

"Monsieur, you might dare Satan for a lady if you 
would; but no one should dare the King." 

"Dare the King he did. In five minutes all of us were 
far enough behind to watch, while they two de Mailly 
and de Bourbon, gentlemen were neck and neck among 
the hounds. Presently the Count fired, and missed. 1 
hoped that it was purpose, for he did not reload. Then 
the stag ran through a little clearing, so that for fifty 
yards it was a perfect mark. Louis fired, of course, but 
the game kept on. 1 saw the King throw back his head 
with his gesture of anger. Then de Mailly oh ! how 
couldst thou, Claude? drew a pistol from his holster and 
fired. That bullet was made for death. I never saw a 



M. de Gevres Entertains 13 

prettier shot. It went straight into the deer's neck. An- 
other five yards. The animal wavered. The King was 
reloading his weapon. Claude was like lightning with 
his hands. Before his Majesty's gun was ready the pistol 
sounded again, and the beast fell." 

"Good Heaven, Claude! You have done badly!" cried 
Henri, leaning over the table. 

His words were echoed by the rest. 

"But his Majesty permitted you the trophy?" drawled 
d'Epernon, unguardedly. 

"Permitted, my lord!" exclaimed the young man, 
haughtily; "the gauntlet was not his Majesty's to give." 

Richelieu laughed. ' 'Twas a comedy, gentlemen ; 
but a dangerous one. Louis was suavely furious; ma- 
dame annoyed and alarmed, but as indifferent as any 
coquette should be. Claude was charmingly humble 
and amorous. It was 1 who obtained permission for him 
and for myself to retire after luncheon. Certainly, Louis 
seemed entirely willing to grant it. So together we re- 
turned to Versailles, dressed, and came on here. And 
oh! 1 had forgot to mention it, but 'twas a marked 
fact that when madame presented her left gauntlet to her 
cousin, the January skies instantly began to weep. Now, 
a question : Was it from sympathy with the King, or dread 
for the Count de Mailly?" 

"Fear for the Count, du Plessis. The King needs 
small sympathy." 

" Possibly thou'rt right, Baron. Who so happy as the 
King? What does he lack? He is a King ; he has France 
for his purse; he is as handsome as the Queen is ugly; 
and the most stately woman in Europe inhabits the little 
apartments. What more could he wish for?" 

Claude bit his lip and his eyes sparkled with anger. 

"M. de Mailly, you do not eat." 

"1 have finished, Baron." 

"Soho! 1 did well not to have a second course, then. 
Now, gentlemen, the toasts. M. de Mailly-Nesle, 1 propose 
your marquise." 



14 The House of de Mailly 

"Not his wife, d'Holbach!" 

"You mistake, Monsieur le Due. 1 speak of Mme. de 
Coigny." 

" Ah ! With pleasure ! She is a most piquant madcap. " 

Henri flushed. The lady whom he deeply and sincerely 
loved was a far tenderer subject with him than his reck- 
less and heartless companions dreamed of or could have un- 
derstood. But he drank the toast without comment, and 
was relieved to find that the conversation was straying 
from her as well as from his cousin's affair. Claude, 
perhaps, was not so well pleased. He was too young 
a lover, and too much in love, to rejoice that other women 
were being brought up for discussion; and he was too 
heedless of the delicacy of his position to care to contem- 
plate its different aspects while the others talked. For, 
as to the matter of royal disfavor, it disturbed him not 
in the least ; rather he looked upon the prospect of it as 
something which should redound to his credit in the eyes 
of her who at present constituted the single motive of 
his life. For the next twenty minutes, then, he sat over 
his wine, drinking all the toasts, and joining in the con- 
versation when Mme. de Lauraguais, another sister of 
Henri's, was mentioned. But the interest had gone out 
of his eyes. Richelieu marked him silently; d'Holbach 
smiled with kindly humor on perceiving his preoccupa- 
tion ; and his cousin the Marquis read his mood with re- 
gret. Henri de Mailly-Nesle had long since given up any 
hope of control over his sister, the favorite ; and, through 
a life-long companionship, Claude had been to him closer 
than a brother. Thus, whatever interest he felt in the lat- 
est developments of the Count's rash rivalry with the King, 
was all on behalf of the weaker side, that of his friend. 

The six gentlemen had not been more than twenty min- 
utes over their wine when de Ge"vres finally rose from his 
chair, and, as host for the remainder of the night, made 
suggestion of departure. 

" How shall we cross to my hdtel ? It rains too heavily 
for riding. Shall we go by chair?" 



M. de Gevres Entertains 15 

" By chair, monsieur ! Pardieu ! 1 had thought we 
were citizens to-night. Let us walk." 

" My dear Baron," expostulated d'Epernon, " my surtout 
would not stand it, 1 swear to you!" 

" A murrain on your surtout ! " retorted Richelieu. " Bar- 
on, I accompany you on foot." 

" And I also/' added Claude. " 1 wish to ruin my boots 
completely. I have given Rochard too many things of 
late." 

" A bad idea, Count. Pay your servants, and they leave 
you at once ; it is such a bourgeois thing to do. " 

"We walk, then?" inquired d'Epernon. "I am sure we 
must be going to do so when M. de Gevres addresses M. de 
Mailly upon the care of servants. Monsieur le Marquis 
your servant." 

Richelieu and the Baron were already at the door. 
D'Epernon and Henri followed. There was nothing for it 
but for the third Duke to accept the companionship of the 
Count, and prepare to ruin his surtout also. As the small 
party passed out of the door of the cafe, Richelieu called 
over his shoulder : 

"Your horse is here, Claude. I had mine sent to my 
hotel. Surely you will not attempt to ride back to Ver- 
sailles to-night. Will you lodge with me?" 

" Thank you ; but Henri will house me, I think will you 
not, cousin?" 

"Certainly, Claude. Madame will scarcely have any 
one in my wing to-night, I think ; though I confess that I 
have not been there for a week." 

"A bad idea," muttered Richelieu to the Baron. "I 
kept my ladies in better training when 1 had them." 

It was fifteen minutes' rapid walk from the Procope to 
the Hotel de Gevres. From the Quai des Tournelles the 
six proceeded to the Pont St. Michel, over the river, across 
the island, and to the new city by the Pont au Change, at 
the east end of which, near the Place du Chat, stood the 
most recent and most noted gambling-house in Paris. 
Three or four lanterns, shining dimly through the drip- 



16 The House of de Mailly 

ping night, lighted the doorways, which were open to the 
weather. Richelieu, d'Holbach, d'Epernon, and Henri en- 
tered together, with Claude and de G^vres close behind. 
It was Richelieu who accosted the manager of the house 
in the entresol; for the owner of the place was not desirous 
of recognition. M. Basquinet, discerning that the new- 
comers were of rank, in spite of the fact that they came 
on foot, at once offered a private room. 

"The devil, good cit, d'ye take us for a pack of farmers- 
general? By my marrow, I've scarcely livres enough to 
grease the dice-cup, let alone paying your nobility prices 
for new wine and bad rum. Private room ha! excellent, 
you tax-collector, excellent, excellent!" 

So spake Richelieu, in his favorite badaud, with a tone 
that no dweller in the Court of Miracles could have bettered 
for its purpose. The little party smiled covertly at sight 
of the landlord's crestfallen air, and then the other five 
followed their new plebeian leader up the broad ancestral 
staircase, leaving behind the steady murmur of voices and 
the chink of coin which had reached their ears from the 
chance-machine rooms on either side of the hallway. On 
the second floor were the public rooms for played games ; 
on the third, private apartments for such as chose to make 
a retreat of the place. And, in truth, many a well-known 
quarrel had fomented, and many a desperate duel already 
been fought, in those chambers, which of old had sheltered 
the royal and noble guests of the family de Gevres. 

The dice-room, the destination of Monsieur le Due's 
present distinguished company, was very large, having once 
been the grand salon of the house. It was well filled by 
this hour, thick with smoke, heavy -aired with the fumes 
of mulled wine, and alive with the clack of the implements 
of the game and the subdued murmur of exclamations and 
utterances. The six gentlemen made their way to a table 
in the far corner of the room from which the door was in- 
visible; and, seating themselves, they called at once for 
the cups, English pipes, and English rum. 

"By all means, rum," nodded the Baron d'Holbach. 



M. de Gevres Entertains 17 

"What other beverage would harmonize with this scene? 
We are surrounded by those a step lower than the bour- 
geoisie. For the time we also are lower than the bour- 
geoisie." 

"And by to-morrow we shall have still stronger means 
of appreciation/' retorted d'Epernon, "for our heads will 
feel as those of the bourgeoisie never did." 

The rum was brought, however, together with dice, and 
those long-stemmed clay pipes of which one broke three 
or four of an evening, and but rarely drew more than one 
mouthful of smoke from a light. Still imitating the man- 
ners of those about them, each two gentlemen played with 
a single cup, thus doing away with any possibility of loaded 
dice. Unlike the common people, however, they used no 
money on the table ; perhaps for the simplest of reasons 
that they had no money to use. "Poor as a nobleman, 
rich as a bourgeois," was a common enough expression at 
that day, and as true as such sayings generally are. How 
debts of honor were paid at Versailles none but those con- 
cerned ever knew. But paid they always were, and that 
within the time agreed upon ; and there was no newly in- 
vented extravagance, no fresh and useless method of ex- 
penditure for baubles or jewelled garments, that every 
courtier did not feel it a duty as well as pleasure to indulge 
at once. For the last twenty-five years there had been, 
as for the next five there would be, a continually increasing 
costliness in the mode of Court life, and a consequent 
diminution in Court incomes, until the end the end of 
all things for France's highest and best should come 
with merciful, swift fury. 

Each member of the party, this evening, played with him 
in whose company he had walked from the cafe 1 : de G6 vres 
and the Count; Richelieu and d'Holbach; d'Epernon and 
Mailly-Nesle. The three games were in marked contrast 
to those carried on about them. Not a word relative to 
losses or winnings was spoken. The stakes were agreed 
upon almost in whispers ; the cubes were rattled and thrown 
once; then again from the other side. The differences 

2 



i8 The House of de Mailly 

were noted mentally. Winner and loser sipped their rum, 
drew at a pipe, and made a new stake. Sometimes ten 
minutes would be spent in watching the noisy eagerness 
of men at a neighboring table, for that was the chief object 
in their coming to-night. 

The great hall was filled with those of an essentially 
low order. Coarse faces, coarse manners, coarse gar- 
ments, and coarse oaths abounded there, though now 
and again might be found a velvet coat, a lace ruffle, and 
a manner badly aped from the supposed elegancies of 
the Court. A strange and motley throng gathered from 
all Paris wherever this common vice held men in its grip. 
Here those from the criminal quarters, from the Faubourg 
St. Antoine, from the streets of petty shopkeepers and 
tradesmen, from the little bourgeoisie, came to mingle 
together, indiscriminately, equalized, rendered careless of 
the origin of companions by their common love of the 
dice. Here were men of all ages, from the fierce stripling 
who regarded a franc as a fortune, to the senile creature, 
glued to his chair, the cubes rattling continually in his 
trembling cup, and the varying luck of the evening his 
life and death. All the pettiness and some of the nobility 
to be found in mankind were portrayed here, could those 
who had come to study have read aright. D'Holbach, 
the philosopher, doubtless did so, for men had been his 
mental food for many years. Nevertheless he said noth- 
ing to Richelieu of what he discovered; but took snuff 
when he lost, and puffed at his pipe when he won, and 
cogitated alone among those whom he knew so well. 

Time drew on apace and the evening was passing. 
There were few arrivals now; the rooms were filled, 
and it was too early for departure. M. de GeVres wished, 
possibly, that the hours would hurry a little, for he was 
losing heavily to Claude. Nevertheless he gave no sign 
of discomfort, and even interrupted the Count's purposeful 
pauses to continue the game. Just as de Mailly shook 
for a stake of five hundred livres, two people, gentlemen 
by dress, entered the room. Claude threw high. The 



M. de Gevres Entertains 19 

Duke, with an inward exclamation of anger, gently re- 
ceived the cup. He shook with perfect nonchalance, and 
finally dropped the ivory squares delicately before him. 

"Bravo, M. de Gevres; you have thrown well!" 

The Duke started to his feet. His example was speedily 
followed by the rest of the party, who, after bowing with 
great respect, stood looking in amazement at the new- 
comer. His companion, who was bareheaded, remained 
a little behind, grinning good-naturedly at the gamesters. 
Richelieu spoke first : 

"Indeed, your Maj " 

"Pardon, du Plessis, the Chevalier Melot." 

' Your pardon, Sire. You take us by surprise." 

"Has any one suffered from the shock?" 

"1, Sire, 1 think, since your coming has turned my 
luck," remarked Claude, with the double meaning in his 
words perfectly apparent to every one there. 

" Um yes, 1 had thought M. de Gevres must win with 
eleven. Come, gentlemen, add two to your party, and for- 
get, for the evening, even as he will do, the unimpeach- 
able propriety of M. de Berryer."* 

De Berryer laughed, and drew two more chairs to the 
table. 

"Do not stand," continued the King.. "1 am merely 
Chevalier to-night." 

Louis seated himself beside Richelieu, with whom he 
evinced a desire to speak privately. D'Holbach, perceiv- 
ing this, began at once, with his usual tact, to entertain 
the rest of the company by an anecdote concerning 
d'Alembert and Voltaire. Immediately the King turned 
to his favorite courtier. 

"De Mailly came straight to Paris with you to-day?" 

" We rode to Versailles first, Sire ; changed our clothes 
there, and came hither immediately." 

" And now the truth, Richelieu. 1 will brook nothing 
less. He did not see madame after he left the hunt?" 

* The Chief of Police, and a favorite companion of the King. 



20 The House of,de Mailly 

The Duke opened his eyes. " We left Mme. de Chateau- 
roux with you. We have not seen her since." 

The King drew a deep breath. "She left the hunting- 
party half an hour after you, knowing that it was not in 
my power to follow her. 1 feared it was to join him. 
1 have left everything to make sure of his whereabouts. 
The fellow drives me mad." 

While Louis spoke a gleam came into the Duke's eyes. 
He smiled slightly, and said; with a nod towards de Berryer, 
and that daring which was permitted to him alone, " Your 
Majesty brought a lettre -de -cachet in some one else's 
pocket?" 

Louis looked slightly nonplussed. He shrugged, how- 
ever, as he answered, "No lettre-de-cachet will be used." 
Then, as the laughter from the Baron's tale subsided, the 
King addressed the party : " We will not stop your game, 
my friends. In fact in fact, I will myself play one of 
you." 

"And which of us is to be so honored, Chevalier?" in- 
quired d'Epernon. 

"It is a difficult choice, I confess. However, choice 
must be. Monsieur le Comte, will you try three turns 
with me?" 

There was a little round of glances as Claude bowed, 
murmuring appreciation of the honor. 

"The dice, then!" cried the King. "Richelieu, your 
cup. We will play with but one. " 

"And he who throws twice best shall win?" repeated 
the Duke. 

"Yes." 

"What are the stakes?" inquired the Baron, gently. 

Claude's heart sank, while his cousin dared not allow 
his sympathy to appear. It was frequently ruinous work, 
this gaming with a King ; and the revenues of the younger 
branch of the house of de Mailly were not great. 

"The stakes," returned Louis, with a long glance at 
his opponent, "shall be, on my side " he threw back 
his cloak, unbuttoned a plain surtout, and from his ruffles 



M. de Gevres Entertains 21 

unfastened a diamond star of great value "this." He 
placed it upon the table. 

There was a little, regular murmur of conventional ad- 
miration. Claude bit his lip thoughtfully. "And mine?" 
he asked, looking squarely at the King. 

Louis coughed, and waved one hand, with a gesture 
of deprecation at the question. " Yours should not be so 
large. We play to the goddess of chance. You um 
ha you won, to-day, a certain gauntlet of white leather; 
a simple thing, but it will do. I will play this for that. 
You see the odds are favorable to you." 

Claude flushed scarlet, and not a man at the table moved. 
"The gauntlet was a gage, Sire." 

"We play for it," was the reply. 

The Count glanced round the circle, noting each face 
in turn. Baron d'Holbach was engaged with snuff. 
The other faces, excepting only de Berryer's, were blank. 
But Richelieu's eyes met those of Claude, and the head 
of the King's favorite gentleman shook, ever so slightly, 
at the rebellion in the Count's face. Then, very slowly, 
de Mailly unfastened his coat and drew from its place 
the glove of Mme. de Chateauroux. He laid it on the 
table beside the star. 

"We play!" cried his Majesty, smiling as he seized the 
leathern cup. He shook well, and dropped the dice vigor- 
ously before him. 

"Seven!" cried the company. It was four and three. 

Claude received the implements from the King's hands, 
tossed and threw. 

"Eight!" was the return. It was three and five. 

The King bit his lip, and hastily played again. The 
cubes stared up at him impudently. On one was a three, 
on the other a one. None spoke, for Louis frowned. 

Claude was very sober but very composed as he tried 
his second chance. It seemed that he could not but win. 
The courtiers hung quietly on the play. When the cup 
was lifted from the dice there was a series of exclama- 
tions. Claude himself laughed a little, and the King 



22 The House of de Mailly 



drew a long sigh of relief. Two and one had de Mailly 
thrown. 

It was Henri who voiced the general interest. "You 
are even/' he said, quietly. 

The King suddenly rose to his feet. "Not for long!" 
he exclaimed. For some seconds he rattled the dice in the 
box, not attempting to conceal his palpable nervousness. 
When the black spots which lay uppermost were finally 
counted, a smile broke over the royal lips. Ten points he 
had made this time. 

De Mailly, who had also risen, looked at them for a sec- 
ond with compressed lips, but did not hesitate in his throw. 
Like de Gevres, he dropped the squares before him with 
pointed delicacy. Then he stepped quietly back, with a 
throb at his heart, but no change in his face. Not a courtier 
spoke. 

"We will play again!" cried the King, loudly, for they 
were, indeed, no longer even. M. de Mailly had thrown 
six and six. 

"Pardon, your Majesty," said Claude, in reply to the 
King's voiced desire. "1 could not play again against 
France and hope to win, though by but a single point. 
Therefore 1 beg that you will spare my humiliation, and 
accept the gauntlet as proof of your gracious forgiveness 
of my daring." 

At this Richelieu looked open-faced approval upon the 
Count ; and de Gevres and d'Epernon, who had been roused 
from their ordinary state of ennui by the pretty comedy 
played before them, glanced at each other with apprecia- 
tion of so excellent an act of courtiership. 

" Monsieur le Comte, if 1 accept your generosity, it must 
only be on condition that, as gage of my esteem for you, 
and our mutual good-will, you wear this star. Permit me 
to fasten it upon your coat." 

The small ceremony over, and the light of royal favor 
glittering in the candle-rays over the Count de Mailly's 
heart, his Majesty, with tender touch, took up the coveted 
gauntlet, put it inside his embroidered waistcoat, and, 



M. de Gevres Entertains 23 

placing his hand on de Berryer's shoulder, bowed a good- 
night to the party and the Hotel de Gevres. 

Immediately after the King left, the other participant in 
the struggle for a woman's gage also rose. Claude was 
tired. He had no mind to be assailed with the volley of 
epigrams, bons-mots, and various comments that he knew 
would soon begin to be discharged from the brains of his 
companions. Certainly, he should have considered the 
episode a happy one. Already, since that talk of esteem 
and good-w r ill from the King, he could feel the change 
in attitude assumed towards him by de Gevres and d'Eper- 
non. But the sight of these figures wearied him now; 
and he suddenly longed for a solitude in which to face his 
rapidly growing regret that his cousin's glove had passed 
out of his possession. 

"What, monsieur!" cried de Gevres, when he rose, "you 
will not give me the chance to retrieve myself to-night?" 

"Small hope for you with such luck as the Count's," re- 
turned d'Holbach. " When a man wins two points off a 
king, by how much may he defeat a duke ? Reply, Riche- 
lieu. It is geometry." 

Richelieu laughed. "1 congratulate you, Monsieur le 
Comte," he said. 

De Mailly bowed. Then, turning to the Marquis, he 
held out his hand. " Will you come, Henri, or must 1 beg 
shelter of Madame la Marquise alone?" 

"I come, Claude. Good-night, and thanks for a most 
charming evening, and a comedy worthy of Grandval, 
messieurs." 

"Thank thy sister for that," returned de Gevres. 

Claude made a general salute, and then, without fur- 
ther parley, accompanied his friend from the room and 
the house. 

"My horse is still at the Procope," observed Claude at 
the door. 

"No, I ordered it sent to my hotel before we left the 
caf6 " 

"We walk, then?" 



24 The House of de Mailly 

" I am afraid so. 1 did not think to order my coach, and 
not a chair will be obtainable on such a night." 
"It is as well. The exercise will be a relief." 
They started at a good pace up the long, wide thorough- 
fare that bordered the river, and walked for some minutes 
in a silence that was replete with sympathy. It was some 
distance from the gambling-house "to the H6tel de Mailly, 
Henri's abode, which was situated on the west bank of the 
Seine, on the Quai des Theatins, just opposite the Tuileries, 
on the Pont Royal. The wind was coming sharply from 
the east, bringing with it great, pelting rain-drops that 
stung the face like bullets. Henri was glad to shield his 
head from the cutting attack by holding his heavy cloak 
up before it. Ordinarily the walk at this hour would have 
been one of no small danger ; but to-night even the dwellers 
in the criminal quarter were undesirous of plying their 
midnight trade by the river-bank. The cousins had passed 
the dark cluster of buildings about the old Louvre before 
either spoke. At length, however, the Marquis broke si- 
lence. 

"Claude, you have passed a point in life to-day, I 
think." 

"With the two that 1 won from the King, Henri?" 
"Those and the gauntlet of Marie Anne." 
There was a little pause. Then Claude said, in a tone 
whose weary monotony indicated a subject so often thought 
of as to be trite even in expression : 

"Do you ever regret that Anne went the way of 
the other two? Will she do you think, finish as did poor 
little Pauline? Or will some other send her from her 
place as she did my brother's wife, Louise?" 

As Claude had hesitated over the questions, so was Henri 
long in making reply. "1 do not allow myself, Claude, 
to wonder over might-have-beens. There is a fate upon 
our family, 1 think. But of the three of our women who 
have gone her way, Marie is the fittest of them all for her 
place. Little Pauline F61icite, we named her her death 
my God, 1 do not like to think of it! And poor, weak 



M. de Gevres Entertains 25 

Louise your brother IdVed her dearly, Claude. And he 
is dead, and she is making her long penance in that 
great tomb of the Ursulines. Heigh-ho ! Thank the good 
God, my cousin, that you have neither sister nor wife in 
this Court of France. There is not one of them can with- 
stand the great temptation. Our times were not made for 
the women we love/' 

And for the rest of their walk both men thought upon 
these same last words, which, through Claude's head, at 
least, had begun to ring like a dark refrain of prophecy, 
of warning : " Our times were not made for the women we 
love." 

It was half an hour past midnight when the Marquis 
pounded the knocker on the door of his hotel by the Seine. 
It was opened with unusual readiness by the liveried por- 
ter, who betrayed some surprise at sight of those who 
waited to enter. 

"Oh, my lord is not at Versailles!" 

"As you see, we are here," returned Henri, adding, 
"My apartment is ready?" 

"Certainly, Monsieur le Marquis' apartment is ready." 

"And one for Monsieur le Comte?" 

The servant bowed. 

"Light us up, then. Claude, will you have supper?" 

" No. Nothing more to-night. " 

"Very well. Gaillard, is madame visible?" 

The porter coughed. "Madame la Marquise was at 
Mme. de Tencin's till late. Madame, 1 think, is not visi- 
ble." 

Mailly-Nesle shrugged his shoulders, and proceeded to 
the staircase. As the servant followed with a candelabrum 
he made a curious, soft noise in his throat. Forthwith a 
footman glided swiftly into the hall from an antechamber, 
and took the other's place beside the door as if waiting for 
some one. Both nobles saw it. Neither spoke. 

Five minutes later Claude was alone in his room. Henri 
had left him for the night, and he refused the services 
of a lackey in lieu of his own valet, who was at Versailles. 



26 The House of de Mailly 

The servant had lighted his candles, and a wood-fire burned 
in the grate. His wet coat had been carried away to dry. 
His hat, surtout, and gloves lay upon a neighboring chair. 
Amid the lace of his jabot glittered the jewelled star which, 
two hours ago, had flashed upon the breast of the King 
of France. Claude seated himself, absently, in a chair 
beside the cheerily crackling fire, facing a great picture 
that hung upon the brocaded wall. It was Boucher's 
portrait of Marie Anne de Mailly-Nesle, Marquise de la 
Tournelle, Duchesse de Chateauroux. She looked down 
upon him now in that calmly superb manner which she 
had used only this morning; the manner that the Court 
had raved over, that women vainly strove to imitate, that 
had conquered the indifference of a king. And as Claude 
de Mailly gazed, his own air, shamed perhaps by that of 
the woman, fell from him, as a sheet might fall from a 
statue. In one instant he was a different thing. He 
had become an individual; a man with a strong men- 
tality of his own. The courtier's mask of imperturba- 
ble cynicism, the conventional domino of forced interest, 
the detestable undergarments of necessary toadyism, all 
were gone. Not the patch on his face, not the height of 
his heels, not the whiteness of his hands nor the breadth 
of his cuffs could make him now. Perhaps she whose 
painted likeness was before him would no more have cared 
to know him as he really was than she would have liked 
the words that he uttered, dreamily, before her picture. 
But it was the true Claude, Claude the man, nevertheless, 
who repeated aloud the thought in his heart: 

" Our times are not made for the women we love. " 



D 



CHAPTER II 

The Toilet 

AWN, the late dawn of a gray, wintry morn- 
ing, hung over Versailles. Within the pal- 
ace walls those vast corridors, which had 
lately rung to sounds of life and laughter, 
stretched endlessly out in the ghostly chill 
of the vague light. Chill and stillness had crept also 
under many doors; and they breathed over that stately 
room in which Marie Anne de Chateauroux was accus- 
tomed to take the few hours of relief from feverish life 
granted her by kindly sleep. 

Though the favorite's apartment was as dark as drawn 
curtains could make it, nevertheless a thin gleam of gray 
shot relentlessly between hanging and wall, and, falling 
athwart the canopied bed, announced that madame's tem- 
porary rest approached its end. Against this decree, 
however, madame's attitude would seem to rebel. She 
lay, apparently in profound sleep, in the very centre of 
the great bed, sheets and cover drawn closely about her, 
up to her throat. Only one hand, half hidden in lace, 
and her head, with its framing mass of yellow, powder- 
dulled hair, were visible. In her waking life that head 
of the Duchess of Chateauroux was celebrated for its 
marvellous poise. And even now, as it lay relaxed upon 
the pillow, the effect of its daytime majesty was not quite 
lost. Viewed thus, devoid of animation or expression, 
the pure, classic beauty of the face showed to better ad- 
vantage, perhaps, than at another time. Already, how- 
ever, ennui, and the constant effort at appearance of pleas- 
ure, had left their marks upon the regular features; and, 



28 The House of de Mailly 

indeed, much other than mere beauty might be found 
in the countenance. If there were power in the breadth 
of the forehead, there was too much determination in 
the chin; while at each corner of the delicate mouth a 
faint line gave a cast of resolution, dogged and relent- 
less, to the feminine ensemble. 

Presently, as the shadows melted more and more, the 
woman's silken-lashed eyes fell open, and the first of her 
waking thoughts was expressed in a long, melancholy sigh. 

The duties of the Duchess as Lady of the Palace of the 
Queen necessitated her presence at the grand toilet of her 
Majesty on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tues- 
day, Thursday, and Sunday, therefore, except on those 
weeks when she was in constant attendance on Louis' 
consort, the Chateauroux accustomed the Court to a toilet 
of her own, which the King's faction religiously frequented, 
while the Queen's circle, the religious party, rolled their 
eyes, clasped their hands, violently denounced the inso- 
lence of it, and fervently wished that they might go, too. 
Certainly madame's morning receptions were eminently 
successful, and, however much gentle Marie Leczinska 
might disapprove of them in secret, she never had the 
courage to anger her husband by voicing her sense of 
indignity. Thus, six mornings of the week being provided 
for, on Saturday the Duchess confessed herself, though 
no absolution was to be had, and prayed forgiveness for 
the other part of her life. 

As madame awoke, and the clock upon her mantel- 
piece struck eight, a door into the room swung open, and 
a trimly dressed maid came in. She pushed back the 
curtains from the window, looped them up, and crossed 
to the bedside. 

" 'Tis you, Antoinette?" came a voice from beneath the 
canopy. 

"Yes, madame. Shall 1 bring the water?" 

"At once." 

As Antoinette once more disappeared, madame sat up 
and pushed aside the curtains of her bed. 



The Toilet 29 

For the following quarter of an hour, while the first part 
of the toilet was being performed, the second and elaborate 
half of that daily function was prepared for in the second 
room of the favorite's suite the famous boudoir. A re- 
markable little room this, with its silken hangings of 
Persian blue and green and white ; and a remarkable lit- 
tle man it was who sat informally upon a tabouret, in 
the midst of the graceful confusion of chairs, sofas, con- 
soles, and inlaid stands, while in front of him was the 
second dressing-table, whereon reposed the paraphernalia 
of the coiffeur, and beside him was a small bronze brazier, 
where charcoal, for the heating of irons, burned. The 
profession of M. Marchon was instantly proclaimed by 
his elaborate elegance of wig. He had been, at some 
time, perruquier to each French queen of the last three 
decades, from Mme. de Prie to the ill-fated sisters of 
the present Duchess. Just now he was ogling, in the last 
Court manner, the second wardrobe-girl, who stood near 
him, beside a spindle-legged table, polishing a mirror. 
And Celestine ogled the weazened Marchon while she 
worked and wondered if madame would miss her last 
present from d'Argenson, a Chinese mandarin with a 
rueful smile, who sat alone in the cabinet of toys, and 
ceaselessly waved his head. The courtly companionship 
between the two servants had lasted for some time when 
there came a faint scratch on the bedroom door. It was 
Antoinette's friendly signal. The hair-dresser leaped 
to his place and bent over the irons, while Celestine forced 
her eyes from the bit of porcelain and put away her polish- 
ing cloth as Mme. de Chateauroux entered the room. 

The Duchess seated herself before the first table, where 
Mile. Celestine administered certain effective and skilfully 
applied touches to the pale face, and when these had ren- 
dered her to her mind for the hour, madame surrendered 
herself into Marchon 's hands, where she would remain for 
a good part of the morning. 

The preliminary brushing of the yellow locks had not 
yet been completed when the first valet~de-chambre threw 



30 The House of de MailJy 

open the door from the antechamber and announced care- 
fully: 

"TheDucdeGevres." 

De Ge"vres, as usual, delayed his entrance a full minute. 
Then he came in languidly, snuff-box in his right hand, 
hat under his arm, peruke immaculate, and eye-glass 
dangling at his waist. He bowed. Madame raised her 
hand. The Duke advanced, lifted it to his lips, and left 
upon its fair surface a faint red trace of his salute. 
Madame smiled. 

"You have come to me early," she said. 

"I arose," remarked the man, pensively, "to find the 
world in gray. I arrayed myself to match the sky, and 
came to seek the sun. When I leave you I shall don pale 
blue, for you will drive the clouds from my day." 

Madame smiled again. "Thank you. But the gray 
is marvellously becoming. Pray do not attempt a second 
toilet this morning. One is singularly depressing." 
. " Surely, you are not depressed, Madame de Versailles?" 
he asked, idly, examining her negligee of India muslin 
with approval. "Why depressed? Louis was furious at 
your unaccountable absence from the salon last evening, 
and would play with no one. He stayed in a corner for 
two hours, railing at d'Orry and permitting not a soul to 
approach. Is it in pity for him, this morning, that you 
suffer?" 

Madame shrugged. "I do not waste time in pity of 
his Majesty. At the request of Mme. d'Alincourt, I spent 
last evening in the apartments of the Queen." 

" Good Heaven ! Then, madame, allow me to express 
my deepest sympathy! I had no idea that you would 
play so recklessly with ennui. Why, your very gossip 
is a day old !" 

"You, then, monsieur, I hail as my deliverer. Will 
you not act as my Nouvelles & la Main, that I may make 
no irretrievable blunder to-day?" 

"Madame desires, the King is at her feet. Madame 
requests, and the gods obey. Where must one begin?" 



The Toilet 31 

"At the beginning." 

De Ge"vres smiled slowly in retrospection. It was for 
this precise opportunity that he had risen an hour early 
and dared royal displeasure by being alone with the favorite 
for thirty minutes. He rose from the chair he had taken, 
drew a tabouret to within a yard of the Duchess's knee, 
and reseated himself significantly. 

"You frighten me, my lord. It must be serious." 

De Ge" vres shrugged. " Oh, not necessarily. You shall 
judge." He glanced meditatively at her feet, tapped his 
snuff - box, and began to speak just as Marchon finished 
the first curl. "Without doubt, madame, even after the 
deplorable past evening, you still recollect the rather 
outre events of the day before. You cannot yet have 
forgotten the last Rambouillet chase, the gage you offered, 
his Majesty's unfortunate chagrin, and the intrepid, if 
rash, ardor of your young cousin, Count Claude?" 

" Thus far my memory carries me, monsieur. Continue. " 

"Well! The rest is, indeed, curious. In spite of the 
Count's heroic gallantry, he appeared, later in the day, 
to have repented somewhat of having so eagerly dared the 
royal displeasure. A company of my friends were so good 
as to visit, with me, my hdtel you know its condition 
for play, on this very evening. By great good fortune, 
his Majesty, together with a companion, did us the honor 
himself to join our part\ T a little later. When the King 
beheld his successful rival, the Count, seated with us, 
he instantly proposed that the two of them play a round 
for high stakes. Louis, madame, offered a diamond 
star valued, perhaps, at fifty thousand francs, or more, 
against " 

"My glove." 

" Even so. You have, perhaps, heard the tale?" queried 
the Duke, hastily, with a suspicion of anxiety in his voice. 

Mme. de Chateauroux noticed this, but her face con- 
tinued to be as impassive as that of her smiling man- 
darin. "You forget my evening, monsieur. I know 
nothing. Continue, I beg of you." 



32 The House of de Mailly 

" Monsieur le Marquis de Coigny and the Comte de 
Maurepas!" announced the valet. 

De Ge"vres coughed, but his face expressed none of the 
disappointment that he felt. 

Mme. de Chateauroux greeted both gentlemen with im- 
perturbable courtesy, and the three nobles, after her salutes 
were over, exchanged greetings. Then the favorite said, 
at once: 

" Pray be seated, messieurs. M. de Gevres is telling me 
a most interesting anecdote. Pardon if I ask him to fin- 
ish it. Since it in a way concerns myself, I am so vain 
as to be curious." 

The late-comers bowed and looked at the Duke, who, 
in that instant, had mentally sounded the intruders, con- 
sidered his course, and decided to risk a continuance of 
his original plan. Without any noticeable hesitation, 
the story went on. 

"As I said, his Majesty and the Count de Mailly were 
to play together for possession of the glove. The King 
threw first four and three. De Mailly came next with 
five and two." 

"Ah!" murmured de Coigny. 

" Again Louis with ten, and the Count turned precisely 
the same number. His Majesty was visibly tingling with 
anxiety. He was about to throw for the last time, with 
a prayer to the gods, when the Count um took pity 
on him." 

"He offered the glove?" asked madame, quietly. 

De G6vres bowed. "In a way, Duchess. He offered 
to exchange the stakes." 

"Oh!" cried Maurepas, angrily. 

"Dastardly!" muttered de Coigny. 

Mme. de Chateauroux flushed scarlet with anger be- 
neath her powder. 

Little Marchon, trained to high gallantry by long ex- 
perience in haunts of the elect, left an iron in too long, 
and slightly scorched a lock of hair. His little eyes winked 
furiously with disapproval of the Count. 



The Toilet 33 

"Monsieur le Marquis de Mailly-Nesle ! " came the an- 
nouncement. 

De Gevres coughed again; and, amid rather a strained 
silence, Henri entered the apartment of his sister. 

He looked about him for a moment or two with some 
curiosity, feeling the awkwardness of his arrival, and 
considering what it would be wise to say. Maurepas, 
the diplomat, recovered himself quickly, remarking, in a 
tone which relieved them all: "This brother's devotion, 
my dear Marquis, is gratifying to behold. One is really 
never so certain of finding you anywhere at a given hour 
as here, in your sister's boudoir." 

" Mine, de Coigny has, I believe, no mornings & la toi- 
lette," observed Mme. de Coigny 's husband. 

Maurepas looked sharply at the speaker, while the others 
smiled, and the Duchess made every one still easier by 
laughing lightly. 

"Her sang-froid is unapproachable," murmured de 
Gvres to Maurepas, behind his hand. 

"You have certainly put it to strong test this morning," 
was the reply, rather coldly given. 

"L'Abbe de St. Pierre and 1'Abbe" Devries!" 

The two ecclesiastics entered from the antechamber 
and advanced, side by side, towards the Duchess. The 
taller of the two, St. Pierre, was a very desirable person 
in salon society, and could turn as neat a compliment or 
as fine an epigram in spontaneous verse as any member 
in the "rhyming brotherhood." At sight of St. Pierre's 
companion, who was a stranger here, the Marquis de 
Coigny gave a sudden, imperceptible start, and Henri 
de Mailly suppressed an exclamation. 

"Madame la Duchesse, permit me to present to you 
my friend and colleague, 1'Abbe Bertrand Devries, of 
Fontainebleau. " 

" I am charmed to see you both," deigned her Grace, giv- 
ing her hand to St. Pierre, while she narrowly scrutinized 
the slight figure and delicate, ascetic face of the other young 
priest. The mild blue eyes met hers for a single instant, 



34 The House of de Mailly 

then dropped uneasily, as their owner bowed without speak- 
ing, and passed over to a small sofa, where, after a second's 
hesitation, he sat down. St. Pierre, who seemed to cher- 
ish some anxiety as to his new protege's conduct, followed 
and remained beside him. 

"Unused to the boudoir, one would imagine. It is un- 
usual for one of his order. I am astonished that St. Pierre 
should have brought him to make a debut before you," 
observed de Gvres to la Chateauroux, who had not yet 
removed her eyes from the new priest. 

"St. Pierre knows my fondness for fresh faces," she re- 
plied, indifferently, picking up a mirror to examine the 
coiffure, just as her lackey entered the room with small 
glasses of negus, which were passed among the party. 

While de Coigny raised a glass to his lips he turned 
towards Devries. " You have spent all your time in Fon- 
tainebleau, M. Devries?" he asked, seriously. 

"By no means, monsieur," was the answer, given in a 
light tenor voice. " Indeed, for the last two weeks 1 have 
been working in Paris." 

"Working! And what, if my curiosity is not distaste- 
ful to you, is your work?" queried madame, still toying 
with the mirror. 

"By all means," murmured de Ge*vres, comfortably, 
after finishing his mild refreshment, " let us hear of some 
work. It soothes one's nerves inexpressibly." 

Devries' blue eyes turned slowly till they rested on the 
slender figure of the Duke, clad in his gray satin suit, his 
white hands half hidden in lace, toying with a silver snuff- 
box. The eyes gleamed oddly, half with amusement, half 
with something else weariness? disgust? surely it was 
not ennui ; and yet in an avowed courtier, that was what 
the look would have seemed to express. 

" 1 will, then, soothe your nerves, if you wish it, sir. My 
work certainly was very real. For the past two weeks 
my abode has been in the Faubourg St. Antoine, but my 
days were spent in a very different part of the city. At 
dawn each morning, in company with my colleague 



The Toilet 35 

not M. de St. Pierre, here I left behind those houses 
whose inmates rejoiced in clothes to cover themselves, in 
money enough to purchase a bone for soup daily, and who 
were even sometimes able to give away a piece of black 
bread to a beggar. These luxurious places we left, I say, 
and together descended into hell. It might amuse you 
still more, monsieur, to behold the alleys, the courts, the 
kennels, the holes filled with living filth into the midst of 
which we went. There women disfigure or cripple their 
children for life in order to give them a means of livelihood, 
that they may become successful beggars; there wine is 
not heard of, but alcohol is far commoner than bread; 
there you may buy souls for a quart of brandy, but must 
deliver your own into their keeping if you have not the 
wherewithal to appease, for a moment, their hatred of you, 
who are clean, who are fed, who are warm. Cleanliness 
down there is a crime. Ah! how they hate you, those 
dwellers in the Hell of Earth! How they hate us, and how 
they curse God for the lives they must lead! The name 
of God is never used except in oaths. And yet a girl, whose 
dying child 1 washed, knew how to bless me one day there. 
It seems to me that they might all learn how, if opportunity 
were but given them. There has been some bitter weather 
lately, when the frozen Seine has been a highway for trades- 
people. Those creatures among whom 1 went make no 
change from their summer toilets, gentlemen. Half all 
the children are quite naked. The women have one gar- 
ment, and their hair. The men are clad in blouses, with 
perhaps a pair of sabots, if they can fight well to obtain 
them, or are ready to do murder without a qualm to keep 
them in their possession. It is among these people that 1 
worked, Monsieur de Ge"vres with my colleague." 

"How eminently disgusting!" replied the Duke, calmly 
but his remark was not pleasing to the rest of those present, 
who had been actually affected by the desc-ription. Henri 
de Mailly had risen to his feet, and, after a moment's pause, 
asked, rather harshly, " Who was your colleague, mon- 
sieur?" 



36 The House of de Mailly 

The Marquis de Coigny shot a quick, warning glance at 
Henri, and raised his hand. " Monsieur PAbbe, 1 am inter- 
ested in your story. Would you do me the honor to break- 
fast with me this morning, and tell me more of this life?" 

The little audience stared, and la Chateauroux lifted her 
head rather haughtily. Devries appeared, for some rea- 
son, to be very much amused. 

"You are too good, Monsieur le Marquis. I have al- 
ready partaken of my morning crust. Besides, you, 
doubtless, are happy enough to be daily in the company 
of Mme. de Chateauroux; while 1, monsieur, am a poor 
priest, not often admitted to the dwellings of the highest." 
He rolled his eyes towards the figure of the Duchess, who 
was becoming visibly gracious under the effect of this 
slight compliment. 

" You are not, then, a sharer of the opinions of those poor 
creatures amongst whom you have worked, and who, as 
you truthfully suggest, have some little cause to hate us, 
who have so much more in life than they?" queried Maure- 
pas, with the interest of a Minister of the Interior. 

"No, monsieur, assuredly I have no feeling of enmity 
towards the nobility of France. 1 should have no right. 
You see, 1 know very very lit " Suddenly Devries caught 
the eyes of St. Pierre fixed on him in so curious a glance 
that he was forced to stop speaking. His mouth began 
to twitch at the corners. He shook with an inward spasm, 
and finally lay back upon the sofa, emitting peal after peal 
of silvery, feminine laughter. 

" Victorine!" cried the Duchess, starting from her chair. 
" Victorine, you madcap ! So you have come back again \" 

"Mme. de Coigny insisted," murmured St. Pierre, un- 
certain of his position. 

The rest of the gentlemen sat perfectly still, staring at 
the little Marquise, and trying, out ol some sense of pro- 
priety or gallantry, to keep from joining in her infectious 
laughter. Only Henri de Mailly sat near a window, his 
head on his fist, staring gloomily out upon the barren, 
stone-paved court. 



The Toilet 37 

"My dear madame \" cried Maurepas, when she had 
grown tearful with laughter, "your disclosure has done 
me an excellent turn. It has saved me five hundred livres. 
1 was about thus to impoverish myself that you might be 
permitted to get still closer to heaven by spending another 
week in the criminal quarter distributing them." 

The Marquise de Coigny grew suddenly serious again. 
"M. de Maurepas, let me take you at your word. 1 beg 
that you will send the money to him who was my compan- 
ion in the work 1'Abbe de Bernis." 

"Oh! Francois de Bernis?" asked St. Pierre, in quick 
surprise. "I have met him at the Vincent de Paul." 

" Her Majesty, I believe, receives him at times into her 
most religious coterie," put in de Maurepas. 

" Well, since you know who he is, 1 will continue, if you 
will permit me. 1 beg that you will all, at least, believe 
that what 1 have said concerning my occupation in Paris 
was wholly serious. Indeed, indeed, 1 am in the highest 
sympathy with the work of the Jesuit fathers among the 
people; and there are few men in our world whom 1 re- 
spect as 1 do M. de Bernis." 

At these words, so solemnly spoken that they could not 
but impress the listeners with their sincerity, the eye- 
brows of St. Pierre went up with surprise, though he re- 
mained silent. As a matter of fact, the reputation of the 
Abb Francois Joachim de Pierre de Bernis was not noted 
for its sanctity. 

"Will you, then, permit me, madame, to double my 
first offer?" said de Maurepas, with his mind on the treas- 
ury. "1 will to-day send you a note for one thousand 
livres, which I beg that you will dispense in charity." 

" M. de Maurepas, 1 wish that you could imagine what 
your word will mean to those poor creatures." 

" And shall you yourself return to Paris with the money, 
madame?" inquired de Gevres, smiling slightly. 

De Coigny moved as though he would speak, but his 
wife answered immediately, in his stead: "No, Mon- 
sieur le Due. I have no intention of taking permanently 



38 The House of de Mailly 

to a black gown. For two weeks it has occupied me satis- 
factorily to attend the poor. Now 1 shall come back to 
Court till 1 am again fatigued by all of you. After that 
I must devise a new amusement. Really you all know 
my one eternal vow : 1 will not become successor to Mme. 
du Deffant. Death, if you like, never such ennui as 
hers. M. de Mailly-Nesle, will you give " 

She did not finish. Henri had sprung quickly to his 
feet, but de Coigny was before him. " Pardon, Monsieur 
le Marquis," said he, with great courtesy, "will you allow 
me, to-day, instead. To-morrow I shall once more re- 
linquish all to you." 

De Mailly-Nesle could not, in reason, refuse the request, 
though it was against the conventions. He merely bowed 
as husband and wife, having variously saluted la Chateau- 
roux and the rest of the company, passed together out 
of the boudoir. 

"Mme. Victorine's eccentricity and her terror of being 
bored are excellent things. The husband seems to fall 
in love with her more violently than ever after each ad- 
venture." 

"Ah, Madame la Marquise is too charming to be any- 
thing but successful everywhere. Really, Henri, you and 
de Bernis " 

Henri, angry at the first word, turned upon the Duke: 
"Monsieur, 1 would inform you that Mme. de Coigny is " 

"Oh yes, yes, yes! Pardon me/' de Gevres rose, "I 
understand perfectly that Mme. Victorine is the most vir- 
tuous, as she is the most charming, of women. Madame 
la Duchesse, 1 have been with you seemingly but one mo- 
ment, and yet an hour has passed. His Majesty will be 
receiving the little entries. 1 bid you au revoir." 

The Duchess held out her hand. The courtier kissed 
it, bowed to the three remaining men, and gracefully left 
the boudoir. When the door shut behind him a breath 
of fresher air crept through the room. Mailly-Nesle, 
who had been restlessly pacing round and round among 
the tables and chairs, paused. De Maurepas drew a 



The Toilet 39 

tabouret to madame's side, and began to talk with her in 
the intimate and inimitably dignified manner that was 
his peculiar talent. St. Pierre was thoughtfully regard- 
ing nothing, when Henri approached and sat down beside 
him. Just as they began to speak together, Marchon 
stepped back a little from the chair of la Chateauroux. 

"Madame," he cried, "the coiffure is finished." 

At the same instant the door to the antechamber again 
flew open. " The Comte de Mailly !" announced the valet. 

There was a second's pause and Claude ran into the 
room. "My dear cousin!" he cried, buoyantly, hurrying 
towards her. 

Mme. de Chateauroux rose slowly from her place, stared 
at the new-comer for an instant with the insolence which 
only an insulted woman can use, then deliberately turned 
her back and moved across the room. Maurepas was 
already on his feet, and now, seizing his opportunity, 
he bowed to the woman, indicated Henri and the abbe" 
in his glance, passed Claude with the barest recognition, 
and left the room congratulating himself on his adroit 
escape before the storm. Mailly-Nesle and St. Pierre sat 
perfectly still for an instant out of astonishment. Then, 
happily, the abbe* came to himself, rose, repeated the 
performance of the minister, and hastened from the un- 
pleasantness. The instant that he was gone Claude 
broke his crimsoning silence in a somewhat tremulous 
voice : 

"Name of God, Marie, what have 1 done?" 

Madame was at her dressing-table. Picking up a small 
mirror, she retouched her left cheek. 

"Marie," said Henri, gently, "it is but fair that you 
let him know his fault." 

A shiver of anger passed over the frame of la Cha- 
teauroux. Then, suddenly whirling about till she faced 
Claude, she whispered, harshly : " My gauntlet, Monsieur 
le Comte; my white gauntlet! Return it to me!" 

Again Claude flushed, wretchedly, while his cousin 
spoke : " He has it not to return, Marie/' 



40 The House of de Mailly 

She turned then upon her brother. " So you, also, know 
this insult, and you counsel me to let him know his fault ! 
Ah, but your school of gallantry was fine!" 

"This insult!" repeated Claude, stupidly. 

" Fool! Do you think 1 do not know it?" 

Count and Marquis alike stood perfectly still, staring 
at each other. 

"Your innocence is awkwardly done," commented 
madame. "Show me the price, Monsieur Claude, for 
which you sold my gage." 

"Price!" echoed Henri, angrily. But Claude drew a 
long breath. 

" Ah! Now 1 begin, 1 but begin, to understand. Which 
was it that came to tell the story, madame? Was it d'Eper- 
non, or Gvres, or Richelieu who twisted the account of 
a forced act into one of voluntary avarice?" 

The favorite shrugged. "Charming words! I make 
you my compliments on your heroic air. Will you, then, 
confront M. de Gvres before me?" 

"Most willingly, madame! Afterwards, by the good 
God, I'll run him through." 

La Chateauroux bent her head, and there was silence 
till she lifted it again to face her young cousin. His eyes 
answered her penetrating glance steadily, eagerly, honest- 
ly. And thereupon madame began to turn certain matters 
over in her mind. She was no novice in Court intrigue; 
neither had she any great faith to break with de Gevres. 
It was a long moment; but when it ended, the storm was 
over. 

"How did it happen, Claude?" 

"1 gave the gauntlet to the King, when, man to man, 
he was beaten at dice." 

" You received nothing in return?" 

Claude was uncomfortable, but he did not hesitate. 
"Yes," he said, with lowered eyes. "1 have brought it 
to you. I hate it.'' 

From one of the great pockets in the side of his coat he 
drew a small, flat box, which he handed to his cousin. 



The Toi let 41 

She received it in silence, opened it, and gazed upon the 
royal star. The frown had settled again over her face. 
Suddenly, with a quick impulse, she pulled open one of 
the small windows which looked down upon the Court of 
Marbles. 

"Claude, take this and throw it out there," she com- 
manded. 

De Mailly was at her side in two steps. Eagerly he 
seized the jewels and flung them, with angry satisfaction, 
far out upon the stones. La Chateauroux looked at him 
quizzically for an instant, then suddenly held out both 
hands to him. He did not fall upon his knee, as a courtier 
should have done ; but threw his arms triumphantly about 
her and bent his powdered head over hers. 

"Urn," muttered Henri, indistinctly, "methinks 1 would 
better go and seek the fallen star." 




CHAPTER III 

The Gallery of Mirrors 

HE 1 6th of January fell on a Saturday, on 
the evening of which day the King held his 
usual weekly assembly in the formal halls 
of the palace. These affairs were not loved 
by Louis, whose tastes ran in more unosten- 
tatious directions; but they were a part of his inherit- 
ance, coming to him with the throne, his hour of getting 
up in the morning, and the national debt ; so he made no 
audible murmur, and ordinarily presented a resplendent 
appearance arid a dignified sulkiness on these occasions. 
It was his custom to enter the Hall of Battles or the Gallery 
of Mirrors, in company with his consort, between half-past 
eight and nine o'clock. Since no courtier was supposed 
to make his entrance after the King, the great rooms were 
generally thronged at an early hour, and the first dance 
began at nine precisely. 

At a quarter to seven on this particular Saturday, four 
candles burned in the Gallery of Mirrors, and their petty 
light made of that usually magnificent place a shadowy, 
dreary gulf of gloom. Ordinarily, at this hour, the salon 
was deserted. To-night, it appeared, one individual was 
unhappy enoiigh to find the place harmonious with his 
mood. This solitaire, who had twice paced the length of 
the hall, finally seated himself on a tabouret with his back 
to the wall, and, leaning his head against a mirror, gave 
himself up to some decidedly uncomfortable thoughts. It 
was Claude de Mailly who was young enough and unwise 
enough to surrender himself to his mood in such a place, 
at such an hour. Only late in life does the courtier learn 



The Gallery of Mirrors 43 

how dangerous a thing is melancholy. Claude had not 
come to this yet; and for that reason, through one long 
hour, he remained in darkness, meditating upon a situa- 
tion which he could not, or, more properly, would not, help. 
For Claude's eyes were well open to the precarious position 
into which he had got himself ; they were open even to his 
more than possible fall. Nor was he ignorant of the di- 
rection in which salvation lay the instant bending to 
Louis' wishes, repudiation of the favorite, and devotion to 
some other woman. But, to his honor be it said, Claude 
de Mailly was deeply enough in love and loyal enough by 
nature to scorn the very contemplation of such action. He 
could not see very far into the future. He dared not try to 
pierce the veil that hid the to-come from him. He would 
not think of consequences. Perhaps he was not capable 
of imagining them; for, to him, life and Versailles were 
synonymous terms, and the world beyond was space. 

His vague and varied meditations were broken in upon 
by the appearance of eight lackeys, who had come to light 
the room for the evening. Claude rose from his place and 
slipped away by a side-door. He had nothing to do, no- 
where in particular to go. The (Eil-de-Bceuf would be 
deserted. The Court was dressing. An hour before, dis- 
mal with the loneliness of the gray sky and the falling 
snow, he had left his rooms in Versailles. He was 
dressed for the evening, but had had nothing to eat since 
the dinner hour. An idea came to him presently, and 
he bent his steps in the direction of the Staircase of the 
Ambassadors. At the head of this, on the second floor, 
he halted, knocking at a well-known door. It was opened 
after a moment by a well-known lackey. Claude thrust 
a coin into the man's hand, and passed out of the ante- 
chamber, through a half -lighted salon, and into the Persian 
boudoir where sat Mme. de Chateauroux and Victorine 
de Coigny, comfortably taking tea & I'anglaise together, 
and talking as only women, and women of an unholy but 
very entertaining Court, can talk. The little Marquise 
was dressed for the assembly. The duchess was coiffed. 



44 The House of de Mailly 

patched, and rouged, but en neglige. She rose nervously 
at Claude's entrance. 

"Claude! Claude! How unceremonious you are!" 

"And did you hear what we were saying of you, mon- 
sieur?" asked Victorine, smiling mischievously, as she 
gave him her hand. 

"Fortunately for my vanity, madame, no," he returned, 
bending over it ; then, at her ripple of laughter, he crossed 
to his cousin, took her proffered fingers, but, instead of 
kissing them, seized them in both his hands, clasped them 
close to his breast, and looked searchingly into her eyes. 

"Anne, Anne, 1 have suffered so!" he murmured. "I 
wonder if you care?" 

Mme. de Coigny sprang up. " At least, monsieur, give 
me time to retire ! Your ardor is so remarkable ! " 

The Duchess laughed and gently withdrew her hand from 
Claude's grasp. She was in excellent spirits. Never had 
she passed a more uniformly successful week at Court than 
the one just ending. If she had purchased much royal de- 
votion, and much toadyism from hitherto lofty personages 
at Claude's expense, why that was Claude's affair. His 
career was not in her keeping ; but she could, and did, treat 
him very amiably in private for the sake of the fierce jeal- 
ousy which he was inspiring in her royal lover. It was 
one of her cleverest manoeuvres, one that had been tried 
before, this playing some quite insignificant little person 
against Louis of France ; for the King was ardently in love 
for the first time, and had not yet grown old in the knowl- 
edge of woman's ways. 

"Come, Claude," entreated madame, "sit here, and take 
at least one dish of this charming beverage. And the pat- 
ties are by Mouthier himself. You must taste them; and 
Mme. de Coigny shall entertain you, while mv dress is put 
on." 

He accepted the invitation readily enough, seated him- 
self at the little table, and began an attack on Mouthier's 
patties with such good-will that Mme. de Coigny held up 
her hands. 



The Gallery of Mirrors 45 



" Ciel, Monsieur le Comte ! Do you protest that you are 
a lover, with such an appetite? Tis more worthy the 
Court of Miracles 1" 

Claude put down his tea. " Ah, madame the Court of 
Miracles ! Do you know that for the last days I have heard 
nothing on every side but conversations about the last ex- 
periment of the Marquise de Coigny ? Ma3^ 1 ask if it proved 
a really successful remedy for your deplorable ennui?" 

Mme. de Coigny slightly smiled. " Indeed, monsieur, its 
efficacy was but too great. At the time, I was in a dream 
of pity and of happiness. Since my return, my wretched- 
ness is greater than ever before. Pouf! How can you 
bear the air of this hideous place? It stifles! It poisons! 
It kills!" 

"1 hear," remarked Mme. de Chateauroux, from her 
toilet table, " that Griffet will, in a few days, formally pre- 
sent Monsieur 1'Abbe de Bernis to her Majesty as eligible 
to the post of third chaplain to the Dauphin. Now, if it 
were desirable, it is possible that the King might " she 
touched an eyebrow "might be prevailed upon to ask 
him to supper with the royal family." 

Victorine de Coigny moved uneasily, and Claude noted, 
from beneath his lids, that a sudden color, which did not 
quite match the rouge, had started into her face. " Do not 
jest, Marie," she murmured, half to herself. 

" Oh, it is quite a possibility, my dear ! If you ask it, I 
will give him a salon here on a Tuesday evening. Will 
that please you? You will be able, then, to " 

Victorine sprang nervously to her feet. " Good Heaven, 
Marie! Do you not know that M. de Bernis considers 
me a man? How could you dream that I would wish 
him to know my sex? I I beg of you do not let me 
meet him here, or or if I should, at least you must 
disclose nothing. It would be too mortifying." 

Mme. de Chateauroux paused in the manipulation of 
her gown to look at her friend. Never before had she 
beheld Victorine de Coigny in confusion; never had she 
seen her betray the smallest sign of emotion about any 



46 The House of de Mailly 

thing or person. Claude also regarded her with unfeigned 
interest. Presently he turned slowly to his cousin. 

"Madame," he said, softly, "why will you not make 
a pilgrimage with me into the Court of Miracles?" 

"Dear Claude," she answered, smiling dreamily, "when 
1 go there, I must carry with me only an image of the 
King." 

And, while Claude colored with displeasure, Victorine 
turned her head to hide an irrepressible smile. 

By this time the candles in the great gallery were all 
lighted, and the mirrors reflected the brilliant colors of a 
richly costumed and continually increasing throng that 
passed and repassed in endless procession before them. 
No woman here was untitled ; few of the men had less than 
five, and many had twenty, generations of unsmirched 
aristocracy behind them. Many were there who did not 
own the clothes upon their backs ; and many others whose 
debts would have impoverished a half-dozen of the wealthi- 
est of the bourgeoisie. Yet few ever went abroad with 
an empty pocket; and money was generally their last 
source of worry. Here passed the Marquis de Sauvre", 
a member of the King's intimate circle, a page of the Court, 
whose estates were mortgaged, and whose Paris hotel 
was almost dismantled of furniture, in an unpaid-for dress 
of cherry - and - white satin, with pearls worth fifty thou- 
sand livres on him, arm in arm with M. de la Popliniere, 
a farmer-general, worth forty millions, but not attired 
with half the extravagance of his companion. In a cor- 
ner, taking snuff, and commenting on the degeneracy 
of the grand manner since the last reign, were the old 
Due de Charost, who had attached himself to the Queen 
and the religious party; the Due de Duras, who lived 
on the influence of his wife's implacable etiquette; and 
M. de Pont-de-Vesle, a successful diplomatist in a small 
way, and the most disagreeably ubiquitous man at Court. 
Opposite them the Marquis d'Entragues, a man whose 
scutcheon had come into existence two hundred years be- 
fore, beginning with a bar sinister to the discredit of a 



The Gallery of Mirrors 47 

certain King of France, and M. Marchais, at whose hotel 
could be found the best vin d'Ai in the kingdom, and 
who was a favorite with Louis on that account, were dis- 
cussing, with the Comtesse d'Estrades, the pompous in- 
trigues of Mine, de Grammont. Every one waited, more 
or less eagerly, first, for the appearance of the favorite; 
secondly, for the arrival of the King. i 

"It is half -past eight," remarked de Coign}?- to Charost, 
whose group he had just joined. "I am unable to dis- 
cover madame, my wife. She must be with Mme. de 
Chateauroux, who, by-the-way, is late." 

"The Duchess is actually more haughty than la Mon- 
tespan was," returned the old Duke. "The Fourteenth 
Louis showed less indulgence than his present Majesty." 

" Possibly. But where is the favorite of the old Court 
with the presence, the magnificence, the carriage of the 
present Duchess?" cried Duras, popularly. 

"Quite so," murmured Pont - de - Vesle, rubbing his 
chin. 

"Well yes. She has, perhaps, the manner," admitted 
Charost, unwillingly. 

"And she is here!" cried de Coigny. 

"Ah! What a carriage! What a glance! What a 
toilet!" cried Duras, rapturously. 

" It is not difficult to perceive that she means, at all 
events, to wreck her cousin as she did the little d'Agenois." 

"It is de Mailly's own fault, then. He is mad, to be- 
tray such devotion. One would never believe that he had 
been brought up at Court." 

" You are quite right, M. de Charost. Such honesty and 
truth as his are absurdities that we do not often discover 
here," observed de Coigny, shrugging his shoulders. 

The Duchess, handed by Claude, whose eyes were 
fastened on her, followed by Victorine and Henri de Mailly- 
Nesle, was entering the salon. The perfumed crowd, 
half unconsciously, drew back a little on either side to 
make a way for her as they did for the King. Her bear- 
ing was certainly royal. The heavy velvet of her robe, 



48 The House of de Mailly 

with its glittering silver fern-leaves, swept about her like a 
coronation mantle. Her breast glittered with a mass of 
diamonds, and in her hair were five stars, fastened to- 
gether like a coronet. She was turned slightly towards 
Claude, and noticed no one till he had finished what he 
was saying to her, so that all had time to note the manner 
of her entrance and the details of the costume. Then, 
as Richelieu pressed towards her, she gently dropped 
Claude's hand and turned aside. 

He stood still for a moment where she left him, till he 
saw her quite surrounded with men and women. Then 
he moved away, dreading the next hour, but buoyed up 
with the thought of a promise she had given before they 
left her apartments. There were few people about him 
whom he did not know, and he bowed continually from right 
to left as he walked aimlessly through the throng. Oddly 
enough, however, as it seemed to him, the salutes that 
were returned were coldly formal. No one addressed 
him beyond a chilly "Good-evening," and Mme. de Gram- 
mont passed by with her eyes fixed on some distant goal. 
Claude's heart was beginning to throb a little, and he could 
feel the color surge over his face. Presently there was a 
touch upon his arm. Quickly he turned his head. M. de 
Berryer was beside him. 

" Good - evening, M. de Mailly. Your face is troubled. 
In the midst of such a scene the expression is unusual. 
Am I impertinent to ask if I can be of service?" 

Claude gave the man a quick and searching glance. 
"Yes," he said, after a pause, "you can tell me, if you 
will, your idea as to why 1 am in disfavor with all these. 
And, also, if you will, answer this question : is my present 
position dangerous?" 

They had drawn a little to one side of the greatest press 
while Claude spoke. De Berryer stopped an instant to 
think before he replied; but when he did so it was evi- 
dently with perfect honesty. 

"My dear Count, you are experiencing these little and 
very disagreeable cuts, in my opinion, first, because of 



The Gallery of Mirrors 49 

your reckless attentions in spite of his Majesty's open 
displeasure; secondly, because of an unpleasant mistake 
in the story of your game with the King on Tuesday even- 
ing. The first matter you alone can rectify, but the method 
is simple. In the second, I will try to assist you. As to 
the possible danger of your position well, let me advise 
you to do what may be done while it still is possible. 
Your pardon. Au revoir." 

The Chief of Police, bowing courteously, turned aside 
and was lost in the crowd before Claude could say anything 
further. To tell the truth, the last words had nonplussed 
de Mailly not a little. Presently, however, he flung up 
his head, and, passing his hand over his forehead, mut- 
tered to himself: "You may be right God knows you 
may be right. But no honest man gives up the woman 
he loves because his rival is a king. And, from my soul, 
I believe that in time Marie must love me in spite of all!" 
And so the lights grew a little brighter as Claude passed 
on again through the Gallery of Mirrors. 

It was a quarter to nine, and the company grew slightly 
bored. In three-quarters of an hour two hundred people 
can easily dispose of ten new scandals, redigest twenty 
ancient ones, and anticipate as many as the remaining 
minutes will permit. But undiluted gossip, spiced with 
epigram and heated with wit though it may be, grows 
nauseating after a while, if taken in too great quantities ; 
and, through the great room, to-night, there were enough 
chronic dispeptics of this class to make conversation final- 
ly begin to lag. The abstract murmur, to which Claude 
was moodily listening, changed in character. Suddenly, 
as the cries of the ushers at last rang out, it became as 
present wine to former tepid milk : 

"Mesdames, messieurs, their Majesties! Way for the 
King ! Way for the Queen ! Will you have the goodness 
to move just here." 

The four royal ushers, with their white staffs, passed 
down the room, forming an alley for the passage of the 
King. No ribbons were used, as in the days of the four- 
4 



50 The House of de Mailly 

teenth Louis. The courtiers were better trained now. 
They pressed back voluntarily on either side, leaving 
a very well-formed lane between the two crowds. A quick 
silence fell over the room and the circling throng was still. 
Each one had sought the company in which he or she 
wished to stand. For none knew just how long it would 
take his Majesty to reach the other end of the room, where 
he would open the first minuet. Claude, by a series of 
delicate manoeuvres, had reached the side of Mme. de 
Chateauroux, and, despite the silence, found opportunity 
to whisper : 

"You will not forget that you have promised me the 
first dance?" 

And the favorite, looking into her cousin's eyes, felt, 
even in her heartless heart, a little throb of pity for the 
utter abandon of his infatuation. 

"1 do not forget, mon cher. But thou shouldst have 
kept away from me till the progress was over." 

Claude shrugged and smiled happily. 

"Mesdames, messieurs, their Majesties!" 

Two more ushers entered and passed rapidly down the 
aisle, backward. Louis and his wife, hand in hand, 
followed after. The King was, as usual, magnificently 
dressed and glittering with jewels. His face, however, 
was as unpropitious as possible. He wore his most bored 
and fretful look, and he walked straight down the room 
for a distance of twenty-five feet, heedless of his wife, 
without glancing at a soul. Marie Leczinska, on the 
contrary, carelessly attired in a costume of deep brownish- 
red brocade, pale of face, tired-eyed, yet wearing a curiously 
contented look, bowed timidly to three or four of her dames 
du palais and some of her abb6s, who had the grace to 
return the salutes with a show of respect that was born 
of pity. The company, however, quickly felt the chill- 
ing breath of the master's ill-humor. 

" Parbleu!" muttered de Ge"vres to Richelieu, as they 
stood together at the far end of the gallery, "madame 
herself is to be ignored to-night." 



The Gallery of Mirrors 51 



But the Duke was mistaken. His Majesty, in his rapid 
walk, had seen many more things than one might have 
imagined. He knew that Claude was beside the favor- 
ite, and he accurately surmised Claude's intent. There- 
fore, when he came abreast of the Duchess, who was not 
in the front row, he suddenly stopped, turned his head 
towards her, and remarked, in a perfectly expressionless 
tone: 

" Mme. de Chateauroux, 1 have the pleasure of opening 
the dance with you to-night." 

And before she had time to courtesy her thanks he had 
passed on again. 

"Ah, de Gevres, take note," murmured Richelieu, 
cautiously, " 'tis two forms of the same expression that her 
Majesty and Claude de Mailly are at this instant wearing." 

" You are right, my friend. You should propose some- 
thing of the sort as the next subject for the competitive 
philosophical essay at the Academy." 

"With whom do you dance?" 

" The Princesse d'H&iin. And you?" 

"1 am going to bore myself for appearances. The 
Duchesse de Boufflers." 

" Oh. You might amuse her, then, with some anecdotes 
of your past sanctity." 

"She knows them too well. She will merely insist on 
talking to me of the frightful improprieties of Mme. 
de Coigny." 

"Oh, by-the-way, as to that, 1 hear that de Bernis did 
not even know her sex." 

"1 have met him at Mme. Doublet's; and 1 give him 
credit for rather more brain than that." 

"Really? In that case I must take the affair into my 
repertoire. M. de Mailly -Nesle will be able to weep in 
Claude's company." 

" Such tears appear to run in the family. You've been 
rather unkind to Claude of late and, moreover, it was 
dangerous to garble the story. His disfavor with la 
Chateauroux certainly did not last long." 



52 The House of de Mailly 

"No silly boy! Really, Richelieu, that little inven- 
tion should have done him a good turn. If the Duchess 
had refused to speak to him for a week, he would have been 
saved . As it is um 1 am glad that my position is not his. " 
"Well, au revoir. I go to seek my dame d' Etiquette." 
"Aurevoir. But oh ! Richelieu ! Remember, when you 
relate the tale, that it is not only from the affections of 
Mailly - Nesle, but from those of de Coigny himself, that 
the abbe is tearing the lady." 

"What! Coigny in love with his wife?" 
"Madly. Only it is with the most delicate unostenta- 
tion in the world. He is perfectly comme il faut, and to 
general eyes devoted still to Mme. d'Egmont." 

"A charming romance. Thank you, and farewell." 
Richelieu hurried away, and de Gevres also moved 
more rapidly than was his wont in search of his partner. 
While the hours of that long evening passed, the emotions 
varied with them. As la Chateauroux had her triumph 
with, so had her cousin his revenge upon, the King. The 
third dance menuet des sabres Louis performed with 
his wife. Under cover of imitating royalty, de Coigny 
sought Victorine for his companion. Henri, biting his 
lips, watched de Gevres lead madame forth, and then, 
totally indifferent to every unengaged woman in the 
room, sought out his Marquise, who left M. Trudaine with 
a little laugh, and devoted herself prettily to the husband 
with whom she had, as she said, merely a casual acquaint- 
ance. Meantime the King was frowning furiously on 
the presumption of his still dauntless rival. For Claude, 
in the face of a dozen competitors, under the very shadow 
of a warning glance from de Berryer, which unmistakably 
spelled lettre de cachet, had, with scarcely so much as a 
by -your -leave, triumphantly carried his cousin off from 
her admirers to the head of the third twenty, and proceeded 
to make two wrong steps during the dance, much to the 
amusement of la Chateauroux and the disgust of the 
King : who, though France were tottering, had never been 
guilty of such a misdemeanor. 



The Gallery of Mirrors 53 

The grand supper, which began at midnight, was virt- 
ually ended at one o'clock by the departure of the King; 
although Mme. de Chateauroux, at Richelieu's side, still 
stayed at table, and the Court, from curiosity, remained 
with her. There was a murmur, whether of disappoint- 
ment or surprise, when the de Mailly cousins, Henri and 
Claude, with merely the customary salutes, passed to- 
gether from the room. Five minutes later the Duchess, 
refusing escort, departed unattended, and the lingering 
Court, heartily sick of its own dull self, bored, sleepy, with 
aching eyes and feet, rose from the horseshoe table, and 
went its way to a dubious rest. 

For an hour every apartment on the upper floors of the 
palace was ablaze with light. In the city of Versailles 
those streets which, during the great season, were the abodes 
of the lesser nobility, were still alive with coaches, chairs, 
and link-boys ; while not a window in any of the tall, narrow 
houses but glowed with the mild fire of candles. In one 
of these streets, the Avenue de St. Cloud, within the build- 
ing called by its owner the Chatelet Persane, in half the 
apartment of the third floor, Claude and Henri kept rooms 
together. Just below them, more luxurious in fashion and 
less in content, were the court apartments of the Marquis 
and Marquise de Coigny. 

Victorine, nearly ready for the night, with a silken ne- 
glige thrown over her elaborate white gown, sat before her 
dressing-table, brushing with her own hands the clouds 
of powder from her dark hair. This hair, comparatively 
short, according to the dictates of fashion, was still her 
only claim to beauty. Thus at night, when the soft, nat- 
ural curls could cluster unreservedly about her pale face 
and neck, the little Marquise was far prettier than in the 
daytime. She was not beautiful even now. The mirror 
showed her a delicate, oval face, pallid and hollow-cheeked ; 
two abnormally large eyes, that were green and weary- 
looking to-night; the brows above them lightly marked, 
and too straight to harmonize with her great orbs; a nose 
delicate, short, and tilted piquantly upward a feature 



54 The House of de Mailly 

more worthy of a coquettish grisette than the daughter of 
one of the oldest families in France ; and a mouth indefinite, 
long, pale, sometimes very full of character, that would have 
rendered Boucher and the miniature painters desperate. 

Victorine had sent away her maid as soon as she was 
ready to sit down quietly. It seemed to her that, sleepy 
as the girl appeared, she would be able to read too much 
from her mistress's face, to see too far into her mind. Be- 
sides this, it was a relief to be alone. During the strange 
month which she had just lived, Mme. de Coigny had 
fallen suddenly in love with freedom. The suffering which 
she was enduring from bondage was the penalty she paid 
for her reckless wilfulness. But had it been ennui now, 
as of old, under which she chafed, she might have made 
further effort to dispel it by means of another of those start- 
ling escapades which, since she had amused the King with 
one of them, the Court had become reconciled to. This was 
not ennui, then. This, she thought vaguely, and with 
a kind of rebellion, was the haunting image of a single 
person, the unchanging recurrence before her mental eyes 
of a man's face the face of Francois de Bernis, as she had 
seen it first a month since at Fontainebleau. 

The brush in her hand had almost ceased to pass over 
her hair, and Victorine was staring fixedly into the mirror, 
without, however, seeing herself. Presently the door to 
her boudoir swung gently open. She started slightly and 
turned about in her chair. M. de Coigny, her husband, 
in his long lounging-robe of green and gold, stood upon 
the threshold. She regarded him silently. He hesitated 
for a moment, and then asked, deprecatingly : 

"Will you perhaps be so gracious as to permit my en- 
trance?" 

"Certainly, Monsieur le Marquis, if it is your wish." 

"I thank you." 

He walked lingeringly into the delicate little place, 
and seated himself at some distance from her, upon a 
small chair. Then the silence fell again, lasting several 
seconds. Victorine waited; her husband was nervously 



The Gallery of Mirrors 55 

at a loss for words. Finally, seeing that she did not 
know how to help him, he began, in a low, impersonal 
tone: 

"Madame, it is now four days since your return from 
your little journey to this abode, and and to my nominal 
protection. During the month in which your place of re- 
treat was unknown to me, 1 confess to having experienced 
extreme concern for your welfare. 1 believe that 1 have 
never spoken to you upon the subject of those short flights 
to freedom which, from time to time, you have been accus- 
tomed to take, in order to overcome, as 1 have understood, 
your always unfortunate tendency towards ennui. This one 
just passed, however, having been of so much longer dura- 
tion than usual, 1 have taken the liberty of questioning 
your old servitor, Jerome, whom you were so wise as to 
take with you as attendant. He has informed me that, 
so far as he has been able to determine, your conduct as 
regards any of my sex whom you chanced to encounter in 
that month, was eminently reserved and dignified. Upon 
this, madame, I venture to congratulate you. 1 have come 
to you to-night, however, with a proposal on which 1 have 
meditated carefully for some weeks. At first it will not im- 
probably appear to you to be too unconventional and per- 
haps too uninteresting to be desirable; but 1 beg, for my 
sake as well as yours, that you will consider it from every 
point of view. 

" 1 have thought, Victorine, that perhaps one reason for 
your carelessness about existence at Court was due to your 
entire indifference to any of the cavaliers there at your 
disposal. 1 should have surrendered my supposed rights 
to M. de Mailly-Nesle had 1 ever perceived that you 
desired him for your comrade. I have been impelled to 
the belief that you do not care for him. Therefore it is, 
madame, that 1 approach you to-night with the offer of 
myself to you, as devoted to you in heart and feeling, to 
be your companion as well as the protector of your name, 
or, as the Court understands the word, your lover. With 
this request 1 couple the assurance that my love and esteem 



56 The House of de Mailly 

for you are now far stronger than two years ago, when we 
were united in marriage." 

The Marquise listened to this punctilious and delicate 
offer quite passively, with courteous attention, and no little 
amazement. When he had finished speaking, she sat for 
a little while contemplating him silently. He waited with 
patience while her eyes travelled over his stalwart figure 
and pleasant face. Finally, not without nervousness, she 
began her reply. 

"M. de Coigny, I am now, at the beginning of our 
third year of marriage, eighteen years of age. Of course 
you remember how, for the first sixteen years of my 
life, spent in my family's estate in Berry, I was care- 
fully educated for the position which I now hold. All 
necessary accomplishments and the code of etiquette 
were perfectly familiar to me before that age; but there 
were some few things essential ones about Court life 
of which they did not inform me. Just after my sixteenth 
birthday I left the chateau for the first time in my life. 
I was conveyed by my guardian to Issy, where, fifteen 
minutes after 1 had first looked upon you, 1 found myself 
your wife. You will pardon me, 1 am sure, monsieur, 
when 1 say that my untried emotions were so strongly 
affected as to be, one might say, shocked. We returned 
to Versailles, you remember, where I was at once presented 
to their Majesties. In the two days which we had alone 
together I had had time to admire you, monsieur. It 
might have come to be more than admiration. When, how- 
ever, upon my first evening in the palace, it was revealed to 
me, inadvertently, what your generally accepted position 
in regard to Mme. d'Egmont was, I bitterly regretted 
not having been taught more truly what 1 should have 
expected at this famous Court; and, at the same time, I 
hastened, out of duty, to stifle at once whatever feeling 
I had come to have for you in forty-eight hours. So suc- 
cessful was I, monsieur, that 1 have never since been 
troubled by any emotion for any living thing belonging 
to this city and palace of Versailles. Such, then, must 



The Gallery of Mirrors 57 

be my justification for the refusal of your very thoughtful 
offer. 1 can but thank you for it. 1 appreciate to the 
full the gallantry of your intended sacrifice; but 1 cannot 
permit you to make it. Believe me, monsieur, 1 must 
refuse." 

The Marquis de Coigny had heard her in silence. Now, 
at the close of her unintentionally pitiful recital, he re- 
pressed an exclamation, and sat still, looking at her, for 
a long moment. 

"How brutal 1 have been, Victorine!" he said, finally. 
"But I never realized. 1 never knew!" 

His wife raised her hand. "Oh, monsieur, I beg of 
you, do not reproach yourself ! 1 would not dream, indeed 
1 would not, of blaming you in any way. It was only 
that 1 was young to the way of the world." 

He looked at her again, with a love-light struggling to 
show itself in his face. "Victorine can you not forget? 
Will you not let me try to make your life happy, now, at 
last?" 

She returned his glance, and smiled, dreamily, as though 
her thoughts had flown far. " Monsieur, it is not in your 
power; for 1 am happy, now, at last." 

The Marquis de Coigny rose. His face was passive. 
Only his mouth was drawn a little straighter than usual. 
His bow was in perfect form. " 1 have the honor to wish 
you good-night, Victorine. " 

The Marquise courtesied. "Good -night, Jules," she 
said, kindly. 

He was at the door when he suddenly, moved by strong 
feeling, turned about again. She was looking at him. 
Their eyes met, and the glances clashed. Silently she 
courtesied again; and, in silence, once more, the Marquis 
bowed and turned away. 




CHAPTER IV 

Marly 

|N Monday afternoon, at half -past five o'clock, 
in a small room in the Lazariste, which was 
next to St. Vincent de Paul in the Rue de 
Sevres, sat Francois de Bernis, Abbe Coyer, 
and St. Perle, the Lazariste prior, taking 
tea. The Abbe Francois de Bernis wore, over his non- 
clerical court -dress, a long, straight black coat, which 
did not set off to advantage his dark, handsome face, 
straight brows, nose, and mouth, smooth olive complexion, 
and deep gray eyes. His wig was short and round. His 
hat and gauntlets lay on a chair near at hand. Coyer, 
a weaker replica of his brother abbe, was in much the same 
costume, which denoted an approaching journey; while 
St. Perle, stout, round, pale -eyed, bald, and wigless, was 
in his usual priestly gown. 

The prior had finished his second bowl of tea, and sat 
absently meditating 011 the excellence of its flavor. It 
was not a thing of which he partook daily. De Bernis 
lay back in his chair, the dish in his hand steaming un- 
heeded, legs crossed, eyes staring into space, and a smile 
stretching itself over his countenance. 

"Thy thought, Francois! 1 would give something for 
the recipe of that smile at Mme. de Tencin's. I might 
tell what tale 1 liked to explain it, and they would credit 
every word." 

De Bernis returned to the present, and directed the smile 
at his two companions. " It is a tale/' said he. " A very 
charming tale. However, our coach will have arrived 
before 1 have finished it with proper adroitness." 



Marly 59 

"The coach shall wait." 

"Ah, my dear Coyer, 'tis not the first time that you 
will have made your bow to his Majesty and to the favorite. 
Consider my agitated eagerness." 

" The sang-froid of M. de Bernis is known to be imper- 
turbable," ventured the prior. 

" And your appearance at Marly will be infinitely more 
important if you show yourself indifferent enough to be 
late." 

De Bernis shrugged. "Very well, then. My history 
will disappoint you. It might be so charming a romance. 
It is, in reality, so unfinished. However 1 will be truth- 
ful. 

"It began upon a certain morning five weeks past, the 
week of Christmas, when, as you know, 1 was at Fontaine- 
bleau. At ten of the morning I started out, on foot, my 
destination being the hut of one of the forest - keepers, 
my road through the forest's centre. 1 had some ecus 
in my pouch, together with some food and some medicine 
of herbs, for the woodsman was wedded and was poor. 
The morning was frosty. There was some little snow 
on the ground, and here and there a wolf-track. 1 went 
slowly, composing consolatory speeches, and meditating 
on holy matters. Presently I looked up, with the sense 
of some one near, to find myself facing a companion of 
the vows, dressed like myself. I stopped, saluted, and 
bade him good-morning. He returned my greeting in a 
pretty tenor voice, unusually high. I looked again at 
the man's face. It was peculiar, but pleasing small, 
oval, white, and smooth. He was very young, and his 
eyes were remarkably large and blue. He had been fast- 
ing, I thought." 

Coyer laughed. 

"Each day," continued de Bernis, retrospectively, with- 
out heeding the interruption " each day thereafter, by one 
chance or another, we met. I am not quite sure how. M. 
Devries seemed to be under no particular order of procedure, 
and so, at my invitation, he made himself my companion 



60 The House of de Mailly 

in charitable rounds. Daily 1 became more interested in 
him by reason of his reticence respecting himself; and, 
after a time, I fell completely under the spell of fascina- 
tion emanating from his voice and his manner. By 
the time we set out together for Paris, and before my 
first suspicion of his personality came to me, my inex- 
plicable infatuation had risen to great height. At the 
inn in Fontainebleau, on the Paris road, and again at the 
lodging that he, oddly enough, chose to take in the Fau- 
bourg St. Antoine, there was always in attendance upon 
my companion an old and very respectful man called 
Jer6me. When we passed the Paris barrier 1 overheard 
this servant, in a whispered communication, address 
Devries in a word which sounded strangely like 'ma- 
dame." 

Here St. Perle started with surprise, and Coyer took snuff 
with a little impatience at the coup anticipated by him from 
the beginning. 

De Bernis went on tranquilly : " At that instant all my 
vague conjectures and my unconscious suspicions sud- 
denly leaped together into a certainty of knowledge. Need 
I add, my friends, that, as a man and a poet, I was disgusted 
with all the lost opportunities, but still enraptured with the 
glowing future? But, alas ! I soon discovered that my 
goddess M. TAbbe" Devries, as I punctiliously called her 
was as unapproachable as she was irreproachable. This 
1 came to realize gradually, and by means of repeated fail- 
ures in small advances. 1 was still, fortunately, too careful 
to betray myself. It was she who proposed our pilgrimages 
into that most unsavory of holes, the Court of Miracles. 
Naturally 1 acquiesced, with the utmost eagerness, to the 
proposal of continuing in her society for two weeks more. 
From here I went for her every morning. 1 left her every 
evening to return hither. By degrees I became madly in 
love with her mystery, and so, at length, with herself, for 
her self's sake. 1 would have squandered all my small 
fortune for a sight of her without her abbe's dress. At 
every turn I was foiled, either by her or by her guardian, 



Marly 61 

the incorruptible Jerdme. At last, a week ago, I became 
rash through desperation. 1 frankly approached this 
M. Jerome, offered him one hundred louis d'or for her 
name, and five hundred if he would admit me secretly to 
her presence that evening. Actually the fool refused me 
refused me stolidly, and at length with so much vigor 
of purpose that 1 desisted from the attempt. The next 
morning the next morning by ten thousand devils! 
she was gone ! 1 know not how, 1 know not where. I know 
not if the old man warned her of danger in my presence, 
or if she went of her own adorable accord. In fine, I love 
the lady abbess of an undreamed-of convent, 1 love a mad- 
cap demoiselle of 1 know not what chateau, the siren of an 
undiscovered Venusberg, the angel of a heaven too high. 
Now, Coyer, you have learned the romance. Show me, if 
you have pity for the stricken, the road to knowledge and 
to recovery." 

At the close of his recital de Bernis' expression did not 
accord with his words. His tone was irritated, and the dis- 
pleasure in it was caused as much by the failure of Coyer 
to appear interested as it was that the relation of his ad- 
venture recalled his hopeless defeat at the hands of a mem- 
ber of the sex over whom de Bernis loved to feel himself 
conqueror. Therefore he finished his tea in silence, and 
took three hasty and inelegant pinches of snuff. 

St. Perle was troubled at the doubtful propriety of the 
story related, in which he had been too much interested to 
refuse to listen. He now folded his hands resignedly, and 
meditated a little lecture to come a day or two hence. 

The Abbe Coyer was still indifferent, or apparently so. 
He stirred his tea and stifled a yawn before he remarked, 
casually: "Your road to knowledge, de Bernis, is also 
that to Marly, where I trust you will recover your sang- 
froid in the presence of your inamorata, who happens to 
be Mme. la Marquise de Coigny. You will meet her to- 
night. Come, the coach is at the door." 

His Majesty, who had been more than usually bored 



62 The House of de Mailly 

during the past week, occupied his mind during the Sunday- 
morning sermon in thinking over all the grievances of 
kinghood, the uselessness of affairs of state, and the pos- 
sibilities of some amusement on the morrow as recompense 
for the prayers of to-day. In the afternoon he sought his 
Chateauroux, and, happily finding her Claudeless, asked 
her aid in planning a diversion. Madame, with more tact 
than originality in which factor her nature was lacking 
proposed a hunt atSenart in the morning, a sleighing-party 
from the forest to Marly in the afternoon, a supper and 
salon at that stiff chateau in the evening. His Majesty 
received the idea graciously, since it did away with any 
possibility of morning mass ; and so, though he remarked 
later that he preferred Choisy to Marly, and madame alone 
to madame 's salons, the programme was carried out as ar- 
ranged, and the King seemed, in the morning at least, to be 
having a very good time, indeed. 

Late in the afternoon a long procession of sleighs stopped, 
one by one, at the open portals of the great Louis' favorite 
retreat. Their occupants were chilly, tired, and hungry. 
Nevertheless, the Salle des Cardinaux presented a brilliant 
appearance when, an hour later, the company descended, 
in fresh and costly toilets, from the upper chambers to the 
supper-room. 

The first course of the evening meal was served at six. 
It was a less elaborate affair than had been the custom un- 
der the old regime ; but surely no man who had not inher- 
ited the appetite of a Louis XIV. could have complained 
of a scarcitjr in the number of dishes set forth. The 
company had apparently forgotten its weariness. The 
room rang with laughter; the air was alive with conver- 
sation, with toasts, with the relating of anecdotes, with 
snatches of verse, with low- voiced compliments; and the 
candle-light was dimmed by the flash of diamonds and the 
sparkle of champagne. 

At the head of the first table sat the King kingship 
dropped for the evening. Upon his right hand, more royal 
than her liege, was the Chateauroux ; on his left, through 



Marly 63 

some whim of his own devising, sat Mme. de Gontaut, 
who had once rivalled the Duchess for her position, and 
came dangerously near to winning it. Louis was sup- 
posed to be not over-fond of this lady, who possessed that 
worst of all feminine attributes, an indiscreet tongue. But 
to-night he was fanning her long-smouldering hopes with 
such a breeze of devotion that the Duchess, seeing, first of 
any, the newly rising flame, openly showed her anger and 
disgust by turning her back upon the King to talk inanities 
with d'Epernon, her neighbor. 

By the time that the first course was over madame was 
exceedingly uncomfortable. Never, since the beginning 
of her reign, had she known the King to treat her so incon- 
siderately. Once or twice, from beneath her eyelids, she 
glanced at her rival. Mme. de Gontaut was radiant. 
She was racking her brain, she was tearing her nerves, 
to keep Louis entertained for an hour one little hour 
more. She was not a pretty woman, this Gontaut ; but 
Marie Anne de Mailly perceived, with a pang, that she 
could carry off a kind of light espieglerie, which was amus- 
ing to the King because of its novelty. The glance of the 
Chateauroux shifted to Louis' face. His Majesty was 
leaning to the left, his blue eyes brilliant, his lips curved 
into the most charming of smiles, his hands, which sparkled 
with jewels, lying close beside those of the other woman. 
La Chateauroux forgot d'Epernon while she watched the 
hands. The King drummed lightly on the table. He was 
repeating an animated bit of gossip to his companion. His 
head was thrown back, and a curious smile lurked in his 
face. Presently his eyes, also, fell upon his hand. One 
of the rings that he wore was a solitaire ruby of great value, 
set in a band of finely chased gold. Still smiling, he slipped 
the ring from his finger, and contemplated it for an instant, 
knowing well how two women were watching him. He 
was not usually prodigal of gifts, this most Christian king. 
But this time there was a score to be paid off, a score of jeal- 
ousy; and revenge is worth more than rubies. Louis 
leaned forward, still speaking, gently took Mme. de Gon- 



64 The House of de Mailly 

taut's hand from the table, and slipped upon its third fin- 
ger the ring he had been wearing. 

"Oh, Sire!" murmured the woman, her heart throbbing 
with a wild hope. 

Louis, unable to resist the temptation, turned his head 
towards the Duchess. She sat so that he could only see 
her profile, but from it he knew that her face was flushed. 
He noted the stiff poise of her head, the pure immobility 
of her shoulder, the slight dilation of her nostril, the mouth 
firmly closed even while she smiled at a witticism. Louis 
was satisfied. His anger with Claude de Mailly was 
dispelled. Surely no woman would have the effrontery 
longer to encourage a petty cousin while her position 
wavered in the balance. Already the King released the 
hand he held and took a different tone of conversation 
with the Gontaut. 

But Louis of France did not yet realize what things an 
offended woman will be reckless enough to do. Mme. 
de Chateauroux was furious, and her fury knew no pru- 
dence. She was accustomed to her way, a way which 
was not that of submission. Her pride was greater than 
the King's own, and woe to the king who affronted it! 
In the instant after she had watched Louis' carefully pre- 
pared scene, her eyes fell, by accident, on the figure of 
Claude, who sat far down the table. The sight of him 
showed her her opportunity for satisfaction. While she 
ate, while she laughed, and talked, and quaffed cham- 
pagne and the new Bordeaux, she planned all in her mind. 
What matter if she lost one man his freedom? She, Marie 
Anne de Mailly - Nesle, would make a king suffer the 
consequences of his malice, and would once more make 
sure of her own place, her position as Queen of France. 

At eight o'clock the King rose from the table. Generally 
speaking, the supper had not been particularly enjoyable. 
Every one was wearied by the long drive, and a long con- 
tinuance of gayety over the food proved impossible. Be- 
sides this, the favorite had not set the tone of conversa- 
tion, and those who knew her expression were aware that 



Marly 65 

she was in the worst possible humor. Mme. de Gontaut 
was displaying her short triumph so openly that his 
Majesty frowned and actually left her side as the company 
adjourned in informal groups to the salons next the 
banquet-room. Mme. de Chateauroux, still assiduously 
attended by d'Epernon, sought out Victorine de Coigny, 
who stood beside Henri de Mailly-Nesle. The little Mar- 
quise very well knew the reason for this meeting, and she 
was suddenly seized with a chill of terror. Looking up 
at her friend, she found the Duchess's eyes fixed on her in 
kindly interest. 

"He will be here?" she breathed, just audibly. 

The Duchess nodded and smiled. "With Coyer. It 
was my command," she answered. And Victorine, im- 
pulsively seizing her hand, carried it to her lips. 

Once in the Salon Pastorale, with none of those saluta- 
tions to members of the royal family or guests of royal 
blood which were invariably expected, at a Versailles' af- 
fair, to be made, the King, contrary to his first purpose, 
but led irresistibly, made his way to the side of Mme. 
de Chateauroux. She and Victorine stood near the door- 
way, talking with a small company of Louis' intimates. 
There was some slight apprehension in the King's manner 
of approach, for la Chateauroux very rarely concealed 
any displeasure that she might be feeling towards him. 
But this time he was received by a pretty gesture of wel- 
come. Louis kissed her hand, and, as he lifted his head 
again, caught sight of some one at the other end of the 
room who arrested his attention. 

"Since when, Madame," he inquired, "have our as- 
semblies in retreat been frequented by members of the 
clergy?" 

La Chateauroux was in no way disturbed by the tone. 
"Have you forgotten, then, Sire, my request that M. de 
Bernis be presented by the Abb6 Coyer, who brings him 
to-night? De Bernis was one of the proteges of the Car- 
dinal Fleury. I thought that, in such case, his appearance 
before you could not be dis " 
5 



66 The House of de Mailly 

"Enough, enough, Anne," interrupted the King at once, 
with the strangely gentle manner which the mention of 
his former preceptor and minister invariably called forth. 
"I shall be delighted to know M. de Bernis." 

The King failed to perceive the glances that passed 
from man to man about him at the words of the Duchess. 
Neither was he aware of the fact that de Bernis' presen- 
tation at Court had been delayed for eight endless years 
because the flagrant irregularity of his life had so dis- 
pleased Fleur3 T that the Cardinal had refused to give this 
priest an entree to the circle of the Queen, whom he respect- 
ed, or to that of the King, whom he loved. Mme. de 
Chateauroux was perfectly aware of all this; but Fleury 
had been dead a year, and any qualms that she might 
otherwise have felt were lost in the interest of watching 
the face of Victorine de Coigny, who had just perceived 
the approach of the new-comers. 

At Louis' consent to the presentation, Mme. de Cha- 
teauroux had at once sent a message of the eyes across 
the room to Coyer, who was waiting for it. After an in- 
stant the two priests moved forward, slowly, side by side, 
towards the roj 7 al group, de Bernis with his eyes anywhere 
but upon the face of Victorine. The Duchess, with an 
adroit grace, moved a little in front of his Majesty, who 
was chatting with Richelieu. Thus she was the first 
to receive the two. After a cordial greeting to Coyer she 
turned, with some curiosity, upon his companion, to find 
de Bernis' sharp gray eyes fixed upon her in an admiring 
gaze that was but just removed from an affront. Curiously 
enough, however, the Duchess failed to resent it. Hei 
deadened nerves vibrated at the glance with a sensation 
so long unfelt that it was a keen pleasure. Certainly 
the ,man had a fascination about him. She smiled slightly, 
and then Coyer, who had been awaiting the right moment, 
presented the Abbe in punctilious form. 

" His Majesty had graciously expressed a desire to meet 
you," said the Duchess at once, turning slightly towards 
the King. 



Marly 67 

Louis, who was impatient to have done with the cere- 
mony, stepped to her side. 

"Your Majesty /'murmured madame, "Monsieur 1'Abbe 
de Bernis has the extreme honor of being presented to you." 

The King extended his hand, which de Bernis, with a 
low and graceful salutation, received upon the back of his 
and lifted to his lips. 

" Any man who had the great good-fortune to be beloved 
by the Cardinal Fleury, Monsieur 1'Abbe, cannot but be at 
all times welcome at our Court," remarked the King. 

A look of astonishment passed over the abbe's face. 
He shot a glance at the Duchess, who appeared perfectly 
unconscious. Nevertheless he was too keen a man to 
allow himself to fall into a mistake so early. "Your 
Majesty does me honor," he replied, in the slightest pos- 
sible confusion. 

" Not at all," returned Louis. " I am honoring the mem- 
ory of my good friend Fleury, whose death France and 
I have cause to regret more than any other event of 
the reign." 

With this scarcely audible reminiscence, his Majesty, 
in one of his peculiar moods, turned again to Richelieu, 
thus putting an end to the audience. Once or twice during 
the next ten minutes Louis glanced a little impatiently 
towards the favorite, with whom he wished to speak alone ; 
but she and the abbe were engaged in a conversation 
which appeared to be absorbing to both. Presently the 
Duchess advanced a little and touched the shoulder of the 
Marquise de Coigny. Victorine turned with nervous quick- 
ness. Her delicate face was flushed and her hands were 
cold. 

"M. de Bernis, will you allow me to add to your ac- 
quaintance the Marquise de Coigny, who will, 1 think, 
become your conductress for the evening, if you desire to 
meet others here ; or your spirit of conversation, if you do 
not. Madame, I intrust the abbe's happiness, for the 
evening, to you." 

De Bernis bent over Victor ine's hand. "Would that 



68 The House of de Mailly 

my life's happiness were as secure/' he murmured. And 
a quick light came into the woman's eyes. 

"To which lady will you be presented next?" she in- 
quired, laughingly. 

" To none, madame, if you are merciful/' was the reply, 
accompanied by one of those looks upon which de Bernis 
came afterwards to depend for many things. " Dare 1 ask 
that you will grant me an hour of your companionship?" 

Mme. de Coigny refrained from saying how many 
hours of companionship she would have granted for the 
asking; but her reply was certainly gracious enough to 
content him, and, a moment later, they moved slowly 
away from the royal group. 

Meantime, by means of Richelieu's ready tact, the knot 
of courtiers about the King had been dispelled, and Louis 
was left alone with la Chateauroux. His Majesty watched 
the movements of his favorite comrade with a quizzical 
eye; and when the doughty Duke was obliged to carry 
off Mme. de Gontaut by making her his own companion, 
the King, with huge relish, took snuff. 

Mme. de Chateauroux posed beside a heavy portiere of 
yellow and gold, with which her own dress of palest blue 
satin mingled harmoniously. In the candle-light her face 
was perfection itself, and her manner and expression of 
quiet indifference were intensely pleasing to Louis, who 
was tired of the efforts at talking made on his behalf. 
He did not now approach her closely, but remarked in a 
half-whisper, from where he stood: 

"Madame has been very cruel of late. The time, and 
especially the place, are unsuited to proper expression of 
my lasting esteem. Will madame be so generous as to 
receive me in her own apartments? The heat and the 
people here are highly annoying." 

"If your Majesty commands," returned the Duchess, 
without moving, "1 can, of course, but obey. Otherwise, 
I would suggest that your Majesty remain here for at least 
an hour longer. At that time a disappearance would be 
less remarkable." 



Marly 69 

The King sighed. "As you please always as you 
please, Anne. But I am wretchedly bored with all this." 

" Allow me to advise your obtaining the services of Mme. 
de Gontaut in dispelling your ennui/' returned madame, 
coolly. 

The King laughed. " Ah ! you failed to understand 
my attention, 1 think. I made a fool perform for your 
benefit, that you might perceive how little any woman 
besides yourself could possibly please me." 

The Duchesse de Chateauroux shrugged her shoulders. 

" Au revoir in an hour." 

" Au revoir." 

With a bow and smile peculiarly his own, Louis moved 
away in the direction of the little salon, and madame 
turned about to find Claude de Mailly close at her side. 

"Dear Claude! Where have you sprung from?" she 
asked, smilingly. 

"I have been hoping all day that you might deign to 
speak to me. You have been very cold of late." 

She looked down upon him, and the smile died from 
her lips. " It is you who have made me so. Surely you 
must have realized, cousin, that you have been near to 
wrecking your own position." 

"My position is nothing to me, except when it enables 
me to be near to you." 

" Then let me tell you, Claude, that were you not indis- 
creet you might see far more of me than you do now." 

" How how what shall 1 do?" 

Madame turned away for an instant, and a resolution 
came into her eyes. "It is difficult, my Claude, to talk 
seriously with you here. 1 wish to see you happier. Listen. 
In three-quarters of an hour go to my apartments. An- 
toinette will let you in. There, when I can escape from 
this, I will come to you, and we shall have a little con- 
sultation. You shall lay bare your heart to me, if you 
will; and I will turn adviser." 

Claude seized her hand. "You will do this? You 
will let me tell you all? You will listen to what I shall 



70 The House ofde Mailly 

plead for? My God! It is more than I could have hoped. 
Marie, Marie 1 shall make you believe me, 1 shall make 
you consent!" 

"Chut! Some one will hear you, my child. There, 
that is enough. Remain here while 1 go. Behold, de 
Gevres is coming. Au revoir, then/' 

She parted from him with a smile as easy as that with 
which she had begun the conversation. What was one 
to think of her? A woman without heart, nerves, senses? 
No. Only a woman of the Court, a woman of the world ; 
a woman whose heaven was Versailles, whose god was 
called Louis XV., whose hell would be dismissal with ten 
thousand livres a year. 

Claude stood looking after her as she gave her hand to 
the lisping Duke; and then, tingling with excitement, 
with delight, with hope, with faith in his words and in 
her, the boy started upon the way she had pointed out 
to him. He went slowly across the room to the spot where 
stood Henri and a little group of ladies and gentlemen. 
He laid his hand upon the Marquis' arm and drew him a 
little away from the rest. Henri looked with curiosity 
and surprise upon his comrade's excited face, the brilliant 
green of his eyes, and the spasmodic manner in which 
he breathed. 

" What is it, Claude? You look as though you had an 
inspiration, or were about to be seized with an illness. You 
have had too much champagne." 

" Henri, 1 am about to be the happiest man in ten thou- 
sand worlds. Henri, will you pray for the spirit of elo- 
quence to seize me? For one half-hour 1 would be a Bos- 
suet, a Moliere, a Racine! Henri, have you ever heard 
me talk well? No. I have not " 

" Name of a devil, Claude, what is the matter?" 

"Nothing. Nothing. Never mind. Good-night!" 

He started away, but his cousin darted after him and 
caught him by the arm. " See here, my friend, you would 
better let me accompany you to your room. You must 
not make a scene. 1 cannot imagine how you " 



Marly 71 

Before Henri finished Claude broke into a laugh. " Mordi, 
Henri, didst think me mad? I am a trifle excited. 1 am 
weary from the hunt what you will. 1 am going to 
retire. Do not disturb me to-night. See, there is Mile. 
d'Argenson regarding me. Let me go at once. There. 
Good-night!" 

After these words the Marquis paused more contentedly, 
and saw his cousin leave the room, going in the direction 
of the grand staircase. On his way Claude passed the 
King, who was with Mme. de Jarnac, and the Duchess, 
still with de Genres. He left the second salon behind 
and entered an antechamber opening upon the central 
hall. Here, quite alone, side by side in the shadow of a 
hanging, were Victorine de Coigny and Francois de Bernis. 
The Abbe was toying with her fan, and laughingly an- 
swering her animated questions and observations. De 
Mailly took mental note of her face as he bowed in passing. 
Never had he seen it so absolutely free from discontent 
or that little look of fretful weariness that neither Henri 
nor de Coigny himself had ever been able to dispel. Now 
Claude had left them behind, and the staircase was before 
him. Ascending rapidly, he passed along the corridor 
above to the old apartments of de Maintenon. He knock- 
ed, was admitted without delay, and conducted, by An- 
toinette, into the inner room. 

"Monsieur le Comte will wait here. He is early/' she 
said, as she slipped away. 

In the centre of the room in which he was left stood 
a round table. To this Claude drew a chair, seated him- 
self, and then, obeying an impulse, leaned forward on the 
mahogany and laid his head upon his arms. Minutes 
passed, and he distinguished them neither from seconds 
nor from hours. After a time the maid once more went 
through the room. There was the murmur of a phrase 
or two spoken in the antechamber, a door softly opened, 
the delicate swish of satin, and then Claude was upon 
one knee at the feet of his cousin of Chateauroux. 

She raised him up and smiled slowly into his brilliant 



72 The House of de Mailly 

eyes. " You are tired of waiting, and, indeed, I do not won- 
der. But I have not been able to effect my disappearance 
till now. 'Toinette will bring a pate and a glass of wine 
to us here, which we will take together, not as cousins, 
Claude, but" 

"As lovers," he murmured. 

She shook her head at him. " As very good friends, my 
dear." 

" Ah, no Anne, no ! Surely you could not think when 
you had granted me so much so much as this that I 
would not dare more would not risk all, at last " 

"Chut! Stop, Claude! Why, would you finish our 
colloquy in a word? We have much time before us. To 
hurry is ungraceful." 

He flushed and laughed at the same time. Happily at 
that moment Antoinette and Fouchelet, the valet, entered 
together, the man bearing their repast upon a silver tray. 
While the dishes were being set out madame moved leisurely 
over to her toilet-table for a fan, and Claude sat silent till 
they were alone again. 

" And now, my Claude, you will pledge me in a glass of 
this wine of Champagne. See to thee, and me, and our 
house, Claude! Come drink!" 

Was madame suddenly nervous? Claude heard her 
voice tremble, and thought that her hand shook as she 
raised the delicate crystal goblet, with its tracery of golden 
grapes and vines, filled to the brim with that foaming gold 
which the court of the fifteenth Louis knew so well. 

" To you, Anne ! Only to you 1 " 

The glass was at his lips, and he drank the toast with his 
soul in his eyes. He was blind ; he was deaf. He did not 
hear that sound in the neighboring room that had stopped 
his companion's hand and fixed her eyes. The door to the 
boudoir was thrown violently open, and, at the same in- 
stant, there was the crash of glass on the floor. 

"Diable!" cried a peculiar voice; and then a silence, 
thick, terrifying, fell upon the little room. 

Slowly, so slowly that the woman was fascinated with 



Marly 73 

the sight, Claude carried the glass from his lips back to the 
table. His eyes had met those of the King, and both men 
hung to the glance. The boy rose, his limbs as steady as 
his hand had been. And still no one spoke. Mme. de 
Chateauroux was not acting now. Claude had not seen 
her first terror, but he knew when her hand crept to her 
mouth, perceived the trembling of it, heard dimly the 
sharpness of her breathing. Finally her voice came to 
him as if from a great distance, as she faintly said : 
"I had not expected your Majesty so early." 
"So early, madame," echoed the royal voice, suavely. 
"And does Mme. de Chateauroux now make appoint- 
ments for her evenings by the hour?" 

Claude shut his teeth. " Sire, you insult my cousin!" 
Mme. de Chateauroux started unfeignedly, and Louis' 
face flushed. His tone, however, was unmoved, as he 
said, slowly : 

"Madame, order this person to leave the room." 
La Chateauroux hesitated for the fraction of a second. 
Then she turned to de Mailly. "Monsieur," she said, "do 
you need further " 

But before she could finish Claude took the affair into 
his own hands. Moving until he stood between her and 
the King, and looking straight into her now impenetrable 
face, he spoke : 

"Anne, when I came here to-night, I think you must 
have known what it was to say ; and you will let me speak 
it now. Anne I love you. I love you more dearly than 
anything upon earth. 1 offer you what I have to give 
marriage, and the devotion of my life. You have been 
mistress of France, but I offer you an honester home, one 
in which you may obtain absolution. Choose, then, here 
and now, between us two. I ask that the King, as a man, 
will allow that choice between marriage with me and 
freedom to live where we choose, or the other life." 

In the stillness which followed Louis de Bourbon glanced 
from the woman to the speaker and back again. Truly, 
the boy had courage, but something lacked in wit. Then 



74 The House of de Mailly 

the King felt for his snuff-box, opened it, smiled 

took a pinch in his fingers, and, before absorbing it, re 

marked, dryly: 

"Choose, madame." 

La Chateauroux bent her head. It was not what she had 
planned, this situation. She herself it was who was bear- 
ing the difficult and the despicable part in it ; for madame 
was but twenty-seven, and had still traditions of the family 
honor clinging to her. The answer came as though it cut 
her a little to speak her words, there, with the King's cynical 
eyes upon her, and all Claude's young, mad hope in his 
face: 

"Claude 1 wish you good-night. Will your Majesty 
do me the honor to take a glass of wine?" 




CHAPTER V 

The Chapel 

UESDAY morning at Marly proved an ordeal 
for the army of valets and maids attendant on 
the ladies and gentlemen who had taken part 
in the amusement of the day before. His Maj- 
esty, indeed, could not be said to have set a 
good example to his companions. He was sulky, he was 
depressed by the weather, and he wanted de Berryer. While 
he was still in bed he was informed by de Rosset, his first 
gentleman, that the Chief of Police could not possibly be 
brought to Marly from Versailles under six hours. Louis 
made no comments, but kicked the bedclothes aside and 
began to dress himself with extreme rapidity, receiving his 
garments as willingly from the plebeian hands of Bachelier 
as from those of de Rosset, whose business it was to con- 
duct matters properly. Being finally arrayed in a very 
much shorter time than usual, the King adjourned to the 
conventional room and sat down to the breakfast prepared 
for him. After gloomily striking off the tops of his eggs, 
dipping a bit of bread into each yolk, and throwing the rest 
away, till he had demolished seventeen of these commodi- 
ties, without eating what one would contain, he ordered 
his sleigh prepared, and, at nine o'clock, left Marly behind, 
and set off at full trot for Versailles. 

Behind him, at his grandfather's stiff old chateau, Louis 
left a pretty disposition of human emotions. Mme. de 
Chateauroux was very anxious. The more she brooded 
over the scene of the night before, the more she regretted 
the affair. Certainty it had turned out as badly as possible. 
Claude was inevitably ruined. He must by now have dis- 



j6 The House of de Mailly 

covered how heartless and how cruel she was; and as to 
Louis being more jealous, and therefore more anxious to 
please her than before, why, that was a doubtful question. 
He could be very ambiguous when he chose. 

As a matter of fact, Claude himself was less concerned 
at his position than his cousin for him. Claude had much, 
and, at the same time, little, to lose at Court. His love 
was strong, but his youthful buoyancy of spirit was 
stronger. He was young, happy-hearted, untrammelled. 
There was no one dependent on him for place. He would 
have passed the Bastille doors without grief had it only 
been promised him that Henri should visit his room there 
once a week with the latest stories and gossip, and that 
the Doublet-Persane Nouvelles a la Main and a billet from 
his lady should reach him every Wednesday and Satur- 
day. This was not more on account of his frivolity of 
taste than because of his ability to make for himself a 
home and amusements out of the most unpromising ma- 
terial. He was blessed with two things, that only the 
gods can give and the gods only take away a system of 
pure optimism and unbounded faith in the goodness 
of human nature. 

Claude by no means lay awake during the hours that 
were left between his retirement and the dawn, on that 
night at Marly; but his eyes unclosed in the morning 
more heavily than was their wont, and it took him but a 
second to define the sense of weight at his heart when 
he was awake. Sounding the hand-bell for his man, he 
made a rapid and silent toilet, and then hastened off to 
the neighboring apartment of his cousin the Marquis. 
Henri was in bed, still in that dream-stage between sound 
slumber and preliminary yawns. Claude's repeated and 
vigorous knocks at the door succeeded at last in bringing 
him to a realizing sense of all that is disagreeable in life. 
"Diable! Is it you, Chaumelle? What do you mean 
by rousing me at this hour? Is the chateau on fire? Is 
the King ill or Anne in a temper? Wait wait wait! 
lopen!" 



The Chapel 77 

The Marquis, shivering with cold, crept out of bed and 
unlocked his door. 

"Oh! You, Claude! 1 might have guessed it. One's 
family is so inconsiderate. Will you come in? I'm going 
to bed again to keep myself warm. For the love of Heaven, 
get Chaumelle to bring a tripod of charcoal or to light my 
grate here!" 

Claude obligingly sounded the gong, whereupon the 
Marquis' man appeared with admirable promptness. 

" Run to my room, Chaumelle, and bring in the chauffier 
you will find there. His Majesty's too tender of his forests 
to provide us with wood for burning. It's abominably 
cold." 

The valet hurried away, to return in three minutes 
gingerly carrying by its handles a tripod filled with glow- 
ing charcoal, that gave out a very satisfactory heat. 

"Will monsieur rise now?" 

"No," answered Claude. "Set it there. Bring the 
water in half an hour from now. He will be ready for you 
then." 

The man bowed and disappeared, while Henri, from 
the bed, grumbled discontentedly : " How in the name of 
a thousand devils dost thou know at what hour I will 
rise? Wilt let me sleep again now, or not?" 

"Not, Henri," was the reply, as Claude drew a tabouret 
up to the bed and spoke in a tone so new that his cousin 
sat up and looked at him. 

"You are in trouble, Claude, and you do not tell me 
of it." 

Claude leaned over the bed, took up the pillows, and 
fixed them, as a woman might, at the Marquis' back. 

" Sit there so, and pull the coverlet about thy shoulders, 
and then listen to my history, and tell me what the end 
will be." 

Thereupon the younger de Mailly proceeded to recount, 
very accurately, with neither exaggeration nor palliation, 
all that had occurred on the previous night, together with 
certain incidents which had gone before, unthought of, 



78 The House of de Mailly 

but which now stood out from the tangle of life with signifi- 
cant relationship to the present situation. The Marquis 
listened closely, with increasing anxiety in his expression ; 
and when Claude ceased to speak there was a silence be- 
tween the cousins. It was this silence that forced upon 
the Count his first twinge of real dread. 

"Well, Henri!" he said at last, with sharp intensity. 

"Well, Claude?" returned the other, sadly. 

"What dost think of it?" 

" I think do you remember, Claude, the affair of young 
d'Agenois?" 

Claude started. Then he rose, walked measuredly 
over to the window, and looked out upon the bleak land- 
scape. His face was invisible as he said, in a muffled 
voice: "Francois d'Agenois, the Italian, who who once 
asked in marriage the hand of the Marquise de la Tour- 
nelle? Francois, Due d'Agenois " 

"Has lived since then near Geneva, while Mme. de la 
Tournelle was created Duchesse de Chateauroux. ... 1 
meant that one, Claude, yes." 

"And you think," said the young fellow, turning about, 
and squarely facing his companion "you think that 1 
shall be invited to undergo the same fate?" 

"Ah, Claude, my cousin my comrade surely not! 
Surely the King is older, his penchant for Marie is now 
perfectly understood, perfectly secure; nay " 

" Don't say that," interrupted Claude, suddenly. " Why 
should he be secure with her? Ah, Henri, last night she 
refused my offer of marriage, it is true; but it may have 
been to lessen his Majesty's fury against me. Henri, 
1 swear to you, that with her, for her, as my wife, I would 
live in the desert, a wilderness, anything, and be the 
happiest man in all the world. She knows this. Henri, 
she must care a little!" 

Mailly-Nesle listened with a face more serious than 
ever, and, when Claude finally stopped, he shook his head. 
"Do not put your faith in her, Claude. 1, her brother, 
warn you. She gave up everything in life to win the 



The Chapel 79 

place she obtained. Remember how d'Agenois was her 
promised husband when he was exiled with her consent. 
Remember that she drove her own sister, Alexandre's 
wife, out of Versailles, to the Ursulines, for life. She 
no, Claude, she will not help you. She cannot." 

The younger sighed. "Ah, well I ask too much, 
perhaps. At any rate, it may mean nothing more than a 
month in the Bastille. That would not be at all difficult. 
Indeed, I should indulge in a much -needed rest. You 
and de Coigny should come to tell me all the news ; 1 would 
invite Monsieur le Gouverneur, and, possibly, my turn- 
key to dine, and we should all be merry with feasting and 
fasting by turns. You see, Henri, my spirit will not be 
shaken till the final blow. This room is like a furnace. 
When, dear Lord Doleful, are you going to rise?" 

" At once, Claude. My friend, your buoyancy is worth 
rubies. Even now 1 am mourning for you more than you 
for yourself. How are you able to move hand or foot?" 

"Come, you are aping d'Epernon. You make a bad 
lover. No woman likes a man with a face so long. Ah! 
And that reminds me but what shall you do when you 
are dressed?" 

"Coffee if 'tis to be had here and eggs; the health 
of Mme. de Chateauroux; that of Mme. de Coigny; our 
sleigh ; Versailles ; you with me. Now, of what is it that 
you are reminded?" 

" Good. Good. Hurry now, Chaumelle. I famish. ... I 
was reminded that, last evening, as 1 left the last ante- 
chamber on the great hall, I beheld your charming Vic- 
torine, herself charming and being charmed." 

"Ah! Mordi! It is that vile abbe" de Bernis, they 
call him who was her companion in Paris." 

"A handsome fellow," observed the Count, from a mirror 
where he was adjusting his wig. 

The Marquis turned so sharply under Chaumelle's 
razor that he narrowly missed having his chin laid open. 
"You think so?" he cried out, anxiously. 

Claude burst into a shout of laughter. "On my soul, 



80 The House of de Mailly 

Henri, you are a prig. Use a little indifference towards 
her. 'Tis only that can save you now. Why, positively, 
you are absurd. How is it that you arrange the ' gallant ' 
now?" 

"A trifle smaller than you have it there, and farther 
down towards the left ear. There. That is better." 

" Thanks. Ah, Chaumelle, five livres to you if you have 
Monsieur le Marquis ready by half-past nine." 

Chaumelle more than won his prize, for it was but just 
half -past when the cousins, having finished their coffee 
and eggs, were announced at the apartments of the Duchess. 

Mme. de Chateauroux, pelissed, hooded, and muffed in 
crimson velvet and sables, sat pensively at her window, 
awaiting the arrival of her sleigh. She rose in unfeigned 
agitation at the entrance of Claude and her brother. 

" Ah, Monsieur le Comte ! How rash you are ! You 
compromise me; you you make your own case infinitely 
worse. Henri, how could you have permitted him to come ?" 

"Madame!" cried Claude, beseechingly, but the Marquis 
interrupted. 

"The King, Anne, has left Marly. You" 

"I know. I know. Whom did you see in the hallway 
as you came here? Any one?" 

"De Gvres and Richelieu," answered Claude. 

Henri, frowning, pinched him. 

"Good Heaven!" cried the Duchess; "we are lost, both 
you and I! Oh, you are thoughtless, cruel! Go at once, 
both of you, and let de Gevres see you instantly depart 
for Versailles. I shall not now leave here until twelve 
o'clock. Go! Go!" 

She fairly pushed them from her into her antechamber, 
pointing, as she did so, to the outer door. Claude had 
turned scarlet, but Henri was very pale. Both of them 
bowed in silence; for there seemed no words suitable for 
bidding the "fair and haughty," now very tearful and 
eager Chateauroux, good-bye. Once outside, the Marquis 
turned and looked at Claude. 

"De Gevres was to see us again," he muttered, angrily. 



The Chapel 81 

"De Gevres be 1" was the low reply. "1 return to 
Versailles." 

" And I accompany you. . . . Good Heaven, Claude, don't 
think that she meant it all! You see how everlastingly 
she must work against all that is generous in her." 

" Ah, messieurs ! Your morning interview with madame, 
your sister and cousin, was short. You are leaving the 
chateau?" 

" We follow the example of his Majesty, monsieur." 

"And I, gentlemen, shall follow your first lead. I 
hasten to pay my compliments to the Duchess. 1 have 
the honor to wish you an enjoyable ride." 

Richelieu, in a morning toilet of fawn color and 
lavender, an embroidery bag upon his arm, a patch-box 
in one hand, smilingly passed the cousins and went on 
his way to the apartments of the favorite. 

Madame was divested of her wraps and resigned to 
Marly for another two hours. Richelieu seated himself 
comfortably in the historic boudoir, one foot, prone to 
repentance for many truffles and overmuch vin d'Ai, 
reposing tenderly on a cushion, his embroidery in his 
hands, and a snuff-box near by. The favorite, gracious, 
but a trifle on her guard, placed herself opposite to him 
and waited. 

The Duke took several contemplative stitches before 
he remarked, gently: "Madame, you look unwell this 
morning. Now, were I you, I should not be nervous. 
As 1 imagine, you were slightly rash yesterday did not 
manage quite so perfectly as usual. You have, no doubt, 
sacrificed the cousin; but you are still secure." 

"His Majesty has spoken to you?" 

"By no means. But the mad haste with which he 
departed this morning portends extreme disease of mind. 
It is his fear that, after all, Claude may hold charms which 
he does not possess." 

The Duchess raised her eyes to the ceiling. "Dear 
uncle," she said, "Louis is perfect. I adore him!" 

" Ah, but you either make him doubt too strongly or you 
6 



82 The House of de Mailly 

let him know it too well. You are too impassioned, Anne. 
I have always told you that. I assure you I should have 
been married twenty times, instead of only twice, had I 
not been able to have any woman for the asking." 

La Chateauroux, perhaps unconsciously, sighed. 

"Ah, madame, life is cruel to us all. But now, Anne, 
come, confide in me, as your good counsellor, certain par- 
ticulars which the Court but guesses. What is the last 
madness of young de Mailly, and why did the King, after 
a petit lever and a vile breakfast, without admitting a 
single entry, order his sleigh an hour ago and set off for 
Versailles and de Berry er as if pursued by all the furies? 
All knowledge is yours, my Anne. Share it with me." 

Mme. de Chateauroux rose from her chair and swept 
two or three times up and down the little room. Richelieu, 
examining her at his leisure, could discover no trace of 
agitation in her manner. Suddenly she stopped still 
and turned towards him. 

"I do not deny that Claude is lost," she said, slowly. 
" But, if he is, is it not his fault alone? He is not ignorant 
of the ways of the Court. Why should he put himself, 
his career, in my hands? He will reproach me, without 
doubt. All will do that. Again I shall be called, as in 
the other case, without heart, without generosity, without 
love for my family. Mon Dieu! you remember the scandal 
when my father left Versailles? Bah! Put me out of 
my position, uncle. Imagine me as a mere bourgeoise 
of the people. Well, then? What woman but will be- 
come selfish, forgetful of all, for the man she loves? What 
are those others, who stand in her way, to her? And I, 
Monsieur le Due, am a woman who loves. I love I have 
the courage to love the King." 

A flicker passed through the eyes of the Duke as he bent 
over his embroidery. Was it amusement, or was it reve- 
lation? Could it be but a recollection of certain com- 
mon Court memories that appertained to the " love " of 
Marie Anne de Mailly? Was it a fleeting remembrance 
of the brief and stormy careers of the two older sisters of 



The Chapel 83 

this woman, both of whom had held her place, the one dy- 
ing in it, pitifully enough, the other dismissed by the 
open command of the Marquise de la Tournelle, then just 
coming into power? Was it a vision of the angry help- 
lessness of the old Marquis de Nesle, driven away to die 
in exile, because his pride of family was too great to sanc- 
tion his daughters' dishonor ? Was it a thought for a 
brother's hidden shame ; of the merciless flouting of a 
helpless queen; of the dismissal of every minister who 
held at heart the best interests, not of the mistress, but of 
France; of the ruin of every courtier who had not paid 
his court to her; of the fate of the hapless d'Agenois; the 
impending ruin of young de Mailly? Was it, perhaps, a 
vision of prophecy concerning others to come, on whom 
disfavor should fall Belleville, d' Argenson, Chartres, 
Maurepas, the Dauphin of France nay, finally, after all, 
before all, himself, the great, the incomparable Richelieu, 
estranged from the King and the Court through the " love " 
of this woman? After all, the flutter of many thoughts 
takes but an instant, and madame had scarcely time for 
impatience when her good "uncle" was answering her 
with well-calculated lightness. 

"You are right, Anne. And how drunk with the hap- 
piness of such love should our most gracious Majesty be! 
Perhaps he has flown away this morning that he may re- 
flect in happy solitude on his great good-fortune. " 

Unfortunately, however, as Richelieu well knew, this 
was not precisely what his most gracious Majesty was en- 
gaged in this morning. Upon his unexpected arrival at 
Versailles at so early an hour, the King's first cry was for 
de Berryer. The attendant of whom he made demand 
performed his obeisance, looked nervously about him, and 
scurried away on a search. In the meantime Louis as- 
cended to the deserted council-chamber off the (Eil-de-Bceuf , 
threw off coat, hat, and gloves, and pounded on the bell for 
some one to remove his boots. A valet came, together with 
the unhappy announcement that M. de Berryer was in 
Paris had been there, indeed, since yesterday morning 



84 The House of de Mailly 

on important business. Louis fell into one of his silent 
rages, despatched a document commanding the instant 
return of the Chief of Police to his side, growled an order to 
serve his dinner to him alone where he was, and sank into 
his official chair at the great table in a fit of sulks which 
lasted him all day. De Berryer's arrival, at five o'clock in 
the afternoon, elicited the first gleam of satisfaction from 
his dull eyes. He ordered a fresh instalment of wine and 
cakes, closed the doors of the room, and motioned the min- 
ister into a chair across the table, where he could stare 
conveniently into the small, dark face. 

" Well, Sire, you have work for me?" inquired the official, 
with badly concealed irritation. De Berryer had been 
forced to leave certain matters relative to the farmers-gen- 
eral in a distressingly unfinished state in Paris, had been 
harassed all through his ride with details of the King's 
anger, and finally arrived at Versailles tired, nervous, and 
out of sorts, to be summoned instantly before Louis, who 
would probably occupy him till seven with his usual tire- 
some and fussy budget of Court intrigue, gossip, and griev- 
ances. And at such times there was certainly one min- 
ister of France who cordially hated his position. ' 

"You have work for me?" repeated de Berryer again. 

"Yes, yes, yes. 1 want a lettre-de-cachet at once, and 
you to deliver it," was the reply. 

The poor servant groaned inwardly as he drew from his 
pocket an ever-ready bunch of these conveniences, pre- 
pared for filling out. " What name, Sire? It is immediate?" 

"Yes. No. Wait. 1 will tell you about it," respond- 
ed the King, leaning comfortably back in his chair and 
munching a gateau purlaine. 

De Berryer passed the back of his hand over his forehead 
and resigned himself. Louis began to speak, recounting 
in a leisurely but not unentertaining fashion the last de- 
velopments of the affaire de Mailly, as it was called at 
Court. Presently, despite himself, de Berryer grew inter- 
ested in the tale. He remembered his last conversation 
with Claude at the assembly, perceived that the young man 



The Chapel 85 

had not taken his advice, but had gone along upon his own 
career of audacious fidelity to a foolish cause. On the 
whole, de Berryer rather admired him, and certainly re- 
gretted his approaching fall. Besides this, there was that 
other amusing phase of the matter that of Louis' furious 
jealousy of this two-penny Count for whom the favorite 
doubtless cared not the least in the world, save for the fresh 
fires of royal devotion that she could kindle at his hands. 
All things considered, de Berryer had spent duller hours 
than this in his Majesty's presence. 

"And now, my good de Berryer," finished Louis, more 
comfortably than ever, "you know all. What shall 1 do? 
Shall it be the Bastille for a couple of years? Hein ?" 

" No no, your Majesty," returned the King's companion, 
calmly. 

"What!" 

" Listen, Sire, I beg of you, to my reasons. In the first 
place, la Bastille is no longer what it once was as a place 
of retirement for rash members of the younger nobility. 
It is generally crowded to the doors. It is by no means 
strictly kept. The apartments on the east side fairly reek 
with a Court atmosphere. All day long there is a continual 
stream of visitors for the prisoners, who keep quite as much 
in touch with the times as though they dwelt in the (Eil- 
de-Boeuf . 1 assure you the reputation of a Court gallant 
is not complete till he has lived a month or two in that 
old fortress. M. de Mailly's fame would be greatly en- 
hanced during his residence there, and it would be by no 
means unusual were Mme. de Chateauroux herself to visit 
him." 

The King blasphemed below his breath, and the minister 
smiled covertly. 

"Precisely so, your Majesty. No, it is not bolt, bar, 
and stone walls to foment his passion that our young Count 
needs. On the contrary, it is space, time, other courts, 
other women, new comrades in fine, a second case of 
d'Agenois that will fit the amorous M. de Mailly. He " 

"Bravo, bravo, de Berryer! Excellent, by my faith 1 



86 The House of de Mailly 

It is enough. Wait." Louis touched his bell, and a 
lackey appeared. 

"More candles for the table." 

Lights were brought and set before the minister, who 
drew from a drawer in the table some paper, quills, a sand- 
box, wax, and the small seal. 

"Write!" commanded the King. 

"And the delivery, Sire, shall take place when?" 

"To-morrow morning, in the chapel, after mass." 

De Berryer frowned. "Your Majesty is a second Mo- 
liere," he observed, politely. 

Louis, holding a glass of Burgundy to the light, bowed 
thanks. 

To the delight of the pale puppet - queen, Marie 
Leczinska, Louis, on Wednesday morning, came to her 
apartments in the best of humors, to conduct her in person 
to mass in Mansard's famous chapel. It was an unwritten 
law in this sanctuary that husbands and wives, not a few 
of whom had seen each other for the first time at the altar 
here, but had no cause to love it the more on that account, 
should sit together. Their Majesties, with Mesdames 
Henriette and Adelaide, and Monseigneur, the young, 
Jesuitical Dauphin, set the example by appearing en familh 
in the front space. Behind them sat those of the Queen's 
ladies who were unmarried or widowed, together with all 
the demoiselles d'honneur, presided over by the unbending 
Duchesse de Boufflers, who, in spite of herself, could not 
prevent the glances that passed between this delightful 
bevy and the company of gallants across the aisle. 
Mme. de Chateauroux, here always sombrely dressed, 
excited no comment. Claude de Mailly, alone, out of the 
whole Court, chose his place with reference to her ; and in 
this place to-day, as usual, he sat, his head on his hand, 
dreamily listening to the chanting of the choir, and the low 
intoning, mingling the incense of his earthly but none the 
less pure adoration with that which ascended from the 
golden censer to a higher heaven. 



The Chapel 87 

Mme. de Chateauroux was pale to-day. More than 
one person had already noted that fact, and remarked 
it to a neighbor. If Claude were whiter about the temples 
and lips than she, none but Henri, beside him, knew it. 
Never once throughout the service did madame turn to 
answer the unwavering look that seemed as if it must 
draw her cold blue eyes by very force about to answer it. 
But Louis' smooth, satin back was within reach of her 
hand. She could almost stir his loosely tied locks with 
her breath. She felt Claude's presence with rare discom- 
fort. The knowledge of his danger was crying to her 
conscience painfully; but she could not speak, and her 
eyes must keep their place. 

Behind the de Maillys, Marquis and Count, Victorine 
de Coigny, pale also, great-eyed, and small, sat beside 
her tall husband, who, though he stared steadily at the 
altar, failed to make a single response, and no more knew 
the subject of the address than did his wife, whose thoughts 
were wandering in far and fair new places. 

Mass, to the relief of every one present save, possibly, 
Marie Leczinska and her son, came presently to an end. 
In a measured press the many-colored throng passed down 
the aisle after the sovereigns, bowing, chatting, shrugging, 
smiling, retailing the last bit of gossip as they might do 
to-day, happy in the knowledge that twenty-four hours 
intervened between them and the next chapel. Mme. 
de Chateauroux, who, to the end, had resolutely avoided 
her cousin's entreaty, was among the last to set forth for 
less depressing apartments, surrounded, as usual, by a 
group of the King's gentlemen. Behind her, aimless, 
objectless, speaking to few, addressed by many, for a 
high interest centred around him now, went Claude, 
with Henri still close beside him. They arrived together 
at the door, and Mailly-Nesle, a pace ahead, was whis- 
pering a compliment into the ear of Mme. de Coigny, when 
a light hand fell upon Claude's shoulder. The young fel- 
low started under the touch as though thrilled with a sud- 
den presentiment. The Count de Maurepas was beside him. 



88 The House of de Mailly 

"Be so good as to come back with me for an instant, 
monsieur/' whispered the minister. 

Claude turned and placed himself beside the other. 
They waited together till the last stragglers had left the 
chapel. Dim light, and silence that was a relief, fell 
about them. Up at the far end of the room an acolyte 
was extinguishing the candles at the altar. Then de 
Mailly quietly faced his companion. 

" What is it that you want?" he asked. 

"This, M. de Mailly. Believe me I regret exceed- 
ingly my duty. M. de Berryer, however, requested " 

Without further ado Claude took from Maurepas' hand 
the letter that he held, with its dangling brown seal. 

" You choose an odd place for its delivery," he remarked, 
as he unfolded the paper. 

De Maurepas, to whom his good friend, the Chief of 
Police, had intrusted this unpleasant task, slightly bowed. 
He was watching the man beside him, the new royal victim, 
the gentleman who had been his companion in so many 
places, at so many times, for years. He saw Claude read 
that short, polite, rather suave missive, which gave small 
reason for its being, but made the gravity of its threat 
perfectly apparent in royal language. Claude read it 
twice, quite through, to the last word, the signature. 
Then his hand fell heavily to his side, and the paper 
dropped to the floor. Maurepas stooped to pick it up, but 
some one else was quicker than he. Henri de Mailly, 
returning in search of his cousin, had stood for a full 
minute unnoticed on the threshold. Now, retaining the 
letter, he turned a questioning gaze towards the pair. 
Maurepas failed to meet his eyes ; but Claude smiled. 

" 1 am starting soon upon a journey, Henri," he remark- 
ed. " Monsieur le Comte, may I request that you convey 
my farewells to his Majesty, since I have not the honor 
to bid him au revoir in person? Permit me to wish you a 
good-morning." 

Claude bowed bravely, but ungracefully enough, and 
looked towards the Marquis. His lips were dry, his cheeks 



The Chapel 89 

suddenly flushed, his eyes very bright. Henri under- 
stood the look, and passed with him out of the chapel. 
De Maurepas was left alone to gaze after them. When 
they were gone he shifted his position slightly, but made 
no move to leave the room. Presently de Berryer ap- 
peared from the vestibule and joined him. 

"I saw them go," he said. "How did he take it?" 
Maurepas shook his head. "I am not certain, but I 
think it was hard for him. I imagine that he was not 
very sure of what he did. He asked me to say ' au revoir ' 
to the King. Bah! You might have done this yourself, 
de Berryer. I don't like such work." 

"And do you think, Monsieur le Comte, that I like it 
better?" queried the King's favorite minister, with a 
weary frown. 




CHAPTER VI 

Claude's Farewell 

N the morning of Thursday, January 2ist, 
when a feeble ray of sunlight first straggled 
into the window of Claude's room on the 
Avenue de St. Cloud, in the town of Ver- 
sailles, it fell upon an early company of four 
men engaged in an unwonted occupation. Upon the can- 
opied bed, half dressed, unwigged, powderless, sat Claude, 
directing, with some animation, the movements of two 
men, his own valet and Henri's, one of whom stood be- 
fore an oaken wardrobe, while the other knelt upon the 
floor beside a travelling coffer of brown hide, studded with 
brass nails. At some distance from these three, by a 
table, was the Marquis, quite dressed, his head leaning on 
his hand, watching operations in silence. Now and then 
he turned his eyes to the face of his cousin, while for the 
rest of the time they wandered about the disordered room. 
Henri's face was unusually pale to-day, and under his 
eyes lay shadows of sleeplessness. His mouth was set 
firmly, and the hand that hung by his side was clenched. 

Certainly the room was in a state. All about it, on 
every chair, on the bureau, the desk, the tabourets, and 
upon the floor, lay clothes court-suits, riding-suits, hunt- 
ing-suits, every-day suits, dressing-gowns, boots, shoes, 
slippers, long stockings of silk and of thread, laces, ruffles, 
fine linen shirts, undergarments, wigs, a peruke, two 
swords, hats, cloaks, gauntlets every article known to 
the masculine wardrobe of that day. From the various 
heaps Claude, by means of a riding-whip which he held, 
designated what he wished packed, Chaumelle would 



Claude's Farewell 91 

pick it out and carry it to Rochard, who folded it and 
placed it, with melancholy care, in the little coffer. 

" I must have one court-suit, but I vow I'll take no more. 
Which shall it be, Henri the peach-colored or the white 
satin? Speak, man!" 

The Marquis, with an effort, raised his head. " Both. 
You will need the white one for your wedding." 

Claude stared at his cousin for an instant, and his lips 
twitched with laughter. Then, with a sudden change of 
expression, he pulled from his breast, where it had lain all 
night, the letter that Maurepas had delivered to him. He 
had not read it since leaving the chapel. 

" Owing to certain circumstances which of late have had the mis- 
fortune greatly to displease S. M., the King desires to inform Count 
Claude Vincent Armand Victor de Nesle de Mailly that the absence 
of the Count from the chateau and city of Versailles after the noon 
of Friday, January 22d, in this year of 1744, will be desirable to S. M. ; 
and that after the first day of the month of February, Monsieur the 
Count, if he has not already crossed the line of the French Kingdom, 
would of necessity be placed under the escort of one of his Majesty's 
officers. The King wishes Monsieur the Count a delightful journey, 
and begs further to add that when monsieur shall desire to present 
Madame la Comtesse his wife to their Majesties at Versailles, his re- 
turn to his present abode will be most pleasing to 

" Louis R." 

As Claude for the second time perused this curious letter 
his face darkened, and, at the last lines, flushed. 

"1 heard your ' au revoir' sent to his Majesty," observed 
Henri, "and, after I read the dismissal, 1 understood it. 
You will discover some pretty child in Madrid or Vienna. In 
six months you will be back again with her for presenta- 
tion ; and here she will quickly find some marquis or duke 
for cavalier, while you return again with your rashness to 
the little apartments." 

The Marquis spoke these words by no means in raillery, 
but with such a tone of solemn prophecy that Claude turned 
a serious and questioning gaze upon his cousin. Then he 
shook his head. 

" Do you, indeed, Henri, think so ill of me as that? Should 



92 The House of de Mailly 

I, by such a loveless bargain, dishonor myself and the wo- 
man who bore my name? What of the shame to me in bring- 
ing such a one, unprotected even by my affection, to this 
Court of Versailles, of all places on earth ; to plunge her 
into the life that she would find here? You would run me 
through for a deed like that. Besides, I am going from 
here to no Court. I leave by post to-morrow for Flanders 
Antwerp, or some seaport. And after, unless 1 travel 
in the Low Countries and up into Sweden, 1 have a mind 
to turn to strange places. Perhaps 1 shall sail for America. ' ' 

"Ah, Claude, it is too far! Where wouldst thou go? 
To our colony of Louisiana, or the settlements of the South 
coast the flower-land that is pestered with Spanish and 
English pirates? Be sane, my Claude. Remain nearer 
home. Surely some day you will return to us. Think, 
think of the homesickness. Without thee here, Claude, I 
I " Henri went no further. His voice had broken, 
and he suddenly hid his face in his hands and bent over 
the table. 

The Count sprang from the bed, crying roughly to the 
two servants to continue their work. Then, standing by 
the chair of Mailly-Nesle, he put both hands affectionately 
on the two bent shoulders. 

" Henri, look at me. Thou shalt not take it in this way. 
I have got no more than has come to a thousand others. I 
have loved too well. And since 1 may not have that one 
thing for which I would sell the soul from my body, 'tis 
small matter, after all, where I live, or what my portion 
is. Some day 1 shall return hither, doubtless when 
when or thou shalt come to me. Things may occur, 
perhaps, that shall make all right. Take courage. Thou 
art a man! There is no time for this. We must talk to- 
gether of many things. There is my money, my rents " 

The Marquis raised his head, and Claude nodded with 
satisfaction to see that he was again in control of himself. 

"'Tis better, hein? Thou krjowest, Henri, I get from 
Touraine and Languedoc together some fifty thousand 
livres yearly. 1 have made that suffice me here, with what 



Claude's Farewell 93 

I could win at play. My debts, as Fortune wills, are paid. 
Can the King say as much? What has paid for this 
life will stay me better abroad, in whatsoever land I may 
find myself, than it has done here. How to receive it " 

" That shall be my task, Claude. In May, as you have 
done, and again later in the year, I will go to both estates, 
as I visit my own. Your stewards will accept me as master, 
I imagine. They are good fellows, both." 

" Between them they steal, with perfect regularity, seven 
thousand yearly." 

"So little? They are not good, then, but stupid. Mine, 
on my single estate, costs me ten." 

"Your lands nearly double mine." 

The Marquis shrugged. " Well and each three months 
you will write to me, that I may send the rents where you 
may be?" 

"Yes. I will burden thee with news more often than 
that. Do you know, my friend, I have a mind to set out 
from Flanders or England for King George's colonies? It 
has been said that the summer is a paradise in Virginia, 
or in Lord Baltimore's province." 

"Tis too far, Claude! Italy or England well. But 
America ! del I I should be as content with you in the 
moon." 

" It is no more than a month's voyage in fair weather, I 
have heard." 

"Ay, and six in foul." 

" Ah, well we'll not speak of it now. I " 

" And the language ! Recollect your love of the English 
tongue." 

" I do not love French to-day. I swear to you that I will 
perish at once rather than go to swell the peopling of our 
Christian Majesty's damnable colonies!" 

" Chut ! That is treason. Finish your selection of gar- 
ments there, and let us go out to seek a dinner. I perish 
of hunger." 

" I come, I come. You must not die to-day. Is the suit 
of olive there, Rochard? Then " 



94 The House of de Mailly 

His next word was interrupted by a tapping at the door. 

"Umph! Some gossip to visit you!" growled the Mar- 
quis. 

Claude drew his dressing-gown about him and motioned 
his man to the door. " Open but not too widely," he said. 

Rochard unclosed the door, pushed it open six inches, 
and peered out. After a low-voiced colloquy with some 
one outside, he turned into the room again, holding out to 
his master a note addressed in a handwriting which Claude 
dreamed of. As he opened and read it, the boy turned 
very white. Henri, who was watching him closely, hur- 
ried to his side. 

"What is it?" 

"Nothing," was the quick reply. "Rochard, it it is 
the valet, is it not?" 

"Fouchelet, yes, Monsieur le Comte." 

"Tell him that 1 will come." 

Rochard bowed and went to deliver the message. 

"Claude Anne Anne has interceded for you? No. 
She dare not do that. She is mad enough to see you 
again?" 

"To say good-bye," was the reply, formed with dry lips. 
Then suddenly he cried out, sharply: "Henri, I cannot 
go! 1 will not leave her to that man! Either 1 stay here 
to die, or she shall come with me as my wife. Henri, 1 
tell you 1 cannot leave her!" 

It was two o'clock in the afternoon, and the Duchess 
was alone in her dressing-room. She was alone, had 
been alone through the whole morning, refusing ad- 
mittance to the usual visitors of the toilette, in the hope 
that Claude might come. She had learned, like the rest of 
the Court, of the letter delivered in the chapel. But the 
reason of it, which was so well known to her, the Court 
but guessed. Her desire to speak with her cousin again was 
unaccountably strong, and she could not believe that 
he would make no effort to see her for the last time. 
Nevertheless the hours had passed, and Claude neither 



Claude's Farewell 95 

sent her any word of farewell nor came himself. She 
was anxious, and she was bored. The King, who had 
that morning been informed that she was ill, had gone 
hunting. Versailles was deserted. Even Victorine was 
at Rambouillet. And so madame, more restless with 
every passing instant, was at last guilty of the impru- 
dence of sending for the man whose banishment was 
caused by his having dared to enter too closely into her life. 

Her note finally despatched by the only man in her house- 
hold whom she could trust, she drank a second cup of 
chocolate and ate a fillet of venison, of royal shooting, 
with some appetite. Afterwards, with the assistance of 
Antoinette, she made one of her most careful neglige 
toilets, in which the carelessness was obviously becoming. 
Htr dress was entirely of white. She wore not a single 
jewel, wiped off every trace of rouge, took the ornaments 
from her hair, and brushed its powdery locks till the bright 
gold lay in natural waves about her neck, and Mme. 
de Chateauroux had become as beautiful as flattery itself 
could have painted her. She was, at this time, nearly 
seven and twenty years of age. Her face was still young, 
but her manner was old older than that of the King. 
She had acquired long ago the carriage of a King's con- 
sort, and that was, indeed, a role which she had played 
so much that it had become a natural part of herself. She 
had faced difficult situations since her childhood; and 
never, save once with her dead father and once with her 
husband, the old Marquis de la Tournelle, had she lost 
control of herself and of the affair in hand. It had made 
her too self-confident in appearance a fact which she 
realized, but could not change. She would have liked 
to-day to play a younger part with Claude, but she sighed 
and shook her head as Antoinette finally tied back the 
shining hair with a white ribbon, and the grand manner 
descended upon her like a pall. 

It was now a full half -hour since she had sat in the 
little room, waiting, and looking out upon the bleak court- 
yard below her window. She had ceased to think, and 



96 The House of de Mailly 

her appearance was that of a statue in marble, when 
Antoinette softly pushed open the door of her room and 
allowed a cloaked and hatted figure to pass in. The door 
closed again after the entrance, and at the same time 
there was a little click from the antechamber beyond, 
as the faithful maid locked the door that opened upon the 
great corridor. In the boudoir of the favorite two people 
were alone. 

With a slight movement of the shoulders Claude dropped 
his enveloping mantle upon a chair behind him, and 
threw his hat down upon it also. Then, impulsively, 
he turned towards his cousin, as though upon the spot 
he would have taken her in his arms and told her all that 
he had come to say. But there was something in her 
attitude that stopped him something that even forced 
him back a pace from his advance. As a matter of fact 
the Duchess meant to be herself mistress of the scene, 
and, having no idea of Claude's ill advised intent, she 
seated herself quietly on a chair with her back to the drawn 
window-curtain, and, with a gesture peculiar to herself, 
bade him draw a tabouret to her knee. He went to her 
obediently, looking at her with repressed expectation in 
his white face. After an instant's hesitation she said, 
slowly : 

"And so, my poor Claude, it is come to the end." 

His reply was quick. "No, Anne. It is not the end 
yet." 

"What! What are you saying? You are exiled, 
Claude." 

" Ah, yes. The King told you that. " 

" It was not the King told me that. Do you mean that 
the story of the letter of banishment is not true?" 

Claude was silent. 

"Why do you say it is not the end?" 

"Because, Anne, I mean that for me it shall be the 
beginning." 

"Of what?" 

"Of freedom of life of love." 



Claude's Farewell 97 

"Love!" 
"Yes." 

The Duchess was puzzled. She drew slightly away 
from him. " Then there is some one some one of whom 
I know nothing." 

"Yes, Anne, some one of whom you know nothing. 
Would you hear who it is? No, remain where you are! 
That some one whom I love, whom I have come to to-day, 
with whom now 1 am going to plead for life, is your real 
self. You have forgotten it in life here, my Anne. You 
have forgotten, in the midst of your estate, in the midst 
of the Court ways, what you were before all that was part 
of you. Listen. We played together, you and 1, and 
Alexandre and Henri, and Louise and Pauline, in the 
gardens of the old chateau, by the river-bank, and through 
the forest. We were the youngest, you and I. Alexan- 
dre was our leader, and we obeyed him as our general. 
1 liked you then better than the other girls, though you 
always mocked at me for a baby, while Louise was gentle, 
and Pauline always in difficulty. And after we separat- 
ed, all of us. You were sent to the Ursulines, 1 to Lan- 
guedoc with a tutor, Alexandre to Paris. It was there 
in the old Hotel de Mailly, at Alexandre 's wedding with 
Louise, that again we came together. Ah, Anne, Anne, 
I think you have not forgotten what followed! The first 
scandal, Alexandre 's death, Louise's life in the little apart- 
ments, how the King grew weary, how little Pauline was 
brought from her convent, how she, too, was sacrificed 
to infamy, and how she died how she was murdered, 
Anne, you " 

"Stop, Claude!" 

"Not yet. Pauline was murdered, I say poisoned, 
in her sickness. And then, Anne, then the way was 
opened for you by Mme. de Mazarin's death. How should 
the rest of us have guessed your father, I, Henri, already 
unhappy with Mme. de Mailly-Nesle how should we have 
guessed that you, too, should have followed in the foot- 
steps of your sisters? Mon Dieu, Anne! In your widow- 
7 



98 The House of de Mailly 

hood, after Maurepas took the Hotel Mazarin, Henri's 
house was open to you. Why did you choose instead 
to put yourself under the protection, not of the Queen, not 
of Louise, but of his Majesty? And then the end was 
so swift. You drove Louise pitilessly away you ruined 
d'Agenois with your coquetries you infatuated the King 
with your daring and your loftiness; your title was be- 
stowed; you reigned; and then comes the last: my his- 
tory with you. I know your life, Anne, from its beginning 
to to-day. You know what my feeling has always been. 
And now, when 1 am so nearly at the end of hope, you would 
have me make no resistance to fate; you would have me 
acquiesce ; you would have me bid you good-bye with de 
Gvres' manner, and depart, quietly. 1 have right to 
more than that." 

" All this is well enough if you wish it, little one. Neither 
do those long 'recollections' of thine disturb me, save 
that they are very stupid, my Claude. But now, how 
shall you continue? Are there yet more of them?" Evi- 
dently the Duchess was not overpleased with the inter- 
view, so far. 

"1 have done with the recollections, but I have more 
to say," returned the boy, undaunted by her manner. 
"I have something to say which, once before, you have 
heard, but which you shall listen to again. It is why 1 
obeyed your note. In other case 1 should have left Ver- 
sailles without seeing you. It is something that I am 
going to offer you, something that I have to give that 
is not elsewhere, I think, to be found in Versailles. You 
will seek long, Anne, before you find it again. It is some- 
thing that you, and every woman about you, make light 
of daily; and yet it is what women ay, and men sell 
their souls for." 

"Love," murmured Madame la Duchesse, absently. 

" Yes, it is love my love, that I have to give. Anne, 
to you, here, being as you are ; what you are ; belonging 
to none who has the right to guard you ; paid with much 
gold, it is true, yet with false gold ; puppet-queen, without 



Claude's Farewell 99 

real honor in any heart, your name a byword in many 
countries " 

"Ah! Ah! You insult" 

" / speak truth ! You know that. To you, I say, who 
have so little of love, none of real honor, 1 offer all. 1 
offer you marriage, a name unstained, a pure-hearted 
devotion, a life that shall be pure Ah, now, Anne, now, 
I am making you feel! There. Do not turn from me. 
No, no. Listen ! 1 did not mean it. Forget what 1 have 
said forgive it. Think only of how 1 have suffered. 
Think how utterly 1 love you ; how 1 am a man desperate. 
My w r hole existence, my heart, my mind, my hopes, are 
here at your feet. Crush them you kill me. You 
cannot spurn all. To leave you is to enter a living death. 
But but you must know what love means! It means 
that my soul belongs to you; that in you, for you, only, 
forever, 1 live. How, then, can you let me go from you? 
You will be tearing the heart from my body. You know 
that all my life it has been you. Had I ever cared for 
another, it would not have mattered so. Anne " he was 
upon his knee "Anne you shall come with me! You 
shall come away with me into the sweetest exile that 
ever man was blessed with. Why, look you, 1 take you 
from a palace, but 1 will give you that which 1 shall trans- 
form to paradise ! Oh, my dear my dear 1 can say no 
more. Anne, Anne, 1 die for you!" 

Both her hands were in his, clasped so tightly that she 
was pained. Much of the force of his passion had entered 
into her. It could not but do so, for it was too real. She 
was trembling ; her breath came unsteadily, and she could 
not give her answer with his upturned eyes upon her. 
Gently, very gently, she pushed him aside, rose from 
her chair, and, turning away from him, began to pace 
the end of the room, steadying herself as she walked. 
De Mailly, a little dazed now, the reaction from his nervous 
strain already beginning to overcome him, passed slowly 
to the opposite side of the dressing-room and stood there 
with his back to the door, one cold hand pressed to his 



ioo The House of de Mailly 

damp forehead. His face was deathly white. His body 
quivered. Presently madame stopped, in her walk, be- 
fore her cabinet of toys, opened one little drawer, and 
took something therefrom. Then she went over to where 
her cousin was standing, and, with an effort, spoke : 

"Thank you," she said, dreamily, "for what you have 
said to me. May God, in his goodness, bless you, little 
cousin. You know that it is all useless, what you wish. 
Some day you will be glad that my place was here that 
1 knew that 1 was not fit for you. Remember it. I am 
not fit for you. You spoke truth at first. See, I grant 
you all that. You must go your way alone. Such as 
I could not make you happy. 1 give you only this 
if you care to take it for memory. 'Tis all 1 have. As 
to my love who knows what I love or where? Adieu/' 

She held something out to him, something white, and 
heavy with gold and little jewels. It was the mate to 
that gauntlet which he had won from her and given to 
the King ten days ago. He took it, mechanically, and 
placed it, almost without looking at it, in a pocket. Then 
he picked up his cloak and his hat. Slowly he put both 
on ; and, once more, all accoutred, he turned to look at her. 
Her back was towards him. Her head was bent. He could 
not speak coherently. He put out his hand and felt for 
the fastening of the door. There was a long, inaudible 
sigh. The door swung open. An effort, two steps, a 
slight mist before his eyes he was gone. In the ante- 
chamber Henri, with haggard face and tears unconcealed, 
waited also for a clasp of the hand, to bid him godspeed 
to his banishment. 



JBooh fl 
DEBORAH 




CHAPTER I 
A Ship Comes In 

LL night the waters of the Chesapeake and 
those of the Atlantic beyond had been tum- 
bling under the force of a fresh east wind 
that was bearing an incoming vessel straight 
up to her harbor and home. But with 
the first streak of gray along the far horizon, Night ceased 
to flap her dusky wings, and the wind fainted till it was 
but a breath. As the wavelets lapped against the ship's 
side, her captain, longing for home, shrugged his big 
shoulders and ordered out more canvas. 

It was a fair dawn. The whole stretch of sky over the 
bay was flushed with pink and beamy with gold; while 
beyond this the clear greenish turquoise of mid-sky and 
the west grew so vivid that the last clinging night-mist 
melted away, and the day waited only for the sun. He 
came at last, a great, fiery wheel, dripping from a watery 
bath and pouring his splendor back to the waters again 
till the river ran gold, dazzling the eyes of the gulls that 
veered across its breast down to the bay and out towards 
the salty sea. And the sun woke the forests of birches 
and poplars and spruce, colored the dandelions in the 
grass all over again, drank dew from the flower-cups, 
played with the breeze among the peach-blossoms of the 
orchard on the bank, and finally entered into the quaint 
breakfast - room of a colonial house, Trevor Manor, that 
stood on the river Severn, three miles from the city of 
Annapolis. 

Adam, the house-butler, very black and very sleepy, 
was in this small apartment, dusting. From the next 



104 The House of de Mailly 

room Lilith, his wife, hummed, in a rich contralto, over 
her sweeping. Otherwise the house was still ; for the sun 
rises early in May. 

The breakfast -room wherein Adam worked, or played 
at work, is worthy of description, perhaps; for the colonial 
country-side knew nothing just like it. It was the south- 
west corner room on the lower floor, opening out of the 
library, but so easily accessible from the kitchen, which 
was fifty feet from the house, that the family commonly 
used it for all their meals. The general Southern fashion 
of dining in the central hall, from a custom of hospitality, 
had its drawbacks. On the north side of the breakfast-room 
were the library door, a small buffet covered with the best 
cheynay, some chased silver, and a little Venetian glass- 
ware, the pride of the family heart, and, on the other side 
of the doorway, a badly done family portrait. In the east 
wall was a large fireplace, with a mantel above, on which 
stood two large porcelain jars and a black bust of Plato, 
over which hung a recent print of his Majesty King George. 
To the south a large window looked out upon the yard 
behind; but the western wall of this little place was no 
wall at all. Across the top of it, just below the ceiling, 
a grudging support to the upper story was given by a 
heavy oaken beam. Beneath this all was glass. The 
little, opal-like, diamond-shaped panes, were wont to catch 
the rays of the afternoon sun, and make the room, from 
noon to twilight, a blinding, rainbow cloud of light. A 
door, too, there was here, all of glass and bound with lead 
a real triumph of craftsman's skill in those simple days. 
It had been Madame Trevor's idea, however, and where 
was the workman in Maryland who would not have been 
stimulated to inspiration with Madame Trevor to oversee 
his work? The door opened upon a terrace which led 
by a little flight of steps down into the rose-garden, or, 
by a diverging path, off to the big round kitchen, in which 
last building the morning fires had been lit, and Chloe, 
with Phyllis, her scullion, daughter, and probable suc- 
cessor, was plucking spring chickens for the morning meal. 



A Ship Comes In 105 

Adam and Lilith, their first tasks ended, were now 
setting the table in the breakfast - room, with table-cloth 
of unbleached linen, the ordinary service of burnished 
pewter, silver knives, and carving -set of steel, horn-han- 
dled. When the six places at the oval table had been 
laid, Lilith disappeared through the glass door, to re- 
turn presently with a great platter of newly picked straw- 
berries, green-stemmed, scarlet and fragrant, and still 
glistening with dew. These were set in the centre of the 
table, while on either side stood an earthenware bowl 
heaped with sugar, patiently scraped by Adam from the 
high, hard loaves that came, wrapped in bright purple 
"dye-paper," up from the Spanish Indies. 

The sun being by this time nearly two hours high in the 
heavens, the breakfast-room was deserted by serving-folk 
to regain a more tranquil tone for the reception of its ordi- 
nary habitants. Through the open door came the breath 
of the May morning, heavy with the sweetness of the gar- 
den just outside. Plato gazed mildly down upon the two 
or three lazy flies that hummed over the strawberries, and 
once a robin from the woods near by skimmed into the room, 
brushed past the decanters on the buffet, halted for a second 
on a jar near King George, and made a darting exit through 
the open southern window. 

Finally, into the waiting solitude, came Sir Charles 
Sir Charles, tall, slender, graceful, freshly wigged and 
powdered, his lieutenant's uniform of scarlet and white 
in harmony with the morning, the Gentleman's Magazine 
in one of his well-kept hands, an eye-glass on a silken cord 
in the other. He seated himself in an evidently accus- 
tomed place at the table, pushed back his chair a little, 
comfortably crossed his legs, and began to reperuse an 
article on the best methods of preserving fox-brushes, 
which had engaged his attention the evening before. He 
was not a rapid reader, and he had not half finished the 
column when he felt, unmistakably, another presence near 
him. Thereupon he permitted himself an unmannerly 
luxury : 



106 The House of de Mailly 



" Good-morning, Debby," he murmured, without looking 
up. 

" Good-morning, Sir Charles," was the reply. 

Then, quickly throwing aside his paper, the young man 
rose, bowed as he should have done, and stood looking at 
her who was before him. 

Deborah stood in the glass doorway, half in and half out 
of the room. Her face was slightly flushed, and her hair, 
as usual, in a state of delightful, crinkly disorder. Other- 
wise her appearance was immaculate, and, for all Sir Charles 
could have told, she might have been in a costume of bro- 
cade and lace. It was no more, however, than a faded blue 
and white homemade linen over a petticoat of brown hoi- 
land, with a small white muslin kerchief crossed upon her 
breast. She was bareheaded, and the hair that had been 
tossed into a thousand rebellious ringlets was tied back 
with a blue ribbon. Deborah Travis, Sir Charles Fair- 
field's second cousin, and Madame Trevor's first, was, at 
this time, seventeen years old, and not yet so pretty as she 
gave promise of being later. Nevertheless, Sir Charles' 
poorly concealed devotion in her direction was a matter that 
was not discussed in the Trevor family. The tongues of 
slaves, however, are seldom bridled among themselves; 
and neat things upon this interesting topic were not infre- 
quently spoken round cabin-fires on cool evenings in the 
quarters. 

" You've quite recovered, I trust, Deborah, from your 
your indisposition of yesterday?" 

The girl's cheeks grew pink as she answered, quietly, 
"Quite, thank you, Sir Charles." 

" 'Twas another experiment in the still-room?" he vent- 
ured. 

"Of course," she responded, reluctantly, and in a tone 
that finished the topic. 

There was a pause. The Governor's lieutenant was 
finding himself again. "Will not you come in, Mistress 
Debby?" he said, finally. "Or may I come out and walk 
in the garden a little with you?" 



AShipComes In 107 

" Thank you, I shall come in. Breakfast is ready, but 
the rest are late." 

"And you have been in the still-room all this while?" 

" No, I have been in the twelve-acre field, and as far as 
Hudson's Swamp." 

"Devil take me! What were you doing there?" 

"I was hunting for a plant but I could not get it. I 
brought home some young tobacco instead." 

"Why why Deborah, 'tis always plants with you! 
Can you find nothing nearer home to suit your pleasure? 
Tell me the plant you sought, and 1 will hunt for it to the 
other end o' Maryland, if you command." 

" Thank you, Sir Charles, but in a month I shall pluck 
it for myself, at the end of the huckleberry path. 'Tis 
spotted hemlock. I found one, young yet, but well-looking, 
which I shall gather as sooi, as 'tis big enough." 

" Spotted hemlock ! Child, 'tis rank poison ! I'd a horse 
die of it once in " 

He broke off suddenly and turned about as Madam 
Trevor, with her younger daughter, Lucy, rustled into the 
room. The elder lady looked rather sharply from her 
nephew to her young cousin as she came in ; but she could 
read neither face. Sir Charles bowed with great respect, 
and Deborah gave her usual demure courtesy for the morn- 
ing. Lucy was a slight, pretty little creature, with thin, 
silky dark hair, lively blue eyes, and a waist as trim as 
Deborah's own. She greeted the two cousins with equal 
grace, but seemed to prefer Deborah's company, drawing 
her a little on one side to show a spindle-prick upon her 
finger. Their whispered conversation was interrupted by 
the entrance of the master of the house, Madam Trevor's 
only son, Vincent. He was a well-built, muscular fellow, 
a trifle short for his breadth of shoulder, with the family's 
blue eyes, and hair so black that the powder but badly con- 
cealed its hue. He greeted his mother with profound re- 
spect, lightly kissed his little sister's cheek, and nodded 
to Deborah in a preoccupied fashion. Then, joining 
Charles at the buffet, he proceeded to mix their first potation 



io8 The House of de Mailly 

of the day, two Venice glasses full of Jamaica rum, sugar, 
and water. Both gentlemen drank to the health of Madam 
Trevor, who acknowledged the usual courtesy with a 
slight nod, and then, seating herself at the head of the 
table, drew towards her the platter of strawberries. 

" We are not to wait for Virginia?" asked Vincent, taking 
his place. 

Madam was about to reply when, from the little passage- 
way beyond the library, came the crisp rustle of stiff petti- 
coats, and Virginia Trevor, the belle of Annapolis, tall, fresh 
of complexion, unrouged, of slender figure, and delicate 
patrician features, came smilingly into the room. The 
gentlemen hastened to rise, and Sir. Charles lifted back 
her chair. 

"Thank you. Your pardon, madam, for being late. 
Amanda was very slow." 

"After your wakefulness of last night, I had not imag- 
ined that you would attempt to rise this morning," an- 
swered her mother. 

Virginia glanced at Lucy, and a half smile passed between 
them. It was over before Madam Trevor perceived it. 

"Debby was the sick one yesterday," observed Lucy, 
gently. "But you seem to be quite recovered to-day," 
she finished, turning to her cousin, just as Adam entered 
from the kitchen, bearing with him a platter of fried chick- 
ens, crisply browned and smoking, while Lilith followed 
with hoe-cake and bacon. 

"Deborah's illness appears to be a matter of her own 
choice," remarked Madam Trevor, with displeasure in 
her tone. " She has been warned of the dangers of her 
strange and useless experiments. If she chooses to go 
her way against all advice, she must accept the conse- 
quences of such folly." 

Deborah was silent, and appeared unconcerned at the 
reproof. Virginia, however, rather unwisely, spoke in her 
favor. "Indeed, Debby 's experiments would seem to me 
most useful, mother. You yourself say that no one about 
Annapolis can make such rose and lavender water, or distil 



A Ship Gomes In 109 

such cordials and strong waters as she. The still-room, 
too, is a different place since she was given charge over it." 

" 1 was not of the opinion, Virginia, that Deborah's ill- 
ness resulted either from rose-water or from cordial. And, 
as to the still-room, who enters it to know how it may be 
kept?" 

" Madam Trevor, I have never refused entrance to any 
one of the family or the slaves who has wished to enter 
the room you gave me charge over! Indeed, Lucy " 

" That is enough, Deborah." 

Sir Charles Fairfield, though to all appearances he had 
not been listening to the short conversation, flushed a lit- 
tle at the manner in which it was ended, and, raising his 
voice, he addressed Vincent : 

" Will you ride into town with me to-day? I've not wait- 
ed on his Excellency for a week. On my life! they give 
us an easy time out here ! Fancy a full-pay staff -officer at 
home, in camp, not seeing his colonel for a week ! I must 
really ride in to-day. Come with me, Vincent, and see 
what idea there is of a chase next week." 

Vincent poured out another tankard of quince-cider and 
slowly shook his head : " 'Tis not possible to-day, Charles. 
They are just beginning to top the tobacco. I am going 
over all the farther fields with Thompson and there are 
three new blacks to be graded. If you'll go to-morrow, 
I'll ride with you; but not to-day." 

" Pa 'don, Mas' Trev' !" cried a black boy, in house livery, 
who came running in from the front. " Docta' Caw'l and 
Mist' Cawlve't outside on the' ho'ses, an' say, can they 
come in?" 

"Mr. Calvert!" cried Lucy. 

" Go to meet them and bring them here at once, Vincent," 
commanded Madam Trevor, at the same time sounding a 
hand-bell for Adam and Lilith. 

Vincent and Charles together hurried out of the room, 
while the ladies drew more closely together at the table, 
and two extra places were laid. 

" Bring some fresh chicken and hot bacon and hoe-cake 



iio The House of de Mailly 

at once, Adam; and have Chloe fry some oysters and tap 
a barrel of apple-jack." 

The slaves scurried away to the kitchen again as the 
sound of deep masculine voices was heard in the library. 
The guests entered the breakfast-room side by side, and 
the four ladies rose to greet them; Madam Trevor first, 
with her daughters just behind her, and Deborah, with 
suddenly eager eyes, a little to one side. 

Dr. Charles Carroll, father of " Mr. Carroll, of Carrollton," 
foremost Whig and Catholic in Annapolis, always in dis- 
favor with the Governor officially, and excellent friends 
with him of a Saturday night, forty-five years old, wealthy, 
bluff, a little gray under his bag-wig, booted, spurred, 
fresh of color, and bright of eye, greeted his old friend and 
mentor, Madam Trevor, with hearty good-humor. Beside 
him was Benedict Calvert, a son of the Lord Proprietary, 
but Protestant bred; Whig by preference, slender, hand- 
some, unusually dignified, and quite unaffected. After 
the various salutations the entire party reseated them- 
selves at table, and the guests, hungry after their early 
canter, helped themselves without stint to the freshly cooked 
food brought in for them. The doctor had placed himself, 
as usual, by Deborah, who was all attention now; while 
Mr. Calvert, with a sympathetic smile of understanding 
and good-comradeship, was by Lucy, with his hostess on 
the other side. 

"And now, madam, young ladies, Sir Charles, and our 
host," cried the doctor, in a hearty voice, "we are about to 
repay your hospitality with news, excellent news, for every 
one of you!" 

"Ah! Let us hear it, doctor!" cried Vincent, while the 
others murmured assent. 

"Well, then, for the ladies first! The Baltimore is in 
port, after a bad voyage. She sailed from Portsmouth 
on the 20th of February. I was on the south piers as 
she came to anchor. Her cargo or part of it is all for 
feminine ears to hear. She has with her the last fashions 
from home, and the material to reproduce them. There 



A Ship Comes In 111 

are paduasoys and lutestrings, and satins and laces, and 
damasks and silverware, and cheynay and glass, and rib- 
bons and combs, and shoe-buckles and silk stockings, and 
most wonderful garters, I'm told; and " 

"Nay, now, doctor, 'tis far enough!" cried Sir Charles; 
and the gentlemen laughed. 

" Well, then, there are those things, and more. And on > 
the morrow, at ten of the morning, there is to be a public 
sale on the docks off Hanover Street, where he who has 
the wherewithal may buy. And I am bidden to ask you 
all to ride in and spend what moneys you can wrest from 
Vincent's hands, and, after, to come to my house, where 
Mistresses Letitia and Frances will serve you with a fair 
widower's dinner. How now what think you of my first 
news, damsels?" 

" 'Tis what none in the world but you could bring, Dr. 
Carroll," replied Madam Trevor, beaming graciously. 

"And we may go, mother?" asked Lucy, voicing the 
anxiety of her more dignified sister and her silent cousin. 

" Yes, we will go and our compliments and thanks to 
Mistress Letitia and Mistress Frances for their asking. 
Deborah, child, you must have tabby for a new petticoat ; 
and I shall get you all muslins." 

" And I must have a new set of plumes for " 

"Mother, may I not have a flowered paduasoy this 
year?" 

"Come, come, girls! 'Tis our turn now! Surely, doc- 
tor, you do not imagine us interested in sales of silk stock- 
ings and satins? What is the news for us?" asked Vin- 
cent, with a slight smile. 

Benedict Calvert laughed. "Troth, sir, 'tis not every 
man that is so unfeignedly disdainful of silk stockings and 
satins, whether for his own attire or for a lady's. Howbeit, 
there is other news that you may like to hear. In the as- 
sembly yesterday the matter of the commissioners for Lan- 
caster was finally settled. Word has come from Virginia 
that the council will open on the 25th of June. Our men 
will probably leave here on the 20th; and " 



U2 The House of de Mailly 

"I am elected to go, devil take me!" cried Sir Charles, 
ruefully. 

"No such luck. Do not bemoan thyself, Charlie. Not 
one of the Governor's staff, and only one official Marshe 
is of the number," returned Benedict, grinning broadly. 
" 'Twas a prudent choice. Not a Radical on either side." 

"Then the doctor's scarce in," observed Vincent. 

"That am 1 not," returned the doctor with eminent 
good -humor. "But Mr. Calvert the worshipful Mr. 
Calvert is; and so are Phil Thomas, and the Reverend 
Mr. Cradock, and Edmund Jennings, and Colvill, and 
ah, yes ! Bob King. There, at least, is one Radical for 
you. Well, well I Even such as they should manage, 
together with their right honorable compeers from Vir- 
ginia and Pennsylvania, to buy the right of our colonial 
lands from the Six Nations after a hundred and fifty 
years of occupancy willy-nilly!" 

" Quite so. And now that's all our news, Madam Trevor. 
Does it equal the breakfast?" 

"Not quite all, seeking your pardon! But the other 
matter is for the ears of Mistress Debby here, whom, if 
you will permit me, madam, I will, after breakfast, attend 
to her sanctum the still-room." 

Deborah did not move. Her eyes dropped, and sharp- 
eyed Calvert himself could not have guessed the eager- 
ness hidden under her perfect mien. 

"Deborah has been too much with her drugs of late, 
Dr. Carroll. I think it were better if you talked with her 
on some healthier subject. 1 am not over-fond of her ill- 
considered ways. They are morbid, much of the time." 

"Ah, madam, I am sorry for that! 1 look forward to 
the consultations with little Mistress Deborah as the 
happiest reminiscences of my professional days before I 
abandoned physic for merchandise. Your young cousin 
has remarkable talent about it." 

Madam Trevor shrugged her shoulders. "If you put 
it in that way, Dr. Carroll, how can 1 refuse you your 
pleasure in coming to our plantation? If 'tis a question 



A Ship Comes In 113 

of talking with Deborah or not coming at all, why 
Deborah is all at your service." 

" By my troth, Madam Antoinette, if that is a pleas- 
antry, it is not one that 1 like overmuch. How could you 
so take my words?" 

"Come now, doctor, hurry on! Conduct the damsel 
to your physicking-room, and I'll wait here. You forget 
that our road leads on to the Kings'." 

"To be sure. Well, Debby, let us be off. 1 must see 
your manipulation of the new retort." 

Thereupon the doctor and his protegee, leaving the 
others still at table, went together out of the glass door, 
down the path, across the yard, with its great poplar-trees 
and the groups of pickaninnies playing, as usual, about 
the high well-sweep, to a small building a trifle northeast 
of the cabins and half hidden in great lilac bushes that 
clustered before its very door. This was Deborah's sanc- 
tum, the still-room; and into it she and her companion 
retired. 

The single room contained three large windows, through 
one of which nodded a thick bunch of purple lilacs, heavy 
with perfume, and still damp with dew. Along the window- 
less wall of the room ran a stout pine table, on which, 
among various utensils, stood two chemist's retorts, one 
the old iron alembic, the other Deborah's greatest treasure, 
a glass retort for which Dr. Carroll had sent to Europe. 
In one corner stood the charcoal box, a tall, iron brazier 
containing some smouldering coals, and a keg for water. 

While Deborah built up her charcoal fire and carried 
the brazier to the table, Carroll went over to a corner 
cupboard, opened its door, and looked in upon the five 
shelves where, ranged in orderly rows, stood all the phials 
and flasks that Deborah had been able to collect. Only 
a dozen or so contained more or less muddy-looking liquids, 
and on each of these was pasted a paper label covered with 
fine writing. One after another the doctor picked them 
up and examined them. 

"Aha!" he exclaimed, finally, taking the cork from one, 
8 



114 The House of de Mailly 

and smelling the cloudy mixture within. "Aha! You 
have it here! 1 thought so. Now, this is precisely the 
thing that 1 should advise." 

Deborah went over to him. "What! The monks- 
hood? 'Tis a poor solution. For want of pure alcohol, 
1 had to use rum." 

"No matter. Let us manipulate this a bit, Debby, 
instead of your tobacco there. For this is necessary. 
And while we are distilling some pure aconitum napellus, 
1 will tell you a little story, and weave for you a prettier 
romance than ever you did find in The Chyrurgien's 
Mate or old Galen's Art of Physick, that once 1 found 
you with or even the Whole Duty of Man, which I 
swear you have not read." 

"Yes, 1 have. But the story, Dr. Carroll! Was't the 
news you had for my ears?" 

" Even so, mistress. Now careful with the body. 
We mustn't spill this where's your filter? That's it. 
A slow evaporation will be best. Can you fix the other 
end? Good! You have a deft hand. 

"Well, now, the tale runs this wise. You heard me 
say that 1 was at the piers when the Baltimore came in 
this morning. I'm half -owner in her, and, besides that, 
Croft is a very good friend of mine, and 'tis four months 
since he sailed from here. He the captain, Debby 
came off from the ship in his boat, looking a bit tired and 
haggard, and more glad to get home again than ever 1 
saw him before. They'd a nasty voyage, been short 
of water for a week, and, besides that, he had a tale to tell 
about one of his passengers. At Portsmouth only four 
came on board, one of them a young fellow, a Frenchman, 
known to Lord Baltimore, who commended him to the 
care of Croft. It appears that the young man is of the 
nobility and high up in Court society at his home Paris, 
1 suppose. But, for some reason unknown, he packed 
himself on board the Baltimore and sailed for a place 
certainly far enough away from his friends and his people, 
whoever they are. Croft says that it can't be an unlawful 



A Ship Comes In 115 

thing he's done to make him come away, for the Lord 
Proprietary himself came down to the ship with him and 
tried to persuade him to give up the idea of coming. I 
suggested to Croft that, if it were not outlawry, love were 
the thing to send a man flying like a fool from civilization ; 
and Croft vows 1 hit it. This noble Marquis de some- 
thing-or-other, Croft said, mooned about the ship like 
a soul in purgatory for the first weeks out, and thereupon 
he fell sick in good earnest. It seems he's been in a raving 
fever now for days past, sometimes delirious, sometimes 
in coma. He's talked overmuch, from what I can hear, 
about Lewis, the French King, and a lot of madames, 
and a Henry his rival, perhaps and I don't know what 
all. See, there's the first vapor. Now 'twill be just right. 
Well, Croft said he must see this man safe off his hands 
and in some place where he could be cared for, before he'd 
make report of the voyage. So, Debby, I sent a black 
up to the ordinary of Mrs. Miriam Vawse, and she came 
down herself to the wharf, just as they got the man ashore 
de Mailly, his name is. By the great Plutarch, Deb, 
he's the man for us ! Never have I seen a creature in such 
condition! I think he must have been well enough look- 
ing once. But now ! He's a skeleton from fever. His 
face is shrunken and as bright as a hunting-coat. His 
hair 'tis long and black tangled into a mat; and his 
clothes, of excellent make they are, hang about him like 
bags. He was conscious when he landed, but I didn't 
hear him speak a single time as we drove him up the hill 
and to the ordinary, where Mrs. Miriam is to care for him. 
"Now, Deborah, here's my part of the tale for you. 
To-morrow, when you come in town for the sale, after you 
dine with us at noon, I shall manage so that you go down 
to the Vawse house and yourself see this fellow, judge 
his symptoms, and administer this very stuff that is 
coming out fine and clear now to him, in your own 
way. 'Twill be the best practice you could have; you 
could scarce make the man worse ; and 'twould be a grand 
thing, eh, Deb, to accomplish such a cure as that? My 



n6 The House of de Mailly 

faith, you'll be having me return to the profession in a 
year more! But hang me if I'd not be found a better 
practitioner with your assistance than Richards, dis- 
penser of poisons that he is!" 

"And so are we, Dr. Carroll/' returned Deborah, so- 
berly, as she carefully watched the process of evapora- 
tion in the retort. " Indeed, 1 think that 1 like better know- 
ing the things that will kill than those that will cure." 

" Bloodthirsty maiden don't you know 'tis all the same 
thing? And how d'you like my plan?" 

"I think, sir, that madam never would permit it. 
'T would be a most highly improper thing." 

"Nonsense nonsense. If you were my own maid, 
you should certainly do it. I'll manage. Trust me 
that is, if you care for it. Are you indifferent?" 

Deborah was silent for a long moment. Then she 
sighed. "I'm not indifferent. And and I'd dearly like 
to see a gentleman from Court even though it were only 
from the French Court." 

" Only the French Court ! Why, child, 'tis the greatest 
in the world for courtiers and gayety. What more 
would you have?" 

Deborah had no time to make answer, for at that mo- 
ment one of the house-slaves came to the open door of the 
still-room. 

"Beg pa 'don, Mist' Cawlve't sen't' say the ho'ses a'e 
ready, an' does doctah want dinne' at Mist' King's, o' 
is he goin' eat Miss Deb's dis dis somethin', 1 done 
fo'got what/' 

Carroll laughed. "Troth, Debby, Mistress Lucy must 
have been less entertaining than usual this morning. 
I must go, I suppose. Can you finish this alone? You 
seem to know all the processes. " 

" Yes, I can finish it in an hour, if madam lets me stay 
here/' 

"I'll try to see that she does. Will you bring the aconi- 
tum to-morrow, then?" 

"Yes." Deborah smiled and courtesied. 



A Ship Comes In 117 

The doctor bent over and kissed her hand with affec- 
tionate gallantry. "Good-morning, Hygeia." 

"Good-bye, sir." 

"Till to-morrow. At the French Court, I believe, they 
say ' au revoir,' " he added, mischievously, while the 
girl smiled. Then Carroll strode off, with David at his 
heels, leaving Deborah alone at her favorite occupation, 
wondering a little, in an absent-minded way, over the 
unusual event that her somewhat eccentric mentor pro- 
posed to bring into her life. 

Mr. Benedict Calvert, with the Trevor family clustered 
about him, stood, riding-whip in hand, in the portico of 
the manor, in front of which, on the driveway which curved 
out towards the river, were the two horses, Carroll's and 
his, held by one of the stable-boys. Mr. Calvert was 
laughing and talking blandly with Lucy and Sir Charles ; 
but madam, with her elder daughter ami Vincent, stood 
a little to one side, and annoyance was very plainly read- 
able in the face of the mistress of the house. The doc- 
tor, with a cheery smile, came briskly round the corner 
of the east wing. It took but one glance to tell him who 
had really called him from the still-room. 

"Most puissant Lord Commissioner, behold me here at 
your command!" he cried, approaching his companion. 

"A Deborah is not with you?" observed Madam An- 
toinette rather uselessly. 

"No. Shall I call her? I left her in the preparation 
of a little matter which I had requested of her. Pardon 
me. I did not know that I was taking her from " he 
made as if to go after her, when Vincent interposed. 

"Don't trouble, doctor. She will be only too glad to 
finish what you asked. Afterwards there will be time 
enough for the spinning, or the weaving, or whatever is 
necessary." 

Carroll thanked the young man with a little glance, 
and began at once making his farewells. He perceived 
that the time for introducing the project of Deborah's 
visit on the morrow was eminently unpropitious. Mr. 



n8 The House of de Mailly 

Calvert made graceful adieux to the ladies, lightly saluted 
the master of the house and the Governor's lieutenant, 
and leaped upon his animal. A moment more and the 
two were cantering away, side by side, still looking back 
to the portico. When they were at length hidden by the 
bend in the road, Madam Trevor turned to the two girls. 

"Virginia and Lucy, go you both and overlook your 
wardrobes and the linen in the press, and think out what 
is needed that we may buy at the sale to-morrow. Deb- 
orah may help you when she comes in. Charles, you 
ride to town, do you not? And, Vincent, 1 would have 
a moment with you before you go to the fields." 

The little party dispersed as it was bid, Vincent follow- 
ing his mother into the house and to the west passage, 
where hung her garden hat, her lace mittens, her basket, 
and her pruning-knife. Thus accoutred, she led the way 
through the breakfast-room and out upon the terrace that 
overlooked the fairest spot in Madam Trevor's world her 
garden. Here she paused, her eyes wandering for a mo- 
ment over the scene about them, before she turned to 
her son. 

" I wanted to speak to you, Vincent, of the sailing of the 
Baltimore. Within two or three weeks she will be going 
out again, 'tis likely." 

"True. And what has that to do with us?" inquired 
the young man in some perplexity. 

His mother sighed. "Vincent, 1 confess to anxiety. 
You are aware, 1 think, of the reason of Charles Fairfield's 
colonial appointment? You know why he sailed with 
you in the autumn when you came home to us to take 
your father's place here? You know why he has made 
his home in our house instead of in Annapolis with the 
other aides?" 

"Yes, 1 know," responded Trevor, shortly. 

"Remember, Vincent, it was your father's wish, it is 
your uncle's, it is mine, that we should all be brought 
a little closer to old England by Virginia's marriage with 
her cousin," 



A Ship Comes In iig 

"And the sailing of the Baltimore?" 

"1 am going to send off my jewels, my wedding pearls, 
to have them remounted in London for Virginia. And 
when they come home that should be in August when 
they come home, you and Charles must come to an under- 
standing about your sister. Remember, Vincent, as the 
head of the family, you have a place to fill. There are 
certain matters about which you cannot afford to be care- 
less matters of more importance than the tobacco crop, 
or the price of slaves. 1 wished to ask you this morning 
if, when we drive in town for the dock sale to-morrow, you 
will see Captain Croft about intrusting the pearls to his 
keeping." 

" Certainly, madam, if you wish it. Shall I take them 
to-morrow to him?" 

"No. Not till just before the ship's sailing. They 
are too valuable to leave in a captain's cottage. This 
is what 1 had to say, Vincent. Go, now, to your fields, 
if you wish." 

Vincent bent over and kissed her hand. Then he started 
towards the house. After half a dozen steps he halted 
suddenly and looked back, as though he would have 
spoken. His mother, however, had descended the terrace 
steps and was already bending over her flowers. So, 
after a little pause, he turned about again and continued 
thoughtfully upon his way. 




CHAPTER II 
Dr. Carroll's Idea 

EBORAH'S bedroom was extremely small. It 
was merely one corner of the west wing, par- 
titioned off from the spinning-room and the 
great hand-loom ; and there was barely room 
in it for her bed, dressing-table, chest-of-draw- 
ers, washstand, and two chairs. Besides these necessities, 
there were two windows and a strip of carpet, to be regarded 
as luxuries. Deborah herself, however, curtained the bed 
and windows after her own fashion, in white India muslin, 
put a ruffled cover over the dressing-table, displayed what 
ornaments she possessed prettily about the room, and so 
regarded it with satisfaction ever after. Her two windows 
both looked out over the back of the plantation, the flower- 
garden being directly below, the woods to one side, the to- 
bacco barns at a distance. The room underneath Debo- 
rah's, which occupied the whole of the west wing on the 
ground floor, had been given to Sir Charles; and in the 
passage that connected this with the main house were the 
stairs. 

When Deborah woke from her dreamless sleep on the 
morning after the doctor's visit, the first active thought in 
her brain was of the dock sale for that day. It was rather 
later than her usual hour of waking, and she hurriedly 
began her toilet. Presently, however, as she was loosen- 
ing her hair, her eyes fell upon the bottle of aconitum na- 
pellus which she had brought to her room after its prepara- 
tion on the day before ; and at sight of it her hands dropped 
to her sides, and she stood still for a moment in contempla- 
tion. Then a little shiver ran over her, and she performed 



Dr. Carroll's Idea 121 

something very like a shrug. "1 don't like sick people/' 
she muttered to herself, turning to sit down before her mir- 
rored table. 

If Deborah's words were quite honest, then certainly this 
morning she was looking forward to the dock sale with 
unusual pleasure. She had never before manifested any 
strong interest in these things. In fact, she had been 
known to say that they were tiresome. Men did not much 
frequent them ; no young lady was allowed money to spend 
for herself; and the good housewives were always more 
interested in table-linens and utensils than ribbons or jew- 
elry. Nevertheless, here, this morning, was Mistress 
Debby, plying her hair with more interest than she had had 
for it since the last assembly ; and when it was all ringletted 
and quite smooth, she saw fit to use upon it a white ribbon 
that had never before been worn. Also, when Lucy cried 
at the door that she was to wear her blue lutestring 
petticoat and white muslin overdress, those garments lay 
ready upon a chair, though once or twice before, on like oc- 
casions, there had been some spirited conversation be- 
tween Deborah and Madam Trevor before the young lady 
was willing to give up the perverse idea that her every-day 
holland was quite good enough for such an affair. When 
she was ready, and the lace mittens taken from their draw- 
er, Deborah carefully placed her phial of distilled liquid 
in the neck of her dress, pushing it out of sight among 
the ruffles of her kerchief. 

At nine o'clock the family coach, with four ladies inside 
it, left the house. Sir Charles, in scarlet and white, and 
Vincent, in bottle green, accompanied the vehicle on horse- 
back. Vincent was reconciled to leaving his fields by the 
prospect of meeting some of the burgesses in the city and 
learning the details of yesterday's election of commission- 
ers; while the lieutenant never needed strong urging to 
give a day to the mild amusements of the colonial town, 
with its coffee-house, its feeble imitators of English beau- 
ship, its jockey club, and what few pretty women were to 
be visited in the daytime. The clock on St. Anne's was 



122 The House of de Mailly 

booming the half-hour as the coach crossed the bridge over 
the inlet at the foot of Prince George Street; and here, in 
the last house of the town, a quaint wooden cottage in the 
midst of a well-shaded yard, dwelt Captain Croft of the 
Baltimore. At its gate Vincent, with a little nod to his 
mother, stopped. 

"I've an errand here," he called to Fairfield. "Will be 
at Carroll's by twelve. Do you dine with us ?" 

The aide shook his head. " Thanks, no. I'll go to the 
coffee-house with Curtis and Belmont, if 1 do not dine at 
the Governor's. Are you coming to the assembly later?" 

"Yes. Till this afternoon, then," and Vincent dis- 
mounted at the gate, while the coach, with its single cava- 
lier, all unconscious of the significance of Vincent Trevor's 
errand, went on again. At the new Bladen Street Sir 
Charles turned off towards the Governor's "palace," while 
the vehicle kept on towards the water-side. 

Hanover Street was thronged with coaches and convey- 
ances of all kinds, bringing in people from the country, 
while the ladies, and a few gentlemen of the city, picked 
their way on foot to the wharf. Every one was known to 
the Trevors, and madam and Virginia had their heads out 
of the windows continually, bowing and speaking to those 
whom they passed ; while Lucy was now on one side, now 
on the other, peeping out with a covertly expectant air; 
and Deborah watched her, knowing very well what she 
sought, and knowing also that it would not be found. 

Virginia saw her sister's restlessness with displeasure. 
She said nothing till they left the coach, but when at last 
they had alighted at the crowded dock, Miss Trevor took 
occasion to whisper into Lucy's ear : 

" Lucy, had John Whitney seen you looking for him this 
morning, he would, 1 think, scarce have been overpleased 
with the manner of it." 

And Deborah's eyes chancing to fall on the younger 
girl's face, saw her cheeks grow scarlet and her eyes fall 
with quick mortification. 

The sight which met the eyes of the new-comers at the 



Dr. Carroll's Idea 123 

wharves was one curious enough for a person of to-day. 
The broad wooden pier, at which were fastened a dozen or 
so of pinnaces and small boats belonging to folk who had 
come from far up the river or down the bay, had been con- 
verted for the time into a mart. All up and down, in reg- 
ular lines, it was dotted with little platforms of wood, which 
were covered with articles taken from the ship and arranged 
here for sale, on the day and night before, by salesmen 
hired for the purpose from the various town shops. 

The goods were the selection of London men who had 
made life studies of the colonial trade, and who knew, 
moreover, the various tastes of the various localities, north, 
south, tide-water, and inland. Certainly there was variety 
to be had here. Down one side of the dock were set forth 
on their platforms every possible household contrivance, 
with a good deal of furniture, and enough kitchen utensils, 
china and glass, to have set up a dozen ordinaries. Along 
the centre of the pier were materials, ready-fashioned gar- 
ments, fine damasks that could not be made at home, and 
fancy articles of dress and the toilet. About these there 
hovered, throughout the day, a fair sprinkling of gentle- 
men, pricing scarlet and gold-laced coats, silk stockings, 
ruffles, and perfumed pomades with great interest. The 
third row of booths held agricultural implements, tools, 
coarse materials, such as felt and leather, together with a 
few books and papers. 

When Madam Trevor, with the three girls, arrived at the 
pier, all aristocratic damedom seemed to be about the silks 
and damasks. Now, while carrying on a lively conver- 
sation with Mistresses King, Paca, Cradock, and Chase, 
Madam Trevor busily priced tabby silk petticoats and India 
muslins, of which she selected very pretty pieces for her 
daughters and Deborah. Mrs. Chase was casting longing 
glances at a satin bodice that Mistress Harwood held in 
her hands. But, as the two ladies did not speak, owing 
to the upper story of the Harwood house, there seemed to 
be but small hope of attaining to possession thereof. 

"What monstrous pretty cloaks!" cried Mrs. King, 



124 The House of de Mailly 

turning over a pile of short capes of crimson, blue, and 
white. 

' 'Tis too near summer now to purchase cloth," rejoined 
Mrs. Cradock, pursing her lips regretfully as she held one 
up. 

" They are but two guineas, madam ; of the latest cut ; 
will continue in England just so for the space of five years 
will wear longer than that," observed the salesman 
casually, with alluring indifference. 

"I declare I'll take this blue one! It is of the most 
excellent texture, and 'tis always cool on the river in the 
evening." 

"Virginia, will you have a white one?" asked her 
mother. 

" No, thank you, madam. I have cloaks and to spare. 
With your permission, 1 will go look at the fans farther 
up. My last was broken at the Masons' rout." 

" You may look at them, and 1 will join you presently. 
This crimson cape will suit Deborah. Would you like 
this, Debby?" She turned about to find only Lucy at 
her side. 

"Where is she?" asked Madam Trevor of her daughter. 

"On the other side of the pier, 1 think. Shall 1 call 
her?" 

"At once. What can she be doing there?" 

Lucy turned about and started to wend her way among 
the groups to the other side of the dock, where Deborah 
stood over a little collection of chemists' implements. 
Beside her, a sacred book in his hand, was a young man, 
at sight of whom Lucy hesitated, her face crimson, her 
heart beating unsteadily. She stopped almost still for 
a moment to watch them. Deborah was lovingly han- 
dling a siphon, while the young Puritan minister talked 
to her. Presently he caught sight of Lucy, who was con- 
strained to move towards him again when she perceived 
the quick light that came into his face and the bow that 
he made. Deborah turned, and her mouth twitched a 
little as she perceived her cousin's fluttering nervousness. 



Dr. Carroll's Idea 125 

"Master Whitney was speaking of you, Lucy/' she said. 

"1 did myself the honor to inquire after the health of 
you and Mistress Virginia/' said the young divine, em- 
barrassment and pleasure adding a load of stiffness to his 
manner. 

"Oh, thank you! As you see we are very well. 
Debby," she added, reluctantly, "mother wants you at 
once to see if you would like a crimson cloak. I am so 
sorry 1 mean " 

" I would prefer this siphon a thousand times to a crim- 
son cloak," murmured Deborah, more to herself than to 
her cousin. 

Lucy heard her, however. "I'll ask, if you like, Debby, 
and then, perhaps, we may return and purchase it." 

" I was just about to leave the wharf, having found the 
book I sought. May I accompany you to Madam Trevor 
and pay my compliments to her?" 

Lucy beamed with delight, while Deborah consented 
with an absent-minded nod, and the three returned to the 
side of Madam Trevor, who greeted the Reverend Mr. Whit- 
ney with surprise and only the necessary politeness. In- 
deed this young Puritan was a sore subject in the Trevor 
family, whose youngest daughter had lost her faith, and, 
presumably, her heart, to the exponent of a rigid creed, 
inimical to every form of that Popery which was, just now, 
the only religion in disfavor with the erstwhile Catholic 
Province of Maryland. 

The crimson cloak was purchased, the siphon was 
not; Master Whitney took a reluctant leave of little Mis- 
tress Trevor ; and her mother, accompanied by Mrs. Paca, 
started to rejoin Virginia over the fans. 

"Surely, Antoinette, you'll scarce return home before 
dinner to-day. Will you not drive up from here and take 
pot-luck just a cold joint with us?" 

" Thank you for us all, vastly, Barbara, but we are be- 
spoken by Dr. Carroll. You're most kind." 

" I am sorry. I declare 1 had thought to see the doctor 
here to-day, but he's not been near the dock." 



126 The House of de Mailly 

"Ay, and he rarely misses a sale. Doubtless, he has 
gone to the assembly." 

Indeed, in one of the two places Dr. Carroll, accord- 
ing to unvarying habit, should have been. He hap- 
pened, however, to be sitting in his own study, where, 
as one might say, he had waylaid himself. And he was 
by now sunk in a reverie so profound as to be totally ob- 
livious of any of the proceedings of the outside world. 
His two maiden sisters bustled about the house preparing 
for their guests. His son Charles, a lad of seventeen, was 
in his own room being tutored in French and the classics 
by the priest who lived in the family. Thus the doctor 
had his study, which was his particular worjd, to himself ; 
and the two people who formed the subject of his medi- 
tations were linked together by his thought for the first 
time. Fate and Fortune can work most curiously, and 
Destiny toss far indeed, when Claude de Mailly, of Ver- 
sailles, and Deborah Travis, Virginia born, should have 
set out towards each other from birth, groping till they met, 
and for some little time after, too. Charles Carroll, being 
the instrument, not the confidant, of Fate, was now sitting 
among his books, perplexed and wondering at himself. 
That morning, for the second time within twenty-four 
hours, he had traversed the two blocks that separated 
his house from the ordinary of Miriam Vawse, to which 
Claude, at the doctor's instance, had been carried from 
the ship which had been so nearly the scene of his death. 
And very differently the young fellow looked to-day. 
He had been bathed; his hair was combed and clipped; 
his stubbly beard shaven off, his soiled clothes removed, 
and a clean, coarse linen shift substituted for the under- 
garments of foreign make and curious fastening which had 
much puzzled the excellent Mistress Vawse. And in 
this new guise all the innate refinement and gentleness 
of the de Mailly nature had once more come to the surface, 
and Dr. Carroll had no difficulty in determining that his 
new-found prote'ge' was of even finer breeding than he had 
guessed on the previous day. 



Dr. Carroll's Idea 127 

Claude's small travelling coffer had been brought up 
from the ship, and was placed near his bed, in the clean, 
sunny little colonial room under the eaves of the house. 
It must be confessed that Mistress Vawse had been through 
the trunk pretty thoroughly, after unlocking it with the 
awkward key which she had found in the Frenchman's 
clothes. But, with a delirious foreigner, whose disease 
requires quiet as much as good nursing, beside you, and 
a long day empty of incident to be gone through in silence, 
what woman could have resisted the temptation to ex- 
amine so fascinating a boxful of clothes as this? And 
in justice let it be added, that Miriam Vawse would quite 
as soon have thought of assaulting the Governor in the 
street as of purloining the very smallest lace ruffle con- 
tained in this treasure- box ; for her forbears and her honesty 
had come together from Kent in the year of grace 1660, 
along with certain choice recipes for cordials and strong 
waters, and the ancestral talent for nursing which Dr. 
Carroll in the old days had been wont to find so useful. 

Meantime the genial doctor had completely wasted 
his morning in pondering over the almost impossible 
situation that he wished to bring about; and finally, as 
the Trevor coach drew up to the door, he left his study, 
resignedly determined to give his hopes to Chance for 
fulfilment. 

The four ladies alighted from their vehicle, leaving be- 
hind them, to the care of the black footboy, a large num- 
ber of bundles brought from the sale. Their host hand- 
ed Madam Trevor sedately up the walk and into the 
house, where now Mistress Lettice Carroll, his sister, and 
Frances Appleby, his sister-in-law, both in starched and 
flowered paragon, with powdered locks atop of demure, 
quaint little heads, stood in the doorway to welcome 
the guests. When the ladies had removed their head- 
gear and scarfs up-stairs they returned to the drawing- 
room where, it being near the hour for dinner, young 
Charles Carroll and Father St. Quentin awaited them with 
the doctor. Madam Trevor, Virginia, and Deborah greeted 



128 The House of de Mailly 

the priest with reverent friendship, for every Sunday they 
attended the mass which he performed in the Carroll chapel, 
where the few families of the old faith in Annapolis were 
accustomed to congregate ; and, besides this, he had been 
kind enough to give some instruction to the Trevor girls 
and Deborah in the art of conversing in the French lan- 
guage. But Lucy hung uneasily back in the presence of 
Pere Aime, till he himself went forward and gave her a 
few gentle and impersonal words of greeting. Madam 
Trevor, beside Mistress Lettice, cast an annoyed glance 
at her daughter, but nothing was said on the subject. 
When Deborah, however, left St. Quentin's side, the doc- 
tor placed himself in her way and managed to ask, in a 
lowered voice, as she passed him : 

"You brought the monkshood with you?" 

And the girl nodded, gravely, " Yes/' The next instant 
she was seized upon by young Charles, who regarded her 
less as a piece of femininity than some pretty thing, ex- 
cellent to talk to, and a very good walker, produced by a 
beneficent nature for his especial benefit. They had wan- 
dered over to the window together, speaking of a forth- 
coming sail up the river, when Deborah's attention was 
caught by the voice of St. Quentin, who was addressing 
the doctor on an interesting topic. 

"If it would not displease you, sir," St. Quentin had be- 
gun, " 1 should like to give Charles an hour's holiday this 
afternoon." 

"And wherefore this leniency, good father?" queried 
Carroll, smiling good-humoredly. 

" For a kind of charity, 1 imagine. This morning, as I 
walked the length of the street before breakfast, Mrs. Vawse 
came suddenly running out of her ordinary to ask if 1 would 
not go in with her at once, or at some hour of the day. She 
has lodged in her house, it seems, a foreigner French 
who arrived yesterday on the Baltimore, half dead with 
fever, and who was carried up from the wharves to be taken 
care of by her. It appears that he raves continually in 
French, and 1 fancy that the curiosity of good Mrs. Vawse 



Dr. Carroll's Idea 129 

is growing strong within her, or else she would know how 
best to serve him, for she would have me come and translate 
for her some of his wild words, knowing that I have what 
she terms an unholy learning in that most ungodly tongue. 
As 'twas then too near the breakfast hour to obey her 
wishes, 1 promised to come later in the day." 

" And so, thy curiosity being roused by the dame's, thou 
canst not wait thy visit till after vespers, eh?" And the 
doctor laughed. 

" Seeing that it is a case of distress on the part of one of 
my countrymen, 1 would go at the first opportunity, on 
whatever pretence," returned the father, calmly. 

"Well, then, you shall be off directly we finish dinner," 
answered Carroll, devoutly imploring Providence to come 
to his aid. " And" 

" And if that is done, 1 would have Deborah go with him," 
said Providence at once, speaking through Madam Trevor, 
"with a message to Miriam Vawse. 'Tis concerning the 
cherry brandy, Deborah. The last of hers was so excel- 
lent that 1 would have her make for us a keg this year. 
Tell her to take three trees of our fruit for it, and one tree 
for herself, which/ together with two bushels of potatoes in 
the autumn, will pay for the making. You might learn 
her way of fermenting, while you are on the point. Then 
you may come back alone, if the father is not ready." 

Come back! Yes, there must be a coming back. Dr. 
Carroll, however, was rubbing his satin knee in an ecstasy 
of good-humor ; and Deborah herself, who, after a respect- 
ful bow to Madam Trevor, had shot one swift glance at 
the doctor, felt, as she returned to her conversation with 
young Charles, a curious quiver of the heart which she af- 
terwards decided to have been one of the most delightful 
sensations ever known. A moment later Mrs. Appleby, 
who had left the room several moments before, entered 
with a little courtesy to announce dinner. 

Once seated at the round, well-loaded table, conversation, 
by general assent, turned again to the Frenchman who 
had arrived on the Baltimore. 



130 The House of de Mailly 

" As a matter of fact/' confessed the doctor, willing to tell 
what he knew of the matter now, " it was 1 who sent him up 
to Mistress Vawse. 1 went down yesterday directly the ship 
was in, and, Croft having told me of the fellow, 1 got to see 
him. Faith, he was in a most execrable way! And be- 
sides, from what 1 could guess from his manner, and what 
Croft told me, he was a gentleman of rank. 'Twould have 
been pitiable enough to have had him die there on the docks ; 
so I packed him, with my compliments, his box, and my 
black, up to Miriam, who had him in excellent shape when 
1 went there this morning." 

"Charles, really, you are monstrous disagreeable," vent- 
ured Mrs. Lettice, gently. "Why did you not bring the 
poor man here? 1 vow Miriam Vawse can never manage 
alone, and " 

" Nay, Lettice, he is too young for thee. Ten years ago 
'twould have been a pretty enough romance, but " 

"Perhaps," struck in Madam Trevor, in time to prevent 
tears of mortification on the part of the little old maid, " per- 
haps 1 had better go, instead of Deborah. 1 might see the 
man, and find out " 

"Nay, now, Antoinette!" interrupted the doctor, in a 
great fright, while Deborah herself stirred a little anxiously, 
" you'll spoil all my purpose if you do that. Let Debby go 
on the cherry errand if she will, but you shall not see this 
Munseer till he's well and fit to receive you. Then, if he 
prove what 1 think him, I'll make him a dinner-party 
here, and he shall sit next to Virginia and opposite you, 
and you may study him at will." 

" La! 'Twill be as bad for him as the time 1 had at the 
last assembly ball, when at supper 1 sat by old Mas- 
ter Randal, who cannot hear thunder, while on the other 
side was Carleton Jennings, who had next him Lora Col- 
vill, that's to marry him in the autumn." 

"And where was Sir Charles Fairfield?" queried little 
Mrs. Appleby, with unfortunate would-be slyness. 

Madam Trevor's face changed suddenly, and Deborah 
colored. 



Dr. Carroll's Idea 131 

"Sir Charles? Oh with Debby, 1 believe/' was Vir- 
ginia's kindly, indifferent reply. 

Thereupon St. Quentin, who had not been brought up 
in a cloister, looked approval at Miss Trevor, and adroitly 
changed the subject. 

The meal coming to an end at length, the father imme- 
diately addressed Deborah on the subject of their visit: 

"Miss Travis, my curiosity still burns. Will you take 
pity upon it and accompany me as soon as you can down 
to the ordinary?" 

"1 will come at once, if Madam Trevor permits," was 
the reply. 

" Yes, get your hat and scarf, Deborah. In half an hour 
the coach will be here to drive us home. If the doctor will 
excuse your presence, you need not come back. We will 
stop for you on the way. You can wait in the sitting- 
room if Mistress Vawse is much occupied ; for you would 
not, of course, go up-stairs." 

Madam Trevor made the last remark in a tone that re- 
quired no answer. Deborah merely courtesied and ran 
away for her hat; and, while the five ladies returned to 
the parlor, Dr. Carroll laid his hand on the priest's arm 
and said a few words to him in a low tone. St. Quentin 
raised his brows slightly, but gave no further sign of 
surprise. Then, as young Charles came loitering up, his 
father took possession of him, fearing that he might pro- 
pose to accompany Deborah to the tavern. Five minutes 
later the priest and the young girl were on their way, Deb- 
orah with the warm phial, filled with her extract, press- 
ing close over her steady heart. 

St. Quentin spoke but once. " Dr. Carroll tells me that 
at his request you are to see this Frenchman," he observed, 
looking down at her ; but he saw no sign of interest in her 
face as she answered, briefly : 

"Yes." 

As the two approached the quaint little building, with 
the small, swinging sign of "ordinary" over the door, its 
mistress, looking out of the window of the sick-room, wit- 



132 The House of de Mailly 

nessed the approach of her visitors. She ran quickly 
down-stairs to meet them, leaving her patient for the 
moment alone. 

Claude was lying perfectly still on his clean colonial 
bed, conscious of nothing about him, vaguely feeling the 
change of air, perhaps, and the improvement of his sur- 
roundings over those of the dismal ship's cabin. But he 
was burning with fever, and, though the tossing of the vessel 
had got him into the habit of being still, he yet talked in- 
cessantly in his own language, while his wide-open eyes, 
roving aimlessly as they did, noted everything about him, 
and changed it into some familiar object of his rooms " at 
home." He saw Mistress Vawse leave the window, and 
cried after her anxiously : 

"N'oubliez pas, chere Marquise, que vous m'avez 
promis le deuxieme menuet!" 

Then, through the stillness, came the murmur of voices 
from below. For an instant he listened intently. " Henri 
tu es tard. Quelle heure est-il? Hein? Mesquin! 
Est-ce que votre Victorine est enfin moins cruelle?" Foot- 
steps sounded on the stairs, but the sick man turned away 
his head impatiently. "Ne faites pas un tel bruit. Ma 
foi! J'ai une t6te! Apportez-moi de 1'eau, Chaumelle. 
Ventre bleu!" 

Claude sat suddenly up in bed with a new vision before 
his eyes. Very distinctly he beheld, entering the room, 
far in advance of his Marquise, and a step or two before 
some abbe, a floating picture of blue and white, with deli- 
cate ruffles, a matchless throat, grave bluish eyes, and 
hair neither dark nor light falling in confusion about two 
slender shoulders. More and more intently he sat and 
gazed, while his scattered senses strove at last to adjust 
themselves, and his breath came rapidly through his 
parted lips. Deborah, St. Quentin, and Miriam Vawse 
had stopped still, just as they entered the room. Deborah's 
eyes fell upon the rapt look of de Mailly, and were held 
spellbound. She scarcely saw what he was like, what 
were the color of the eyes she looked into, nor was she 



Dr. Carroll's Idea 133 

conscious of any part in the scene till Aime St. Quentin 
quietly laid a hand upon her arm. She quivered and turned 
her head, till she beheld the priest's face. Then, sudden- 
ly realizing where she was, she passed her hand over 
her forehead and stepped slowly back, while the father, 
with an unreadable expression, advanced to the bedside, 
and Mistress Vawse, unable to comprehend just why she 
had stopped so long at the door, came into the room. 

"You've some medicine, Miss Debby, the doctor told 
me," she said, going to the girl's side. 

At the same moment Claude dropped back upon his 
pillows, muttering, with dry lips: "Du vin, Armand 
pour 1'amour de Dieu du vin!" 

Deborah looked up quickly, catching and understand- 
ing the words. "Have you something for him to drink?" 
she asked, before St. Quentin could speak. 

"Ay. There's fresh water and a tankard here," re- 
sponded Mistress Vawse, hurrying over to a small stand 
in one corner, where stood a pewter pitcher and mug. 

"Then let me have the cup for a moment," said the 
girl, in a low voice, taking from her breast the little bottle 
of brownish liquid. Into the water which Dame Miriam 
brought, Deborah, with a steady hand, poured five drops 
of the aconitum napellus. " Now, make him take it all," 
she said, recorking the phial. 

St. Quentin took the cup and pressed it to the lips of de 
Mailly, who was still groaning with thirst. He drained 
the draught eagerly and lay back on his pillows murmuring 
thanks and closing his eyes for the first time since early 
morning. The priest, attracted by his manner and his 
face, lifted a chair to the bedside and sat down. Deborah, 
after looking at him once again, drew a long breath, and 
moved over to the window, when Miriam touched her arm. 

"Leave the medicine here and come w r ith me, Miss 
Debby, till 1 show you some of his things." 

"What things? Wait. You must know about this, 
first. Never give him more than four drops in half a cup 
of water and that not too often twice a day, 1 think." 



134 The House of de Mailly 

"Why? Is't dangerous?" 

"Ten drops will kill an animal." 

"Mercy on us! I'll be careful, then. But come, now, 
to the best room. There I've laid some of his things that 
were all rumpled with bad packing. My faith! Such 
satins and laces you never did see, and linen as fine as 
your India muslin and shoe- buckles!" With which 
information good Miriam led the way on tiptoe from the 
room, Deborah, half reluctantly, half eagerly, following 
her. 

Across a narrow passage-way on the other side of the 
house was the " best bedroom " of the little old inn. Here, 
upon the high bed, carefully covered from the sun and 
any stray atom of dust with a clean linen sheet, lay half 
of Claude's wardrobe. As Mistress Vawse threw the cover 
aside Deborah uttered a little exclamation. Before her 
were the two court-suits of pink and white satin, with their 
delicate silver and silken embroidery, their elaborate waist- 
coats, point-lace ruffles, and silk stockings. Beside them 
lay orderly little piles of red-heeled slippers with paste 
buckles, linen shirts, a jewelled scabbard, two or three 
pins of diamonds, of which neither woman guessed the 
value, some rings, a white, three-cornered hat, two wigs, 
and an ivory snuff-box, in whose cover was the miniature 
of a woman, surrounded with pearls. 

"How beautiful!" murmured Deborah, laying one 
ringer gently on the embroidered pocket of the pink coat. 
"How beautiful! 1 have never seen aught like them." 
' "Nor 1. Not on the Governor himself." 

There was a silence as the two colonial women stood 
over the courtier's wardrobe, in this little bedroom of the 
far new world. Then again Deborah said, more to her- 
self than to her companion: 

"And the ladies do they, too, have such things as 
these?" 

"Oh, Miss Debby! Have you forgot Madam Trevor's 
wedding satin, with the veil and train? And the brocade 
she wore to the Governor's ball?" 



Dr. Carroll's Idea 135 

But the girl shook her head impatiently. "Madam 
has nothing in the cedar chest so wonderful as this/' she 
answered, lifting up a ruffle of Venice lace, as delicate 
as frost upon a window-pane. She looked at it lovingly 
for a long moment, and was about to replace it, when her 
eye fell on something which had lain beneath. It was a 
white kid glove, its back embroidered in tarnished gold 
and set with little blue stones, while in the centre of the 
arabesques was a crest, also in gold, unstudded. The 
girl turned it over, mechanically. Yes, there was some- 
thing on the palm the painting of a man's face and 
shoulders, a handsome face, if distorted a little by the 
brush; the face of a man comparatively young, some- 
thing dull of expression, with a pair of great, sapphire 
blue eyes, and curling locks of bright gold tied loosely 
back, but unpowdered. 

Deborah raised her eyes till they met those of Mistress 
Vawse. 

" This does not belong to him? Is not, 1 mean, a man's 
gauntlet?" 

" No, Miss Debby. When 1 took off his old suit yester- 
day, 1 found that glove pinned to his shirt on the left side, 
over " 

"His heart." 

Mistress Vawse nodded. The glove dropped from 
Deborah's hand, and Father St. Quentin suddenly ap- 
peared at the door. 

"The coach is coming, Deborah. Have you told Mis- 
tress Vawse of the cherries yet?" 

"Oh no! 1 will as we go down." 

"And how's the Frenchman, sir?" 

The father smiled. "Luck is against my practice of 
French for the day, 1 fear. 1 must come to-morrow. It 
may be Mistress Deborah's medicine. He is sleeping 
like a child." 




CHAPTER III 

The Plantation 

T was nearly four weeks since the Baltimore 
had set sail on her return voyage to England. 
The June days were flying. Peach-blos- 
soms had long since fallen; cherries were 
daily reddening; and the turkeys had been 
turned into the tobacco fields for their annual feast off the 
insect life so destroying to young plants. In nine days 
more the commissioners from Annapolis were to make 
their departure for Lancaster in Pennsylvania, for the 
purpose of settling the long-delayed matter of purchasing 
charter rights from the Indians. It was, moreover, a 
Monday afternoon, and very warm, when Virginia Trevor 
came languidly up from the rose-garden towards the wide 
and shady portico of the house. In her hand she held 
two magnificent red roses, which she now and then raised 
to her face, they being in perfect contrast to her white 
gown and petticoat of palest yellow. 

The portico was furnished in the fashion of a room, for 
in summer the family were inclined to spend more time there 
than in the house. Upon it now, in one of the comfortable 
chairs that surrounded a wicker table, sat the solitary 
occupant of the portico Sir Charles. He had been here 
for an hour or so, ever since dinner was over, half awake, 
bored, wishing for amusement, but without energy to go 
in search of it. On Virginia's approach he rose, bowed, 
and went to the edge of the porch to hand her up. 

"Thank you," she said, smiling a little. "It was a 
condescension. You look very sleepy." 

"And you are, as ever, pleased to make sport of me," 



The Plantation 137 

he responded, good-humoredly. "Have you no pity for 
a man weary of himself, his very sportiveness, and most 
mightily tired of the silence of the trees, the shadows, 
the sun, and the river yonder?" 

"Troth, you are in a bad way/' responded the young 
lady, seating herself at the table and taking therefrom a 
reticule which held some silken knitting-wqrk. 

There was a pause before Fairfield observed, idly, " My 
aunt's roses must be highly successful this year." 

" Yes. These are very perfect." 

" And are you going to be so selfish as to keep the two of 
them, when not even one is needed to complete your beau " 

"No, no. Stop!" 

Sir Charles looked at her in surprise. 

"Take both the flowers if you like" she tossed them 
over to him " but forbear any remarks on my appearance. 
1 1 am not in the mood." 

He fastened the roses upon his waistcoat, helped him- 
self to a pinch of snuff, dusted his coat with a large hand- 
kerchief, and leaned towards her. " How have I offended, 

Virginia the fair?" he asked, half lazily, half curiously. 
The young lady shrugged her shoulders. "In no way 

at all. This is a Monday. Have you never noticed that 

1 am always vaporish on Mondays?" 

"No, 1 had not noticed. Oh! as I remember it! Tell 
me, what did you think yesterday of M. de Mailly? Is't 
the first time you have seen him?" 

" Yes. And I think him a gentleman, and that his Eng- 
lish accent is good. He looked rather pale. For the 
rest why should I think of him at all, since his eyes are 
only for Deborah?" 

"Deborah!" echoed the man, too quickly. He recov- 
ered himself, however. "Ah, well he has seen her be- 
fore. You and Lucy were strange to him. " 

" He has seen her before?" repeated Virginia, surprised. 

"Several times. Didn't you know? Carroll told me 
'twas her doses medicines that probably saved his life." 

" Ah ! So that is what has made her so eager over Miriam 



138 The House of de Mailly 

Vawse." Virginia gazed thoughtfully out among the 
trees towards the river, of which a flashing glimpse was 
now and then to be caught through the feathery foliage. 

" 1 thought you knew, cousin, or 1 would not have spo- 
ken. There was no wrong in the matter. Only Deborah 
is peculiar. She " 

" Oh, have no fear ! I will not speak of the matter. But 
I am not too fond of Deborah Travis; therefore I say 
nothing of her affairs. It might be better for her if I 
did." 

"I think not," he answered, coolly. "Hark! There 
is some one coming up the road. Do you hear the beat of 
the hoofs?" 

"Yes." 

At that moment Jim, the groom from the stables, came 
running to the portico, and stood there expectantly facing 
the road, down which the sound of horses' hoofs was be- 
coming plainly audible. 

"Who is it, Jim?" asked Sir Charles. 

"Mas' Thompson shout f'um road, minute ago, dat 
Mistah Rockwell ridin' up." 

"Oh Mr. Rockwell!" Virginia rose with a cold ex- 
pression settling over her face, and Sir Charles shrugged 
indifferently as the visitor came in sight and presently 
halted his mare at the portico. 

He was a florid, rotund, sandy-haired fellow, the rector 
of St. Anne's of Annapolis; conceited, a large eater, and 
a fair story-teller, but without brain enough to make him- 
self obnoxiously disagreeable. He came up the two steps, 
wiping his face with an enormous handkerchief. His 
dress had been somewhat disturbed by the long gallop, 
and his bag- wig was awry. Before bowing to Virginia 
he stopped to adjust these matters, and then, having re- 
turned the slightly distant salute of the lieutenant, he 
observed, in a thin, non-clerical voice: 

"Mistress Virginia, if it is not inconvenient, I am bent 
upon seeing your brother and Madam Trevor this after- 
noon." 



The Plantation 139 

" Vincent is in the fields, Mr. Rockwell. 1 will have him 
sent for." 

" Pray do not do so, my dear young lady. 1 would not 
for the world put you to such trouble. No doubt he will 
be in later. 1 will see madam, your mother, first. If you 
could tell me where 1 may find her " 

"Will you step into the parlor, please? If Sir Charles 
will excuse me, 1 will call my mother at once." 

The lieutenant bowed politely, and the two passed into 
the house, leaving Fairfield to sit down again with another 
shrug at the interruption that left him once more to his 
boredom. Presently, to his mild surprise, he perceived 
young Charles Carroll hurrying through the shrubbery 
in the distance, across the road. 

"Carroll! Oh, Carroll!" shouted Fairfield; but, if the 
boy heard him, he made no reply, merely quickening his 
pace a little till he was out of sight. 

As a matter of fact, young Charles did not want to hear. 
It was for Deborah that he had come to the plantation, and 
he was going to seek her in the spot where she was most 
likely to be found. Having happily escaped the continued 
notice of Sir Charles, he reached the back of the Trevor 
house, and there came upon the object of his search, seat- 
ed, Turk-fashion, by the still-room door, surrounded by a 
group of black, wide-eyed pickaninnies, to whom she had 
been telling ghost-stories in their own dialect. It was one 
of her favorite forms of amusement when she was a little 
lonely ; and the small mental effort required in concocting 
the endless tales was more than compensated for by the 
unwavering devotion to her of every black imp on the place. 
It was no great acquisition, perhaps, to one's acquaint- 
ance, but it was one of Mistress Travis' pleasures, and 
one not yet forbidden by Madam Trevor. 

Young Carroll was close upon her before he was per- 
ceived ; and when she beheld his expression, she burst into 
so sudden a peal of laughter that her audience jumped in 
terror, imagining it to be the latest demoniacal accomplish- 
ment of the ghost. At sight of Master Carroll, however, 



140 The House of de Mailly 

they realized that their afternoon was over, and all but one 
ran off to the quarters. This small fellow, Sambo by name, 
aged five, elegantly clad in a brown holland shirt that was 
many shades lighter than his skin, clung to Miss Debby's 
arm, pleading for more; for he was court favorite, and 
might do as he chose. 

"I'm so glad you've come, Charles," she said, holding 
out a hand, which he clasped and shook as he might a 
man's. 

"1 have the pinnace. Can you come sailing now?" 

"Oh yes! I've finished my spinning" she made a 
little grimace "and the knitting, and have crushed two 
bushels of rose-leaves for distilling, and have told three 
ghost-stories and now 1 may sail, 1 think." 

"Must 1 ask madam?" he queried, dubiously. 

She laughed. "No. There now, Sambo, run away. 
No, 1 can go without asking her." 

Very gently Deborah put away the child who still clung 
to her skirts, and started off, beside her companion, towards 
the river. Virginia and Sir Charles, from the portico, saw 
them pass the shrubbery. Fairfield repressed an excla- 
mation. He would have given much to have been in the 
boy's place ; and Virginia, catching a glimpse of his face, 
knew it, but was silent. 

"I've got that Frencher de Mailly in the boat," ob- 
served Charles, as if offering a bit of off-hand information. 
"I like him, and he asked to come. What's the matter?" 

Deborah had stopped short in her walk. "He there!" 
she cried, looking anxiously at her rumpled dress, knowing 
that her hair was all awry, and beginning to pull down the 
sleeves that were rolled to her shoulders. " Oh, you might 
have told me! How could you have let me come looking 
so?" 

"You didn't mind me, though," returned Charles, not 
over-pleasantly. " Come, let the sleeves stay up, and don't 
bother with your hair. You're a thousand times prettier 
so, if that's what you want." 

Deborah looked up at the boy with a little, mischievous 




"SURROUNDED BY A GROUP OF PICKANINNIES" 



The Plantation 141 

smile. "1 know that I'm better so. That's why I let it 
stay for you," she said; and Charles, near enough to 
manhood to make the inference, had a momentary impulse 
to fall then and there at her feet. He did not guess, how- 
ever, why the added color had come into Deborah's cheeks, 
or that there was a quick tremor at her heart as they ap- 
proached the boat. 

The wharf belonging to the Trevor place was hidden 
from the house by the foliage of the peach-orchard on the 
river-bank. Claude de Mailly, waiting in the little pinnace, 
beheld the two figures approaching him among the trees, 
and made his way along the bowsprit that he might help 
the young girl into the boat. He bowed gravely as she 
came along the pier, regarding her dishevelment of attire 
in surprise as well as admiration. It was but yesterday 
noon that he had seen her in very different state, and 
had thought her charming then. But now ! She 
accepted his proffered hand, and stepped carefully past 
the boom and down into the pinnace, though Charles 
had never seen her do such a thing before. Usually she 
leaped past him and was at the tiller before he could cast 
the painter off. 

"Better let me take the steering to-day, Deborah," 
observed Charles, as they swung away from the dock. 

"Oh does mademoiselle herself steer at times?" asked 
Claude, with the quaintly twisted s's and r's that Deborah 
loved to hear. 

"Sometimes," she replied. 

"River or bay, Deb?" inquired Carroll, bluffly. 

"The river; and let us beat up along the other shore. 
Tis prettier." 

"All right. Mind the sail now." 

Deborah obediently ducked her head, but Claude, not 
understanding the observation, and being turned from 
the canvas, sat still as the heavy boom swung over. 
Charles shouted, and Deborah seized his arm, pulling him 
down just in time. When they were under way again, 
de Mailly sat straight and looked curiously at the sail. 



142 The House of de Mailly 

"Ma foi comme j'etais bMe!" he observed, smiling at 
the girl, who returned his glance. The incident had 
broken the little stiffness of her manner, a fact which the 
Frenchman perceived with relief. "You saved my un- 
fortunate head another blow, Mistress Travis. I thank 
you for it." 

"1 am glad that I saw you," she answered. "Charles 
and 1 have both been knocked over with it. One does not 
always see." 

" Faith, 1 should think not ! I had Deborah senseless 
for a quarter of an hour here once " 

"Nonsense, Charles. It was not five minutes." 

"Humph! It seemed half a day to me. There, are we 
near enough the bank now?" 

"Yes. Let her out, and run free with the wind." 

With this command, and a sigh of content, Deborah sank 
down at Carroll's feet, laid her head upon the seat, and 
said no more. Charles could feel a bit of her calico ruffle 
over his foot, and her shoulder close to his arm, and was 
perfectly happy in watching the sail and feeling the tiller 
quiver in his grasp. The stranger reclined on a cushion 
in the bottom of the boat, facing the stern, his eyes resting 
half the time upon Deborah, and half the time upon the 
silver wake of the little boat. 

A more perfect afternoon the gods never contrived. 
The sun was by this time well on its descent, the west 
was a glare of glory, and the whole river caught its re- 
flection and poured an endless golden ripple along the 
shores, upon whose deep velvet turf the yellow shadows 
were lengthening. From the bay, eastward, came a stiff 
salt breeze that stirred the lazy June air till it had revealed 
every flower-breath in the land, and was as rich as only 
June air can be. Farther up, the river narrowed and 
twined between its banks till Charles was obliged to tack 
in order to catch the wind. For the most part the shores 
were wooded -and still ; but every now and then came an 
opening through which one caught the glimpse of a red 
brick house with white windows and pillared portico gleam- 



The Plantation 143 

ing through a mist of birch or willow branches. Occasion- 
ally a gull, just in from the ocean, would dart, arrow- 
like, into the water, churning it white with his dive, to 
reappear presently, holding a captive fish, scales flashing 
in the light, fast in his beak. 

Claude de Mailly noted it all all this natural beauty 
and perfumed silence that his life had lacked. It was 
entering into his nature at every pore of the flesh, and 
was to him as milk to a man dying of hunger and thirst. 
Only one unsatisfied desire was in his heart. And yet, 
was it easy to mourn, even for that, when, just before him, 
graceful, unconscious, careless, pure of brow, clear of eye, 
and with that mad hair clustering all about her neck, lay 
another woman, whose glance, every now and then en- 
countering his own, would droop so swiftly that he could 
see the whiteness of her eyelids and the long, curling lashes 
that touched her delicately flushed cheeks? A new feel- 
ing was welling up in the courtier's heart something that 
had never come before. He let it stay, nor tried to under- 
stand the reason for its being. But he knew that he was 
moved by the sight of Deborah, and instinctively he divined 
that his emotion was being echoed in her. 

Deborah was cold, with a cold which the summer sun 
had no power to warm. But she had not found that chill 
in the salt, eastern wind. She knew and understood but 
half that was taking place this afternoon. She had waited 
for its like, without knowing what it might be, for a long 
time. Sir Charles had brought her something that ema- 
nated merely from himself ; but here, at once, in the first 
glance ever given her by this other, while he had raved 
in fever, was all that she had dreamed of, and infinitely 
more. Had it been some weight that was crushing out 
her heart, she could only have opened wide her arms and 
fiercely welcomed it. It was not all de Mailly either, she 
thought, vaguely, as she felt Charles move the tiller. It 
was the whole day, the place, the sunlight, the river, even 
the imperturbable Carroll, who was silent for the sake of 
the air, and the water beneath the keel of his boat. The 



144 The House of de Mailly 

Severn was still swollen from heavy spring rains, and the 
shallows of later summer were covered now. Young 
Carroll presently ran the pinnace so close to the high north 
bank that a willow, growing in the water, sent out one pale, 
feathery arm that brushed Claude's head in passing. 
Deborah watched a long leaf draw over his neck, just 
below the ear Taking the bough as it reached her, she 
pressed it half unconsciously to her forehead, looking 
up to find de Mailly smiling into her eyes. But when they 
emerged from the shadows he was looking beyond her, 
down the river, though the smile lingered still about his 
lips. Charles Carroll did not notice the incident. He was 
thinking of his pretty feat in steersmanship. 

"Well, Deb," he said at last, "if I'm to get home for 
supper, well have to come about." 

Deborah sighed, and acquiesced. 

"Mind your head, then, sir," cried the boy, laughing. 

And as de Mailly bent carefully over, he answered blithe- 
ly : " Faith, sir, had you kept me out half an hour longer, 
I should so have lost my head that the boom could not have 
menaced it." 

"Ay, the river's pretty." 

"The most beautiful spot in the world and seen with 
the most charming companions," returned the Count, 
bowing towards Deborah, but moving up to the high side 
as they came into the wind. 

Deborah knew instantly that their afternoon was over, 
and she was chagrined that she had allowed him to be 
weary of her. Pushing Charles from the tiller, she sud- 
denly took his place. 

"There, now you shall rest, or unfasten the sheet and 
manage that while I wake myself up!" she said. And 
young Charles obediently moved up beside Claude and 
took unto himself the management of the sail, while Deb- 
orah, sitting straight to the freshening wind, shook her- 
self out mentally, and fastened her thoughts upon the tiller. 
Now, indeed, as she brought the boat so close into the wind 
that the water swirled gently over the low side, de Mailly 



The Plantation 145 

turned towards her again. He was willing to be upset if 
she liked; but he did not care to have an accident occur 
because he had made her absent-minded. Deborah, how- 
ever, was not thinking of him at all. Her skilful hand 
was making the little vessel fly, and there would be no 
false moves on her part. When they came about upon 
the second tack the sail flapped for but one-quarter of a 
second. As it filled with a puff, the little yacht fairly 
leaped ahead. 

"Jack me, Deb, if that wasn't the prettiest turn I ever 
saw!" cried young Charles, as he manipulated the sheet. 

" 'Twas half you, Charlie. 1 must have let her go had 
you not brought her up just at the right instant." 

" And did Mistress Deborah learn the management of a 
boat under you, sir?" asked Claude. 

" Mine and my father's." 

Claude settled back and tried to bring his mind to other 
subjects; but for the moment Deborah had completely 
fascinated him. He could do nothing better than com- 
pare her to all those other women to whom she was indeed 
incomparable, to try to fathom the many expressions he 
had seen in her eyes, and seek to determine which was the 
normal one. And so they left behind the upper windings 
of the river and neared at last the wharf of the Trevor place. 
The sun hung low over the tree-tops as Deborah stepped 
from the boat and held out her hand to Charles. 

" Indeed, I am beholden to you. We have never had so 
beautiful a sail." 

"1 trust, Mistress Travis, that it will not be the last in 
which 1 shall be permitted to join you?" put in Claude, 
hastily, as she courtesied to him, and would have been off. 

"1 trust not; but the pinnace is not mine. It is with 
Charles and Dr. Carroll that you must plead." 

So, with that small politeness, Deborah turned towards 
the shore, wondering a little why she should have finished 
so perfect an afternoon in annoyance with herself and those 
who had been her companions. She passed slowly up 
through the orchard and across the road at the top of the 
10 



146 The House of de Mailly 

bank. The plantation grounds seemed utterly deserted. 
The family must be at supper. Through the trees she 
caught a glimpse of ths empty portico. Hurrying a little, 
she went close to the doorway of a small, vine-covered ar- 
bor which was but rarely used. Nevertheless, to night, as 
she passed it, there came the sound of muffled sobs from 
within. Deborah halted, hesitated for an instant, and 
then entered the little place. Inside it was dusky, but she 
perceived at once the glimmer of something white in a 
corner. 

" Who is it?" asked the girl, sharply. 

The figure stirred, and perhaps made some attempt to 
reply ; but the only result was another hoarse sob. 

"Lucy! Lucy! what is it?" cried her cousin, running to 
her quickly. "Nay, now, pray don't cry so! Is't only 
Mr. Calvert's going with the commissioners, so that you 
mayn't have him to take you to Master Whitney's church? 
Listen ! Virginia told me she'd go herself with you 
there." 

" Oh, Debby dear, no, it's not that at all now," came more 
quietly. 

"What, then? Try and tell me about it, Lucy. See, 
you are all crumpled up. Come out of this horrid place, 
and tell me about it. Come, now come." 

It was seldom that Lucy Trevor would have refused such 
persuasion, for she was a gentle little thing, and loved to 
be led. Now, however, she resisted all Deborah's kindly 
efforts to help her to rise, and only crouched closer in her 
corner, shaking with grief. Finally Deborah knelt and 
took the little dishevelled figure in her arms. Lucy had 
clung to her for a second, when a new voice interrupted 
them. 

" Lucy are you here?" 

Virginia stood in the doorway. Lucy made no answer, 
but Deborah said: "Lucy's here, Virginia. What has 
happened?" 

The elder daughter of the Trevors came forward and 
stood looking down at the two figures on the ground. " The 



The Plantation 147 

Reverend George Rockwell has asked for Lucy's hand. 
She should be most proud. Come, Lucy, supper is stand- 
ing, and the wedding's not till to-morrow. Why do you 
bear yourself like a child? Good God, Lucy, do you fancy 
a woman ever gets the man she loves?" 




CHAPTER IV 

Annapolis 

HE commissioners left Annapolis for Lan- 
caster on the 1 8th day of June, which was 
three days earlier than had been originally 
planned. After their departure Governor 
Bladen sighed with relief, packed up his black 
satins and official orders, and hied him to his country-place 
to recuperate for the fall sessions. By the 1st of July 
Annapolis was deserted. All of the old families had gone 
to their summer houses up the river or down the bay, and 
it was remarked that Dr. Carroll, who chose to stay in town, 
and Rockwell, whom he sincerely hated, must bear each 
other company through the summer. But Dr. Charles 
was not yet reduced to the companionship of a Church-of- 
England clergyman. He had taken an immense fancy 
to Claude de Mailly, of whom he saw as much as Claude 
would let him. Indeed, he had given the Frenchman more 
than one invitation to leave the tavern of Miriam Vawse 
to make a permanent abode in his own house, and could 
not quite understand why he had been refused. But 
Claude was well satisfied where he was; and had there 
the indispensable feeling of independence. Few guests 
ever came to the little tavern after the close of the spring 
assembly; and, when an occasional traveller did stop 
overnight, monsieur ate in his room, went to the coffee- 
house, or remained to make acquaintance of the stranger, 
as he chose. 

On sailing for the English colonies it had been Claude's 
idea to travel through them, when he arrived, as rap- 
idly as possible, courting what adventure and danger he 



Annapolis 149 

could, and to keep his thoughts enough occupied to crush, 
as best he might, his hopeless homesickness. But, after 
living in Annapolis for a week, he found that it might be 
a very endurable thing to exist in Annapolis for a year. 
The air was different, in this new land. New thoughts 
and new occupations had come, after his illness, and he 
ended at last by making a very pleasant salute to the Fate 
which had cast his lines in these places, determining to 
take the goods which the gods and Miriam Vawse pro- 
vided (at moderate cost), and remain in the little city till 
discontent again knocked upon his door. Certainly, he 
was not lonely. Through Dr. Carroll and Vincent Trevor 
he had made acquaintance with every gentleman, young 
or old, in the town. They received him extremely well, 
though, it must be confessed, some of them balked at his 
title. "Bah! Every Frencher's a count!" he heard Mr. 
Chase cry out one morning at the market, and thereafter 
he requested to be presented simply as M. de Mailly to 
what men he chanced to meet. Through the influence of 
Sir Charles he had been given the freedom of the coffee- 
house, which was really the gentlemen's club ; and he was 
asked to the last assembly of the season, which had taken 
place just before the departure of the commissioners, and 
which he did not attend. 

Upon an afternoon of the first week of July, Charles Fair- 
field, wofully bored with the weather and the lack of some- 
thing to do, rode into town at an early hour with intent to 
amuse himself at any cost, and a pruriency towards a stiff 
sangaree as the beginning of matters. The second want 
drove him down Church Street to the coffee-house. On 
arriving at the jockey-club-room he found its only occu- 
pant to be George Rockwell. The Queen's clergyman 
greeted him with great urbanity. How well would Rock- 
well have loved his brethren had all of them been knights, 
and the eldest sons of wealthy families! The sangaree 
was quickly forthcoming. He drank with Sir Charles, 
and Sir Charles drank with him, and they drank together, 
till the weather was of less importance and spirit acted 



150 The House of de Mailly 

upon spirit with delightful effect. Then it was that the 
divine opened a more intimate conversation. 

" Charles my dear Sir Charles were you aware ah 
of the fact that it is my hope and my intention my inten- 
tion, sir to have the honor, at some day not far distant, of 
becoming, when two events shall have taken place, your 
ah brother-in-law, as it were?" 

"What the oh yes! Ha! ha! ha! Oh yes! You're 
after Lucy. To be sure, 1 recollect. Lucy ! Well, George, 
1 wish you well you know that. But she won't have 

you." 

"Won't have me? Um. Madam Trevor has all but 
promised her." 

" The more fool Madam Trevor. Oh, I beg pardon. No 
offence, sir. But, as I hear, the affections of the lady 
in question are already engaged." 

"Engaged?" The rector looked startled for an instant. 
Then he recovered himself. "You have reference, 1 pre- 
sume, to that Puritan psalm-singer, John Whitney. Oh, 
I'll engage to cure the pretty child of him! She is coy 
with me now; excuses herself when 1 call, has vapors 
when her mother insists; refuses to permit me to salute 
her hand. But 1 have no fear, Sir Charles. Consider 
my position. 1 shall get her, have no fear." 

"Still, 1 have observed that she attends your rival's 
church," remarked Sir Charles, maliciously. 

The rector emptied a glass. "If you'd but help me 
there," he said. 

"1 help you! Damme, what can I do, George?" 

" Since Benedict Calvert left the city 'tis Mistress Vir- 
ginia, your future wife, who takes her sister to the Puritan 
meetings. Now, Fairfield, if you if you would be so 
monstrous obliging as to speak a word to your young 
lady in ah my favor, I'd be forever beholden to you." 

Sir Charles laughed unpleasantly. "Lord, Master 
Rockwell, d' ye think I'm married yet? What possible 
right have I to address my cousin on any subject but 
the one 1 most avoid with her?" 



Annapolis 151 

"The one you most avoid? And what, pray, is that?" 

"The tender matter of love, George. Love and Vir- 
ginia are well strangers in my heart." 

"Good Heavens! Are you not, then, to wed the lady?" 

"Damme, my good fellow, I don't know! I would to 
Heaven 1 did know the state of another person's affec- 
tions." 

"Another! Oho! Aha! Another truly this is gal- 
lantry! In my ear, 1 beg, whisper the name." 

"The name? There's only one woman's name in the 
world/' cried Sir Charles, dramatically, a little overbal- 
anced with the sangaree. "Deborah! Deborah! Deb- 
orah! 'Tis she, the fairest petticoat in the colony. D'ye 
hear?" 

"I've heard that she was dangerous," responded Rock- 
well, chuckling with interest. "But is it true, is it pos- 
sible, Charlie, that you are bewitched enough by this 
young hum Pomona by this young Pomona, to be 
indifferent to the more glittering charms of Miss Trevor?" 

Sir Charles sat him down in a chair and sighed. It 
was a true love-sigh, such as there could be no mistaking 
in those days. "I love her to distraction," was his in- 
adequate observation. 

"Now I wonder," reflected the rector, aloud, "1 wonder 
if, in such case, distraction and marriage are terms synony- 
mous?" He lifted his head, scratched his large neck 
delicately with his finger-nail, and regarded the young 
man from that height with humorous serenity. 

"Devil take me how can I, George? They expect 
me to take the other Virginia. And there's the dower 
and my aunt's favor and my own dependence and, 
egad, I don't know!" 

"Then you won't marry her, eh?" 

Fairfield grew a little red. "I must. She's a kind of 
cousin, too, you know." 

"Oh, tut! A difficult' matter. Hum ! Ha ! When 
a you are prepared to assist me in getting Mistress Lucy, 
my services, or, rather, one of them, is at yours." 



152 The House of de Mailly 

"The marriage? Oh St. Quentin 'ud do that. He " 

"Not St. Quentin 's service, or one that he would not 
perform." 

"Eh? What are you getting to, Rockwell?" 

The divine advanced with large solemnity to where the 
young man sat, bent over him, and said, in a broad whisper : 
"Now look you, Fairfield, there's a certain ceremony of 
which the law takes no count, certain words being left 
out. A lady would accept it " He stepped back a 
pace. "When you desire such a service, terms might 
be got at between us. Once in England with your bride, 
the marriage growing cold " he waved his hand, shook 
his head, and so finished the proposition. 

Sir Charles gave him a long look. The color had left 
his face. He rose slowly, turned his back for a moment, 
and took a pinch of snuff. As he faced the other again 
he remarked, without much expression: "What a cool- 
headed beast you are, Rockwell." 

"Sir!" 

"Yes. But don't fight me to-day. That service " 
he stopped, unwilling to go on. 

"You may want it yet," finished the rector, insinuat- 
ingly. , 

But Fairfield did not commit himself. Before he had 
a chance to reply a servant of the house opened the door. 

"Beg pardon, sirs, but young Mr. Carroll and Mr. 
the Frencher, are below, and, not being regulars " 

" Yes, yes, show them up at once," cried the lieutenant, 
with relief in his tone. 

The servant disappeared, and George Rockwell turned 
upon his heel. He was not a little irritated at the result 
of the foregoing conversation, and he remained silent till 
quick steps sounded on the stairs outside, the door reopened 
vigorously, and young Charles, with de Mailly at his 
shoulder, gayly entered the room, bringing with them a 
new atmosphere. 

"Good -day, Fairfield! Good -day, Mr. Rockwell! 
Faith, you both look wofully! Is the sangaree ill made?" 



Annapolis 153 

The boy was in a gale of spirits, and ran about the room 
tasting of the liquor, looking down out of the window, 
and laughing at the three others. Claude saluted the 
gentlemen more quietly, observing to Sir Charles : 

"I perceive that we have interrupted you. I crave 
pardon. 1 sent the man to see if you were disengaged/' 

" You are mistaken, monsieur. 1 assure you, in my 
turn, that your arrival could not have been more agreeable. 
Confound it, Charles, have you a megrim or a frenzy? 
Where have you been, sir?" 

" To a cock-fight in the Prince George Street pit. You 
should have been with us. Captain Jordan's bird against 
Jack Marshe's. Jack's died. The secretary will be in 
a rage. 1 won three pounds, though." 

"You see, it was the first 1 had witnessed/' explained 
de Mailly. 

"Devil take me, why didn't you hunt me out, Charles? 
I've been eternally bored for a week. You lost to him, 
de Mailly?" 

Claude nodded. "As he said, a small bet seventy- 
five francs." 

Fairfield looked at him curiously. Three pounds did 
not seem to him small for a cockpit wager; but he would 
not have voiced this idea to the foreigner for double the 
amount. He turned again to young Charles. 

" Odds my life, Charlie, you've been drinking. What's 
it mean? Where's your tutor?" 

Carroll laughed joyously. "Shooting plover in the 
west marsh with father. I've a holiday, and M. de Mailly 
is making it with me." 

Rockwell frowned rather ill-humoredly, as though a 
preachment lay upon his tongue, and Sir Charles was 
about to speak again, when from below came the tram- 
pling of horses' hoofs and a little chorus of voices, while 
Carroll cried from the window: "Vincent Trevor, Will- 
iam Paca, and Carleton Jennings! They've stopped 
here." 

"Ah they'll be up presently. Rockwell, will you risk 



154 The House of de Mailly 

another tankard ? They 11 have apple-brandy and Madeira. 
Vincent scorns rum." 

The rector shrugged, vouchsafing no active consent, 
and after a moment or two the three young gentlemen 
clattered into the room. There was a chorus of greeting, 
and Trevor introduced young Paca to Claude, who had 
not seen him before. Jennings flung himself into a chair, 
flicking the dust from his coat-sleeves with a riding-crop. 
Paca sat upon the long table ; and Vincent, after drawing 
off his gloves and flinging them, with his hat and whip, 
upon a chair, went to the door and called lustily for a 
decanter of Madeira with glasses. 

"I ordered a sangaree when we were down," observed 
Jennings to Paca. " Trevor's thirst is aristocratic, but too 
small." 

"And we'll all drink with you both," put in Fairfield, 
with sociable impudence, while Rockwell smiled approval. 

"And now for the affair in hand," pursued Jennings, 
when the party were seated. "We've a race in prospect, 
Fairfield, that will take four months' pay to back." 

" Eh ! What's that? I back the winning side, of course. " 

Trevor laughed. " Nay, then,Charlie, will you desert me ?" 

"Egad, Vin, you're never going to take to racing! 
You've no stables." 

" Castor needs none." 

"Castor! Oh! By my life, Vincent, he might do. 
Vastly fine points, gentlemen. Rough-bred; but where 
you'd find a better " 

"He's pledged already, then," observed Jennings to 
Paca, smiling. 

"Why, who will you run against, sir?" asked Rockwell, 
interested, despite his ill-humor ; for, of all things, he loved 
the turf. 

"Paca's filly, Doris. She's young for my two-year-old; 
but Will is to enter her for the fall cup, and wants to give 
her practice." 

" Pretty beast, Doris. 1 stake on her, 1 think. Are the 
dates fixed?" 



Annapolis 155 

"No, deuce take it! there's the bother. Trevor has no 
jockey. Castor will carry weight, and there's not a rider 
in town over four and a half stone. Five would ride him ; 
no less eh, Vincent?" queried Paca, and Trevor nodded. 

There was a short pause, in the midst of which a servant 
with the wine and sangaree appeared. The room drank 
with Trevor, and two or three afterwards turned to the 
pewter mugs which held the planter's favorite beverage. 
Claude had been listening intently to the talk concerning 
the race, and, his ear being well accustomed to the colonial 
accent, he had gathered the gist of all that was said. 

"My man, Tom Cree, might know of some fellow who 
would do for you, Vincent. 1 think you could trust him if 
you cared to look about in that way," suggested Paca, 
after some hesitation. 

Vincent bowed. "Certainly I'd trust your man, Will. 
But I've some objections to that course. I've no intention 
of starting stables. 1 run Castor merely to try your Doris 
and test my own animal. 1 don't want to be known as 
deeply interested in the turf. Get a professional rider 
fastened to you even by one race, and poof! You all 
know what it means." 

The group nodded. Vincent Trevor was a man highly 
respected by all of them. He was quiet, silent, of excel- 
lent judgment, a little given to over-Toryism, no prig, but 
holding fast to strong principles. His friends knew his 
manner of life, and never expected him to step beyond its 
bounds. In the present case they all perceived his position, 
and his silence was rather dubious, till Claude de Mailly 
most unexpectedly broke it. 

" This race it would not be in public?" 

"Oh no. Certainly not," responded Sir Charles. 

"It would be on a track, or through the country, it 
I' anglais?" 

" Oh, track, of course not a steeple-chase eh, Trevor?" 
queried Jennings, and Vincent nodded, looking to de Mailly 
for more. 

" And the leagues miles, I mean how many?" 



156 The House of de Mailly 

"Track's a mile and a quarter. Shall it be twice 
round?" 

"Castor will hold twice, but would you try Doris so?" 

"Tut, tut, Vincent! Doris isn't china. She'll not 
break so vastly easy. Egad, we'll make it three rounds, 
if you like!" 

Vincent smiled. "I did not mean to offend you, Will," 
he said. 

Paca began an apology at once, when Claude interrupted : 
" If you would permit me, Mr. Trevor, I will ride your horse 
for you." 

The five men and Charles Carroll sat perfectly still and 
stared. De Mailly, beholding their amazement, and not 
understanding it, burst into an infectious laugh, at which 
Sir Charles immediately caught. 

"A fine joke, damme, an excellent joke!" he cried. 

Claude stopped his laughter at once. "Indeed, gentle- 
men, it was not a jest. 1 was quite in earnest, I beg you 
to believe," he declared. 

" Pray, sir, then why did you laugh? I see nothing to 
laugh at in so serious a matter," remarked Rockwell, with 
an air of injured dignity. 

" 'Twas my fault, parson," retorted Fairfield, still smil- 
ing; for his humor, though English, was still not yet of 
the colonial type. 

" Then you really make a serious offer to ride Castor in 
the race?" demanded young Carroll, curiously. 

" I offer. It is for Mr. Trevor to refuse me, if he wishes. " 

' 'Tis not that, monsieur, but you see it is vastly strange 
form for a gentleman to ride a track against a jockey. To 
be plain, M. de Mailly, since you are a stranger to our cus- 
toms none of us would do such a thing." 

Claude smiled and shrugged. " Thank you, sir, I was 
aware of the English custom in this case. But I am here 
to amuse myself. 1 make you an offer, sir. Examine my 
weight and my build, and try my riding before you refuse 
it." 

He stood up for the small group to judge his weight, and 



Annapolis 157 

this they proceeded to do with calm assurance and unspar- 
ing observation. 

"Not much over five stone, I stake my oath!" remarked 
Jennings, measuring the slender figure with his eye. 

"A shade over. Might train a little," commented Paca. 

"Not much strength," whispered Fairfield, dubiously, 
to Vincent. 

" I shall not be pulling the horse in after the first half- 
minute," observed Claude, quietly. 

"Ahum can you ride?" grunted Rockwell, when there 
came a pause. 

De Mailly flushed. " There is a story that when M. de 
Voltaire was in London he was asked by a lady if he had 
ever tried writing verses when he was in love, as was the 
custom among English gentlemen/' 

"Well what then?" retorted the reverend, irritably. 

Claude turned and stared at him with such a mixture of 
scorn and laughter in his eyes that Trevor hastily broke in : 

" Of course M. de Mailly rides, and, no doubt, excellently. 
But perhaps it might not be amiss if he would come out to the 
plantation in the morning to try my horse. And if you'll 
all be there to-morrow by eleven o'clock, we'll examine 
Castor and give him a mount in my paddock to " 

" To see whether my riding is fit for such a speed," added 
the proposed jockey, with a mixture of wounded vanity and 
sarcastic pride. He was beginning to regret rather bitterly 
his impulsive and wholly generous offer. In time he might 
become accustomed to English manners. Just now they 
hurt him more than he would have confessed. His whole 
early life had been one which had fostered his natural buoy- 
ant impulsiveness of spirit, and had made him young be- 
yond his years. It had been called his "pose." But that 
pose, which was more than half nature, was a singularly 
unfortunate thing for a man thrown upon the world, in a 
strange country, among new manners, through which he 
must find his way. And just now, while the Englishmen 
concluded various arrangements for their plan, he was 
struggling with his temper, and only won the battle when 



158 The House of de Mailly 

Trevor and Rockwell finally rose to depart. Vincent was 
returning to the plantation, and the clergyman, with Lucy 
in his mind, purposed accompanying him. 

" Coming, Charles?" asked his cousin. 

Fairfield hesitated. The plantation held out no special 
inducement to him. His blood had been heated, and he 
was eager for some excitement after a long period of inertia. 
" 1 think not, Vincent, since you have company. If Jen- 
nings, here, cannot put me up for the night, I'll go up to 
Mrs. Miriam's, or to Reynolds'." 

" I'll ride with you, Trevor. 1 can cross the river at King's 
Ferry. My people will expect me to-night. Our town 
house is shut." 

"Very well. 1 leave you, then, Charles. You'll ride 
out in the morning with M. de Mailly and Carleton. " 

"Ay, and me, too," called young Carroll after him. 
"I'll see Castor rode with the rest of you, and, egad, I'll 
go to the race as well!" 

"We shall be delighted, Charles," replied Vincent, as 
he left the room. 

"Until to-morrow, then. Good -day, sir," said Paca, 
bowing with courtly politeness to Claude, who liked him 
thenceforth. 

The four who remained in the jockey -club -room sat 
silent together for some moments after they had been 
left alone. Then Claude, looking at young Charles, 
rose. 

"Come, Mr. Carroll, since we are making your holiday 
together, let us go and finish it with a supper at my inn. 
You will forgive me, messieurs " he turned to Sir Charles 
and Jennings " you will forgive me that 1 do not propose 
a party of four. After the excitement of the cock-fight 
this afternoon, and my ride for to-morrow, we will make 
our evening quiet. You might be perhaps how do you 
say ennuye by it. Where shall we join you to-mor- 
row?" He smiled gently as he beheld the lieutenant 
regarding him with knitted brows. Indeed, to Fairfield 
it seemed that the Frenchman had read his mind, and was 



Annapolis 159 

bound to thwart his hopes of arranging a gentleman's 
night in Jennings' company. 

"Come, come, monsieur, be more lenient. Dine with 
us at the ' Blue Balls ' and join us in a game of ecarte 
later." 

"Eh, yes!" cried young Charles, eagerly. "T would 
be vastly more fun!" He pulled de Mailly's sleeve. 

"No, no, Charles, not you! It your father damme, 
you ain't out of school yet, you know," stammered Jen- 
nings, voicing Fairfi eld's thought. 

Carroll flushed hot with anger, and Claude bit his lip 
before he answered, quietly: "It is impossible that 1 
should dine with you to-night, gentlemen, though I 
thank you for your kindness. Mr. Carroll is my 
guest." 

Young Charles looked at him with sulky admiration. 
He was furious with Jennings, mortally ashamed of his 
youth, but still appreciative of de Mailly's tact. Fair- 
field, seeing nothing for it but to accept his disappointment 
gracefully, rose, seized Jennings by the arm, waved an 
au revoir to de Mailly, and with a, " Be at the ' Blue Balls ' 
with your beasts at ten in the morning, and we'll ride out 
together," drew his willing companion away to their 
favorite night-haunt. 

De Mailly looked after them as they passed through the 
door, and then stood still for an instant, considering. When 
he turned again to young Charles, the boy's face wore a 
new expression. 

"I'm very sorry, monsieur, if I've spoiled your night. 
1 should have gone home without you." 

Claude started forward impulsively, and drew the boy's 
arm through his own. "En avantl" he cried, gayly. 
"Why, Charles, I'd rather you a thousand times over than 
any other blood in Annapolis. 'Tis a good race, yours. 
Your father is as gallant a gentleman as 1 have met, and 
you are his son. Come then, Charles, we'll drink to you 
both, to-night, in the oldest Madeira that Mistress Vawse 
will sell." 



160 The House of de Mailly 

At a quarter to eleven o'clock on the following morning 
a party of three drew rein at the portico of the Trevor house. 
Young Carroll's holiday was over, and, despite his words 
to Vincent, he was again under St. Quentin's pleasant 
sway. Fairneld and Jennings bore visible traces of their 
manner of spending the previous night; but Claude's 
eyes were as bright as a bird's, his hand was steady on 
the bridle, and his nerves had been toned for the coming 
trial by a sound night's sleep. A group consisting of Vin- 
cent, the four ladies of his household, Will Paca, and George 
Rockwell, who, to Lucy's dismay, had stopped overnight 
with his host, greeted the new-comers merrily from the 
portico. When they had dismounted, and a black had 
taken their horses, the whole party proceeded leisurely to 
the rear of the house, past the small barn, the quarters, 
and the tobacco-houses, to the long, narrow stables, where 
the many horses for work and pleasure were kept. In front 
of these stables was a four-acre paddock, fenced off from 
the general grounds, and only to be entered through a 
wide gate to the south. Two hundred yards behind this 
paddock the tobacco -fields began, and the first of them 
was bounded by a broad ditch full of water, to be used for 
irrigation in dry seasons. 

As the group passed the slave-quarters, Thompson, the 
overseer, came towards them with the key to the stables. 
And while Trevor, Paca, and Claude went with him round 
to the stalls, the rest entered the field itself to wait. The 
ladies, all of them more or less curious to watch this test 
of de Mailly's horsemanship, stood still in the open gate- 
way, nervous lest the horse should come too near. In 
the interval of waiting Rockwell was devoting himself to 
Lucy, who received his attentions with a coldness all but 
rude ; young Jennings talked with Virginia and her mother, 
who stood a little to one side; and Fairfield seized the op- 
portunity of conversing in a low tone with Deborah, who, 
dressed in yellow and blue, was as pretty as the morning 
itself. She stood leaning close against the fence, all ears 
for Sir Charles, but not turning her eyes from the closed 



Annapolis 161 

door of the stable, responding now and then, half absently, 
to the very personal remarks of her cavalier. She did 
not perceive a sudden, slow rustle at her side, along the 
very ruffle of her dress; but suddenly the lieutenant darted 
forward. 

"Good God, Deborah! Move 

"What is it?" she cried, startled at his tone. 

He was peering along the grass in front of them. " I'd 
stake my oath 'twas a water -moccasin/' he muttered, 
half to himself. 

The girl lifted her petticoats with both hands and shrank 
close to him. "A water-moccasin! Surely not here " 
She stared nervously at the turf, but saw nothing. The 
snake, if there had been one, was gone. 

"Nay 'tisn't there. Don't be frightened. It was a 
fancy," he rejoined, suspicious of his own eyes. 

Deborah might have said more or retreated to Madam 
Trevor, but for the fact that, at this moment, the stable 
doors slid open and Castor, with de Mailly on his back, 
trotted into the field. Will Paca and Vincent followed him 
on foot and made their way over to the party in the gateway. 

Castor, first-born of twin foals, and the one who had 
all the strength and beauty alike of the two, was an enor- 
mous jet-black animal, seventeen hands high, with a 
long, swinging step and three paces got from no blooded 
ancestors, but merely through one of those accidents some- 
times permitted by the gods. He was an animal fiery 
enough of temper, and particular about his riders. Vincent 
Trevor, indeed, had been dubious about the Frenchman's 
ability even to mount him ; but as Claude swung into the 
saddle and took the reins from the shining black neck, all 
doubts were forgotten. Castor turned his head, glanced at 
the man who sat him so easily, and neighed with satis- 
faction. As they trotted together into the paddock Claude 
rode in the French fashion, as though he were part of the 
horse, never rising in the saddle. 

"Egad, he knows how!" observed Rockwell to Madam 
Trevor, as Castor came round the field towards them. 
II 



'i 62 The House of de Mailly 

"1 vow I've seen nothing so pretty/' assented that lady, 
good-humoredly. "Eh, Lucy?" 

"1 much prefer the English fashion," retorted Lucy, 
irritably. 

"How d' ye like him, Vincent?" asked his cousin, as 
the horse broke into a canter. 

"Very well." 

"The fellow knows his business, I think," observed Will 
Paca, dryly. 

"His business! You don't think " Trevor raised his 
brows. 

Paca shrugged. 

"1 protest, Will!" cried Charles Fairfield, warmly. 
"The man is a gentleman. 1 stake my oath on it. I've 
played with him, and 1 know." 

" Oh 1 ask pardon. I did not know your acquaintance 
was intimate," rejoined the other at once, with a proper 
manner, and Fairfield was satisfied. At the same time 
he felt a light touch on his arm, and, turning, he found 
Deborah looking at him with a light in her eyes. 

"I'm so glad you said it," she whispered. "He is a 
gentleman." 

But, while Fairfield carried her hand to his lips, he felt, 
in some way, that her speech had not brought him un- 
mitigated pleasure. 

Meantime Claude, who had lost all consciousness of an 
audience in his joy at being again upon the back of a 
fine animal, was increasing the pace of his steed. The 
long, light steps multiplied in number, the black hoofs 
flew faster yet, till the on-lookers marvelled at the ease of 
the tremendous speed, and Will Paca shook his head as 
he thought of his Doris and her rider. 

"I'll give you three lengths start on the track, Will," 
cried Trevor, as de Mailly flew by for the fourth time, 
never moving a hair's-breadth in the saddle. 

"Egad, he'll need it!" put in Sir Charles. 

Deborah, her cheeks slightly flushed, moved to one side 
where she could watch without interruption. She saw 




"HORSE AND RIDER HAD FLASHED OUT AT THE GATE" 



Annapolis 163 

Claude pass the stable and reach the far corner of the 
paddock. There something happened. A thing which 
looked, at the distance, like a black thread, shot suddenly 
up from the ground and struck at Castor's leg as he passed. 
The horse gave a quick, terrified plunge, which made de 
Mailly reel in the saddle, and then the animal, maddened 
with fear, started forward like a whirlwind. He had reared 
completely about and was running frantically towards the 
open gateway. At the beginning there had been a slight 
scream from Lucy, and now the men, their faces very pale, 
pulled the women quickly away from the opening. Deb- 
orah moved of her own accord, her eyes fixed fast on the 
horse, for she had seen what started its flight. In an 
instant horse and rider had flashed, comet -like, out at 
the gate, and, as they passed, Deborah knew that de Mailly 
had looked at her, and she had seen something very like 
a smile cross his set lips. Beyond the gate the horse 
veered again and made towards the south, in the direction 
of the tobacco-fields. 

Claude saw, with relief, that he had an apparently un- 
obstructed space before him. It was all that he could do 
now to keep himself on the horse, who no longer went at 
an even gait, but varied his gallop with leaps and plunges 
caused by pain. He was utterly beyond all control. 
Claude lay over on his back, both hands twisted in the long 
mane, his eyes half closed, breathing with some difficulty, 
but quite sure of himself so long as his way was clear. 
Suddenly, however, as he caught a glimpse of the fields 
beyond, his heart rose into his throat, and then sank again 
with a sensation which made him dizzy. A hundred yards 
ahead was a twenty-foot ditch of water, which no living 
horse could clear. If Castor saw it, and had still sense 
of his own, he might turn off. If not, the horse was lost, 
and Claude himself must take desperate chances. Many 
things flashed through his mind in the ensuing seconds. 
Most vividly of all the figure of Deborah, as he had seen 
her a moment before, stood out before him. Then for one 
more instant his mind was a white blank. They were 



164 The House of de Mailly 

ten yards from the stream now, and the horse was moving 
straight on. Mechanically, Claude took his left foot from 
the stirrup and swung it over Castor's back. For one 
frightful instant he lay full along the animal. Then, not 
very much aware of what he was doing, he had let himself 
over the side, felt solid ground whirl under his feet, and 
knew that all was well with him. A moment later he 
vaguely heard the heavy splash and the human-like scream 
that told of the good animal's death. Not very long after 
that he was looking into Vincent's face, and, as a brandy 
flask was held out to him, he murmured, with as much 
feeling as he was capable of just then : 

" Monsieur, I shall never be able to express to you my 
regret. I have not an idea how it occurred. Believe 
me" 

But Vincent was actually laughing as he replied : " My 
dear sir, when a poisonous snake sends its fangs into your 
horse's leg, its rider need offer no excuse for being run 
away with. And, 'pon my soul, for the sake of learning 
how to ride as you have done, I'd sacrifice every beast that 
ever was stalled on this place. Eh, Charlie?" 

And from behind came Fairfield's voice, crying heartily, 
"Egad, when I am released from the colonies, I'll go and 
live in a French training-school till I do learn!" 

It was an hour later, and the excitement was over, when 
the Reverend George Rockwell ventured to address Will 
Paca on the same subject: "To tell the truth, my dear 
sir, I confess that I believe there must have been some 
truth in your suggestion in the field that our French 
friend knew more than a gentleman does of horses." 

Paca turned slowly about and looked at him. There 
was no answer made in words ; but at times looks are ex- 
pressive of inexpressible things. 




CHAPTER V 

Sambo 

CCORDING to the laws of colonial hospital- 
ity, Claude stayed all day and overnight 
at the Trevor house. To tell the truth, he 
was scarcely fit for removal, for the reaction 
from his nervous strain sent him, early in 
the afternoon, to the chamber prepared for him, from 
which he emerged at ten o'clock next morning with many 
apologies for tardiness on his tongue. He saw no one, 
however, to whom to deliver them. The house was de- 
serted. Finding his way, after a search through the 
empty hall and parlor, into the sunny breakfast-room, 
he discovered there a single place set at the table, and 
Adam lounging in the doorway. The slave straightened 
and saluted him upon his entrance. 

"Sit down, sah sit down. I'll bring yo' breakfast 
right away." 

Upon this, he darted from the house and disappeared 
down the path towards the kitchen, to return in two or three 
minutes with a large tray upon which stood a variety of 
smoking dishes. This he set before the guest, who pro- 
ceeded to discuss them with a light appetite. While he 
ate he pondered, uneasily, on how he was expected to take 
his departure. In this matter Adam came presently to 
his assistance. 

" Pa 'don, Mas' de Mailly, but Mas' Vincent wait this mo'n 
till nine t' see you, den he ride out to the fields an' tell me t' 
say t' he be back f o' dinne' at noon ; ask yo' health den. " 

"So I'm to stay till this afternoon?" asked Claude, in 
some surprise. 



1 66 The House of de Mailly 

J 

"Yes, sah," responded the slave, and his prompt tone 
settled the matter. 

Claude, who had quite finished his meal, rose and strolled 
idly to the door which looked out upon the garden. At 
the far end of this, among her roses, was Madam Trevor. 
De Mailly did not recognize her at the distance, but he 
turned suddenly to the slave who was clearing the table. 

" Can you tell me, Adam, where Mistress Travis will be 
at this hour?" 

"Miss Deb? Oh, she's mos' like at de still-room/' He 
went over to the door. " See li'l house dere cross the ya'd? 
She's mos' like dere." 

" Thank you. " Claude nodded to the man and went out 
of the house, around the terrace, and so through the yard 
towards the small building whose surrounding lilac-bushes 
were all in seed. Here on the step, alone and disconsolate, 
sat Sambo, Deborah's favorite little darky. 

Sambo was very forlorn this morning. A strong ap- 
preciation of the woe of this wretched life had come to his 
spirit under the guise of an empty stomach. All of three 
hours ago Thompson, the overseer, discovered him in the 
climacteric moment of a glorious charge on the chickens 
in the runs. An entire flock of fat, white pullets were in 
full flight before this single son of Ethiopia, whose trium- 
phant war-cry had unfortunately reached the quarters. 
Thereupon Thompson, who had no soul for the sublime, 
seized the conqueror by the tail of his tow-linen toga and 
dragged him from the field to his parental cabin, where, 
in the presence of Chloe, his mother, a most telling rebuke 
was administered. The mother's heart hardened towards 
the small sinner, and he had been driven outside in the very 
face of bacon spluttering over the fire and beans baking 
fragrantly in the embers. After an unhappy wandering, 
he at last sought the homely protection of Deborah and 
the still-room. Deborah, too, had left him, with the prom- 
ise, however, of getting him something to eat when she re- 
turned. So here, in melancholy resignation, sat Sambo, 
as Claude approached. 



Sambo 167 

"Can you tell me where Mistress Deborah is?" repeated 
de Mailly. 

"She'm gone to Huckleberry Swamp," vouchsafed the 
stoic. 

"Urn " Claude reflected. Huckleberry Swamp sounded 
definite, but he was unfamiliar with the country. " Where 
is that?" he inquired, meekly. 

Sambo swept a black thumb over one shoulder, back of 
his head. " Dat way. " 

Again Claude hesitated, finally venturing the request: 
"Could you, perhaps, show me a little of the way?" 

" You'm goin' fin' Miss Deb?" 

Claude bowed. 

"Til come." 

The small figure rose suddenly, descended from his dais, 
and put one small black fist trustfully into de Mailly 's. 
Claude looked down into the childish face, with its round 
pate covered with black, woolly, hair, and a gentle light 
came into his eyes. He was fond of children. 

The swamp appeared to be some distance away. The 
child's steps were short, and Claude would not hurry him. 
At last, however, they came upon a narrow, grassy lane, 
bordered on either side by a tangle of vines and bushes, 
at the end of which was the so-called swamp a marsh near- 
ly dry at this season, save for a pool in its very centre. Upon 
the edge of this they paused. Before them was a waste 
wherefrom sprang a few saplings, some young willows, a 
tangle of flaming tiger-lilies, and a host of those plants 
which grow in damp places. Claude saw no sign of a 
human being, but Sambo presently sprang forward. 

" Deh she is !" he cried, running into the brush. Claude 
followed rapidly, coming at last in sight of her whom he 
sought. 

Deborah knelt upon the damp ground, bending over a 
plant which she was minutely examining. Claude had 
seen it and its flower often enough, he thought. The stem 
was perhaps three feet high, with long, narrow, spotted 
leaves, and clusters of small purplish flowers. These 



168 The House of de Mailly 

were what Deborah was studying, and on her flushed 
face was an expression which Claude had not beheld be- 
fore. Startled by Sambo's appearance, she looked up. 

"Oh, good-morning!" she said, rising, and extending 
her hand. 

" One finds you in curious places/' he observed, bending 
over it. 

" It is my work. Has Dr. Carroll come this morning?" 

" He had not when I left the house." 

" He will, though, I think. Are we to go back now?" 

" Not until you are quite ready, mademoiselle. " 

"I'm ready. I must take this with me." From a little 
bag hanging at her side she drew a small pruning-knife 
and two pieces of cotton cloth. Having cut the stem of the 
plant before her, she wrapped about it one square of the 
cloth and took it up in her left hand. 

" Permit me to carry it for you." 

" Hold it, then, where the cloth is." 

"Why? Surely it is not unsafe to touch?" He looked 
at her curiously. 

"I don't know. Some things are. This is a spotted- 
hemlock. I fancied it a water plant, but 'tis another va- 
riety. I will test it to-day, if the doctor doesn't come. Oh! 
Here is something more to take home." Down in the soil 
at their feet grew two large fungi, which bore a slight re- 
semblance to table mushrooms, but were far more beautiful 
than they. The umbrella-shaped cups were of a brilliant 
scarlet color, fading inwards, in gracefully curving lines, 
to a pale centre. A faint acrid odor emanated from them 
as Deborah knelt and cut them deftly at the ground's 
edge. Taking them up in her cloth, she held them a little 
away from her face. 

"What's dose, Miss Deb?" inquired Sambo, eying them 
admiringly. 

"A sort of mushroom, Sambo. Oh, a most excellent 
dinner dish they'd make!" she added, laughing. 

And hungry Sambo heard her. Were these pretty things 
good to eat? He had seen not a few of them in the grass 



Sambo 169 

about the roads and fields. Here was a breakfast ready 
for him. He considered a little, the idea of cooking not 
entering his head. Neither Deborah nor de Mailly knew 
when he ceased to follow them, it merely occurring to them 
by the time they reached home that Sambo had not been 
with them for some time. Claude, who had found the way 
long in coming, deemed it only too short on the return. 
And Deborah, demurely realizing that she was perfectly 
happy, continued to talk to him in that tranquil manner 
which, from its apparent indifference and self-possession, 
seemed such an anomaly, considering her youth. 

" May I ask the use of this?" asked de Mailly, curiously, 
holding out the spray of spotted-hemlock. 

"I don't know its use. 'Tis what I am going to try to 
find out if the doctor does not come this morning. I am 
ignorant if it is as poisonous as water-hemlock. I will 
try to learn." 

Claude bit his lip. " And if the doctor does come?" 

" It will be most interesting. We are to try the effect of 
two alkaloids in one system, and I must note the differ- 
ent symptoms, the combined result, and the complications 
which ensue from the interaction." 

" You give these poisons to some beast. Is it not so?" 

Deborah hesitated for a little, finally replying, quietly, 
"A cat." 

" And he will no doubt die?" 

" No perhaps not. That is our hope, monsieur. If we 
could discover one thing which might counterbalance the 
effect of another, can you not see that it might some time 
serve to save men's lives? It is unbecoming in me to speak 
of it, but did you not know that the liquid given you" as 
medicine for your fever I distilled from the plant called 
monkshood? And did not that medicine help to restore 
you to health? And yet, sir, it was a virulent poison, ten 
drops of which would kill an animal." 

De Mailly looked at the girl in surprise. She was cer- 
tainly unlike any woman that he had ever met. "For- 
give me," he said, earnestly. "1 did not understand you. 



170 The House of de Mailly 

I do admire and respect this work of yours. My grati- 
tude how shall I express it? There is, indeed, little that 
one can say to the preserver of his life 

" Please, don't ! " she cried, impulsively, and then stopped. 
He was regarding her so earnestly, and his look said so 
much more than his tongue had ever done, that she found 
no words at her command. So they fell into silence as 
once more they approached the house. 

Dr. Carroll, returning on the day before from his shoot- 
ing, and, wearied by the dulness of Annapolis in mid- 
summer, kept his promise and came out to see Deb- 
orah. He found her, ignorant of his arrival, preparing 
her retort for the distillation of the water-hemlock, while 
Claude, willingly pressed into service, had gone to the 
kitchen to obtain a lighted coal for the tripod of charcoal. 
An addition to the equipment of the room had recently 
been made. Beside the cupboard in the corner stood a 
good-sized cage, its top and bottom made of pine boards 
held together by narrow wooden slats nailed upon all 
four sides. Within this prison of the condemned sat a 
half-grown tortoise-shell tabby, presented yesterday to 
the establishment by Sambo. As Deborah took up her 
hemlock and with careful hands began to strip away its 
leaves and blossoms, she glanced now and then at her 
prisoner with an expression half of pity and half of specula- 
tive interest. The animal looked very comfortable on its 
bed of grass, its toilet just completed, with slow eyes blink- 
ing at the light ; never a suspicion in its head of a possible 
swift death at the hands of the slender girl at the table 
yonder. The stillness was interrupted by the entrance of 
the doctor. 

" Good - morning to you, Mistress Debbyl At work, 
eh? Oho! Water-hemlock!" 

" No. This is Maculatum. See the leaves spotted. Is 
this as poisonous as the other, do you think?" 

The doctor chuckled. "Thou'rt a born botanist, Deb- 
by. This poisonous? 'Tis historic. Socrates died by it. 
'Tis as well obtained by crushing in alcohol, though. 



Sambo 171 

Did you bring the root? Now that was carelessness. 
The root is most virulent delightfully virulent. You 
should be sent back to get it, only that 1 am not here to 
distil this morning. Ah, Monsieur Claude ! Good-day ! 
Are you turned neophyte?" 

Claude, with a shovelful of embers, had halted in the 
doorway. At Carroll's question he smiled and came 
forward. " 1 should be glad if 1 might stay and look on. 
I am wofully ignorant in these matters/' 

Deborah took the shovel from his hands, emptying its 
contents carefully into the tripod. "Thank you. Be 
seated, if you care to watch us." 

" By all means, sit yonder, de Mailly, and look on. Miss 
Travis is preparing some Conium maculatum for distilla- 
tion, though she will get a poor result from the mere leaves 
and flowers. And behold in me, monsieur, the conscience- 
less wretch about to destroy life in that hapless pussy, for 
the mere gratification of criminal instinct. What's this, 
Deborah?" 

The doctor's change of tone was so sudden and so marked 
that the girl turned quickly about to behold him standing 
over the fungi which she had placed at the far end of the 
table. 

"That? Madam uses it sometimes for fly -poison. I 
purposed inquiring of you if the alkaloid could be ex- 
tracted." 

Carroll shook his head gravely. "It doesn't need ex- 
traction. The whole thing is replete with poison. 'Tis 
amanita muscaria, the deadliest of all fungi. Have you 
seen the symptoms?" 

Deborah shook her head. 

" Then you shall. 1 mind me 1 had a case of them many 
years ago a family ate them at supper. All four died.* 
There was no help that I or any one else had to give. Such 
agony 1 have never seen. The effect is not apparent for 
from four to nine hours after eating, though internal dis- 

* This case is taken from a medical journal of 1877. 



172 The House of de Mailly 

semination of the poison must begin at once. After the 
case 1 mentioned, 1 experimented a good deal with them. 
Time does not seem to affect their power. After four 
months' keeping 1 knew one of them to cause death to a 
dog in ten hours. Would you care to try this to-day on 
your cat there, Deborah, in conjunction with one of the 
liquids?" 

Deborah did not reply at once, and Claude hoped that 
she would decline the proposition. Her answer was a 
question: "Will you stay, doctor, till the fungus acts? 
1 couldn't distinguish the different symptoms alone." 

The doctor reflected. " 'Tis eleven now. By four the 
thing should be under way. I'll get home by six. Yes, 
I'll stay." 

"Then let us give it at once." 
"Very well. What will you combine with it?" 
Deborah went to the cupboard and surveyed her array 
of phials. Finally, selecting one filled with a clear, white 
liquid, with less sediment at the bottom than most of her 
mixtures contained, she brought it over to Dr. Carroll. 
"What is it?" he asked. 

"It is from nightshade. 1 made it a week ago." 
" Atropine. Symptoms? Can you give them?" 
Claude looked at her closely as she made reply: 
" 1 gave forty drops to a cat. It seemed to be quiet for 
about three-quarters of an hour. Then it tried to mew, 
but that was hard for it. The muscles of its throat were 
strained. After a little it began to bite at things in the 
cage. Its eyes were large, and the pupils full, as if it were 
in the dark. It drank all 1 would give it, but could not 
swallow easily. Then there came spasms. Finally it fell 
asleep, and died three hours after the dose." 

The doctor nodded with satisfaction, but Deborah, 
glancing at de Mailly from beneath her lids, saw him look 
at her in strong displeasure. Instantly she flushed and 
her head straightened defiantly back. 

"Monsieur, I do not think that you will enjoy our ex- 
periments here this morning. Will you be so obliging 



Sambo 173 

as to join my cousins, Virginia and Lucy, in some pleas- 
anter occupation?" 

There was a note of piqued command in the tone which 
Claude, who knew women well, would have disobeyed in 
any other case. Now, however, he made no reply, but 
rose in grave silence, bowed to her, and left the room. 

"On my life, that was not a gallant thing," observed 
Carroll, placidly, when their sensitive guest had crossed 
the yard. 

Deborah made no answer. She was more deeply hurt 
than she would have believed possible, and she did not 
choose that her voice should betray her. Crossing again 
to the cupboard, she took from its lowest shelf a deep-bowled 
horn spoon, with which she knelt before the cat's cage. 
In the mean time the doctor had been occupied in cutting 
the fungus into small cubes. These, together with the 
atropine, he took over to his pupil, who was now on the 
floor with the cat in her lap. She took the amanita quietly 
from her companion's hands, placed one piece in the creat- 
ure's mouth, and manipulated its throat till it swallowed 
convulsively. 

"How much should it have?" she inquired, grimly. 

"About six pieces to a spoonful of this," returned her 
mentor, holding up the atropine. 

Unflinchingly Deborah finished her task, and then, 
hastily replacing the prisoner in its cage, she fastened 
the little door. Carroll, who had looked on without com- 
ment, helped her to rise from the floor, and silently noted 
the fact that her hands were very cold. 

"Come now to the house and rest," he said, with quiet 
persuasion. 

She looked a little surprised. "Surely not. I will 
stay here and watch. Besides, there is the hemlock;" 
she nodded towards the little heap of flowers and leaves 
by the retort. " 1 will distil that. The fire is ready." 

"No, Debby. You're tired. Hark you, the poisons 
will certainly not show for half an hour, if they do then. 
It is probable that the muscaria will retard the action of the 



174 The House of de Mailly 

atropine for a much longer time. Then you must have your 
full wits about you, for 'twill be the most interesting thing 
we've done. Come now, as your physician, I insist." 

But though Charles Carroll's will was strong, that of 
Deborah Travis was stronger. He tried persuasion, 
command, and entreaty, finally becoming angry, and so 
losing the battle ; for, having called her a stubborn hussy, 
there was nothing for it but to march off alone to the house. 
The girl saw him go with a sore heart, and then, dog- 
gedly determined, returned to her work, the pleasure of 
it gone for the first time in her life. When, after a while, 
Sambo strolled thoughtfully in from the fields, she greeted 
him with positive delight. 

The little boy seated himself, Turk-fashion, beside the 
tripod, to watch the water just beginning to bubble in the 
body of the retort. It was an occupation which he dearly 
loved, and in the observation of which he was a privileged 
mortal, for Deborah allowed but few in her work-room. 
During the process of distillation she was regarded by 
Sambo as some one who had risen for the time to super- 
natural heights. She was quite a different person from 
the Miss Deb whom he knew ordinarily out-of-doors. On 
every occasion, however, he had been wont to talk unceas- 
ingly either to her or to himself when in her company. To- 
day she wondered at his silence. His interest in the action 
of the retort was as great as ever, but every effort to draw 
him into conversation failed. So, after a time, Deborah, 
her closest attention demanded by the approaching end 
of the distillation, when the purest alkaloid would come 
from her plant, ceased also to speak, and, indeed, almost 
forgot his presence. The liquid had been filtered, bottled, 
and set aside for its second vaporizing, when she suddenly 
recollected that in the morning she had promised to get 
something for the little negro to eat. It was sufficient cause 
for his silence. 

"Oh, Sambo! Indeed I'm sorry! How hungry you 
must be ! Come, I'll make Chloe give you some of our din- 
ner to-day." 



Sambo 175 

Sambo's big eyes opened wide and he slowly shook his 
head. "Had somf'n, Miss Debby. D' wan' no mo'." 

With his words came the sound of the dinner-horn from 
the quarters. He turned. "Goin' home," he said, wear- 
ily, trudging out of the room; while the girl, wondering 
who had fed him, proceeded to restore order in her immac- 
ulate little domain. When she had finished the doctor re- 
appeared. 

"Madam Trevor despatched me," he explained. "Din- 
ner is ready. You're tired, Debby. Come in." 

"Yes, sir, at once, when this sleeve is down." She 
pulled at the short elbow -sleeve which she had pushed to 
the shoulder to be rid of its ruffles. 

"How's the cat?" asked Carroll, walking over to its 
cage. 

The creature lay upon the bed of grass blinking noncha- 
lantly, after a luncheon of milk. 

" Perfectly well, eh? Note, Deborah, that the action of 
the atropine is already retarded half an hour beyond its 
time. Most interesting, on my word!" 

" When do you think it will begin?" 

"That is difficult to say. By two or three o'clock at 
the outside. Then death will probably be rapid. Ready 
now? Madam is a little impatient, but she'll not show 
it before de Mailly. There the horn sounds at last." 

Dinner was gone through with tediously, and at three 
o'clock the entire family, with the guests, sat upon the por- 
tico, drowsy with heat and the effort of talking. The doc- 
tor, perceiving Deborah's growing impatience, was about 
to dare Madam Trevor's high displeasure by carrying her 
off to the still-room to watch their cat, when suddenly 
around the corner of the east wing dashed a negro, hys- 
terical with fear. 

"Blessed Ma'y be praised! Docto' Ca'l, come quick! 
Sambo's dyin'! Gib him somf'n fo' he go off, fo' Christ's 
sake!" 

Before the last words were spoken the doctor had jumped 
from the porch, and the rest of the party rose anxiously. 



176 The House of de Mailly 

"Sambo? Sambo dying, Joe? Surely not! I'll come 
at once." 

" Which cabin, man? Show us the way," commanded 
Carroll, energetically. 

Madam Trevor had run into the house to get an apron 
for her gown, and Deborah, seizing the opportunity, flew 
across the portico, leaped down on the east side, and caught 
up with the doctor. 

"I shall come, too," she said. And Carroll's silence 
gave consent. 

The cabin in which Sambo and his parents lived was on 
the northeastern corner of the quarters, and, as the doctor, 
with his conductor and Deborah, approached it, a group of 
negro women about its door hailed them with expressions 
of relief and praise. Not heeding the pious ejaculations, 
the three passed into the tiny hut, where, upon the mattress 
in a corner, covered with tattered blankets, lay Sambo. 
Beside him, her apron over her head, sat the mother, Chloe, 
rocking to and fro in absolute terror. 

Carroll knelt at once beside the mattress and glanced 
sharply into the child's face. Sambo was lying deathly 
still, breathing heavily, his eyes wide open, his black skin 
dripping with sweat. The doctor felt the child's pulse, 
opened his mouth, and gave a sharp exclamation as he 
perceived the tongue to be heavily coated with a thick, 
grayish matter. 

"Sit here, Deborah, and hold his hands. He'll not be 
quiet long." 

Deborah took her place at the child's head and clasped 
the little burning hands in her own, while Carroll, in a 
low voice, began to question Chloe. Sambo noticed Deb- 
orah, and smiled faintly as she leaned over him. In a 
moment more a swift spasm of agony passed over the small 
features, and he uttered a guttural cry of pain. Carroll 
ran to his side, while the colored woman, wringing her 
hands, sank helplessly on the floor. The paroxysm was 
violent. The child's body twisted and writhed. He 
rolled over and over upon the bed, moaning like an animal, 



Sambo 177 

or shrieking in a delirium of torture. Deborah, very pale, 
and Carroll, silent and stern, held him so as to prevent as 
much exhaustion of strength as was possible. When he 
began to grow more quiet, Madam Trevor came in, looking 
angrily at her cousin, who, however, scarcely saw her. 

"It is possible that you do not need me, doctor," she 
said, in her most offended tone. 

Carroll paid small attention to her manner. "If you 
will send out some old linen, pepper, mustard, and salt 
from the house, it will be all that we can use. To be frank," 
he added, in a low tone, "there is little hope now." 

Madam Trevor looked aghast, and her manner softened 
instantly. "Little hope! What do you mean? What 
shall we do?" 

" What I ask, if you please. Linen, salt, mustard, and 
pepper. Chloe, you must heat some water in the kettle 
there." And Carroll turned about again as Madam Trevor, 
without another word, hurried out of the cabin on her er- 
rand. 

The girl, meantime, bent over Sambo, questioning him. 

"What was it, Sambo? Have you eaten anything? 
What have you done?" she asked, caressingly. 

Sambo, panting from weakness, answered, just audibly : 
" Done eat nuf 'n 't all but mushrooms you picked 's mo'n 
wiv Mas' Frenchman. You say dey good fo' dinneV 

"My God!" 

"What is it?" asked the doctor, quickly, seeing her face 
grow gray. 

"He has eaten the muscaria," she whispered, tremu- 
lously. 

"I know it." 

" And it was my fault my fault ! Good Heavens ! 
What shall I do?" 

With a quick sob she caught the child, who suddenly 
sprang to her in a new spasm of pain. The muscles of his 
body grew rigid with contraction beneath her grasp. Sambo 
clutched and opened his hands wildly in the air. New 
sweat poured out upon his cold flesh, his eyes started from 

12 



178 The House of de Mailly 

their sockets, and Chloe, catching sight of him, screamed 
with despair. At this moment Madam Trevor, bearing those 
things which the doctor had commanded, re-entered the 
cabin. While Carroll worked over Sambo's body, Debo- 
rah suddenly left her place, turned blindly about and 
ran out of the cabin through the terror-stricken group 
at the door, and across the sunny yard to the still-room. 
Without an instant's hesitation she flung herself against 
the closed door and turned its handle with her shaking 
fingers. Presently she found herself standing dizzily 
before the cage of the poisoned animal. Twice she opened 
and shut her eyes to make sure that her vision was not 
deranged. No. There was the cat making its afternoon 
toilet with foppish precision, stopping occasionally to re- 
gard her solemnly with its bright green eyes. 

Deborah was not long there. When she was sure her 
hope had been realized, she turned to the cupboard, snatched 
a bottle from its shelf, and ran at full speed out of the 
room and back towards the cabin. Upon the bed Sambo's 
body lay now outstretched, quiet save for an occasional 
little quiver of the muscles, and over it Madam Trevor, with 
grave tenderness, and Dr. Carroll, with hopeless skill, 
worked. Some hot gin had been forced down the child's 
throat, and across him were spread linen cloths soaked 
in water so near to boiling that they had scalded Chloe's 
hands; yet Sambo paid no attention either to them or to 
the mixture with which they were rubbing his limbs. 
When Deborah returned, Carroll left off chafing the little 
black arms and went to her where she stood by the door. 

"What to do, Debby?" he whispered, helplessly. 

"There's no hope?" she asked. 

Carroll shook his head. " He is passing into the coma 
now. That is the end." 

"You will let me try something?" she asked, quickly. 

" Anything in the world. Nothing can harm him now." 

"Where is a cup?" 

"What have you?" he cried. 

Madam Trevor started and looked around. Deborah put 



Sambo 179 

a tremulous finger to her lips, and shook her head. The 
doctor instantly understood, and let her go to the shelf in 
a corner, where, her back being to the others, she poured 
half the contents of her bottle into a tin cup. With this, 
slowly and resolutely, she approached the bed. Chloe 
stepped suddenly in her way: 

"What yo' got?" she asked, in no friendly tone. 

"Medicine for Sambo," was the steady reply. 

" Of your own making, Deborah?" came Madam Trevor's 
sharp voice. 

"Yes, yes. You are wasting precious time. Chloe 
let me pass." 

"No, Miss Deb'. You am' goin' give Sambo nuf'n 
from still-house." 

"Dr. Carroll!" There was a desperate appeal in her 
tone, and the man came instantly to her aid. 

"Listen, Chloe! Unless your child in some way gets 
the help that I cannot give, he must die. He is poisoned, 
as I supposed, fatally. Miss Deborah believes that she 
can save his life. You cannot let him die without the 
attempt." 

The colored woman paid no attention to the words, and 
still menacingly barred the way. A new idea was taking 
possession of her: that Deborah had poisoned the boy. 
Carroll, who was watching her narrowly, saw the sud- 
den squaring of her shoulders, darted quickly in front 
of her and seized her about the body just as she had been 
about to fling herself upon the girl. Deborah, keyed to 
the highest pitch, watched her opportunity, slipped like a 
cat around to the bedside, raised Sambo's head upon her 
arm, and, to Madam Trevor's terror, pressed her fingers on 
the child's throat, and forced him to swallow the contents 
of the cup. At once he was seized with a violent coughing 
fit. Deborah lifted him upright at once, pressed her hands 
upon his temples and the back of his neck, and kept him 
from that retching which would have been fatal to her 
experiment. 

Meantime Carroll had forced Chloe, screaming and 



i8o The House of de Mailly 

struggling, from the cabin, and, after calling Thompson 
to keep order in the group outside, he closed and barred 
the door. Madam Trevor then rose from her place. 

" Charles Carroll, you are permitting my ward to murder 
this child. I cannot remain here as witness to such a 
deed. When you will accept the assistance that I have to 
give, and will order this girl away, you may send word to 
the house." 

And, with these words, Antoinette Trevor rose in strong 
anger, shook out her flounces, unfastened the door for 
herself, and, without more ado, left the cabin and the 
dying child alone to the care of the doctor and his mad 
protegee. 

Carroll witnessed the departure without a word, and it 
was with an expression rather of relief than chagrin that 
he turned to Deborah. 

"What did you give him?" he asked, quietly. 

" Atropine. Four times more than enough to kill him. " * 

" The cat " 

"Lives." 

"Good God, Deborah! We must save him now!" 

Deborah set her teeth. "We 1 will save him," she 
said, with slow precision. "Or else they will bury me 
with him." 

Madam Trevor, upon her return to the house, said not 
a word of the scene in the cabin. It was a relief to her to 
find that de Mailly had tactfully departed and that the 
family was alone. Lucy and Virginia beset her with 
questions, for the child was a pet with them all. It was 
something of a shock, then, when their mother turned 
upon them, saying sharply: "Sambo will die," and forth- 
with retired to her own room. The girls looked at each 
other for a long moment in amazement, and then Lucy 
cried quickly: 

* Atropine is to-day considered the best antidote for cases of poison- 
ing by the amanita muscaria or the amanita phalloides. At the period 
of the story (1744) its efficacy was unknown. 



Sambo 181 

"Let us go to see him at once." 

Virginia would have assented, but her brother shook 
his head. 

"Deborah and the doctor both are there. If you are 
needed, you will be sent for. Otherwise I forbid you to 

go." 

And so the Trevor family lived dismally through the 
afternoon, waiting for the supper-hour, when the watchers 
would appear. But Adam blew the horn in vain. No 
word came from the cabin, and Madam Trevor, burning 
with curiosity and anxiety, flatly refused to send any one 
to ask news of the child. 

The sun set, and dusk deepened to evening. Candles 
were lighted in the sitting-room, but Vincent alone made 
any pretence of reading. The three women moved about 
restlessly, the girls not daring, and their mother unwilling 
to speak on the subject which occupied all their thoughts. 
The silence had become unbearable, and Vincent at last 
started to put away his book, with a resolve to go to the 
quarters, when the door flew open and Dr. Carroll strode 
into the room, carrying Deborah's body in his arms. He 
laid her down upon the brocaded sofa, while the girls 
rushed to her side. 

"She fainted as we came across the yard," explained 
the doctor, wearily. 

"The child is dead, then?" 

"Sambo will live. The girl saved his life. She is a 
genius, madam; and for God's sake, get me a glass of 
wineT' 




CHAPTER VI 

Claude's Memories 

EBORAH recovered from her afternoon over 
Sambo's sick-bed far less rapidly than the 
small negro did from the effects of his re- 
markable breakfast. In fact, three days 
after that upon which he had substituted 
the fly agaric for hoe-cake, he was running about the plan- 
tation as usual, only with a new and useful working knowl- 
edge concerning vermilion - colored fungi. With beau- 
tiful impartiality he sought the still-room on the afternoon 
of the first day that he left the cabin. He found its door 
locked, and presently discovered that Miss Deb was to 
be seen nowhere about the grounds. On making peremp- 
tory inquiries, he was informed, much to his disgust, that 
his play-fellow was ill in bed, without amanita for cause, 
and that he might not dream of such a thing as seeing her. 
Thereupon, retiring to the still -house door-step, young 
Sambo lifted up his voice and wept, though he got no 
consolation from the process. 

Strictly speaking, Deborah was not in bed. She was 
too restless to remain long in any one place, but she felt 
no desire to leave the house. What care she needed, and 
a little more, was lavished on her by Madam Trevor, her 
cousins, and the slaves. Nevertheless, she was very 
wretched. She could not understand her continual weari- 
ness and her impatience with the familiar scenes of every- 
day life. She suffered inexpressibly with the mid-day heat, 
and shivered with cold through the mild nights. " Nerves " 
were to her unnecessary and incomprehensible things, 
and her disgust with herself was none the less exasperat- 



Claude's Memories 183 

ing because it was unreasonable. Dr. Carroll, however, 
was wiser than she. A week after Sambo's affair he 
heard of her condition and went out to her at once. His 
prescription pleased the whole family, with the excep- 
tion, perhaps, of Sir Charles. He proposed taking her 
back with him to Annapolis, to spend ten days under his 
own hospitable roof, with his two sisters to take care of 
her, and young Charles for company. Permission for 
the visit was granted on the asking, and, upon the next 
afternoon, Deborah set out in the family coach, with the 
doctor on horseback as outrider. The only regret that 
she felt on leaving was, oddly enough, the parting from 
Sir Charles. His attentions to her during the past week 
had been remarkably delicate. Madam Trevor herself 
could hardly have objected to them. Through long hours 
he had sat near her while she lay upon a sofa, generally 
with Lucy or Virginia, or both, beside her, recounting 
little stories of his own or his comrades' adventures; 
describing London and London life; stopping when he 
saw that his voice tired her; fanning her, perhaps, in 
silence; arranging the tray that held her meals on the 
stand beside her ; and only once in a long, long time look- 
ing into her wandering eyes with an expression that would 
set her to thinking of grave and far-off things. Thus 
she left the plantation, feeling a new and not unpleasant 
regret at losing the companionship which nad almost made 
her illness worth the having. 

Dr. Carroll's sisters, Mistress Lettice and little Frances 
Appleby, awaited their guest with solicitation. The 
coach that held her arrived at their door just at tea-time, 
and Deborah was smiling with pleasure when the doctor 
lifted her out and carried her bodily up the walk and into 
the house, with St. Quentin on one side, his son on the other, 
and the little old maids smiling together in the doorway. 
The young lady then refused absolutely to retire, but sat up 
to tea, partook of some of Miriam Vawse's raspberry con- 
serve, and afterwards lay upon the sofa in the parlor with 
an unexpressed hope in her heart that Claude might come. 



184 The House of de Mailly 

Claude was to have come. Mistress Lettice, when she 
learned from her brother that their guest would arrive 
that afternoon, had sent down a polite request by young 
Charles that monsieur would honor them with his presence 
in the evening. As politely de Mailly returned thanks 
for the invitation, gave no definite reply, but intended to 
go. Upon that afternoon, however, the Sea-Gull ar- 
rived, after a fair voyage, from Portsmouth; and in her 
came a long letter and a consignment of rents from Mailly- 
Nesle to his cousin. Many things were happening in 
France. In March, war with England and Maria Theresa 
had been declared, and the French armies prepared for 
a campaign. In May came the astounding intelligence 
that, through the influence of la Chateauroux, who loved 
the heroic, Louis would command his forces in person. 
A week later it was understood that the favorite was to 
follow in the royal train, together with the King's staff, 
his aides, his chefs, his valet, and the impedimenta. The 
letter was dated May 28th. As he read it, Claude's heart 
burned; and with the evening, in the bitterness of his 
memories of the old life, and in the wretched conjectures 
that he made as to what was the French news now, he 
forgot Deborah. Where was she, Marie Anne, his cousin? 
What battles had been fought over the water? Was the 
fifteenth Louis still reigning over France? Had not some 
chance shot struck him, and with him the third daughter 
of the de Maillys, down in all their clanging glory? Did 
la Chateauroux never now think of the cousin exiled for 
her, at her instance? Henri did not say. And Miriam 
Vawse of the Annapolis inn wondered that night what 
news her lodger had received, that he should sit, stoop- 
shouldered, over the empty fireplace, and forget that, 
only two blocks away, in Dr. Carroll's house, Debby Travis 
was vainly waiting for him to come to her. 

Claude did remember her next morning, when the sun- 
light gave matters a different aspect, and the letter had 
been shut away in his trunk. So it was with only half 
his mind on French battle-fields and a vaguely dreamed- 



Claude's Memories 185 

of Dettingen, that he ate his colonial breakfast ; and after- 
wards, as he left the ordinary and bent his steps leisurely 
northward towards Dr. Carroll's house, his homesickness 
fled quite away. 

The Carrolls' breakfast had ended some time ago 
(Claude's Versailles habits of late rising were not yet 
broken) ; and Deborah, already bettered by the change 
of scene and atmosphere, had come down to the morning 
meal. She was now in the doctor's study, leaning back 
in his great chair, while young Charles stood moodily 
facing the window, sulky because she was not yet well 
enough to bear a morning on the bay, so obtaining for 
him a vacation on plea of hospitality. 

" Now I know why you won't mind about me any more. 
Here's your de Mailly coming up the walk. Faith, I'll 
not bear it! You've grown into a fine lady, Debby, and 
are no fun nowadays. I'd as soon have Lucy running 
with me." 

"And you, Charles, are ungentlemanly. If you were 
anything but a child, I wouldn't speak to you this sen- 
night." 

"I'm as old as you, lacking a month." 

"Little one would think it, then." 

" Pardon, if I intrude. I come to inquire after Mistress 
Travis' health." 

Claude stood smiling upon the threshold, for he had 
overheard the last words of the quarrel. Deborah, her 
white face flushing a little, held out her hand. As he 
bent over it she said, in a much gentler tone than that 
which she had been using: "I am really well, only I 
have nerves. Charles, however, is using me very ill. He 
says that nerves are nonsense. Do you think so?" 

"In my country, mademoiselle, they are considered 
serious. A lady who has them retires to her bed and 
expects all her friends to come and amuse her till she is 
better. Charles, you are heartless." 

Deborah looked a little shocked at his first statement 
and his matter-of-fact tone when making it; but she said 



186 The House of de Mailly 

nothing. Presently Father St. Quentin appeared at the 
door. After stopping to extend a hearty greeting to de 
Mailly, he flung a Latin imperative at poor Charles, 
who obeyed it with the poorest possible grace, leaving 
the room alone to Deborah and the Count. Claude seated 
himself near her, and looked at her for a few seconds in 
silence, noting a difference in her general expression. 
She was too languid to be embarrassed by the pause, but, 
not caring to return the scrutiny, slightly turned her head 
and looked toward the windows. 

" I owe Miss Travis an apology, do I not?" 

She glanced towards him now in some surprise. " An 
apology? For what?" 

" Nay, then I will not make it. I will only tell you that, 
as the preserver of a child's life, I must reverence your tal- 
ent, on which, I confess, I had looked with ill-timed dis- 
approval." 

Deborah gazed at him thoughtfully. " I recollect now. 
You were displeased to think that I would poison a cat. I 
assure you it was the cat saved Sambo's life. Neither of 
them died." 

" So Dr. Carroll told me. I have heard all that you did 
on that afternoon ; and I, like the doctor, have not words 
to express my admiration." 

" You are very kind. Please do not let us talk of that. 
I came here to forget. Come would you entertain me, 
monsieur?" 

"In whatever way lies in my power." 

"Why, then, it is done. It would give me infinite en- 
tertainment, monsieur, to hear the life of the ladies of the 
French Court, where you lived. The doctor has told me 
what a great Court it is. How do the ladies dress, what do 
they eat, do they go every night to the assembly? Faith, 
that would be tiresome enough, I think!" 

De Mailly laughed a little at her comment, but did not 
immediately comply with the request. Memory had 
once more come home to him again, but this time with a 
curious addition. Of a sudden he found that he could 



Claude's Memories 187 

definitely imagine Deborah Travis as having a place in 
that French Court that she spoke of. It was a curious 
notion, and he regarded her for some time contemplatively, 
before he began to speak. 

" If you were in Versailles, Mademoiselle Deborah, you 
would doubtless be madame." 

"What! Are there no unmarried ladies there?" 

" Yes a few. Those who cannot find a husband. But 
we are supposing that you would not be there unless some 
grand seigneur had married you and carried you away." 

Deborah laughed merrily, and Claude, with some sat- 
isfaction, perceived that she had entered into his own spir- 
it. "Continue! continue!" she cried. "I am already per- 
ishing with interest." 

" You would dwell in an apartment in we will say the 
Rue des Rossignols that is the name of a street. Let us 
see. You sleep in a charming room hung in white brocade. 
Your dressing-room will be in pink satin, with the chairs 
in tapestry which monsieur would have embroidered for 
you-" 

"Monsieur a man embroider!" 

" Oh yes. The King himself commanded de Ge"vres to 
teach him stitches a year ago. He began four sieges at 
once, I remember, and de Mouhy made an excellent bon- 
mot about it. No matter. Your tapestries in apple-green, 
your tables in mahogany, and your sets in ivory or gold? 
Which?" 

"Ivory, I think. Pink satin and ivory would be oh, 
most beautiful!" she replied, cocking her head a little on 
one side. 

He nodded, appreciative of her taste. " The salon blue 
and gold ; the dining-room in green ; and, for monsieur's 
room, we will let it go. At nine in the morning you have 
your chocolate in bed. Half an hour later you rise, and 
your toilette a la mode begins." 

" Oh, what is a toilette a la mode ?" 

The Count shrugged his shoulders. " You, in a delight- 
ful neglige, receive in the pink satin boudoir, while your 



i88 The House of de Mailly 

hair is powdered. Yours would never need to be curled, 
mademoiselle. Eh bien! During the toilette you would 
have cakes and cordial, or more chocolate. At one o'clock 
you meet monsieur the husband, and dine with him either 
alone or at the palace. For the afternoon there are a thou- 
sand things. You attend a leve, the hunt, a salon, a 
tea a I'anglaise; you drive, promenade in the Orangerie or a 
Paris boulevard ; you visit shops ; you attend a sale ; you 
receive at home ; or, perhaps, if the night is to be fatiguing, 
you sleep. You never spin, you do not knit, nor do you 
distil poisons and save lives, Mistress Deborah. At seven 
you sup hardly this time with monsieur, who has his own 
engagements. Later you attend the Ope'ra or the Italiens, 
indulge in a little supper with a party later, and return to 
Versailles shortly after midnight. If you are in his Maj- 
esty's immediate circle you go to Choisy, perhaps. But 
that, mademoiselle I trust you will never do. Now 
do you think the life pleasant?" 

"I'm sure I cannot tell," was the demure response; but 
the girl's face belied her words. It was aglow with pleas- 
ure. " And what is it that you would do, monsieur? How 
how could you have borne it to leave such a life? Did 
you really tire of it? Was " 

He rose sharply to his feet, and she broke off at once, 
astonished and half frightened at the change in his face. 
"There are many thorns among the roses, mademoiselle. 
Life is not happier there than here. And some day some 
day, perhaps I will tell you the other side of it ; why"- 
he almost whispered now, for his throat was dry " why I 
left it all." 

" Oh, forgive me! I had not meant to pain you." 

He looked down into the face that had lost all its glow of 
pleasure, took her slight hand, kissed it quietly, and left 
her alone to think over all that had been said, to wonder 
over the uncertain promise of more, and to hope that he 
would neither forget nor repent. 

The little conversation had taken her mind away from 
herself and set it in a new and far-off channel. When Dr. 



Claude's Memories 



Carroll came back from his walk to the wharves, he found 
his little guest with color in her face and animation 
in her air. She told him of de Mailly's visit, and Car- 
roll, judging its effect, resolved that the tonic should be 
administered often while his patient remained with him. 
The result was that, in the following days, Claude de Mailly 
and Deborah were thrown constantly together. And dur- 
ing their lively conversations, or, perhaps, even more so 
in their desultory ones, there grew up between them an 
intimacy more of good-fellowship than anything else, 
the spirit of which deceived both Claude and the doctor, 
though how much prophecy Deborah might have made 
concerning it, would be more difficult to say. 

One afternoon, a Friday, and two days before Deborah 
was to return to the plantation, while the doctor was at his 
counting-house near the wharves, and the two little sisters 
sat together spinning in the sitting-room, their guest, 
panting with the heat inside the house, and wishing also to 
escape young Charles, who would presently be relieved from 
his Horace, sought out her largest hat and crept out of 
doors, passing down the street in the direction of the Vawse 
inn. She had not seen de Mailly for nearly twenty-four 
hours, and, as a consequence, her day was empty. 
She had small hopes of encountering him now, but was 
too restless to remain any longer in the room with the two 
old maids and their whirring wheels. She passed the 
quaintly gabled tavern, whose door, contrary to custom, 
was closed. Evidently Miriam was out. There was no 
sign of life about the windows. Claude himself was prob- 
ably not there. Deborah walked on, disappointedly, as 
far as the court-house, and, still not wishing to admit 
to herself that she had come out simply with the hope of 
encountering de Mailly, turned down Green Street and fol- 
lowed it to the water's edge. The Stewart quay was de- 
serted, and she halted there to look over the smooth, warm 
stretch of water. It was very still. The idle swash of the 
ripples against the pier was the only sound that reached 
her ears. The atmosphere was hazy with heat. It seemed 



190 The House of de Mailly 

as though it was the very weight and thickness of the air 
which gradually formed a solid arch of purple storm-clouds 
above the river to the west. Presently the sun was ob- 
scured. Still Deborah stood, heedlessly watching the bay, 
and breathing slowly in the stifling heat. Suddenly some 
one appeared beside her. 

" Mademoiselle mademoiselle you will surely be wet. " 

Deborah turned her head towards him with a smile of 
pleasure which she would have repressed if she could. 
" Did you fall from the clouds, sir?" 

" No. I have myself been wandering by the water this 
afternoon ; and for the past quarter of an hour I have been 
watching the gathering storm and you. Come, made- 
moiselle, we must seek shelter and quickly." 

"Let us try to reach Miriam's. We can run." 

He took her arm as she spoke, and they started together 
down Hanover Street to Charles, which ran straight up 
for five blocks to Gloucester Street and the Vawse tavern. 
As they passed the Reynolds ordinary a deafening clap 
of thunder broke over them. Deborah shivered, and de 
Mailly put an arm about her to help her faster on their 
way. The street was empty. The heat had not yet 
broken, and beads of perspiration stood on their faces as 
they went. A long hiss of lightning glided like a snake 
through the storm-cloud. The town was almost dark. 
Deborah had begun to pant, and her companion could 
feel the beating of her heart shake her whole frame. 

"C'est rien, mademoiselle. Nous sommes presque la. 
L'orage sera vraiment 6norme!" he muttered rapidly. 

A moment more and, as a new thunder-clap rattled down 
the sky, a sudden cold breath struck the city. With the 
wind, which blew like a hurricane down the river, came a 
pelting rain. The two reached their destination barely 
in time. Claude flung open the door of the tavern, and 
Deborah was blown over its threshold in a gush of water. 

It was with some difficulty that Claude shut and bolted 
the door in the face of the wind. When he turned about 
his companion lay back on a wooden settle in a state of 



Claude's Memories 191 



exhaustion. While the gale howled without and the 
thunder crashed down the heavens; he lit a candle with 
his tinder-box, brought a glass of strong waters for Deb- 
orah, and helped her gently to a more comfortable chair. 
He took the hat from her tumbled hair, chafed her hands 
till her nails grew pink again, and then stood back regard- 
ing her anxiously. 

" Oh, I'm quite recovered. It was a long run. Where 
where is Miriam?" 

"Mistress Vawse? John Squire's boy broke a limb 
falling from a roof, and she has gone to attend the what 
do you say? setting of it." 

"Then we are here quite alone?" asked the girl, ner- 
vously. 

"Surely Miss Travis is not afraid with me?" Claude 
looked at her in hurt surprise. "1 will retire at once to 
my room. When the rain ceases " 

Deborah laughed a little. "No, no. You misunder- 
stand. I am afraid of storms. 1 should be frightened 
to death to be left here alone with that." 

Both listened as the long, low growl of thunder rolled 
down the sky and died away. It was growing darker 
again. A new storm was rising. 

Claude, much relieved at the sincerity of Deborah's 
tone, drew a stool near her. "May I sit here by you, 
then?" he asked. 

Deborah nodded and leaned back in her own chair. 
Then there fell a little silence on the room. The girl's 
unconscious eyes travelled over de Mailly's face as he 
sat regarding the rain-splashed windows ; and they found 
a new expression, a new paleness, an unusual soberness, 
upon the clear-cut features. Unthinkingly, Deborah 
spoke : 

"You are changed to-day, monsieur. I have not seen 
you so before. Why are you melancholy?" 

He turned towards her quickly. "Yes, I have what 
we call les papillons noirs to-day. In some way, Mis- 
tress Deborah, 'tis your fault. In these last days I have 



192 The House of de Mailly 

said so much to you of my former life, jestingly perhaps, 
and yet feeling it, that to-day it has brought me home- 
sickness." 

Before his frank look Deborah's eyelids drooped, and 
presently, with a little hesitation, she said: "You once 
told me that some day you would relate to me why it was 
that you left your home. Could you not now?" 

"Ah, no!" The exclamation was impetuous. "It is 
not a story for you, mademoiselle. An older woman might 
hear but to you " 

"Think of me as older," she suggested, so quietly that 
his resolve was shaken. 

"It will be hard to forgive me, 1 think, afterwards," he 
deprecated. 

"What shall 1 have to forgive? 'Tis 1 that ask the 
tale." 

"It is a story of unfortunate love," he said, regarding 
her narrowly. 

Her head drooped farther. " Tell me all now, monsieur. " 

And so, out of an impulse which he could not have traced 
to its source, but which proceeded from a spirit of honesty 
and true chivalry, Claude recounted, with the utmost 
gentleness and delicacy, some of the incidents which had 
led to his exile. He said just enough of his cousin to let 
his listener decide what his feeling for her had been. And 
Deborah, oddly enough, perhaps, shrank from no part 
of the recital. She forgot herself, and saw through the 
eyes of the narrator all that he was describing. In their 
recent, half-serious talks on French life, the girl had gained 
a remarkably clear idea of what that life must be; and 
now this story affected her very differently than it would 
have done had it been her first glimpse of another exist- 
ence. It resembled one of her vague dreams, this sitting 
alone in the cloud-darkened room, the feeble candle min- 
gling its beams with the gloomy daylight; the shadowy 
figure of the man before her, and his low voice carrying 
on its story, seeming to be things very far away. And 
the fresh rain pelted on the windows, while the deep mono- 




1 GO ON, MONSIEUR,' MURMURED DEBORAH " 



Claude's Memories 193 

tone of the thunder made a fitful and fitting accompani- 
ment to the narrative. 

"So, mademoiselle, it was there in the chapel that M. 
de Maurepas delivered me the letter from the King. Henri, 
madame's brother, was with me. 1 read the letter just 
there. 1 have forgotten if 1 spoke after it, or if either of 
them addressed me. Henri, I think, led me out and away, 
into the town, to our apartment. But next morning it 
was all very clear. Henri seemed to feel more than I. 
Later on that day 1 went to bid madame good-bye. She 
was very gracious yes, most gracious." 

" How could you go to see her? 1 should not have done 
so." 

" Ah, mademoiselle, 1 had to see her. 1 wished to take 
her with me as my wife. She did not come. Non. 
She gave me, instead, to bring away for memory of her 
this." Claude put his hand inside his vest and brought 
out two things, the long white gauntlet, and a letter with 
the royal seal. As he handed the gage to Deborah, the 
paper dropped to the floor. 

While the girl looked at the glove for the second time, 
de Mailly picked up his letter of exile, and sat smoothing 
it on his knee. Then he asked, unthinkingly: "This 
letter from the King will you read it?" 

She held out her hand and took the small, worn paper 
with its red-brown seal and the arms of France upon it. 
Regarding the fine, crabbed writing, she said, with a faint 
smile: "1 do not easily read French, monsieur." 

" Shall I read it to you, then, as well as I can in Eng- 
lish?" 

She nodded once more, and he, taking the missive from 
her hand, cleared his throat and began, with a little effort : 

"Owing to certain circumstances which of late have 
had the misfortune greatly to displease S. M., the King 
desires to inform Count Claude Vincent Armand Victor 
de Nesle de Mailly that the absence of the Count from the 
chateau and city of Versailles after the noon of Friday, 
January 22d, in this year of 1744, will be desirable to S. M. ; 
'3 



194 The House of de Mailly 

and that after the first day of the month of February, Mon- 
sieur the Count, if he has not already crossed the line of the 
French Kingdom, would of necessity be placed under the 
escort of one of his Majesty's officers. The King wishes 
monsieur a delightful journey, and ' ' 

Claude's eyes, running on before his tongue, suddenly 
realized the subject of the next few lines, and he suddenly 
stopped. 

"Go on, monsieur," murmured Deborah, after an in- 
stant. 

" Mademoiselle, 1 cannot. There is nothing more. " 

"Go on, monsieur," she repeated, quietly. 

Claude passed his hand over his brow. Then he lifted 
the letter again and continued : " ' and begs further to 
add that when monsieur shall desire to present Madame 
la Comtesse his wife to their Majesties at Versailles, his 
return to his present abode will be most pleasing to 

'"LOUIS R." 

At the close of the last line Claude looked up, appre- 
hensively. Deborah was very white, and there was an 
unusual brightness in her eyes. He could not catch her 
glance. Her head drooped, and presently she covered her 
face with her hands. He sprang up, impetuously. 

"Deborah Deborah forget that last! I didn't mean 
to read it." 

He spoke rather incoherently. Perhaps the girl did not 
even understand him. At any rate, after a moment, she 
lifted her head with a dignity that Claude did not know. 
" I thank you, M. de Mailly, for telling me the story as I 
asked." There was a little, wretched pause, and then she 
added, more faintly: "See, the storm is nearly over. I 
must go back now to the doctor's house." 




CHAPTER VII 

The Pearls 

NOTHER week went by, and Deborah, quite 
recovered from her slight illness, bade Dr. 
Carroll and his sisters good-bye and returned, 
on a Sunday afternoon, to the Trevor place. 
It was then about the 1st of August, and 
certain rumors relative to the reception of the returning 
commissioners from Lancaster, rumors dearly exciting to 
the feminine heart, began to radiate from the gubernatorial 
palace and to spread throughout the country-side. For 
once in its long existence rumor spoke truth. Upon the 
6th day of August were issued elaborate cards ("tickets," 
they called them then) of invitation for a Governor's ball to 
be given upon the evening of the 2ist to the returning 
officials. With the delivery of these cards a thrill of ex- 
citement and anticipation pulsated through all Anne Arun- 
del County, even running a little way over its irregular bor- 
ders; and innumerable were the earnest conversations 
through town and country houses as to costumes suitable 
for such an occasion. Great hopes, that sank often to de- 
spair, were entertained of the arrival of the Baltimore, with 
her usual cargo of vain and delightful things. It was 
calculated with the nicest discrimination that she might 
reach port, provided the winds were amiable to an impossi- 
ble degree, as early as the I5th. Then the weather of 
the West Atlantic was watched with supreme interest. It 
certainly was all that could be desired. Nevertheless, the 
1 5th came and went without the Baltimore, and there 
was wailing on both sides of the Severn. In time the 
interest in the ship's arrival came to surpass its object; 



196 The House of de Mailly 

though, indeed, Betty Pritchard voiced many another's 
feeling when she one day cried out, wofully : 

"If the Baltimore doesn't come in, I'll have no pink 
taffeta for a petticoat to my satin overdress. If I don't 
have the petticoat, I won't go to the ball; and if I don't 
go to the ball, I shall die!" 

One of the most anxious watchers for the arrival of the 
ship was, oddly enough, Madam Trevor. Her anxiety con- 
cerning it quite passed the comprehension of her daugh- 
ters, who had not a suspicion of what was in their mother's 
mind. Vincent knew more, but had never seen fit to talk 
to his sister on the subject of the pearls which were to form 
Virginia Trevor's ornaments on the day that she married 
Sir Charles. It was tacitly understood between young 
Trevor and his mother that he should speak to his cousin 
on the arrival of the jewels, and it was madam's ambition 
to be able to spread the news of Virginia's engagement at 
the much-talked-of ball. 

The Baltimore was a considerate ship, and her captain 
the favorite of all sea-going men in Annapolis. Neither 
lost a reputation this time, for, on the 20th of August, 
at ten o'clock in the morning, the Baltimore cast anchor 
in the lower piers, and Annapolis womanhood sighed with 
relief. It was but seven o'clock on the evening of the 
same day, and the Trevor family sat at supper in the glass 
room, watching the twilight deepen over the scented gar- 
den, when Pompey hastily entered to announce the un- 
expected arrival of young Charles Carroll. 

"An' he say Baltimo'e 's heah, Mis' Trev'," he added, 
eagerly, glad to be the first with the news. 

Madam Trevor rose with a light in her face as the doctor's 
son came merrily in. Having saluted each member of the 
party, he advanced to the mistress of the house, paused 
for an instant to take on an air of heavy responsibility, and 
finally produced, from the pockets of his new cloth coat, 
two packages, wrapped in paper and tied with cord, the one 
square and flat, the other five inches thick and also square. 

"From Captain Croft," he observed, handing them to 



The Pearls 197 

Madam Trevor, while all at the table looked on with interest. 
In a moment the strings were cut, and the paper wrappings 
thrown off. Two cases of dark green morocco appeared. 
With a deep-drawn breath her mother carried them round 
the table and set them before Virginia. 

"They are to be yours/' she said, gently. "Open 
them." 

Virginia, surprised, but unmoved, lifted the covers from 
the cases. In one, upon a green satin lining, reposed a 
necklace of round, softly shining pearls, set in gold, with 
a pendant of pear-shaped pearls and sapphires. The other 
case contained a hair ornament, also of pearls, pink and 
black, in two even rows, surmounted by a delicate scroll- 
work of the smaller stones, that shone in the dusk with 
exquisite beauty. 

Virginia drew a deep sigh of admiration. Lucy cried 
out with delight ; and Madam Trevor and the gentlemen, 
looking on in high interest, did not notice Deborah, who 
sat silent, eager, with her great eyes fixed in unwinking 
fascination on the perfect gems. 

" Put them on, Virginia/' cried young Charles, and there 
was a murmur of approval. 

Lilith, who had been standing by her husband at a little 
distance, lost in admiration, nudged old Adam. 

"Fetch some can'les," she whispered, excitedly. 

Virginia, with a little smile, took up the necklace, and 
her mother clasped it about her slender throat. Then the 
tiara was set and pinned upon her powdered curls, and 
Adam, coming forward with a candle in each hand, held 
the lights up before her. 

'"Ginny, you must wear them to the ball!" cried Lucy, 
ecstatically. 

Virginia had no time to reply, for her mother gently 
interposed : " They are not Virginia's yet, Lucy. She 
shall wear them on her wedding-day." 

Charles Fairfield started slightly as his unfortunate eyes 
suddenly encountered those of Virginia, who, in her turn, 
flushed and bent her head. 



198 The House of de Mailly 

"I shall never wear them, then," was on her tongue to 
say ; but her brother interrupted. 

"Charlie," he said, addressing his cousin, "come down 
to the river with me and see the moon rise. It's in the full 
to-night." 

" Oh, may I come, too?" said Lucy, eagerly. 

"No, Lucy; I need you here/' interposed her mother, 
much annoyed with Vincent's want of tact. 

Fairfield, grasping the whole situation, rose at once, 
without a word. Before leaving the room he stole an in- 
voluntary glance at Deborah. She was looking at him, 
for she herself guessed what she did not know. Her lips 
were curled into a little smile of amusement that set the 
man's heart on fire with anger at Madam Trevor. He 
said nothing, however, but quietly followed Vincent into 
the still evening. 

An hour later Madam Trevor sat alone in the great hall. 
Young Charles and the three girls, one by one, had gone 
to their various rooms, and the mother was waiting alone 
for the return of her son and her nephew. She was unac- 
countably anxious over the result of the interview, though 
indeed there was not one reason which her nephew could, 
in honor, conjure up, whereby he might refuse to marry 
Virginia Trevor. It was with the understanding of a some- 
time marriage that he had come to America with Vincent 
months before, and because the matter had been so long 
silently understood, it should not have been hard for him 
to hear it finally discussed. Thus, many times over, Vir- 
ginia's mother argued in the candle-light, while she waited. 
And still, into the midst of her most unanswerable con- 
clusion, would creep a doubt, a suspicion that she would 
not voice, the name of one whom she tried in vain to put 
from her mind. It was Deborah. Deborah Travis and 
Charles Fairfield ? Absurd ! And yet madam could 
see the face of the girl as it had been that evening when 
Vincent and his cousin left the room. She could see the 
ironical light in the gray-blue eyes, the scornful curl of the 
red mouth, the unconscious insolence of the long, natural 



The Pearls 199 

curl that fell, powderless, down her shoulder to the muslin 
ruffles at her elbow. Madam Trevor had a measure of justice 
in her, and she gave Deborah her due, admitting to herself 
that Virginia, in all her stateliness, with the pearls upon 
her, would never have tempted man to half the desperation 
that might be raised within him over this other silent creat- 
ure, half child, half woman, of madam's own generation. 

The clock on the wall ticked ten and went on again. 
At a quarter after, Trevor and Fairfield came in from 
the moonlight to the hall. Fairfield was very pale. Vin- 
cent's face was calm and unreadable. Sir Charles, see- 
ing his aunt expectant, went over to her, lifted her passive 
hand to his lips, bowed, and left the room to retire to his 
own. When he was gone madam turned a puzzled and 
anxious face towards her son, who stood still, narrowly 
scrutinizing a portrait on the opposite wall. 

"He has refused, then, Vincent?" she asked, finally. 

"On the contrary, he will marry Virginia when you 
please." 

"Then he asked too much dowry?" 

"He said nothing at all of dowry." 

"In Heaven's name, then what is the matter?" 

Vincent sighed, rather wearily. " Nothing is the matter. 
He does not love Virginia, of course, but " 

"Nonsense, my boy! He would not marry her if she 
were ' distasteful to him. Love will come. What girl 
loves her husband when she marries him? What else 
did he say, Vincent?" 

Vincent shrugged his shoulders. "He said nothing 
at all. He informed me, when I spoke, that he did him- 
self the honor formally to ask of me the hand of my elder 
sister. I accepted the offer. After that we walked about. 
I suppose you will make the engagement public at the 
ball on Wednesday. I'm deucedly tired to-night. Per- 
mit me to wish that you will sleep well." 

"Good-night, my dear Vincent. Your scruples portray 
the height of your nature. I honor you for them but do 
not worry. Everything will be well. And so good-night." 



20O The House of de Mailly 

With great relief at her heart the mother gently kissed 
her son, and then, as he departed with his candle, she 
blew out all but one of those remaining in the hall, and 
with that lighted herself to her rooms in the eastern wing. 

At the other end of the house, in the chamber corre- 
sponding to Madam Trevor's, on the ground floor, was that 
of Sir Charles. Outside his room, in the passage, were 
the stairs; and directly overhead were the long, narrow 
spinning-room, the hand-loom in its corner, and, incident- 
ally, Deborah's diminutive chamber. Sir Charles had re- 
tired, for want of anything better to do, and now lay on his 
cool, flat bed, sleepless, restless, and a prey to unhappy 
thoughts. It had come to pass, that thing which he had 
dreaded all the summer through. He was engaged to 
marry Virginia Trevor. In a night or two all Maryland 
would be ringing with the affair. In as many months he 
and his bride would be leaving the colonies, Annapolis, the 
plantation in short, Deborah probably forever. And Sir 
Charles twisted and turned and tried to put the grayish 
eyes and the curling red lips out of his mind. They re- 
fused to go. Finally another thought came to bear them 
company a thought generated by them, perhaps, and 
certainly bold enough and daring enough to smack of 
the Court of a Stuart, and to seem absolutely mad in 
this prim colonial bedroom of old George Guelph's staid 
American dependency. None the less the thought had 
found a congenial home, and it expanded, flourished, 
and gained body and limb till a merry, full-grown plot 
was playing havoc with young Fairfield's hope of sleep. 
He continued to lie there, restless and scheming, till all 
his own thoughts were banished by the sound of foot- 
steps and a trailing of garments, and a curious liveliness 
of movement coming to his quickened senses from the 
room overhead. 

Deborah also was awake. Rather, the moonlight, creep- 
ing along the pillow to her face, had roused her, by slow 
degrees, from a half waking dream. Alone, in the silent, 
enchanted night, with no disturbing day-thoughts to ban- 



The Pearls 201 

ish the lingering visions of sleep, the dream stayed and 
grew to be a fantasy of reality. She rose from her bed 
and moved slowly towards her open windows, through 
which the bluish silver moonlight flowed, changing the 
room into a misty-veiled fairy place. Below, outside the 
window, lay the dreaming rose-garden. The lazily float- 
ing odor of full-blown flowers came up to her, as incense 
on its way to a higher heaven. Beyond this lay the 
deep-shadowed wood, with here and there a high, feathery 
tree-top waving to the stars. The rippling plash of the 
river played a low accompaniment to the night hymns 
of the myriad creatures singing through the country-side. 
Far beyond the garden, rising like two cloud-shadows 
through the luminous night, were the great tobacco barns. 
Slave -cabins, still -house, kitchen, well -sweep, all were 
changed, by the mysterious power of night, to things 
of natural beauty. And Deborah was changed. Her 
dreams had been of courts and palaces, of dimly resplen- 
dent royal figures, among which she, and Charles Fair- 
field, and Claude de Mailly moved in inexplicable near- 
relationship. She, Deborah Travis, had just been crowned 
Queen of all Europe by the hand of Majesty, with her 
cousin Virginia's pearls. Now, in the waking dream, 
Deborah could not turn her thoughts from those same 
softly shining things that Virginia was to wear upon her 
wedding-day. 

Presently, with this single image in her mind, Deborah 
found herself outside her room, and creeping, in her white 
garment, with naked feet, down, down the stairs, past 
Sir Charles's door, through the deserted, moonlit living- 
rooms, with their misplaced furniture and the scattered 
articles of a day waiting for dawn and Lilith to be put 
straight. She passed across the sitting-room, down the 
east passage, and, finally, in at the doorway of Madam 
Trevor's dressing-room. Once inside Deborah halted. 
Madam Trevor's garments lay, neatly folded, upon a 
chair. The door to the bedchamber beyond was half 
closed. From within came the light sound of regular 



2O2 The House of de Mailly 

breathing. Deborah smiled, and turned to the great black 
chest of drawers beside the window. Here also the moon- 
light illumined her way. She opened the top drawer 
noiselessly. Within, on a bed of lavender, lay the two 
morocco cases for which she had come. She took them 
up, left the drawer open, and glided quietly away again. 

Once more in her own room the girl opened the cases 
and placed them on her dressing-table, their priceless 
contents all unveiled. Then she went to her own chest 
of drawers, and took from one of them the dress that she 
was to wear two nights later at the Governor's ball, a 
petticoat of stiff, white satin, and an overdress of China 
crepe, of the color of apple-blossoms, a thing that clung 
lovingly to her lithe figure, and vied in softness of tone 
with her neck and arms. These things she put on, with 
rapid, careless precision; and then, her fingers grown a 
little colder, she lifted the pearl necklace from its satin 
bed and clasped it about her warm throat. Afterwards 
she sat down on a low chair before the dressing-table, 
with its dim mirror, and took the tiara from the other 
box, placing it over her rebellious, silky curls. 

"Ah, Claude, Claude, how was it, that thy cousin 
looked?" she murmured indistinctly, with a vague smile 
at her thought. 

The dreamy, languorous eyes that knew not all they 
beheld, gazed at the reflected image of her face. How 
beautifully the young head in its coronet was poised upon 
the pearl-wreathed neck! Was it a new Deborah sprung 
to life here, in this August midnight? Was it only a 
momentary madness that should not be told, this carrying 
out of a dim vision? What was it that Deborah mur- 
mured to her mirror? What did she say to the shadowy 
throngs of courtiers that pressed about her chair? Was 
ever la Chateauroux more regal, more gracious? Were 
ever Comtesse de Mailly, and poor little Pauline Felicite, 
Marie Anne's predecessors, more gay, more delicately 
glowing, than this other, of alien race? 

From the heap of her finery Deborah sought out a paint- 



The Pearls 203 

ed fan, and, with this finishing touch of coquetry, she be- 
gan walking up and down her tiny room, pausing now 
and then at the window, for the night would not be dis- 
regarded, waving the fan with an air inimitable and un- 
acquired, seeing herself thus in the Orangerie of Versailles, 
or on one of the Paris boulevards as crowded with fashion 
and gallantry upon a Sunday afternoon. After a little 
she grew tired, and her mind dropped its imaginings. 
She seated herself beside the window, and, unclasping 
the necklace, took it off and held the jewels up in the moon- 
light, pressing their soft smoothness to her cheek, where 
the pendant drops hung like falling tears. 

Suddenly, upon the perfect stillness around her, broke a 
sound. Slow stealthy footsteps were crossing the floor of 
the spinning-room just outside. Deborah grew cold with 
instant terror. She heard a hand placed upon her door, 
and then came a voice, soft, well known, through the still- 
ness : ' ' Deborah Deborah ! ' ' 

It was the lightest of whispers, but every accent fell dis- 
tinctly on the girl's terrified ears. Moving noiselessly in 
her bare feet, she carried the necklace to the bureau, took 
the ornament from her head, and laid each piece in its case. 
Then, running across the floor, she knelt in her ball-dress, 
at the door, grasping its handle firmly. 

" Deborah you are awake?" repeated Sir Charles, more 
delicately yet. 

The girl breathed fast, but made not a sound. Only her 
hand tightened upon the handle, and her figure stiffened 
with determination. 

" Let me come in," he said. 

Then silence fell between the two, separated by three 
inches of board and Deborah's will, there in the August 
night. There was no one to know that he was there. Vin- 
cent, and Lucy, and young Charles Carroll, sound sleepers 
all of them, were in the body of the house; and Virginia 
was above her mother in the far eastern wing. The muscles 
in Deborah's body grew more rigid, and desperately she 
held herself against the door. But Fairfield was making 



204 The House of de Mailly 

no effort to enter. It should be only with her own consent 
that he would do that. 

"Deborah beloved open to me! Deborah hear me 
as I have heard you for an hour past. Let me in Deb- 
orah my dear!" 

She shut her eyes and pressed her forehead against her 
arm. There was a silence, breathless, endless, terrifying 
to the girl in the room. Then her weight of fear w r as lifted. 
The footsteps slowly retreated from her door, out of the 
spinning-room, down the stairs, and entered into the room 
below her own. She sank weakly to her knees, and a 
breath like a sob shook her slight frame. She was in- 
tensely sleepy now. For very weariness, it was hard to 
realize the crisis through which she had passed. But there 
was a task still before her, and one at which she trembled. 
Rising unsteadily, too wise to give herself time to think, 
she took the jewel-cases from her toilet-table, opened her 
door, crept out, and down the stairs, and passed stealthily 
back to madam's dressing-room. The room, the drawer, 
were as she had left them. Replacing Virginia's pearls in 
their bed of lavender, she pushed the drawer to, inch by 
inch, till it was closed. Three minutes later she had once 
more crossed the threshold of her own room. And while 
the pale moon set and the day dawned in crimson and tur- 
quoise over the distant Chesapeake, Deborah slept dream- 
lessly Claude, and the Versailles pageants, and Charles 
Fairfield's strange madness all lost to her for the moment 
under the spell of the great blessing of youth. 

Matters were different with Sir Charles, below. No sleep 
had the dusky dawn, with its liquid bird-warblings and its 
fresh day-odor, for him. He was thinking of what he had 
done and of what he should do. The impulse that had 
driven him to go to the room above was past now. He 
knew only that he had forfeited her very tolerance of him ; 
and the thought quickened his half-generated love into a 
sudden, fervid life that swayed his senses and fired his brain 
to plots and plans of unwise daring. At six o'clock he was 
dressed, and sat him down to wait for Deborah's waking. 



The Pearls 205 

It was an endless hour, and day had begun over the whole 
plantation before he heard her cross the floor over his head, 
and knew that his waiting was bounded at last. 

Deborah was half dressed before the sudden memory of 
the past night flashed over her. Then her hands dropped 
to her sides, and she sat still for a little, thinking. How 
should she meet Charles Fairfield before them all or, worse 
yet, if possible, alone? How could he meet her? Had 
she done anything wrong? No. What he had done was 
not her concern. And thereupon, with a lighter heart, but 
doubt still in her face, she finished dressing, set her room 
to rights for she was immaculately neat and started 
away without seeming reluctance. She was going down- 
stairs, her thoughts centred on the breakfast-room as the 
place of ordeal. The door at the stair-foot opened; Sir 
Charles came out of his room and stood below her, barring 
the way. 

She stopped stock-still, noting the pallor of his face and 
the dark circles below his blue eyes. Then suddenly she 
smiled, and said, brightly, "Good-morning, Sir Charles." 

" Is it good-morning to me, Deborah? Deborah, I make 
you my humblest apologies. I crave your for " 

She came down the last three steps with a changed ex- 
pression. "We'll not speak of that," she said, slowly, in 
a perfectly frigid tone. 

Thereupon she would have passed him, but he caught 
her suddenly by the delicate wrists. " Yes, we will speak 
of it, Debby. I will have it so. You shall grant me par- 
don, Debby." 

" And why, sir, pray ? Is my pardon at your command ?' ' 

"You'll forgive me because because I love you, Deb- 
orah. You'll forget when you are become my wife. 
You will pardon me when you know all." 

Down the upper hall came the blithe, morning whistle of 
young Charles Carroll. He was approaching the stairs. 

" Speak to me, Deborah," muttered Fairfield, with des- 
perate earnestness. 

Deborah gave him a long, strange look from her gray 



206 The House of de Mailly 

eyes. It was an inscrutable look, one that baffled him who 
caught it; but he did not know that the feeling which it 
called forth had baffled also the girl. 

"Good-morning to you, Deborah!" cried young Charles. 
"Good-morning, Fairfield! Oh, but I'm hungry! Are 
we going to breakfast now?" 

"Yes, I suppose so," responded Deborah, absently. 

"Do you return to town this morning?" inquired Fair- 
field, as they all passed through the sitting-room. 

" Yes. Though if I could help it, I would not." 

" I'll ride with you, then. I am going to-day to call on 
Rockwell. Good-morning, Lucy. Ah, Vincent!" 

"You ride to town to-day?" inquired Vincent, when the 
greetings were over. "You'll see Rockwell to-morrow, 
you know, at our famous ball." 

" Um yes, but I prefer to-day. I've a matter to arrange 
with him." 

At this speech Deborah glanced at Fairfield, and, at the 
meaning in his look, a wave of color rolled swiftly over her 
face. It was as well that, at this moment, Madam Trevor, 
with Virginia close behind her, entered the breakfast-room, 
and the morning meal began. 




CHAPTER VIII 

The Governor's Ball 

UESDAY passed as rapidly or as slowly as 
one would have had the last day before a 
long - looked - for event. Sir Charles rode 
away in the early morning, but returned 
to the plantation in the afternoon, to find 
even Vincent busy over a package of finery sent out, at 
Madam Trevor's order, from the Baltimore. Sir Charles 
himself was not interested. His spotless full-dress uni- 
form, his orders, his finest ruffles, his paste buckles and 
silk stockings were quite ready, and there were no 
further touches that he could add to the costume. Dur- 
ing the afternoon and evening he paid no attention at all 
to Deborah, but was, on the contrary, so attentive to his 
fiancee that Madam Trevor softened and grew voluble with 
pleasure. 

Wednesday dawned clear and hot, and from earliest 
morning every household in the county was in a moil 
of final preparation. Governor Bladen was to give a 
dinner to the commissioners and his own staff and offi- 
cials before the ball. To this, of course, Sir Charles had 
been bidden, and he, therefore, was to leave the house at 
four in the afternoon, fully dressed for the evening, wrapped 
about in a long and voluminous cloak to protect him from 
the dust and the foam of his horse. As he passed through 
the sitting-room on his way out to the portico, where his 
animal waited, he found Deborah standing by a table- 
ful of moss-roses which she was sorting. Passing close 
to her side he said, gallantly: "Faith, Debby, you'll be 
no fairer to-night in the satins than you are now in calico," 



208 The House of de Mailly 

And, while he stopped to take a bud from the heap, he 
added, in a rapid undertone: "If you'd not drive me 
mad, little girl, bring your courage with you to-night, 
and see that you trust to me truly, as 1 do to you." 

Then he passed on, and Deborah, unconscious of what 
she did, followed him slowly out to the portico and stood 
gazing after him as he galloped away down the dusty 
drive. Strange words he had spoken and the first that 
he had given her all day. Yet she was not surprised by 
them. Words were oftentimes superfluous with Deborah, 
for she had the power of knowing men's thoughts. Dream- 
ily her eyes wandered down the road at the little cloud 
of dust that lingered after him. She was soon to follow on 
that way. And how how was she to return? She could 
not answer the question, and it was as well that Lucy 
at that moment called her from the house : 

" Come, Debby, come and pack your things for the doc- 
tor's to-night. And 'tis nearly time to dress; and oh, 
Deb! Think of the dancing, and the lights, and our 
dresses and all, and all, and all!" And with sober John 
Whitney gone quite out of her mind for the moment, Lucy 
fluttered away to her room, leaving Deborah to follow as 
she would. 

His excellency John Bladen, like most colonial gov- 
ernors, knew how to give a dinner to any one, and, most 
particularly, a dinner to men only. To-night twenty 
sat at his table: the seven returned commissioners, the 
gubernatorial staff, the speaker of the Burgesses, the 
under-secretary, Mr. Robert King, Dr. Charles Carroll 
(this last from friendship purely), and, for the sake of the 
Church, the Reverend George Rockwell. The select com- 
pany ate mightily, but, later, drank more cautiously than 
usual out of respect to the forthcoming festivities; and 
finally they sat about the disordered table with some pipes 
of fine Virginia tobacco, presented by Governor Gooch 
in lieu of his own presence, some bottles of Madeira from 
the same patronizing source, and certain good stories, 
not quite invented for the ear of the Church, but apparently 



The Governor's Ball 209 

in no way distasteful to the eminent rector of St. Anne's, 
who, indeed, to be frank, told the best of them himself. 
It was a man's dinner, an official dinner, where, none the 
less, the weight of ordinary dignity was for once dropped 
off, and all went merry as a marriage bell. Sir Charles 
was seated opposite to Benedict Calvert, with a brother 
lieutenant on either side of him. His wit was poignant, 
his laughter ready, and his head cool, albeit there was 
enough work in his brain to have made a man less careless 
too anxious to eat. Rockwell being several seats away, 
it was impossible to speak with him on personal topics ; 
but the moment it was announced that Lady Bladen wait- 
ed in the drawing-room, Rockwell and Fairfield sought 
each other through the little throng, as if by mutual un- 
derstanding. 

" You're prepared to go through with it, George?" asked 
the young man, putting one hand on the rector's shoulder. 

"Egad, if you can go it, 1 can, Sir Charles." 

"You'll miss something of the festivity but you'll 
be ten pounds heavier in pocket to-morrow, George." 

"Ay. And so the lady's consented? Faith! She well 
may! It's such a chance as she never dreamed of." 

"The lady does not know, yet. I'll take her to-night, 
in the heat of the evening, when her blood will be up. 
She's rare, George, she's rare! Odds my life that such 
another woman does not live ! I " 

"Tut! Then you're still determined that " 

"What?" 

"It shall be legal?" 

"Zounds, man, not another word! What do you take 
me for? She's a cousin, I tell you, George. And I'm 
already engaged to Miss Trevor." 

"The devil you are!" 

"Ay. I couldn't escape. 'Twill be all out to-night. 
But I'll have little Deborah if 1 have to fight Annap- 
olis single-handed." 

"Urn. About the ceremony Miriam Vawse will wit- 
ness for one, but 'tis usual to have two " 



2io The House of de Mailly 

"There's the Frenchman. Faith, that would be a 
stroke! He's led me a jealous dance for months. We'll 
have him down from his room to sign the articles or 
whatever you do. To think that I'll be a Benedict by 
morning! Lord! Lord! Congratulate me, George \" 

"Come away, man. You've too much Jamaica in you, 
and the ladies are beginning to arrive. 1 hear Mistress 
Paca's voice on the stairs. Come and make your com- 
pliments to the Governor's lady." 

Having performed this duty as punctiliously as only 
he was able, Sir Charles left Rockwell's side and strolled 
slowly up the big, candle-lit room, at one end of which a 
band of musicians were already tuning their instruments. 
After a moment or two of indecision he joined a little com- 
pany of officers who sat together in a corner, talking light- 
ly among themselves, and commenting on the guests who 
were beginning to arrive. 

"Ouf! On my soul, there's Cradock with Rockwell. 
How do they stand it?" 

" Oh, the chaplain's been off so long that he's forgotten 
how they once struggled for St. Anne's " 

" Or else he wants to hear the story that George wouldn't 
tell over the Madeira." 

"Yes, I've listened to it fourteen times, but always with 
Jamaica to back it." 

"There's Dorothy Mason and her mother." 

"Egad, she's got on green again! 'Tis the only color 
that does not become her. Why " 

"Oh, doubtless young Thomas likes it." 

"There he is" 

" With Caroline Harwood. Poor Dorry ! " 

"I'll go comfort her." 

One of the young men left the group and joined the 
knot of ladies who stood talking at a little distance from 
the door. 

"Oh, good-evening, Lieutenant Henry!" cried a piquant" 
looking damsel in a gown of rather brilliant green satin, 
with flounced petticoat of white, 



The Governor's Ball 211 

"Your most obedient, Mistress Mason. I can see you 
will have small mercy on hearts to-night." 

"Lord, Mr. Henry, you're the most open flatterer! I 
vow I never looked worse. " 

"Oh, I protest! I call the gods to witness! Are you 
engaged for the minuet?" 

Dorothy wriggled her shoulders, colored, glanced swiftly 
towards Robin Thomas, who still lingered by Miss Har 
wood, saw that the case was hopeless for her, and so 
replied, in a provoked manner: "La! How should 1 be 
engaged when we've seen no one for a week? Our plan- 
tation's such a distance from the river." 

"You'll honor me, then?" 

" Oh, with thanks. Look, there are the Trevors. They 
were just in the dressing-room when 1 came down. You've 
heard the news?" 

"No. Tell it me." 

" 'Ginny Trevor's engaged at last." 

"What! Not to " 

"Sir Charles Fairneld." 

" Monstrous ! Monstrous ! Why, he's been eating with 
us for three hours and never told! Lord! If 'twere any 
but you had told me, I swear I'd discredit it. There he goes 
to them now." 

Madam Trevor, her daughters, Vincent, and Deborah were 
just entering the room. They had arrived fifteen minutes 
before, and no time, certainly, had been wasted in the an- 
nouncement of Virginia's engagement. The room was in 
a buzz of conversation, and not a little of it was relative to 
the two young people who now stood rather uncomfortably 
side by side, Virginia straight and cold, her companion 
cursing inwardly at women's tongues, and staring at the 
back of Deborah, who was laughing with Will Paca. 

"You will give me the minuet, at least, Virginia?" he 
asked, with considerate nonchalance. 

She shrugged slightly, as she rejoined : " Go and engage 
Debby for a country-dance, then, before she is all bespoken. " 

Fairfield glanced at her sharply, with surprise in his look. 



212 The House of de Mailly 

She was smiling at him in the most unconcerned manner 
possible. After an instant's hesitation he bowed deeply, 
and left her side, but made his way first to Lucy, who was 
manoeuvring to avoid Rockwell. From her he obtained 
two country-dances, for it was the fashion to change part- 
ners after the opening minuet and every two dances there- 
after. Then he proceeded to Deborah, with whom Carleton 
Jennings was speaking. 

" Ah, lieutenant!" cried that youth, merrily, at Charles's 
approach. "Miss Travis is just recounting your happi- 
ness. I'm in the same estate myself, you know, and you 
have my congratulations. Miss Trevor cannot fail to 
grace whatever station in life she may attain to. 1 " 

"There now, that's quite enough, Jennings. Go and 
engage her for a dance, and pour a few of my graces into 
her ears. I've come to claim some attention of Miss 
Travis," cried Fairfield, with such unabashed good-nature 
that Jennings could not be angry. Thereupon, with a 
smile and an earnest injunction to Deborah not to forget 
the promised dances, he went off to Virginia. 

The instant that he was alone with Deborah, Fairfield 's 
artificial manner dropped from him, and he betrayed the 
extent to which he had keyed his nerves. 

" You'll give me the fourth and fifth, and the eighth and 
ninth, Deborah?" he whispered, huskily, drawing her a 
little towards the wall. 

The girl looked keenly into his pale face. " Two are 
enough. Why do you ask more of me?" she inquired. 

" Because I have so much to explain to you. Because 
so much must happen to-night. You'll grant me the 
dances?" 

" If you like. What is to happen to-night?" 

He leaned over her and looked straight down into her 
steady eyes. " I am going to marry you to-night," he whis- 
pered, quietly. 

Deborah did not change color. She scarcely realized 
what he had said. 

" How? Where?" she asked, a faint smile curling her lips. 



The Governor's Ball 213 

" No I mean it. I will tell you when we dance." 

Pausing a moment, undecidedly, after those words, he 
presently turned and left her there, staring at the opposite 
wall, not perceiving the little throng of officers who had 
set upon Charles with sudden elaborate congratulations, 
a good deal of chaff, and some expostulation, just across 
the room. Nor did she see Will Paca, her partner for the 
minuet, till she found him demanding the subject of her 
meditations. 

The first strains of the opening minuet came from the 
orchestra up the room. The moving throng suddenly re- 
solved into order, and various sets of sixteen were formed. 
The two Trevor girls were excellent dancers, both showing- 
appreciation of natural harmony by the way in which they 
managed themselves: Lucy lightly, with an occasional 
added step ; Virginia, with languorous grace, keeping per- 
fect time, yet moving more leisurely than any other woman 
in the room. As to Deborah, her dancing was, ordinarily, 
the delight of her partner; for, no matter how lively her 
conversation, she had never been known to halt at a step. 
To-night it appeared as though she had forgotten the very 
rudiments of the accomplishment. She failed on all the 
returns, stumbled in her courtesies, walked upon the train 
of the lady in front of her, and, withal, maintained such 
unbreakable silence throughout the dance that her partner 
breathed with relief when the last chord was struck and the 
old people prepared to retire to cards. When Will Paca had 
left her and Robin Thomas approached for the first coun- 
try-dance, Deborah shook herself vigorously, and vowed 
that for twenty minutes, at least, she would forget the ex- 
istence of Sir Charles, in favor of her partner of the mo- 
ment. 

In the mean time Lucy had stumbled into a most unfort- 
unate situation. The minuet over, she and her compan- 
ion, talking and laughing together after the breaking up 
of the set, passed out of the large drawing-room into the 
hall, across which were the card-rooms. Towards these 
Madam Trevor, with Mrs. Harwood and Mr. King, was 



214 The House of de Mailly 

making her way, chatting volubly. As Lucy and her 
cavalier passed these three, the gentleman stopped her, 
smiling : 

"Soho! This is the maid who had the impertinence to 
be engaged before her elder sister! Little rninx! And 
how d'ye like Mistress Virginia's great match with your 
cousin? And will love keep the rectory warm for you while 
the windows of Castle Fairfield are blazing with lights in 
old England? Eh, small puss?" 

Madam Trevor looked extremely ill at ease during this 
tasteless speech, especially as Mr. King did not drop Lucy's 
arm at the end of it, but seemed to hold her to reply. Lucy's 
face was flushed scarlet, and, to crown the affair, George 
Rockwell, with Vincent at his elbow, suddenly joined the 
group. 

"1 am not engaged, Mr. King," said Lucy, clearly. 

"Not engaged, Lucy! Why, how now! We had all 
heard from thy mother, here, that Mr. Rockwell was the 
happiest of men," cried Mistress Harwood, noting madam's 
discomfort with a spice of malice. 

" Faith, Mistress Harwood, my happiness is small enough 
to-night," remarked the portly George, coming forward. 
" The lady would not even grant me one Sir Roger." 

Mistress Harwood raised her brows in amusement. " For 
an accepted husband, you are gentle not to command one/' 
she said, laughing. 

"Lucy, name Mr. Rockwell his dances at once, if he 
would still have them from any one so discourteous. I 
blush for you, indeed!" interposed her mother, sharply. 

"Oh, coquetry coquetry, madam! Youth is light o' 
heart. Come now, fafr Lucy, and make this man happy," 
put in Mr. King, detaining her still. 

Little Lucy raised her head, and caught Vincent's eyes 
upon her. His glance was not unkind. " I shall not grant 
Mr. Rockwell any dance to-night, and and I am engaged, 
indeed, but not to him." 

"What!" 

" I am. I am engaged to Will Paca for the next dances." 



The Governor's Ball 215 



Lucy was stumbling now, fear at her daring sweeping 
suddenly over her. 

Mr. King, in the midst of his laughter, found breath to 
say: "Will Paca for the dances, but who for the wed- 
ding, little Lucy who's for that?" 

Once more Lucy Trevor caught her brother's gaze, and 
she clung to it, unheeding Madam Trevor's angry face 
and Rockwell's mortified one. 

" I shall wed John Whitney the Puritan. Let me go, 
Mr. King! Mr. Chase is waiting!" 

And Lucy, frightened, triumphant, proud of her faith 
in the man she loved, more proud of her certainty of 
his love for her, tore herself from Mr. King's loosened 
grasp, and, giving her hand to Jerry Chase, fairly ran 
away. 

The group that she left behind was silent. Madam Trevor, 
utterly overcome, had not a word left at her command. 
Rockwell was in much the same state. Vincent, not a 
little astonished at his gentle sister's boldness, and decid- 
ing that the feeling which prompted it must be strong, 
was making a decision that was rather remarkable in, 
and exceedingly creditable to, a man of those narrow times. 
Mistress Harwood planned a morning's gossip on the 
morrow with a neighbor, at Antoinette Trevor's expense, 
and Mr. King decided that, were he a young blade again, 
it would be a girl of such spirit that he would have for his 
wife. And then, as the strains of the first reel sounded 
from the ballroom, the little group broke up. 

Sir Charles, with cool forethought, -had engaged no 
partner for these next two dances, but bent his steps up- 
stairs through the house on an exploring expedition. 
He wandered through ladies' cloak-rooms, round halls 
and narrow corridors, finally discovering and descending 
a steep flight of stairs that took him down to the first 
floor, through a small passage, and out of the house into 
the yard at the back. This was what he had sought. 
The little door was open, for slaves and servants had been 
passing in and out of it through the whole evening; and 



216 The House of de Mailly 



so, satisfied in this direction, he returned to the front of 
the house at the close of the third dance. 

Deborah, just finishing a round of laughter with Carle- 
ton Jennings, received Sir Charles with admirable self- 
possession, and they took their place silently in the set, 
which was a minuet. It was now that Fairfield had de- 
termined to set before the girl his arrangements for the 
evening's reckless finale. Under cover of the first slow 
strains of music and the first careful steps, he began : 

" Have you any partners after the ninth dance?" 

"No," said Deborah, steadily, understanding him at 
once. 

"Do you know of anything to come after the ninth 
dance?" 

"No," she replied again, in a lower tone. 

"Deborah have you courage for an adventure?" 

They saluted each other and gravely crossed over. 

"I have courage, Sir Charles, if I have the will." 

"Ah, Deborah I entreat you to gain the will to-night 1" 

"For what?" she asked, softly. 

"You know." 

"Say it." 

"To become my wife." 

Deborah flushed scarlet, and then the color fled, leav- 
ing her deathly white. There was a necessary silence 
between them, owing to the dance. When they came 
together again her partner went on: 

" Would you fear, Debby, to walk from here to Mistress 
Vawse's house alone at midnight?" 

Deborah looked at him quickly: "Why must I do 
that?" 

"Listen." Again the courtesy and bow, and he contin- 
ued : " After the seventh dance you are engaged to me 
for the eighth and ninth you must go up -stairs, put 
on your cloak and hood, and leave the dressing-room by 
the door that leads into the hall at the back. There I will 
meet you and conduct you down the servants' stairs, and 
you can escape the house by the little door into the yard. 



The Governor's Ball 217 

You know your way round the garden and out upon Church 
Street From there 'tis easy to Miriam's." 

"Ah!" 

Fairfield went on, without heeding the faint exclama- 
tion: "Mistress Vawse expects you. I have seen her. 
She will make you comfortable till I come. I will give 
your excuses to Vincent, telling him that Carroll's black 
has taken you home since you have a headache, or a 
torn ruffle, or a megrim anything. I fancy he'll not 
follow you. As soon as I can, I will go after you with 
Rockwell. At the tavern he will marry us by book, Deb- 
by, and after after I'll take you to the doctor's, and all 
will be well. 'Tis not difficult, Debby. Come you will 
make me live among the gods to-night?" 

He pressed to her side for the answer; but the dance 
presently separated them and she had not given it. Deb- 
orah's blood was running fast; her head was hot, her 
eyes brilliant, her cheeks flushed, none of which things 
would have been had she had no thought of considering 
this wild proposition. Nevertheless, she hesitated. Be- 
come Lady Fairfield, and, some day, something higher? 
She had dreamed of it, it must be confessed, before she 
ever suspected that such a thing could actually be. She 
had even fancied, long ago, that she wanted nothing more 
than Sir Charles; for, as men went, he was, to her, per- 
fection. But this idea had undergone a change, some 
time since. How long since? Did she care to reckon the 
days? Perhaps they needed no reckoning. Perhaps 
Deborah knew very well that since the hour when her 
eyes had first met those of Claude de Mailly, Charles Fair- 
field had changed for her forever. But Deborah had been 
hurt by Claude. She would think of him no more, after 
that day when, in the midst of the thunder-storm, they 
had sat alone in Miriam's tavern, and he had laid bare 
before her his life at the Court of France. Claude de 
Mailly belonged, heart and soul, to another life. Here 
was Sir Charles, who could give one to her. Lady Fair- 
field Deborah Fairfield the name pleased her. 



218 The House of de Mailly 

" Debby, will you not answer?" came a tremulous whisper 
from beside her. Sir Charles was becoming anxious. 

All at once she flung debate, prudence, the conventions, 
and the other man, alike away from her in a jumbled 
heap, and made reply, clear, firm, unhesitating, to his 
question : 

" Yes, Sir Charles. I grant your wish. Shall we walk 
a little?" 

A curious tone in which to decide one's destiny, and a 
curious choice of words to express such decision. But 
they were within possible hearing now, and, besides, 
Deborah was peculiar. The dance had ended before she 
spoke, and now they proceeded slowly down the room, side 
by side, silent, save when they stopped to answer some 
remark from others. Neither of them was ever after very 
clear as to how the ensuing hour passed. Both were with 
other partners, surrounded with other forms, moving, 
passing, talking, laughing, as though each present moment 
were supreme. Only when, out of the kaleidoscopic mass, 
one caught an instant's glimpse of the other's figure, dis- 
tant or near at hand, a sudden heart-thrill would reclaim 
them from insensibility, and thrust them once more under 
the warm shadow of that near-approaching, veiled Future, 
that seemed to portend so much to both. 

In the interval between the eighth and ninth dances 
Sir Charles again sought Deborah, and his manner ban- 
ished a lingering partner from her side. She did not once 
look up as Fairfield led the way out into the hall by the 
open card-rooms, and then up the distant, deserted stair- 
case. 

"You are not afraid?" he asked once. 

She shook her head with a faint smile; but her hands 
were cold. 

He put her light cloth cape about her, saw her tie a 
small hood over her powdered hair, and then he led the 
way into the empty hall back of the room. Down the 
steep flight of stairs she glided before him, stopping at 
last Before the closed door, she less nervous than he. 



The Governor's Ball 219 

"You know the way? Are you not afraid?" 

"The moon is up. Why should I fear?" 

Without reply, he softly opened the little door, and his 
face was very pale as he bent over her: "You'll not fail 
me, Debby? I love you, dear." 

She let him take her hand. Then he bent farther and 
kissed her swiftly on the lips, for the first time. Her eyes 
had looked into his for one startled instant. Afterwards 
she went forth into the night. 

Fairfield's heart was on fire as he watched her disappear 
down the garden path. Then he closed the door, breathed 
long and painfully, and made his way back again to the 
ballroom, with its throng of dancers, the candles dripping 
wax, the musicians mopping their brows, and Vincent 
Trevor and George Rockwell side by side in the doorway, 
looking on together. These Sir Charles approached upon 
his errand. 

"Ah, Vincent " with a very fair assumption of care- 
lessness "Deborah is gone home that is, to Dr. Car- 
roll's." 

Vincent turned. He had been watching Mary Chase. 
" Deborah ! Why, what for, Charlie ? Surely you've 
not been quarrelling? She's not " 

Sir Charles laughed nervously. "'Tis nothing but a 
most vile headache, got from the heat of the room and too 
much dancing. She wouldn't have me as escort, so I 
I sent one of the house - servants with her. She took no 
chair, saying that the walk in the tresh air would benefit 
her. She begs that you'll not disturb Madam Trevor till 
the cards are over." 

"Oh, very well. I'm sorry, of course. Er I'm en- 
gaged for the next dance. I leave Rockwell to you." 
And Vincent darted off abstractedly, after a lively young 
woman in blue satin, who seemed in no particular need of 
his attentions, being much absorbed in Will Paca. 

"Come, Rockwell, come; we must hurry she's gone!" 
whispered Fairfield agitatedly, pulling his companion's 
sleeve. 



220 The House of de Mailly 

The rector stood still. "What the oh! Your young 
one, eh? Must I come now?" 

"Of course. She's waiting, I say." 

Rockwell, who had not yet moved, turned on him sud- 
denly: "Listen, Sir Charles; if you marry Deborah 
Travis, I marry her cousin, Lucy Trevor you under- 
stand?" 

" Deuce take it, man, marry whom you please except 
Deborah. Why should I care?" 

" You'll promise to take my part to-morrow against that 
Puritan, John Whitney?" 

"Whatever you like, man. Come!" 

And so the two men, one still muttering Lucy Trevor's 
name, the other feverishly anxious for the coming scene, 
passed up-stairs, and down again presently at the back, 
where they left the Governor's palace and the ball behind 
them, to follow in the footsteps of Deborah Travis, tow- 
ards the ordinary of Miriam Vawse. 




CHAPTER IX 

The Rector, the Count, and Sir Charles 

HE day of the Governor's ball had been a 
dismal one for Claude. The few people 
whom he knew in the town were all agog 
over the prospect of the evening; and, since 
Governor Bladen had not heard of the resi- 
dence of the Count de Mailly within his territory, the 
Count had very naturally received no invitation to the 
festivities. The hot day did not tempt Claude from his 
lodging. He stayed alone in his room, and in the even- 
ing, after a solitary walk, returned to it again, turning 
over an idea which had been growing on him for a week 
that of leaving Annapolis. After all, its people were 
nothing to him. He would move on, as he should have 
done long before ; and the girl, Deborah Travis, should oc- 
cupy his thoughts no more. So thinking, with half his 
mind across the world, and his heart, did he but know it, 
all' here, Claude sat, watching the hours, dreaming, as Fate 
had him do, from dusk into midnight with her moon and 
stars. 

Down-stairs, in the common room of the peaceful or- 
dinary, Miriam Vawse also kept a troubled watch, for the 
part that she was to play in the approaching scene be- 
gan to appear to her as very doubtful in wisdom. As 
she sat alone in the warm night, beside her flickering 
candles, with the hours running relentlessly along, 
fear began to take possession of her. Half -past eleven 
struck from the steeple of St. Anne's. The moon was 
making the whole night luminous. Up Charles Street, 
presently, a flying; shadow came, a dark, wavering thing, 



222 The House of de Mailly 

in round hood, flapping cape, and long, light, ruffled 
petticoats held up for running about two slender ankles. 
To the threshold of the tavern door the shadow passed, 
and there it halted. Claude, in his window above, saw 
and wondered, but did not stir. 

There was a half inaudible tap upon her door. Miriam 
started and hearkened, half believing it her own nerves. 
Again the tap, more faintly than before; but now good 
Miriam ran to open the door. 

"Good lack! Thou'rt come then, Debby!" 

The hooded figure glided in and moved to the table, 
panting with the effects of the long run. 

"Sit down I will fetch some cordial." 

Deborah sank into a chair, threw off hood and cape, 
and lifted a flushed face. When Miriam came to her with 
a cup of strong waters, she drank gratefully, and pres- 
ently her expression softened to a smile. 

"I'm here! I'm here! Think of it, Miriam!" 

" And you'll leave my door again Lady Fairfield ! Oh, 
Debby, Debby, is it right? Art sure I've done no wrong?" 

"Oh, if there's any wrong, Miriam, 'tis mine." She 
was still for a moment, and then remarked: "Cousin 
Virginia was to marry him." 

"I know. Madam told me long since." 

"But he only asked for her two days ago that is, 
madam and Vincent made him. And then and then" 

"Then he told you," put in Miriam, glowing with ro- 
mance. 

"But where can he be? He was to come directly. He 
vowed he'd be here at once with George Rockwell. Oh, 
Miriam! If he shouldn't come!" 

"Lord! How can you think of such things!" cried 
Mistress Vawse, hurrying to the window. Deborah fol- 
lowed her nervously. 

"I'm sure he'll not come!" she cried, in sudden despair. 

" He'll come. He'll come. Now sit down again quietly. 
There. That's comfortable. And so you love him dear- 
ly. How long has it been? All the summer? D'ye 



Rector, Count, and Sir Charles 223 



know, Debby, once I thought 'twasn't Sir Charles. I 
didn't know. I thought 'twas him." 

Mistress Vawse swept her thumb mysteriously upward 
towards the stairs. Suddenly into Deborah's cheeks 
rose two vivid spots of color. She made no answer to 
' he woman's questions. 'But, indeed, there was not time 
now. Footsteps were halting at the threshold, and there 
came a light, masculine tap at the door. Miriam flew to 
open it. Deborah rose unsteadily. Fairfield and Rockwell 
together entered the room. 

Sir Charles went quickly to the girl's side, while the rec- 
tor stayed behind to say a few words to Mistress Vawse, 
who was an ardent parishioner of his. Deborah remained 
passive as her lover caressingly lifted her hand to his lips, 
and looked at her with deep-seated feeling. 

"Miss Travis, permit me to salute you for the second 
time this evening, and to congratulate you upon such a 
prospect of romantic happiness as is now opening to your 
vision," remarked Rockwell, with his most Johnsonian 
air, as he came forward. 

"Since it is in your power alone to bestow that happi- 
ness, George, let us, for God's sake, be about it!" ex- 
claimed Fairfield, in a passionately low voice. 

Three members, at least, of the little party were grow- 
ing extremely nervous. Deborah's courage, which had 
borne her in perfect quiet so far, was beginning to falter. 
Sir Charles was unreasonably fearful of some interruption. 
Miriam Vawse was in the same plight, her eyes being fixed 
continually on the fast-barred door. Rockwell alone was 
quite at his ease. 

"Now then, Mistress Vawse, another candle or two. 
Charles will stand the expense ; for I vow I must have light 
enough to tell the lady from her husband." 

Deborah quivered at the last word, which, indeed, Rock- 
well had thrown at her. 

There was a dead silence as Miriam placed three more 
candles on the table, and lit them at the flame of the first. 
Then the clergyman took from one of the pockets of his 



224 The House of de Mailly 

coat the prayer-book, and motioned the two to move back 
a little towards the empty fireplace. Deborah's heart had 
almost stopped beating, and her throat was so strained that 
she could not have spoken a word. Sir Charles, taking 
her arm, gently drew her to his side, and looked to Rock- 
well, who stood in front of them. He began to speak 
softly, omitting not a word of the service, even the ad- 
dress to the people assembled, now solely represented by 
Mistress Vawse, who was supporting herself against the 
table. 

" ' Dearly beloved, we are gathered here together in the 
sight of God' " 

"Oh!" cried Sir Charles, with a sudden start, "we were 
to have had another fellow a witness that de Mailly 
don't you know, George?" 

"I am here," came in a low tone from the stairs. 

"Lord!" cried Mistress Vawse, on the verge of collapse. 

Four pairs of startled eyes were lifted to where Claude, 
who had heard the sound of voices in his room and started 
to come down to learn more of the midnight arrivals, had 
halted in his descent, Rockwell's words in his ears. 

After the sharp pause, the rector was first to speak: 
"Well, now that he's here, we'll go on. Come down, sir, 
and be witness to this marriage." 

Claude was very white as he replied, with his slight 
accent: "I will remain here. I can see and hear quite 
perfectly, if I am necessary." 

"Go on, then! Go on!" cried Sir Charles, wiping his 
brow. 

" ' and in the face of this company to join together this 
man and ' ' 

"No no stop!" 

In amazement, Rockwell obeyed the huskily whispered 
command. It was from Deborah, and Deborah now, her 
cheeks feverishly flushed, eyes brilliant, lips parted, and 
breath quickened, moved, as if drawn by magnetism, from 
Fairfield's side to the stairs. After a moment of confused 
silence, Fairfield said, with unnatural calm: 



Rector, Count, and Sir Charles 225 

" What is it, Deborah? Come back." 

"No." 

"Comeback." 

"No." 

"Don't you understand? What is the matter? What 
are you doing?" 

" I I'll not marry you." 

"Deborah!" 

After that cry from Fairfield there was silence. The 
rector, Sir Charles, and Miriam Vawse stood as if petri- 
fied, staring at the girl, who faced them with quiet, dogged 
resolution written in her face. Claude, from the stairs, 
looked down upon her, scarcely surprised, perhaps, but with 
a very gentle light in his eyes. His deliberate descent into 
the room was the first move made by any one. Going over 
to Rockwell's side, he laid a finger on the clergyman's arm : 

" This wedding it is what you call legal?" 

"Perfectly!" snapped Rockwell, in anger. 

"There's no license," remarked Deborah, slowly. 

" Indeed, Miss Travis, I protest it isn't necessary. This 
is perfectly legal. It is customary quite customary. You 
will have the oaths of two witnesses ; though, indeed, with 
Sir Charles's honor, those are not needed. Let us go en 
at once." 

" Sure you must go on now, Miss Debby. Think of the 
timeo' night!" 

"Come come, child," and Fairfield started towards her, 
with a little gleam of anger in his eyes. 

Deborah shrank back against the stairs; but, lo! with 
an adroit movement, Claude was at her side, with evident 
intention of interposing. 

"You shall not use force," he remarked, quietly. 

" T you ! You French hound ! Out of my way ! I'll 
have you know your place!" 

"I am aware of my place, Sir Charles Fairfield." He 
stepped quickly in front of Deborah. " If this lady is forced 
into any action contrary to her desire, it shall be because 
my sword is broken." 
15 



226 The House of de Mailly 

There was barely a second's pause, then came a little 
whipping sound as two blades were drawn. Claude sprang 
on guard as Fairfield lunged. There was a flash of steel. 
The Frenchman made the riposte, and his sword just pierced 
the white ruffled shirt of his opponent, breaking the skin. 
The lieutenant paid no attention to it. De Mailly returned 
into tierce, and parried the second attack with immaculate 
grace. Rockwell, his eyes wide with interest, dropped his 
book and came over to watch the duel. It did not endure, 
however. After Sir Charles' third unsuccessful attempt 
to break the French guard, he felt his sword-blade seized, 
lifted, and himself pushed back. Claude's blade dropped. 
Deborah had taken command of the situation. Drawing 
Sir Charles' sword out of his passive hand, she gave it to 
Miriam Vawse, who had sunk into a chair, on the verge of 
hysteria. In helpless amazement she received the rapier, 
finding strength nevertheless to rise and go with it towards 
the stairs as Deborah spoke to her in whispered impera- 
tive. Presently, then, Deborah was alone with the rector, 
the Count, and Sir Charles. All three paid tribute to her 
supremacy with expectant silence. Fairfield was sunk in 
desperate dejection, Rockwell merely amazed, Claude men- 
tally reeling, for the horizon of his life was changed. It was 
a blank no longer. Many things were taking shape upon 
it. He was prepared, when Deborah took two or three 
hesitating steps towards him, and said, in a half-whisper : 

" I must go back to Dr. Carroll's. Will you take me?" 

With a glad light in his face, he came at once to her 
side. "I thank you, mademoiselle, for the honor you 
offer me. My life is yours." 

" Let us go, then," she said, her voice low and trembling 
dangerously. 

Suddenly Charles Fairfield rushed forward and, seizing 
both her hands, fell upon his knees. " Deborah! Deborah! 
Deborah! I love you ! In the name of God Almighty, give 
me some hope! I meant everything honestly honorably 
do you hear? The marriage would have been legal. 
Rockwell will swear that to you. What right have you 



Rector, Count, and Sir Charles 227 

Debby ! Debby, you promised ! Is it true that you don't 
care?" 

Deborah drew away from him as far as she could. Her 
face was drawn and weary, and no light in her eyes an- 
swered his entreaties. Claude, who had watched her 
narrowry, now interposed. Grasping the other's hands, 
he forced them, with a single twist, from Deborah's help- 
less ones, and then, with that kind of brute strength that 
comes to all men at times, he lifted the Englishman bodily 
to his feet, thrust him back, took Deborah gently about the 
waist, and carried her to the door. Opening it, he turned 
around. Miriam Vawse, from the stairway, saw his face 
as she had never beheld it before, white, set, triumphant, 
his greenish eyes blazing like jewels as he cried out to 
Fairfield, who was stiff with fury : 

"We will meet where you like, when you like, how 
you like, but not in the presence of ladies, monsieur." 

The door closed, and Claude and Deborah were alone 
together in the still, white moonlight. She walked her- 
self, now, only clinging fast to his arm, and trembling 
with the strain of the long evening. They were half- 
way to the doctor's before either spoke. Then Deborah 
whispered, just audibly: 

"You must not fight for me. I am not worthy." 

"I have fought for far slighter things than this. But 
do not be alarmed. There will not be much blood shed." 

Deborah shuddered, but was silent. She longed unut- 
terably to try to justify herself to this man, to explain the 
reason for her behavior ; and, as if divining her thought, he 
presently asked, quietly : 

"How, mademoiselle, did you come to do this thing? 
Do you love this Sir Charles? Did you think of the im- 
prudence?" 

Suddenly all thoughts but one fled from her. This one 
she voiced with quick eagerness : " 1 do not love Sir 
Charles ! Indeed indeed believe me I do not love him/' 

Instinctively Claude's arm tightened upon hers, but 
he said no more. He was too chivalrous a man to take 



228 The House of de Mailly 

any advantage of the time, the place, and their solitude. 
Deborah waited vainly for a word from him. When at 
last they stood at the doctor's gate, she whispered : 

" I'll go in alone. 1 can't thank you to-night. Good- 
bye." 

One hand of hers he took, and the moonlight and the 
woodbine kissed each other as he touched it to his lips. 

"Good-night/' he said. And then, without more, he 
let her go, saw her pass up to the door, in her pale dress 
and light cloak, with hooded head bent low. He heard 
her knock, and presently saw the door opened by a sleepy 
servant. Then he turned away, back towards the tavern 
of Miriam Vawse. 

Deborah felt no nervousness on entering the doctor's 
house. It had not occurred to her to dread lest the family 
had returned from the ball. In point of fact, the last reel 
was, at this moment, just beginning at the palace. The 
doctor's slave, therefore, received the young lady in dull 
surprise. 

"I had a headache, Jeremiah," she explained, faintly. 
"I came home with one of the Governor's house-blacks. 
Where's the candle?" 

" Heah, Miss Travis. Yo' want su'th'n t' eat, p'haps?" 

" Oh yes, yes, Jerry. Send Leah up with a cup of posset 
and some bread. That 'sail." 

"Yes'm. Lor! Yo' done got headache fo' shuah!" 
he muttered, watching the candle that she held shake 
so that the flame was endangered, as she passed up the 
stairs to bed. 




CHAPTER X 

Puritan and Courtier 

HAT time was it when you reached home last 
night, Deborah?" asked Madam Trevor. 

The doctor, his sisters, and their guests 
were seated at a very late breakfast, of which 
extremely little was being eaten. 

Deborah looked uncomfortable at the bald directness 
of the question. Being under no suspicious eye, how- 
ever, she dropped an hour, and was able to reply, with 
some nonchalance: "About twelve, I believe, madam. 
Really my head I'm not quite certain about the time." 

Lucy nodded sympathetically : " Indeed, Debby, if your 
head then was like mine now " 

"You will not complain of your health in this manner, 
before us all. It is most unladylike!" said Madam Trevor, 
sharply. 

Lucy quivered and shrank into silence. She was in 
the highest disfavor with her mother this morning, and 
only too well did she know why. Aching head or not, 
there was an ordeal ahead of her for the afternoon, to 
endure which she was inwardly praying for strength, but 
over which she was in reality desperate. If Rockwell 
appeared at the plantation, as he had vowed to do, with 
Madam Trevor still in this morning's mood, poor Lucy 
knew that John Whitney's fate and hers hung in a hope- 
less balance. And there was no one to whom she could 
look for help. Virginia and Deborah would be very kind, 
but neither of them could bring any opposition to her 
mother's intention. Of Vincent she did not think at all. 
Had she done so, it would have been merely to add a new 



230 The House of de Mailly 

despair; for to consider Vincent as her ally against his 
mother was impossible on the face of it. So little Lucy 
reasoned, dolefully, through the meal, till her attention 
was caught by Vincent's question: 

" Where's Charles, doctor Fairneld, I mean? I haven't 
seen him since we were dancing last night." 

"Sir Charles is not in the house," replied the doctor, 
with a quick glance at Virginia, whose face was perfectly 
passive. 

"Not in the house! Why what has happened?" 

"Oh, very little, I fancy. Last night, as we came up 
Church Street, I saw him with Rockwell at the door of the 
'Three Blue Balls.' He was probably about to celebrate 
his happiness. Young men, you know." 

Vincent's face grew dark. "Pretty ways for Rock- 
well," he muttered; and St. Quentin, whose eye was upon 
him, nodded slightly. 

Lucy took sudden heart, but was wise enough not to 
look up till her mother, much displeased, rose from the 
table, and so ended the meal. 

"Mistress Lettice, we will not trespass longer on your 
hospitality, for which we are vastly indebted. I have or- 
dered the coach for eleven. You, Vincent, at least, will 
ride with us?" 

Her son bowed courteously, and presently disappeared 
into the doctor's study, where he took the liberty of making 
use of his host's desk for a few moments. Upon finishing 
his note he carried it out to the deserted dining-room, 
where Jeremiah was clearing the table. 

" Jerry, can you do an errand for me this morning no, 
at once?" 

"Fo' shuah, Mist' Trev', if Doc' Ca'l '11 let me go." 

"I'll explain that I sent you off. Here's a note to be 
taken round to the cottage that Mr. John Whitney lives 
in. He's a Puritan parson. His house is just on the 
other side of the Gloucester Street bridge. Give him this 
note, Jerry, and here's a shilling for some extra tobacco, 
if you get it to him by eleven o'clock. Understand?" 



Puritan and Courtier 231 

"Ye-ah! He'll get it 's mo'n fo' shuah. Thanks, 
Mist' Trev'." 

Showing all his glistening teeth, the negro pocketed 
the coin, which no slave was supposed to possess, and, 
leaving his work unfinished, departed at once on the very 
welcome errand which served to let him out of the house 
for an hour into the August sunshine. 

Vincent found the doctor in the hall, and lightly touched 
his arm: "I have sent your black, Jerry, on an errand, 
Carroll. It was important, or I shouldn't have presumed. 
You'll pardon me?" 

" My dear Vincent, while you are with me my house is 
yours. Don't speak of it. So soon, madam? This is a 
niggardly visit, I vow!" 

Carroll hurried forward as Madam Trevor entered the 
hall. She had just come down, the three young women 
behind her, each carrying a package containing her party 
finery and night garments. The coach and Vincent's rid- 
ing-horse were already at the door. After a chorus of fare- 
wells and acknowledgments of hospitality, the ladies were 
finally settled in the roomy vehicle, which set off in a whirl 
of dust down Gloucester Street. On their way through the 
town they passed the door of the " Blue Balls " tavern, 
and madam bit her lip. 

"Virginia, be assured that I shall speak to Charles when 
he returns. It is disgraceful, it is abominable, this be- 
havior on the very night of his engagement to you. You 
may be certain that it shall not go unnoticed." 

For an instant Virginia's lip curled scornfully. Then 
all the former indifference came back again to her face. 
She made no reply to her mother's words, but, as they con- 
tinued on their way, some other train of thought brought 
a new expression to her fine features an expression of re- 
signed sorrow, of hidden suffering, of strong repression, 
that her mother did not see, and could not have read 
even had she noticed it. The rest of the drive was silent. 
Madam Trevor, seated beside Virginia, was very firm of lip, 
very straight of shoulder, very immovable as to hands. 



232 The House of de Mailly 

Lucy and Deborah, on the opposite side of the coach, had 
no desire to indulge in the usual ball reminiscences com- 
mon to young girls. One of them was anxious-eyed and 
pale with foreboding ; the other sat motionless, eyes closed, 
face unreadable, but enduring such inward tumult as none, 
seeing her, could have conceived. 

At three o'clock in the afternoon of that same Thursday 
a man on foot crossed the narrow bridge over the inlet at 
the end of Prince George Street, and started up the country 
road that led along the left bank of the Severn. The day 
was intensely hot, the white dust inches deep, and what 
wind blew at all was from the west, a mere breath of parch- 
ing grass and thirsting prairie lands. The man, however, 
was not thinking of heat. His face showed very plainly 
that his mind was some distance away, and that it was 
fixed on a subject of deep import to him. His prim black 
suit grew gray with sand, his immaculate queue flopped 
limply on his shoulder, his face was damp with perspira- 
tion, his very eyebrows were ruffled by the vigorous mop- 
ping which he now and then gave his forehead. Never- 
theless, oblivious of discomfort, John Whitney plodded on 
his way towards the Trevor plantation, his eyes on the 
road, his hope in the clouds. For the first time he was 
treading this well-known path with an untroubled con- 
science. He was going to Lucy openly, not even of his 
own planning, but at the request of Lucy's brother, whose 
courteous note of invitation lay hot under his vest, next to 
the homespun linen shirt which it was his pleasure to wear. 

Whitney was within five minutes of his destination, al- 
ready visible above the trees round the little bend in the 
shore, when the sound of wheels rapidly approaching from 
behind him caused him hastily to mount the bank at the 
side of the road. A caleche, drawn by two horses and con- 
taining a man garbed in shining pink satin, flashed by 
in a whirl of dust, and presently turned in at the road lead- 
ing to the Trevor house. Whitney pursed his lips, stared 
a little, and moved on again. 



Puritan and Courtier 233 

Claude, in his court costume and hired vehicle, stopping 
at the door of Deborah's home, found Jim, the stable-boy, 
white-eyed and open-mouthed with amazement at his dress, 
waiting to receive him and to fetch water for the horses. 

" I am seeking Mr. Trevor and madame," said Claude, 
on the step of the portico. 

" Yes, sah ; ef you'll walk right in, sah dey's right " 

" M. de Mailly ! You honor us, sir!" Vincent, who had 
witnessed the arrival, appeared from the hall and came 
hastily out to meet his guest. His astonishment at such 
a costume as he had never before, even in England, be- 
held, was, perhaps, visible in his face ; but if Claude per- 
ceived it he said nothing. 

"Come inside, will you not? The heat is great to-day. 
We Rockwell is here," explained the host, in a slightly 
disconcerted .tone. He was expecting another visitor, and 
de Mailly's arrival was ill-timed. 

"Thank you," responded Claude, still suavely oblivious, 
and flicking some dust from his sleeve with an enormous 
lace-bordered handkerchief. 

Side by side they entered the hall, wherein, all very stiff 
as to appearance, and even more uncomfortable in ex- 
pression, sat Madam Trevor, Lucy, Virginia, and George 
Rockwell. There was the usual series of salutations, fol- 
lowed by a pause so heavy, so unbreakable, that Claude 
flushed. He glanced at the rector, to find that gentleman 
glaring at him with a mixture of intense apprehension and 
extreme anger. Madam Trevor looked infinitely annoyed, 
and her lips were firmly set. Lucy, dull, mute, motionless, 
was pathetically hopeless. Finally, Virginia, with a kind 
of dry humor, set herself to save the situation. 

"Perhaps, M. de Mailly," she said, "you come as suitor 
for my sister Lucy's hand?" 

Claude turned to her quickly : " I have not that honor, 
Miss Trevor. I had, indeed, understood that 3^our sister 
was already um bespoken. I came to ask of Mr. 
Trevor that I may pay my addresses to Miss Travis." 

"Deborah!" cried both Lucy and her mother. 



234 The House of de Mailly 

Rockwell breathed, a sweat broke gently upon his brow, 
and all danger of spontaneous combustion was happily at 
an end. 

"Deborah, madame," repeated Claude, quietly. 

At the same moment a dusty figure ascended the portico 
steps and came presently into the hall. At sight of him 
Lucy grew pink, Rockwell purple, and Virginia Trevor 
very white. Madam bridled as she saw her son grasp the 
"Puritan" cordially by the hand, and Claude glanced 
rapidly over the face and figure, which were not unlike his 
own. 

John Whitney looked measuredly round the circle, greet- 
ed his rival with perfect imperturbability, sent a long glance 
into Lucy's eyes, and profoundly saluted Madam Trevor, 
who returned the bow with the barest inclination of her 
head. Then Vincent spoke : 

" M. de Mailly, let me make you known to the Reverend 
Mr. Whitney, of Boston. Gentlemen, you are here on like 
errands. 'Tis a curious thing. Perhaps it were as well 
to settle all, here, at once." 

"I protest, sir!" cried Rockwell, jumping up. "The 
present matter lies between Mistress Lucy, Master Whitney, 
and myself. I vow no stranger shall be in it!" 

" The Count de Mailly is no stranger, sir!" returned Vin- 
cent. " He has announced his intention, without hesitancy, 
before you. I see no objection to his learning that you and 
that gentleman are rivals for the hand of my sister Lucy, 
and that you are here to-day in order that the affair be 
decided once for all." 

"I cannot see any necessity for discussion, Vincent. 
Lucy is promised to Mr. Rockwell. Mr. Whitney has 
nothing to do with the affair," observed Madam Trevor, 
rather insolently. 

The controversy being now open, Claude was, for the 
moment, forgotten. 

" Madam, I crave pardon, but Mr. Whitney has just this to 
do with the matter. It appears, from all I have heard, that 
Lucy herself does not care for Mr. Rockwell as she should 



Puritan and Courtier 235 

care for the man she marries. Also I believe she does 
so care for Mr. Whitney." 

" Let me ask, Mr. Whitney, what means you have at your 
disposal for this young lady's support? How many slaves 
have you? How 

" 1 have no slaves at all, Mr. Rockwell, being a Chris- 
tian!" retorted Whitney, forgetting himself for an instant. 
Then, after an ominous little pause, he remarked, in an- 
other tone: "1 crave your pardon. 1 have one hundred 
pounds a year from my parish, and something laid by. 
It is quite true that I cannot give Mistress Lucy a home 
like this ; but 1 will engage to keep her always housed from 
God's weather, well shielded from cold, and with enough 
to eat if not of the finest, at least of such as should satisfy 
her, provided it be served with the sauce of sweet content. 
Moreover I will take no dower with my wife." 

At this last Claude opened his eyes widely, Rockwell 
looked put out, and Madam Trevor glanced at the speaker 
with a new expression. 

Vincent, turning from the Puritan with the barest smile 
at his earnestness, addressed his rival: "And you, 
George Rockwell what have you?" 

Rockwell cleared his throat, and rose as if he were to 
speak from the pulpit: "My income from St. Anne's 
is, I confess without mortification, no greater than that 
which this gentleman um ah has just said to be his 
portion from the meeting-house. My fees and perquisites 
as Church of England clergyman, however, make the 
sum far larger annually. I think also that you, madam, 
and Mistress Lucy, will recognize the difference between 
the to speak gently the somewhat humble abode of 
Mr. Whitney and the rectory which I myself have the 
honor to occupy, and where I am accustomed to entertain 
his excellency himself." 

"Pardon me, sir, but could you indeed imagine that, 
after my marriage, I should not instantly remove to an 
abode more suited than my present one to a lady's con- 
venience? Do you imagine " 



236 The House of de Mailly 

" You interrupt, sir. I make no observations on what 
your conduct will be. I am only aware of what it is." 

"It is, sir, so far as I am aware, irreproachable!" 

" Come, come, gentlemen," interposed Vincent, in some 
displeasure, "we wander from the subject. You a 
have not spoken of dower, Rockwell. Of course, my sister, 
being of our family, would not lack suitable outfit and 
settlement on entering a new estate. Still " 

"I was sure," interrupted Rockwell, hastily, for the 
point was delicate " I was sure that you would regard it 
as well nay, might as a pride consider it indispensable, 
Vincent, that 

"Stop! Let me go away." Lucy had risen, quiver- 
ing, to her feet, her mild eyes blazing, her voice low and 
unnatural. "I will not be bargained for, bought and 
sold, as slaves or horses are. Vincent, you have insulted 
me by permitting such a scene. And you " turning 
to Whitney and Rockwell "you are heartless and soul- 
less. Love! What do you know of that?" 

She turned, with Virginia at her side, and, not looking 
again at any one in the room, swept away towards the west 
wing. As her daughter departed, Madam Trevor rose un- 
decidedly, then reseated herself, with a new and firm in- 
tention of having more to say in the forthcoming battle 
than she had had heretofore. Three of the men, Vincent 
and the rivals, were staring at each other, Whitney and 
Trevor in mortification, Rockwell merely in surprise. 

"Egad!" murmured Vincent, softly, "the little girl was 
right." 

" I apologize to you, Mr. Trevor, and to Mistress Lucy, 
for my utterly thoughtless and discourteous behavior," 
cried Whitney. " Indeed, I was thoughtless and unfeeling. 
I most painfully acknowledge that your sister's anger 
became the situation." 

"Oh the lady was piqued, sir, at your lack of worldly 
goods," observed Rockwell, with a grin of ingenuous conceit. 

Claude regarded the man with languid disgust. Vincent 
flushed angrily, and Madam Trevor rose. 



Puritan and Courtier 237 

"We waste time, gentlemen," she said. "It is perfectly 
fitting that these matters should form part of the discus- 
sion. For my part, Mr. Rockwell, I am entirely with you. 
1 wish my daughter to marry you, since 1 believe you com- 
petent of caring for her as should be. As to the settle- 
ments, of course " 

"Pardon me, madam, but this is quite useless, " inter- 
rupted Vincent, coming forward, with the light of sudden 
resolve in his eyes. " You are aware that once before this 
matter has been most unsatisfactorily decided in this way. 
My sister has continually denied your statement that she 
was affianced to Mr. Rockwell, and 1 have been led to 
believe that it was through her attachment to Mr. Whit- 
ney, who some time since honorably professed to me his 
love for her. As legal head of this house, then, 1 cannot 
feel it otherwise than just to insist that my sister herself, 
and none other, shall choose between these two; and I 
now say that it shall be entirely without consideration 
of dower, settlement, or perquisite. Further, I maintain 
that, if Lucy choose to reject both of these gentlemen, of 
her own free will, she shall thereafter be housed and pro- 
tected under my roof till she find some one to her taste, or 
till she die here unmarried/' 

"Well spoken, sir!" cried Whitney, bravely, while 
Madam Trevor stood aghast, and Claude, intensely inter- 
ested in the scene, deliberatively crossed the room and sat 
down with his back to the wall. 

" You mean to inform me that my authority is at naught 
in this household?" inquired Madam Trevor, hoarse with 
excitement and anger. 

"I am thinking only of Lucy's happiness," returned 
her son, gently. "She must be called to come back." 

"I, certainly, shall not remain to witness this scene." 

"Gentlemen, excuse me for one instant. I will sum- 
mon my sister." 

Vincent left the room ; but, in spite of herself, his mother 
stayed. She was too deeply interested to go ; and, despite 
her traditions, Lucy's happiness was really quite as dear 



238 The House of de Mailly 



to her as to her son. Claude, from behind the others, phi- 
losophized a little in the silence. How differently had 
such a scene been conducted in his country ! There would 
have been no argument, no difficulty. Above all, Lucy 
herself would have been the last person to be consulted. 
Rockwell, for his means and position, would certainly 
have been chosen ; and, if it were a Court affair, Whitney 
might have become her general escort afterwards. Claude 
sighed. This colonial boorishness produced far better 
results. Ethics here were regarded with some degree of 
blind appreciation. In his own countiy it was not so. 
A second sigh was in his heart when Luc3 T , preceded by 
her brother, re-entered the room. 

There was still perfect silence. Near the doorway the 
young girl paused. She was pale and red-eyed, but steady 
of manner. The two clergymen, side by side, faced her, 
with Vincent to the right, and his mother upon the left. 
Claude, quite forgotten, still looked on from the opposite 
wall. 

" Lucy, I have brought you back here that you your- 
self may make choice between these men. Let me now, 
then, entreat you, most earnestly, to consider, to decide 
not hastily, but as in heart and mind you deem wisest. 
Love is not always all. Respect firmness wisdom 
ability to protect these are as strong. I place confi- 
dence in you, Lucy; and, in return, I ask sincerity from 
you. We will wait as long as you will. Choose." 

During his words Lucy had looked earnestly at her 
brother. Now, however, her eyes fell. A delicate smile 
broke over her face, and when finally she looked up it was 
to encounter the eyes of John Whitney, who was regarding 
her with a look of such mingled love, fear, and longing, 
that she would not torture him by suspense. Gently she 
extended one hand, one arm to him, while her lips smiled 
"Come," and her face grew beautiful with the love-light 
in it. 

He went, never heeding the rest, no longer aware, per- 
haps, that they were by. And, as he clasped her in his 



Puritan and Courtier 239 

strong, young, Puritan arms, Claude looked courteously 
out o' window, but Madam Trevor, with a curious dryness 
in her throat, turned suddenly away. 

As to Rockwell, he left the house very quietly, with just 
what feeling in his heart no one ever knew. 

Then Vincent, all at once perceiving Claude, and re- 
membering his pink satin errand, took him quietly by 
the arm, and led him into the parlor, Madam Trevor fol- 
lowing them. The three sat down in the stiff little apart- 
ment, the closed door shutting the two in the hall from 
their sight. Claude's hour of patience was ended. His 
time had come now, and he was astonished to find himself 
nervous. 

"I must, sir, crave your indulgence for my seeming 
discourtesy in keeping you waiting so long. However, as 
you have been a witness of the affair which detained me, 
you may perhaps be lenient with my rudeness." 

Claude made a proper rejoinder. He was but half con- 
scious of what he said, but most vigorously aware that 
Madam Trevor's eyes were travelling rapidly over his cos- 
tume. 

" You have already announced, monsieur, the surprising 
nature of your errand, and I presume that you now desire 
to discuss it with us." 

Inwardly, Claude smiled at the words. They struck 
him as being very absurd, though, according to prevailing 
English notions, they were excellently chosen. 

"I love your cousin, Mistress Deborah Travis, Mr. 
Trevor, and I am come to you to request permission to 
address her on the subject of marriage. I am a stranger 
in your colony. 1 have no friends who know my family 
and estate. I have brought with me such papers as I 
possess, such as can in any way speak for the assurance 
of my birth, and them, and my word as a gentleman, I 
must ask you to believe." 

Vincent was silent for some moments, considering; 
while Claude drew from one of his side pockets a little, 
flat parcel of papers, and sat nervously fingering them. 



240 The House of de Mailly 

It was Madam Trevor, who, after she had once more mi- 
nutely examined him, from his bag-wig to his red-heeled 
shoes, voiced Vincent's wish : 

" Will you, sir, be so vastly obliging as to tell us r in your 
own manner, your title, estate, lineage, and means of 
livelihood? I am sure, sir, that common prudence and 
the ardent desire for the welfare of my ward will seem 
to you adequate reason for such a request, and that 
you will have no hesitation in being perfectly frank 
with us." 

Whatever the reason, madam's manner was as suavely 
gracious during this speech as Vincent could have wished, 
and he, therefore, did not add to it, but, expressing his 
approval with a slight nod, was expectantly silent as 
Claude began: 

" My name, Madam Trevor, is Claude Vincent Armand 
Victor Anne de Nesle, Comte de Mailly. I am of the 
younger branch of the family Mailly-Nesle, my father 
having been the second son of Victor Armand Henri Claude, 
who died in the year ninety of the last century. My es- 
tates, which are in Languedoc, in the south of France, 
provide me with sufficient rental to maintain me comfort- 
ably at Versailles, where I have resided for many years. 
The elder branch of my family, which takes the title of 
Marquis de Mailly-Nesle, is well known and of high posi- 
tion at Court. Seven months ago I fell into disfavor because 
of my desire that a cousin of mine should wed a gentle- 
man of whom his Majesty did not approve. I was re- 
quested to leave Versailles for the time, and so, determin- 
ing to travel, 1 came first to the colonies ; and how I have 
lived here you know. 1 should be free to return to Court 
if if Mistress Travis, should she accept me, would care to 
go thither. To be frank, 1 am myself a little homesick 
for my country. I should like to go home." 

Claude stopped, having wandered too far in his ex- 
planation. He saw Madam Trevor regarding him blank- 
ly, and he read suspicion in Vincent's face. 

"It is pardon me, sir an unusual story. Do they 



Puritan and Courtier 241 

exile men in France for having opinions concerning a 
cousin's marriage?" 

"So it would appear, from my case," returned Claude, 
dryly. 

"Again pardon me but have you a document of 
exile with you?" 

Claude hesitated. The last sentence in that royal letter 
was the most awkward possible thing for a man who wished, 
in all sincerity, to marry. Long he studied young Trevor's 
face, and he saw the distrust therein growing with every 
instant. At last, with an imperceptible shrug, and a 
sigh, he took from his other pocket the small, worn pa- 
per with its red -brown seals that he had read to Deb- 
orah. 

"It is in French, monsieur. You doubtless read it?" 

Vincent took the paper scornfully, and began its perusal 
with a facility due to intercourse with Aime" St. Quentin. 
When he finished it, his mother held out her hand for the 
letter, and, as she read, Vincent, looking squarely into 
the other's eyes, said, slowly: 

" You, monsieur, were the gentleman of whose marriage 
with your cousin the King did not approve?" 

Claude, returning the look eye for eye, bowed. 

"And who is this cousin?" 

"The Duchesse de Chateauroux. " 

"Good Heaven!" 

Madam Trevor, her face suddenly all alight, was look- 
ing at the young fellow in amazement and something 
else. Could the other be admiration? 

"Your cousin is the the " 

Claude nodded. 

Silence. 

It lasted for a long time. De Mailly felt his cause to 
be growing desperate. He did not understand. Morals, 
which were stanch in so far as Episcopal rectorship and five 
hundred a year were concerned, were nevertheless to be 
differently regarded in the presence of a courtier Count 
and cousinship to an almost queen, It was again Madam 



242 The House of de Mailly 

Trevor who finally ejaculated, from her whirling chaos of 
thoughts and plans : 

"Deborah shall be fetched at once. Vincent, you will 
arrange the settlements." 

Claude started with astonishment, and young Trevor 
rose: 

" M. de Mailly, you may speak to Deborah. She has 
free choice as did Lucy. She is now in the rose-gar- 
den, I think." 

Claude sprang to his feet and moved forward a pace 
or two, looking easily from one to the other of Deborah's 
guardians. He could not refrain from taking snuff, nor, 
having finished, from remarking, slowly : 

"I shall certainly, Madame and Monsieur Trevor, en- 
deavor to show myself worthy of the trust which you so 
readily place in me." 

Thereupon, with two very polite bows, he left the parlor, 
alone. On entering the hall he was greeted by the sound 
of pawing hoofs, a negro's voice, and the steps of two 
men on the portico. The half-closed door was flung wide 
open, and Benedict Calvert, with Fairfield at his heels, 
entered the house. Claude stopped and turned to them. 

"The devil!" said Sir Charles, his brows growing heavy. 

" Monsieur, your eyes deceive you," responded de Mailly, 
pleasantly. 

Calvert laughed. 

"What's your business here?" demanded Fairfield in 
an ugly voice. He had been in no pleasant humor on his 
ride, a fact explained by his red eyes, pallid face, and 
slouching dress; and the unexpected presence of Claude 
was not calculated to render him better-natured. 

" My business here, Sir Charles, concerns myself. How- 
ever, if you are curious, I am about to offer myself to your 
cousin, Miss Travis." 

Claude spoke with muscles tense, prepared to evade a 
sword thrust, for he himself wore no rapier to-day. To 
his amazement, his words for a moment produced no effect 
whatever on his quondam rival. Then, suddenly, while 



Puritan and Courtier 243 

Calvert gazed at his comrade, Fairfield burst into a laugh. 
It was not a pleasant laugh, but it served its turn. 

" What a household 'twill be ! You and Deb, I and Vir- 
ginia, Lou and her Puritan parson for whom Benedict's 
come to plead. A fine match-maker y'are, Calvert. Why, 
monsieur, if 't'adn't been for him," pointing to the dark- 
browed ex-commissioner, " I would ha' called you out. As 
'tis now, I'll marry in a week, and be off for God's coun- 
try, the Mall, St. Paul's, and White's as soon as a vessel 
will sail; and be damned to the colonies!" 

" Hush, Charlie ! Get to your room," whispered Calvert, 
laying a quiet hand on Fairfield 's arm. 

" I wish you good-afternoon, messieurs," added Claude, 
bowing. 

Fairfield leered at him, with a glint of desperation in 
his eyes, and started off to the west wing, with Benedict 
Calvert at his elbow, while Claude de Mailly, musing 
gently, passed out into the golden mist of early twilight, 
on his way to the rose-garden and Deborah. 




CHAPTER XI 

Distant Versailles 

E walked, quite leisurely, over the turf beside 
the house, past the western wing, towards the 
terraces that led into the garden. The sun- 
set faced him in a blinding, hazy radiance. 
At the top of the little flight of white steps he 
paused. Silence, perfect, lonely, was all about, undis- 
turbed by the bird-notes from the woods, or the murmurous 
lapping of the river along its bank. Once or twice he 
breathed, long and deeply, delighted with the pure fra- 
grance of the air. Then, without haste, he passed down 
into the garden. What a chaotic mass of color it was! 
All the common garden flowers, perennials and exotics, 
were at his feet; clove -pinks, sweet-williams, mari- 
golds, blue iris, candy - tuft, corn - flowers, purple - stock, 
cyanus, carnations, poppies, balsam, fragrant herbs in- 
numerable, the last sweet-pease, pansies and dahlias all 
in a disorderly tangle of glory. But beyond these bour- 
geoisie of the flowers, in statelier rows, with only here and 
there a blossom in their dark and lustrous foliage, was the 
noblesse, the court of the flowers the rose-garden. In the 
midst of this, upon a little rustic seat against the northern 
wall, in a tumbled, forlorn heap, her face hidden in her arm, 
her unkempt curls all loose upon her neck, lay Deborah 
poor Deborah, whose little colonial world had crumbled 
about her, and left her alone, wretched, hopeless, in space. 
In the afternoon despair overcame her. Her work was 
over, and she was at liberty to think unprofitable thoughts. 
So, after an hour of tears here in the drowsy garden, the 



Distant Versailles 245 

day finally brought what peace it had to give, and she 
slept was sleeping now, in the twilight, while Claude and 
her new world came to her. 

He had discovered her almost as soon as he entered the 
garden, more by instinct than observation. And he made 
no haste to go to her, not because he was indifferent, but 
because he could not bear to mar the perfect progress of the 
hour by haste. It was almost with regret that he left be- 
hind the lower half of the garden and entered the turfy 
walk between the rose-bushes. From a perpetual he 
plucked one full pink rose, infinitely beautiful in its sol- 
itude, from where it glowed, half hidden, beneath the 
leaves. Gazing half at it and half at her, he softly ap- 
proached the rustic bench, till his knee touched her 
gown. 

"Deborah!"'' he whispered; and then again, a little 
louder, "Deborah!" 

She stirred in her sleep, under the spell of a wandering 
dream. 

"Deborah!" 

In slow wonderment the tangled head lifted, the white 
face, with its tear-stained cheeks, was raised, and the gray- 
blue eyes fell open sleepily. He did not speak while she 
looked at him, the actual presence corresponding, with 
startling accuracy, to her dream. 

"I thought you had gone away," she said, softly. 

" I could not go while you were here," he answered, seat- 
ing himself beside her. 

She sighed like a child. She seemed to-day many years 
younger than usual, and Claude looked at her curiously, 
wondering at her manner. 

"Deborah," he said, gravely, without offering to touch 
her, "1 am going back home. Will you come with me? 
Will you trust me? Will you let me make a new life, a 
new home, for you?" 

She caught her breath, as a child, after a long crying- 
spell, sobs, reminiscently. Then she sat silent while he 
waited. 



246 The House of de Mailly 

"1 can't be happy here after last night/' she said, at 
length. 

" 1 will try to make you happy." 

She made no answer, but perhaps he read her mind, for 
he grew troubled. One thought held each of them. It was 
that of the fair and stately Duchess la Chateauroux, 
whom Claude had loved. And which picture was the 
fairer, Claude's memory or Deborah's imagination, it were 
hard to tell. 

After a moment or two the pause became more than 
uncomfortable. Both sat in growing rigidity, looking 
straight before them, thinking, helplessly. Then, all at 
once, Deborah, with fearful hesitation, turned her head 
and looked into his face. And suddenly, when Claude's 
poor hope was all but dead, one of her hands, cold and 
tremulous, crept into that passive one of his that lay be- 
side her on the seat. It was her answer. How the promise 
was sealed need not be told. 

Twilight deepened over the shadow of the dead day. 
Behind the black, lacy tree-tops of the forest a sunset flush 
pulsated in crimson and gold. From the still garden the 
evening fragrance, intoxicating, heart-stilling, to which 
neither the sunny morning odors nor the night's holy in- 
cense could be compared, floated in warm, rich breaths 
about the figures of the man and woman whose lives had 
come to join each other over wide seas and many lands. 
The spell of the evening was over them both. Their eyes 
wandered. Their thoughts were still. Hand in hand, two 
of God's pilgrims met here to rest a little ere they moved 
on again, they sat, silent, nerveless, feeling, perhaps, more 
of the universal love than that of individuals. No proph- 
ecy of storms to come disturbed their hour. Only the gar- 
den and the timeless twilight enfolded them. The bird- 
songs, one by one, melted away. The waves whispered 
unutterable things. And so, out upon the pale sunset, 
hanging tremulous as by a thread of heaven, came a fair 
silver jewel the evening star. Deborah's eyes beheld it, 
and were riveted upon its liquid beauty. 



Distant Versailles 247 

"Look/' she breathed, gently; "they call it the emblem 

of hope." 

"Hope dearest? What need have we of hope?" 

She made no answer, only her hand tightened within 

his, as the evening wind blew softly from the west. 



ffioofc Iff 
THE POST 




CHAPTER I 

From Metz 

OOD-MORN1NG, Belle-Isle! Is it good-morn- 
ing? What news from the royal apartments ? ' ' 
"None." 

" None ! Ah ! Then madame " 
" Is still on guard ; sees none but her own 
servants, and " 

"Richelieu, of course. Then it is unchanged." 

" 1 fear not. There fly rumors that his Majesty grows 
hourly worse. If this continues, the army will be in revolt, 
the women will be mobbed, and Quesnay may be permit- 
ted to prolong the reign." 

"Madame is playing a losing game. She is daring 
France. I am going to seek Richelieu, if he is accessible. 
This suspense cannot continue." 

" 1 return to Saxe and the council." 

" Au revoir, then." 

" Au revoir! 1 wish you fortune with du Plessis. You 
are one of the few who can risk his anger." 

The two marshals uncovered ceremoniously. Jules de 
Coigny passed into the Chateau de Metz, and Belle-Isle 
continued on his way to the camp. 

It was August in the same year of 1744, and the heart 
of France, her army, her Court, her King, and her Cha- 
teauroux, was at Metz, in Alsace, a resting-place sought 
after Dettingen and the long summer campaign. And 
here at Metz, whence all had thought to depart a week 
before for Nancy, on the road to Strasbourg, Louis XV. 
fell ill. That had been upon the 8th day of the month. 
Now, on the I4th, slow - gathering consternation was 



252 The House of de Mailly 

spreading through city, Court, and camp, though, since 
the morning of his seizure, not a single soul save Mme. 
de Chateauroux, her sister Mme. de Lauraguais, their 
personal servants, and Louis Armand de Richelieu had 
seen the King. Dim rumors that the illness was feigned 
at first circulated through the chateau. Then, latterly, 
more vivid and more startling theories, originating none 
knew where, but spreading with the conviction of truth, 
voiced the insistence that Louis was ill, worse than any 
one knew, and that the favorite, coercing Richelieu into 
her service, desperate with the fear of dismissal from 
Court when his Majesty's condition came to be discovered, 
was at Louis' side, keeping at bay the army, the Court, 
and the kingdom. Marie Leczinska and her dauphin 
were still at Versailles, praying and fasting, along with 
the Jesuit fathers and the wearied dames du palais, who, 
in the absence of la Chateauroux, had not a single crumb 
of gossip with which to comfort their souls till the return 
of the Court. 

Marshal Coigny, much disturbed by his short con- 
versation with Belle -Isle, yet anxious for confirmation 
of his fears before taking any possible rash steps, hurried 
into the morning-room of the chateau, temporary resi- 
dence of Majesty. The place was crowded with familiar 
faces, mostly men, for the women who took part in the 
campaign had learned that their proper place in it was 
background. Two or three, however, had been drawn 
hither from curiosity. Among them was a certain pretty 
Mme. Lenormand d'Etioles, who, to the displeasure of la 
Chateauroux, had, for the past year, figured often in 
royal hunts, and, latterly, played a very conspicuous 
part in certain thanksgiving services at Lille after the 
first siege. So far as it could be surmised she had never 
been addressed by the King, but she was well enough 
known at Court to obtain bows from most of the men and 
one or two of the women. This morning she remained 
beside her husband at one side of the room, watching the 
throng that eddied about the young Due de Chartres, 



From Metz 253 

who, as son of the pious d'0r!6ans, was at this time sole 
representative of the blood in Metz, and, consequently, 
was vested with a power which made him of the highest 
consequence. He alone, of all these nobles and courtiers, 
had the right to proceed to extreme measures, and force 
an entrance to the royal apartments when such were 
closed to the world. He might also, if he dared, demand 
of Majesty's self, in the face of a created Duchess, his 
wife's friend, whether such Duchess alone were Majesty's 
will and pleasure. But the man who did this, though 
he were of King's blood, must have grave reason ere he 
should so risk the royal anger. 

As d'Orleans' son perceived, from the midst of the throng 
of courtiers, the openly curious anxiety with which he 
was regarded on all sides, the expression of care and re- 
sponsibility in his youthful face deepened. Looking 
about him uneasily, while he talked, he perceived that 
de Coigny had entered the room and was coming towards 
him with rapid steps and preoccupied manner. 

"What news of his Majesty's condition?" asked the 
marshal, abruptly and aloud, with a directness that 
startled the room. 

The throng about Chartres pressed silently closer, and 
the salon waited breathlessly for reply. The young Duke 
turned a shade paler, and did not open his lips. 

"His Majesty is worse," muttered de Coigny, half to 
himself. 

"His Majesty is worse," responded a sudden voice from 
behind. 

The entire company turned sharply around. De Riche- 
lieu, who had entered from an inner door, stood before 
them, snuff-box in hand. His face was nearly as pale as 
his wig. His eyes were heavy. He looked haggard and 
anxious. 

"Monseigneur de Chartres if I might be granted the 
honor of a word with you?" 

"But too gladly, monsieur. Come." 

Chartres hurried forward through the respectful but 



254 The House of de Mailly 

eager throng, seized Richelieu's arm with a whispered 
sentence, and drew him out of the salon to a room inac- 
cessible to courtiers. 

Behind they left a tumult of excitement. Above them, 
back of closed doors, Marie Anne de Mailly-Nesle, to- 
gether with her sister, leaned over the bedside of the King 
of France, alone with a great fear, yet unspeakably dread- 
ing company. 

Ah, Marie! Marie Anne de Mailly a dangerous, a 
desperate game hast thou played for six days six ages, 
rather past ! On the one hand Louis' prayed-for recovery ; 
on the other, banishment, perhaps worse, for you; what 
for him the Almighty knows. Here in this sultry August 
morning, in the second story of the ancient Chateau de 
Metz, you stand at the bed of the King ; not thinking of 
much, it must be confessed, anxiety and sleeplessness 
having taken the poignancy from thought. These last 
days have been very wearing ones. 

On the morning of Saturday, the 8th, that morning 
when headache had driven the King from prospective 
gayeties to the solitude of his own apartment, he sum- 
moned his Duchess to his side to bear him company. The 
morning was tedious. He could not be amused. In the 
afternoon, together with fever, came Richelieu, and grace- 
ful, caustic - tongued Elise de Lauraguais. And upon 
that afternoon, when no one dreamed how ill Louis al- 
ready was, and madame and the Duke were alone with 
him, Richelieu the daring, now owing half his prestige 
to the favorite whose sponsor he had once been, and who, 
without her, would have found his Court life infinitely 
difficult, had thought, foreseen, dreaded, decided, and 
easily drawn the woman into his plan. The admission 
of any other to the rooms must mean, eventually, the 
confession, absolution, and unction of his Majesty. Be- 
fore the performance of this last, Louis must repent of his 
irregular life, and as proof of repentance madame must 
receive her conge for such was only customary at the 
great Court of France. 



From Metz 255 

"And so, Anne/' Richelieu said to her, in a low, men- 
acing tone, " we keep our places here, you and I. If the 
King recovers, our power is unlimited." 

"If he is worse?" she looked. 

" It is destiny. When we play for lives, we must risk 
them." 

So madame stayed. She thought of that momentous 
little conversation now, as she sat watching the sunlight 
play over the drawn bed-curtain. She and her sister had 
removed from their rooms in the Abbaye St. Arnold beside 
the chateau, where they had lodged at first, and taken 
possession of the royal suite. Their own servants pre- 
pared the sick man's food, their own hands smoothed 
the hot pillow. They had shut the clamorous Court 
away, letting rumor fly as she would. During the first 
three days Louis, for the most of the time, sat bravely 
up, in satin lounging - robe, cap, and slippers. None 
could have striven more anxiously to distract and please 
him than the two favorites and the sister. Notwithstand- 
ing, upon the fourth day, Wednesday now the day be- 
fore yesterday his body had mastered his will, and he 
did not rise. Since then time had not moved; eternity 
seemed settling down upon the trio of watchers. The 
King wanted no amusement now. He was perfectly 
content to lie, half sleeping, through the whole day, smil- 
ing faintly when madame brought his food, accepting a 
few mouthfuls with an effort, because they came from 
her fingers ; otherwise unmoved, unspeaking, unthinking. 
Thursday was the same, ay, longer than ever ; and as the 
three sat silent in the dusk, beside the open window, they 
had not much cared to talk. Only madame, with what 
composure she could gather, asked of Richelieu, who had 
for a moment that day seen de GeVres: 

"What are the people saying, good uncle?" 

And Richelieu, nervously smoothing his knee, looked 
at her with grim significance. "We stake high," he 
said. 

The Duchesse de Lauraguais gave a little cough. 



256 The House of de Mailly 

Then silence fell again, while the lips of la Chateauroux 
closed more firmly, and a rarely seen light came into her 
eyes. Richelieu's expression, however, did not change. 
Was it possible that her courage in desperation was greater 
than his? No. It was this. Richelieu was not yet 
desperate. There was, for him, still one move that was 
not left to her. He would not necessarily be banished 
from Court if it came to a point of extreme unction and 
madame. But if the King of France were to expire here 
alone, with them, then Louis Armand du Plessis might, 
indeed, tremble for what happiness life held for him. He 
said nothing, however, yet. Twilight mingled with the 
dark. From many windows glimmered forth the city 
lights, and madame finally swallowed a cup of chocolate 
and sought her rest. Richelieu was left to watch alone, 
in the darkness, by the King. 

Louis XV. slept, now and then restless with fever, but 
for the most part quietly. The Duke sat in his chair by 
the window, the sultry night air stealing in to him, not 
asleep, but thinking of many things, of much history known 
to him alone of Court, of camp, of street, and of the lives 
of real men. All men, beneath their masks of manners, 
are very real 1 What a little game these courtiers played 1 
How lives were broken and intellects stunted for the sake 
of being, for one little hour, associated with that single 
man born, willy-nilly, to immortality in history! This 
very King, for whom he, Richelieu, was living a life envied 
and unenviable, what was he but a disagreeable fellow, 
handsome, rather sulky, either really or unaffectedly 
stupid, lazy, unutterably weary of himself and his busi- 
ness, with more of a taste for turning and cookery than 
for governing a kingdom or managing an army? After 
all, these Bourbons might have made an excellent line of 
workmen, all but Louis XIV., who would have been the 
ne'er-do-weel of them. Not one but had his taste and real 
talent for an honest profession. And how were France 
to-day, we wonder, had Louis XV. turned chef and Louis 
XVI. cultivated to its utmost his no mean ability for locks 



From Metz 257 

and clocks? The night grew hotter as it advanced, and 
rain was promised for the morrow. 

At midnight, suddenly, the King woke, and demanded, 
in a voice much changed, something to drink. Richelieu 
hastily brought wine and water, not too cool. His Majesty 
drank thirstily, and lay back once more, but with eyes 
open, till the Duke had put away the glass. Then, with 
unusual directness, he said : 

"Here, du Plessis, sit by the bed. I want to talk with 
you." 

"Will you have light, Sire?" 

" No. It disturbs my eyes. Listen to what I shall say. 
You are here? Yes. Well, then, I am going to die." 

" Sire ! For God's sake let me call some " 

" Chut ! I want no one. It'll be a comfort to go in peace. 
I am going to die. I have always feared the thought ; but 
when one really arrives at the time it is not much. I am 
not afraid, du Plessis. I wish to express to you my grati- 
tude for having kept the Court and the doctors and the 
Orleans lot away from me. They are bores. What I would 
say is this : When I am really gone, there will, of course, 
be a scandal concerning my sickness and death, having 
none but you and her to attend me. You'll get through 
it, du Plessis. Parbleu ! There is no nation that can with- 
stand your manner. My dear Dauphin ought to love 
you. But Anne Anne! Where will she go? What to 
do for her? Richelieu, I love her. Yes, truly, as no wom- 
an before. Take her, then, under your protection. I 
leave her to your care. Get her from here safely. Send 
her for a little to her estates, or one of yours. Say that I 
command her title to remain to her. But, my friend, do 
not let her marry. Keep her from that. Par le del ! If I 
dreamed that she would d'Agenois, or that de Mailly, or 
any other promise, du Plessis!" 

"Your will, always, Sire!" 

"More wine, then. Diablel My head is on fire ! More 
wine, and I sleep again." 

Richelieu refilled the glass, which his master drained to 



258 The House of de Mailly 

the last drop. Then he sank back to the pillows, turned 
restlessly half a dozen times, whistled a bar or two in the 
darkness, and so dozed again, while the Duke, with a new 
and very heavy weight upon his heart, returned to the win- 
dow. The King had frightened him more than he dared 
confess to himself. Certainly Louis' words had been un- 
mistakably sincere. He believed that he was going to die. 
The King's fear of danger to his favorite Duchess was well 
founded, unquestionably. But the King's confidence in 
Richelieu's ability to rise again in the world, Richelieu 
himself held in very decided doubt. If matters were come 
to this pass, it were well to act. When a man's Damocles 
has actually got to the single-hair state, that man, if there 
be any way in which to move, does very well to get from 
under it, though he must leave a companion behind, help- 
less, in his place. The King must live till morning, must 
absolutely live till morning, and then Richelieu would 
once more prove himself a wise man. He must turn traitor 
to his personal trust with madame and the King, too, for 
the sake of the safety of the King, and, therefore, his own. 
If he regretted the inevitable consequences in the career 
of la Chateauroux, he was philosopher enough to wave 
them aside without difficulty. Something one must lose in 
such a place. It should be as little as possible. 

On Friday morning the King awoke to find his three at- 
tendants all beside him, and what repast he might take 
chocolate, a roll, a jelly not too well prescribed, waiting. 
From his manner one could not have told whether or not 
he recalled that midnight conversation with du Plessis. 
Certainty he looked ill enough this morning. His flushed 
face was haggard, his lips cracked, his blue eyes dull, his 
brain feeble, but half working. Madame looked upon him 
with a pang of grief and fear. While she smoothed out his 
bright yellow locks, freed from their wig, and bathed his 
unpainted face and dry hands with scented water, her sister 
holding the silver basin, Richelieu disappeared. An hour 
later, when the room was again still, a fly or two buzzing at 
the window, Mme. de Lauraguais purfling, Marie Anne 



From Metz 259 

beside the drowsy King, the Duke had not yet returned. 
It was the longest absence that he had made from the bed- 
side, except for sleep. That he was not asleep now, madame 
knew very well. His bed in the royal suite had been made. 
He had let himself quite out of these rooms, and was 
gone to whom? Whither? And Mme. de Chateauroux, 
though she trusted Richelieu as she did herself, became, 
after a little, nervous with anxiety for his return. Pres- 
ently she moved over to Mme. de Lauraguais, her puppet- 
shadow. 

"Elise, du Plessis is absent still. I am disturbed. 
Why should he be so long away? Do you think do you 
think 

"I think that he has gone to de Glvres. He will bring 
us back some news of the Court. It will be something to 
divert his Majesty this afternoon, and something for us to 
listen to this morning. Heigh-ho!" 

At this moment the King's hand slipped through the 
bed-curtains and drew one of them aside till his face was 
visible. Smiling faintly at the Duchess, he motioned her 
to him with a peculiar glance. "Du Plessis is out, you 
say?" 

Madame nodded. 

" Send for him, then. Recall him at once. He " 

" He is here," interrupted Elise. 

The door from the broad hall to the anteroom had opened. 
For an instant madame 's heart stood still. Then Riche- 
lieu, patch-box in hand, came leisurely in. 

" Ah \" The relief in the sigh was very apparent. " You 
have been absent so long, we became anxious." 

The Duke smiled pleasantly and shrugged. " His Maj- 
esty is awake?" he asked, seeing that madame was by the 
bed. 

"He" 

Louis suddenly dropped the curtain, hid himself from 
view, and so signified that he was not to be disturbed. 

"He has just been speaking with us," whispered la 
teauroux, moving again across to her sister. 



260 The House of de Mailly 

Richelieu nodded. " You have not yet dined ?" he asked, 
idly. 

" It is still an hour to one." 

" Ah, true ! I had not noticed the clock. " 

"You are exhausted from having watched all night. 
Go and rest. I will call you when dinner is served." 

A long, slow smile stretched itself over Richelieu's im- 
perturbable features. " 1 go, then ; but it is on condition 
that madame calls me when dinner is served." With 
which enigmatically spoken commonplace, he forthwith 
disappeared. 

"It is his habit to make significance of manner count 
for wit," observed Elise, turning to the window. 

For half an hour there was silence, perfect, drowsy. 
Mme. de Lauraguais' hands fell passively into her lap. 
The King, under his great canopy, was still. None could 
tell whether he slept or no. La Chateauroux, her eyes 
half closed, watched the sunlight play over the roofs of 
the houses in the town, and listened absently to the noon 
murmur that rose from its streets. Only Richelieu, in 
the room beyond, was alert, waiting, as he lay on his 
extemporized couch. At half -past twelve the King de- 
manded wine. Madame poured it out and carried it to 
his side. He had not taken it from her hand when the 
door to the anteroom opened vigorously, and four men 
appeared on the threshold of his Majesty's bedroom. The 
glass dropped from the suddenly nerveless fingers of 
madame, and crashed down upon the wooden floor. Elise, 
with a low exclamation, rose from her chair, her face color- 
less. La Chateauroux, leaving the King's side, moved 
slowly over to her sister, and stood facing the intruders. 
After the first instant calmness came to her. M. de Chartres 
had forced the consigns at last. With him were the King's 
chaplain, Bishop of Soissons, Fitz- James, Pere Perusseau 
the confessor, and M. de Maurepas, possibly as represen- 
tative of de Berryer. These four men stood facing the 
Duchess, who regarded them steadily, death knocking at 
her heart. 



From Metz 261 



"Why do you come?" she asked, dully, knowing well 
enough the reason. 

"It is time, I think, madame," returned Maurepas, 
with something ill-advised in his tone. 

"His Majestjr is here?" interposed Chartres, sternly. 

"Naturally," she replied, with curling lip. 

"And M. de Richelieu?" 

"I have the honor, Monseigneur." 

Richelieu spoke* from the doorway of his bedroom, where 
he stood, quite still, a little stiffer than usual, eying de 
Chartres as though he would have impressed something 
upon him. Perhaps Monseigneur understood. At any 
rate, the hesitation became a pause, and the pause grew 
into a hopeless stillness as the Duchesse de Chateauroux 
turned slowly about and faced the companion of these 
last days. 

"Du Plessis you " she faltered, actually unsuspect- 
ing, speaking as if to a companion in trouble. 

"Madame," he responded, brokenly. 

"Can you do nothing? Have you no help?" she 
whispered. 

Richelieu bent his head. "Nothing." 

Maurepas smiled sarcastically, but no one noticed it. 
Fitz- James of Soissons advanced into the room, his robes 
trailing, his manner lofty and severe. 

"Mme. Marie, and you Mme. de Lauraguais are 
requested to retire to the apartment which you have oc- 
cupied since quitting the abbaye. There later some 
one will go to you." 

He raised his hand and pointed to the door which led 
into the antechamber, and so to the corridor. For the 
shadow of an instant madame hesitated, her eyes passing 
in a long glance from Richelieu's unreadable face to the 
great, silent bed. Then, with a slight gesture to her 
sister, she moved slowly, unsteadily, towards the door 
which the bishop designated. In silence the five men 
saw them go. Louis XV., closed in by his curtains, 
silent, passive, heard all, and guessed the unspoken ; sur- 



262 The House of de Mailly 

mised Richelieu's loyal treachery, read madame's heart 
from her steps, realized that his time for repentance ap- 
proached, deplored the necessity, thought of his dinner, 
and rather hoped that existence might not be too much 
prolonged. 

While Falconet* was hastily summoned to attend the 
King, while Monseigneur made humble explanation to 
his relative, and Richelieu adroitly assisted in carrying 
out the bishop's ideas for the forthcoming confession, 
absolution, and unction of his Majesty, the two sisters 
had gained their apartment. Elise, by this time on the 
way to hysterics, threw herself desperately on the bed. 
The sister watched her with pale, silent scorn. Her arms 
were folded. Her foot tapped nervously on the floor. She 
said not a word. 

"Madame," whispered Antoinette, at last, "what shall 
I do?" 

Madame's eyes turned towards her for an instant. 
"Nothing," she said, shortly. 

Elise's woman was busy over her with sal - volatile, 
tears, entreaties, and a fan. By degrees she grew quieter, 
forgetting herself sufficiently at last to look at her sister. 

"Marie why do you look so? What are you doing?" 
she asked. 

"I? I am waiting." 

"Waiting! For what?" 

The Duchess, who had studied well the ways of courts, 
and who knew each step of an affair like this, did not an- 
swer. Her lips straightened into a bitter smile. Mme. 
de Lauraguais might read it if she would. 

Matters were at this juncture when the waiting was 
ended conventionally. In response to a rap Antoinette, 
having received the nod of permission from her mistress, 
opened the door and admitted Marc Antoine Voyer, Comte 
d'Argenson, a man closely associated with Maurepas, 
and hence not loved by the favorite. He entered the apart- 

* The King's consulting physician. 



From Metz 263 



ment with perceptible hesitation, and stopped not very 
far inside to turn to madame. She sat regarding him 
like a sphinx, immovable, unspeaking. Poor d'Argenson 
had been in few less happy situations. Here were four 
pairs of feminine eyes fixed upon him in dread anticipa- 
tion. How near to explosion from one of them matters 
had gone, the young man did not know. He perceived 
by the expression of la Chateauroux that there had been 
no going to pieces yet. Even while he faced her, fumbling 
for words, she put out her hand to him, saying : 

"Give me your letter, monsieur, or " the hand dropped 
"or was it in words that the order was given?" 

"No, madame. Here is the paper." 

He took it from under the hat which he carried in the 
left arm, and gave it to her. It was not long, and the ink 
upon it was scarcely dry. Yet its seals those of Orl6ans 
and France precluded any possibility of disobedience of 
the command it expressed. As her sister read it through, 
Mme. de Lauraguais sat up on the bed, a growing sense 
of terror coming over her. Not the smallest expression 
crossed the face of la Chateauroux. Her mouth was 
firmly set. She read slowly, as one who forced herself 
to see written out something of which she was already 
thoroughly cognizant. When she had finished the last 
line, madame opened her fingers, and the paper fluttered 
to the floor. 

"That is all, monsieur? Have the goodness to retire." 

"Pardon, madame; it is not quite all." 

" What further, then? What insult can be added?" 

"It is no insult, but an offer of assistance." 

"From whom? For what?" 

" From the Marshal de Belle-Isle, of his carriage to con- 
vey you as far as Nancy, where you may obtain a post- 
chaise." 

" Ah! Coward! So he would patronize me now!" 

Madame's nerve was failing her at last. Her face had 
grown suddenly scarlet, and from her attitude d'Argenson 
believed that she would gladly have flung herself upon 



264 The House of de Mailly 

him to end the matter after the fashion of the Court of 
Miracles. But young d'Argenson was a diplomat, edu- 
cated in a famous school, and he had a manner of steel 
that would not melt before the white-hot fire of a woman's 
wrath. Eye for eye he met the gaze of the Duchess, and, 
as her quivering muscles grew still under the spell of his 
calm, he said, quietly: 

"Pardon me, madame. I think that you do not quite 
comprehend your situation. If you but reflect, you will 
instantly perceive how much of wisdom there would be in 
making the departure of yourself, of madame your sister, 
and of your two women as quiet as possible." 

Whether it was his air or his eminently unemotional 
words that impressed the woman before him, d'Argenson 
never knew. It was enough that, after a long and troubled 
silence, la Chateauroux finally raised her head and an- 
swered, in a tone but little above a whisper : 

"I thank you, Monsieur le Comte. If the Marshal de 
Belle-Isle will have his coach at the abbaye door at four 
o'clock, I we will take our departure as quietly as pos- 
sible." 

D'Argenson breathed deeply with relief. Bowing low, 
he backed towards the door, pausing only an instant to 
repeat, musically: "At the abbaye door, madame. 
That is most wise. At the abbaye door." 




CHAPTER II 

The Disgrace 

HILE Mme. de Lauraguais lived she remem- 
bered the journey from Metz to Paris as the 
most utterly wretched affair of her life. For 
the Duchess, she expressed no opinion on the 
matter one way or the other. On leaving the 
coach of M. de Belle-Isle at Nancy, where they were to en- 
gage their own post-horses and chaise, they found that not 
only word of the King's illness, but also news of the dis- 
missal of the favorite, had preceded them, and was in every 
one's mouth. Moreover all France was in a state of the 
wildest grief and anxiety over the bien-aim, as he was 
commonly known. All churches were open, and in them 
masses, repeated by priests actually weeping with excited 
sorrow, were continually said. Men and women of every 
class left their business and pleasure to join in the universal 
prayers for the recovery of the King ; and the Queen and 
dauphin set out together from Versailles with a company 
of Jesuits, to hasten to Louis' side. It was when news of 
his Majesty's danger was carried to the Queen that the 
eldest son, boy as he was, bethought him nimbly and made 
that intensely priggish and uncalled-for remark the one 
reason that France really had for rejoicing that their Louis 
did recover : 

"Poor people! You have, then, only me!" 
It was said that he had a catalogue of similar phrases 
for various occasions written down for him by Pere Griffet, 
and dutifully learned by heart. 

At Epernay the carriages of her Majesty and la Chateau- 
roux passed each other. By that time madame, in terror 



266 The House of de Mailly 

of the people who had threatened to mob her along the way, 
was travelling incognito in the humblest possible manner, 
changing places, when going through towns, with Antoi- 
nette. Even as it was, their progress was extremely difficult. 
Four women journeying alone, with no man but an attend- 
ant valet seated on the box, to manage for them, were treated 
with none too much respect in the France of those days. 
Ere they reached Paris, however, and before the Queen had 
arrived at her lord's side, a triumphant courier tore along 
the road on his way to the metropolis with the word that 
Louis' danger was over, that he would recover. Mme. de 
Chateauroux had arrived at Meaux, and was resting there 
overnight, when the news spread through the town. Mme. 
de Lauraguais had doubted its effect on her sister. When 
it was told her, however, the Duchess said, very quietly: 
" I thank the good God that it is so!" and lapsed again into 
that silence which she had persistenth 7 ' maintained since 
leaving the King. Later in the night, however, she de- 
spatched to Richelieu one of those strange, bourgeois epis- 
tles that have come down to us to be marvelled at as 
written by a gentlewoman.* 

Meaux is not a great distance from Paris, but it was al- 
most the 1st of September before the sisters reached their 
destination. They did not go to the H6tel de Mailly, for 
the reason that Henri's wife, never fond of her superb sis- 
ter-in-law, would very possibly fail to know her now in the 
time of her adversity. Rather, Mesdames de Lauraguais 
and Chateauroux retired to a small hdtel in the Rue du Bac, 
which the favorite had inhabited before. On August 28th 
they arrived, travel-stained, weary, but mightily relieved 
in heart at being safe at their journey's end. The little 
house was desolate enough when they entered it, but, with 

* Lettres Autographes de Mme. Chdteauroux, Library of Rouen : 
" I can well believe that so long as the King is feeble he will be in a 
great state of devotion ; but, as soon as he is better, I bet I shall trot 
furiously through his head, and that in the end he will not be able to 
resist, but will quietly send Bachelier and Lebel to see what is become 
of me." 



The Disgrace 267 

the combined efforts of the two maids, the valet Fouchelet, 
and the conci&rge, a supper was contrived, some beds pre- 
pared, and a little fresh air, hot as it was, let through the 
musty rooms. 

At one o'clock of the next day Mme. de Lauraguais, 
much refreshed by her sleep and revived by her chocolate, 
entered her sister's bedroom. Marie Anne was still in bed, 
wide-awake, however, and meditating on getting up. 

"Good-morning, Anne. Here is the latest Nouvelles a 
la Main from Mme. Doublet's. Jeanne obtained it for me, 
I don't know where, possibly at Henri's." 

"And what does it say? What of Louis?" 

Elise's expression changed. " Oh there is little of him. " 

"Tell me at once. What has been done now? I am, 
perhaps, no longer Duchess?" 

" No, no ! You mistake. There is only his ' expression 
of regret for the flagrancy of my former life, the bad ex- 
ample 1 have set my people a promise to amend for the 
future, God granting me a life to lead with justice and 
righteousness. ' * That is all. " 

Mme. de Chateauroux's lip curled, but she said nothing. 
After an instant's pause she struck a little gong at her side, 
and, at Antoinette's quick appearance, observed, languidly : 

"I rise now. My garments at once." As the maid dis- 
appeared, she turned again to her sister. " Is that all your 
news?" 

" No. Here is something which you will wish to hear. 
The Due d'Agenois, arrived in Paris a month ago, is suf- 
fering an attack of fever at his hdtel in the Rue de 1'Eveque. " 

"Ah! Francois again!" Again the Duchess was silent, 
and presently a curious smile came to play about her lips. 
Elise interrupted the reverie. 

" I do not understand this, Anne. His exile " 

"Was for two years. It is ended. He served me well 
before, Elise. It is an omen. Through him I shall rise 
again. I tell you so." 

* The Old Regime, Lady Jackson, vol. i., p. 309. 



268 The House of de Mailly 

" Be considerate this time, then. Do not banish him a 
second time. Tell me, how are you going to occupy your- 
self to-day ? One will perish of ennui here. " 

"One must expect it. Let us become philosophers. I 
am going to write presently to du Plessis. If Claudine de 
Tencin is in the city, we will go to her. She will not refuse 
to receive me. To-morrow I think that I will go to Fran- 
c.ois. Yes, I mean it. Do not be shocked. To-day I de- 
spatch Fouchelet to Versailles with a billet to Mme. de 
Boufflers to send me my furniture, my toys, the rest of my 
wardrobe, the dogs, and my servants. If we must live 
here, Elise, we will do so. I am a little tired of camps and 
of being continually interested in guns and armaments; 
this will be a rest, a relief, for a time. And after when 
the Court returns " 

" Peste ! That will be monstrous. " 

"Yes," responded la Chateauroux, with a vague smile, 
"that will be hard. We shall see, however. There will 
be always Frangois. Send now to the H6tel de Mailly 
and have Henri come to dine with us off what we have!" 

Half an hour later Mme. de Chateauroux sat in the salon 
of her hotel composing, with some difficulty, the epistle to 
Mme. de Boufflers, who, as mistress of the palace of the 
Queen, was obliged to remain at Versailles during the 
Queen's absence. It was not an easy thing to make ac- 
knowledgment of her disgrace to the woman who, next 
to herself, was the haughtiest at Court. But the letter was 
written in some way, and Fouchelet directed to depart with 
it as soon as he had finished serving dinner. Then Mme. 
de Lauraguais rejoined her sister, and they sat quiet, to- 
gether, listening to the hum of the city, the city of the world, 
around them. Presently a bell sounded below. Some 
one was admitted. The two listened for a moment, and 
then Elise rose as the salon door opened and Henri de 
Mailly-Nesle came in. 

" Dear Henri ! You are so good !" 

"Elise! You are well?" 

The Marquis embraced the Lauraguais with some af- 



The Disgrace 269 

fection, and then turned to his youngest sister, who had 
not risen. 

"Madame, you wished me to come, 1 believe?" he asked, 
gravely. 

" But certainly ! It is three months that we have not 
seen each other. Is it so unusual that 1 wish to behold 
you again?" she asked, loftily. It was not often that Henri 
attempted to reprove her even by a tone, and she would not 
permit it now. 

Her manner gave her brother his cue, and, with a mental 
shrug, he accepted it. His manner was entirely different 
as, after certain conventional remarks, he asked : " You 
have not heard, perhaps, of the return of M. d'Agenois 
after his exile?" 

" I learned it this morning," she responded, indifferently. 

"He is ill, it seems. The air of Paris still does not 
agree with him." Henri took a meditative pinch of snuff. 
"Apropos of d'Agenois, Anne, have you heard from 
Claude?" 

"Claude! No. Surely he is not also returned?" 

" Not he. He is in one of the English colonies at a town 
with some impossible Homeric name." 

"Ah! I warned him that he would perish of ennui 
among those savages." 

" On the contrary, he would appear, from a letter which 
I have received, to be very well amused. From his ac- 
counts he has met there some delightful people a charm- 
ing girl by name peste! I forget the name " 

" It is no matter. Claude among the bourgeois ! Who 
could fancy it? Eh bien, let us dine." 

The dinner was not protracted, for none of the three 
found it very comfortable. At its end Mme. de Chateau- 
roux rose abruptly, snapping a finger for Fouchelet, and 
turning to her brother with the dismissing command, 
"Summon our chairs, Henri." 

Mailly-Nesle went off obediently to see that the chairs 
and link-boys were ready, while the sisters adjusted their 
scarfs and caps. The brother handed them out, gave 



270 The House of de Mailly 

directions as to their destination, and himself started to 
return on foot to his hdtel. The ladies were going to 
Mine, de Tencin, who lived near by, not far from the Or- 
leans Palais Royal. Though they had dined at an un- 
conventionally late hour, it was not yet dark, the sunset 
just fading into a twilight that played in softening shadows 
about the old streets, with their high, gabled wooden houses, 
and the occasional buildings of stone. The streets were 
quiet, for all Paris was at supper. A few chairs, a chaise 
or two, and now and then a coach with some familiar 
coat-of-arms on its panels passed them. Foot-passengers 
were few. In crossing the Place du Palais Royal, however, 
Mme. de Chateauroux, looking out of the open window 
of her chair, encountered the glance of a priest going the 
opposite way. She bowed, and he uncovered with a re- 
spect less marked than usual, walking on without any 
attempt to speak to her. It was the Abbe de Bernis. 

"Victorine is here, then," concluded madame. "I 
wonder how she will receive me?" And at the question 
a pang smote the Duchess's heart. Her fall was accom- 
plished; but its consequences she had not yet endured. 

Twilight rose rapidly now, and it was dark enough for 
the torches of the link-boys to be lighted by the time the 
slow-moving chairs stopped at their destination. The Hotel 
de Tencin was not imposing from the outside. It was nar- 
row and high, with a larger building close on either hand. 
Inside, however, it was. furnished like a palace, and, in- 
deed, most of the guests who entered it spent the greater 
part of their lives in or about the abode of royalty. 

Claudine Alexandrine Guerin de Tencin, the foremost 
figure in the salon life of the day, was a devoted friend 
to Mme. de Chateauroux. The favorite's grand manner 
and unapproachable bearing were after her own heart, 
and, since Marie Anne's accession to the highest post at 
Court, the leader of the salons had actually curbed her 
wit on behalf of her friend, and refrained from two excel- 
lent epigrams that would have seemed to slur the favorite's 
beauty and taste. It was but this afternoon that, in her 



The Disgrace 271 

small boudoir, Mme. de Tencin, with Victorine de Coigny 
and Francois de Bernis, had carried on a very animated 
discussion relative to the recent affair at Metz. After 
tea the abbe returned to the Lazariste, while Victorine, 
who had no life left after his departure, promised to re- 
main with her friend during the evening. 

Paris was empty at this season, and the regular salons 
were closed. The Duchesse du Maine had carried off all 
her pet philosophers and literati to Sceaux. That small 
portion of the Court which had not contrived to follow the 
army was scattered over France. The very Opera was 
shut. And thus Alme. de Tencin and Victorine resigned 
themselves to the most stupid of evenings after their small 
supper. At something after seven o'clock, however, the 
first valet appeared on the threshold of the small white- 
and-gold room, with the announcement : 

"The Duchesse de Lauraguais. The Duchesse de 
Chateauroux." 

Mme. de Tencin sprang to her feet. From just outside 
came the stiff rustle of feminine garments. 

"Marie!" 

"Claudine!" 

The two women flung themselves into each other's arms, 
touched cheeks, first on one side, then on the other, and 
finally Mme. de Tencin held the Duchess off at arm's- 
length, gazed at her through a river of tears, and mur- 
mured, in a transport of grief: "My poor Anne!" 

" Claudine ! Cl audine !" 

Thereupon Mme. de Chdteauroux closed her eyes and 
gracefully fainted away. Elise screamed. Mme. de Ten- 
cin, with moans of compassion, supported her beloved 
friend, and Victorine, shaking with inward laughter, 
ran away for sal - volatile, a glass of wine, and a fan. 
When she returned with these necessaries, la Chateauroux, 
reclining upon a satin sofa, was aristocratically reviving. 
After a few moments' application of the. fan and salts, 
coupled by the consumption of the cordial, she was suf- 
ficiently restored to greet Victorine affectionately, and to 



272 The House of de Mailly 

recount, with a thousand airs and as many variations, her 
own story. It was a pathetic recital. Elise wept unre- 
strainedly, and even Mme. de Coigny became absorbed 
before the climax was reached. 

" And so, actually, it was Maurepas, Anne, who betrayed 

you?" 

" Actually, ma chere. There is no doubt of it. I have 
vowed his ruin/' 

" If any one could accomplish that, you are certainly 
the one to do so. But he is called indispensable to the 
ministry." 

" He is the most implacable enemy in the world. But 
I also am implacable, Claudine." 

Mme. de Tencin shook her head and reflected mourn- 
fully. 

"What will you do?" inquired Victorine, with some 
curiosity. 

" I ? I have a plan. It turns upon whom do you think ?" 

"I never think. Tell us at once. I burn to know." 

"Francois d'Agenois." 

"Marie!" 

"Again!" 

The latter exclamation came from Victorine. The 
Duchess smiled at her. "Yes, again. The first time he 
was a complete success. I will make him so this time." 

"Poor boy!" 

" Yes he will be banished for life. But there is no one 
else." 

"What a pity that your cousin, Count Claude, is still 
away." 

" Ah, yes. Henri says that he is in America. Imagine 
it. However, Claude was less useful. I had more feel- 
ing for him my cousin, you understand." 

"When do you visit the Due d'Agenois?" 

"Really, I do not know. I had thought of to-night. 
That would be a romance, would it not? But I am too 
fatigued. Our journey from Metz was frightful. You 
cannot conceive it." 



The Disgrace 273 

" My poor darling ! But do let us have some amuse- 
ment. Victorine is in despair. There are no men in the 
city." 

"I saw M. de Bernis in the Place du Palais/' ob- 
served Elise. 

Victorine colored delicately. "Dear Duchess, he is 
not a man. He is a priest," she said, lightly. ' 

" And M. de Coigny he is no longer a man, but a mar- 
shal," retorted madame. 

This time the little Marquise made no reply. She sud- 
denly turned serious, and a pause crept upon the four. 

Mme. de Tencin, after waiting nearly a minute for some 
one to speak, herself exclaimed: "Come, let us play at 
piquet. It is the only thing left. Cavagnole is impos- 
sible. Mme. de Lauraguais, 1 leave you to the Marechale. 
Victorine, you will be becoming a second Mirepoix soon. 
Marie, you shall play with me. Come the tables are 
here." 

La Chateauroux sighed. She intensely disliked cards. 
"Ah, well I will play till I have lost ten louis. That 
since I have already lost one is all that I can afford. 
Then we will go home. Francois must wait till to-morrow. " 

"Poor man!" 

Mme. de Tencin led the way to the gaming-room, which, 
to tell the truth, was a principal feature in her hotel ; and 
here the four ladies seated themselves at two tables. It 
took Mme. de Chateauroux a little more than an hour to 
lose her stipulated sum, for stakes among women are not 
high. That being done, true to her word, she rose. 

" It is necessary to depart, dear Claudine. I am fright- 
fully sleepy. You have given us the most delightful 
evening possible. Come, Elise, finish your hand. How 
much have you won? Come, we must really go." 

" And I also," rejoined Victorine, rising from her place. 

"There is wine in my boudoir. We will drink to you, 
Marie Anne, and your great success with the d'Agenois." 

So they all rustled back to the little salon, adjusted 
their very light wraps, partook of the liqueur and cakes 
18 



274 The House of de Mailly 

prepared, and then departed , each to her chair, with many 
affectionate adieus. Victorine, yawning mentally, went 
her way to her lonely abode in the Rue Fromentin, while 
the others returned to the Rue du Bac, where madame 
was greeted with news that made her furious with mor- 
tification. Fouchelet had returned from Versailles with 
the word from Mme. de Boufflers that Mme. de Chateau- 
roux's wardrobe and dogs should be despatched to her 
on the following day. As to the furniture and toys in 
her apartments, and her private chef and footmen, they 
had belonged to Mme. de Chateauroux not as woman, 
but as favorite of his Majesty. They were really the 
insignia of office, and no longer belonged to one who had 
been publicly dismissed from her post. 

The letter in which these things were said was perfect- 
ly cold, perfectly polite, and perfectly unreasonable. Its 
tone, however, was not to be mistaken. It was the first 
deep wound given to the deposed sub-queen, and its sen- 
sation was too fresh to be easily borne. At something 
after two o'clock in the morning she fell into an unquiet 
sleep, and then Mme. de Lauraguais, who had attended 
her, crept away to her own room, too tired to scold her 
maid. 

On the following morning la Chateauroux had, ap- 
parently, recovered from her chagrin. She ate an egg 
with her chocolate, laughed at her sister's clouded face, 
sent Alexandre to a furniture house with orders to refurnish 
completely her present abode, advised her sis.ter to make 
a round of the toy -shops that morning, and at eleven 
o'clock re-dressed herself preparatory to the forthcoming 
visit to her old-time lover. 

Francois Emmanuel Frederic, Due d'Agenois, returned 
from a long Italian exile to Paris and fever, had left his 
bed this morning for the second time, and, wrapped in 
silken dressing-gown and cap, with a couvre-pied to cor- 
respond, reclined upon a small couch in his most comfort- 
able salon, indulging in a profound fit of melancholy. 
His history certainly warranted an occasional turn of 



The Disgrace 275 

despair. Unfortunate enough to have fallen in love with 
her who was destined to become favorite of France ; unwise 
enough to have kept his passion alight in defiance of the 
King of this, his adopted country; unforeseeing enough 
to have offered the woman marriage ; by all these things 
winning a two-years' banishment; he had now been absurd 
enough, after the exile, to return again to the very den of 
the lion. More than this, having, even in illness, learned 
the story of the disgrace of the favorite and her return 
to Paris, he was now capping the climax of folly by daring 
to wish that she would come to him. What benefit he 
could possibly derive from such a proceeding, the rash 
youth did not stop to consider. He only lay upon his 
couch, very weak in body and very flushed of countenance, 
hoping one moment, utterly despairing, as was sensible, the 
next. Really, according to Fate's usual laws, the idea of 
her coming was utterly absurd. And yet she came. About 
noon d'Agenois heard, with sharpened ears, the great 
front door open and close. Then there was silence again, 
while he nervously fingered the tassels of his gown and 
stared at the ceiling more hopeless than ever. Presently 
his valet hurried in, with an anxious expression on his 
lively face. Passing to his master's side, he whispered 
a question in the Duke's ear. 

"See her!" cried d'Agenois, leaping up. " Nom de 
Dieu, Jean, fly! Fly, I tell you! Admit her admit 
her admit her " 

Jean ran back across the room, pushed open the door, 
and stood aside. Mme. de Chateauroux, clothed in clouds 
of white muslin that floated about her in fold after fold, 
luminous, filmy, her golden hair unpowdered, curling upon 
her shoulders, her eyes lustrous> an expression of tender 
melancholy on her face, appeared on the threshold, framed 
in the bright sunshine that streamed through the windows. 

"Anne!" The man gave a faint cry and began to 
move towards her, dizzily, both arms outstretched. He 
had loved her faithfully throughout the two years. Had 
he not a right to tremble now, at their reunion? 



276 The House of de Mailly 

The Duchess smiled slowly into his eyes, and moved 
towards him in a fashion peculiar to herself, not walking, 
floating rather. 

" Anne, you are not changed you are not changed at 
all. You are just as I have thought of you. You are 
my angel. You came you did not forget I have been 
so ill, have suffered so. Ah, you are adorable!" 

With nervous eagerness he drew her to the sofa beside 
him, and sat looking into her face, delightedly noting every 
feature, every shining hair tendril, counting the very 
breaths that passed her lips. Madame, who had known 
him so well in the old days, who thought of him always 
as one much younger than herself, ran her fingers through 
his dark hair, smoothed the forehead that was so hot, 
and insisted on his lying down again. This being ac- 
complished, she seated herself near him, one of his 
hands fast holding hers, his eyes smiling up at her. 

"You know my story that I am nothing, now, Fran- 
c.ois?" she asked. 

"I know only that you are my angel, Anne. What 
more could 1 wish?" 

Thus this first visit passed off to the highest satisfac- 
tion of madame. D'Agenois had always pleased her, 
was ever obedient to her way of thinking, was singularly 
unselfish and unsuspicious, and his blind devotion to 
her was perhaps the only reason why she did not care for 
him as she had seemed to care for Louis of France. The 
young Duke was, moreover, still far from well ; and la 
Chateauroux was enough of a woman to have a taste for 
humoring a patient who threw himself, utterly regardless 
of consequences, upon her mercy. The first, then, became 
the beginning of an infinite series of visits, none of which 
was short. Madame had not been in Paris a week before 
she discovered that nothing but the boldest possible course 
was open to her now. The story of her dismissal from 
Metz, exaggerated in every way, was discussed from 
palace to fish-market. She was pointed out in the streets 
and accosted with insulting remarks. The haute bour- 



The Disgrace 277 

geoisie itself sneered at her, and as for the noblesse, those 
who in the old days had schemed for weeks to obtain an 
invitation to her salon, could now have seen the moons of 
Saturn with the naked eye more easily than they would 
behold Mme. de Chateauroux in her chair. Mme. de 
Mailly-Nesle refused to admit either sister to her hdtel. 
Henri at intervals went to the Rue du Bac out of duty, 
not pleasure. Mme. de Tencin, while she frequently 
summoned both sisters to her side when she was alone, was 
always singularly unable to receive Madame la Duchesse 
during one of her evenings. Of all the former friends 
and sycophants, Victorine de Coigny was the single person 
who allowed herself to be seen in all places, at all hours, 
with the deposed favorite, without finding her popularity 
thereby lessened. But the little Marchale was a peculiar 
case. It was her role to be unusual, unconventional; 
and this one thing added to her risque list could not harm 
her. Even had there been danger in it, Victorine would 
have clung to the other woman, for the sake of their old 
friendship. But Victorine had a rash nature. 

Amid her little turmoil Marie Anne moved with apparent 
serenity. Certainly her world, what part of it was still in 
Paris, must at first have suspected the pangs of mortifica- 
tion that they daily caused her. But, so far as outward 
evidence was concerned, there was none. A woman who 
had had the wit and the unscrupulous fortitude to attain to 
the position once occupied by Marie Anne de Mailly-Nesle, 
possessed enough strength of character to accept the cir- 
cumstances attendant on her fall with excellent philosophy. 
She was the talk of all Paris, of Versailles, and of Sceaux. 
Her attitude was unceasingly watched and commented on ; 
and, after two weeks, a new idea began to dawn in the va- 
rious salons. It was the startling one that madame had 
found a new string for her straightened bow. The idea 
originated when, one evening at the H6tel du Tours, the 
discovery was made that five people, on five consecutive 
days, had seen the chair of Mme. de Chateauroux waiting 
in the Rue de 1'Eveque at the door of the d'Agenois hotel. 



278 The House of de Mailly 

Three of these people, moreover, had seen her herself issue 
from the hotel door, had refused recognition to her, and 
gone their ways. The salon of M. Vauvenargues gasped. 
What a plan of action ! How daring ! How truly like the 
whilom favorite! Was she in love with him, after all? 
What were the arms of Chateauroux and d'Agenois? Were 
the quarterings harmonious? By the middle of September 
the wedding was discussed as a surety, and many a grande 
dame wondered if she might not throw hauteur to the winds 
and go. Who would not wish to study the bridal dress? 
And then after question of questions! what would 
accrue when his Majesty returned? The salons gasped 
again, wondered, and waited. 

Matters also waited for some time. There occurred one 
of those aggravatingly hopeless stand-stills when society 
purfled and shrugged and created fireless smoke at a rate 
which science could not easily measure. No wedding an- 
nouncement was made; neither did his Majesty return to 
Paris. Fribourg had proved to be a city possessed of rather 
better resources of defence than the Court before its walls 
had of amusement. After two weeks of cannonading 
and unsuccessful sorties on the part of the besieged, the 
Court grew very bored indeed, and most of the ladies fol- 
lowed her Majesty back to France. If the Queen had 
wished to stay longer at Louis' side, she did not voice the 
wish, for her husband entertained a different notion. Among 
the few departing gentlemen was a certain M. Lenormand 
d'Etioles, a nonentity to history, who very joyfully accom- 
panied his wife away from the occasional sight of his 
Majesty, to an estate at Meudon, where madame deigned 
to reside for one month. 

The last siege of the campaign was at last triumphant- 
ly concluded on the 28th day of October, and three days 
later came the first rumor of the King's approaching 
return to Paris. France received the news with hysterical 
joy. It was odd, considering his ways, how universally 
adored throughout his youth this King was. To his peo- 
ple he was a warrior hero. And, indeed, his personality, 



The Disgrace 279 

since the first time that he had appeared in public, in a 
golden robe one yard long, with violet leading-strings 
about his little shoulders, had been beautiful enough to 
inspire worship. The portraits of his old age are hideous 
enough ; but that of Vanloo, which the great painter de- 
clared he could not do justice to, is the one which should 
stand out above all others as the true picture of this King 
of lotus-eaters. Preparations were made to give his Maj- 
esty, and what of the army was with him, a magnificent 
reception. An evening procession was arranged, during 
which all Paris and her river were literally to roll in fire. 
The Faubourg St. Antoine turned out en masse for the 
occasion, and, stranger still, not a noble in the city but 
contributed certain louis d'or for fireworks, and arranged 
windows and a party to view the procession. 

Mme. de Chateauroux was addressed by no one on the 
subject of these preparations. The royal coach would 
pass neither the Rue du Bac nor the Rue de I'Ev^que. 
Mme. de Mailly-Nesle did not dream of asking her sister- 
in-law to sit at her windows overlooking the Pont Royal, 
which Louis must cross on his way to the Tuileries. But 
even had the invitation been given, the Duchess would 
have refused it. It was not in her plan that the King 
should find her face among those of the throng; but 
eagerly she prayed that its absence might be felt. 

"Francois, upon the I3th of November I shall stay 
all day here with you. Nay, better, you shall come to me, 
and I will serve you such a little supper as " 

" Anne ! Who could touch food in thy presence?" 

Madame smiled at him, and they ceased to speak. They 
could sit silent now for uncounted minutes, madame know- 
ing every thought that flitted through the brain of the 
young man; d'Agenois fancying, perhaps, that he knew 
as much of the Duchess. If this were not so, what mat- 
tered it? He was supremely happy. He had lost all jeal- 
ousy, even of royalty, for he willingly believed what she 
told him with every look : that she loved him, only, at last. 

At the time of their short conversation relative to the 



280 The House of de Mailly 

home-coming of the King, they were in the Hotel d' Agenois, 
returned half an hour before from a drive. The Duke 
lay upon a couch, idly watching his companion, who sat 
toying with a bit of decoupure, her back to the windows, 
a soft light falling upon her hair and shoulders. It had 
been a quiet half-hour, and madame was beginning to be 
tired. She was contemplating a return to her own hdtel, 
when an interruption occurred. Some one was admitted 
below. Some one came hurriedly up-stairs, and Mme. 
de Lauraguais, unannounced, ran into the room. 

"My dear Elise! Your breath is quite gone! Is there 
a fire a scandal a death?" 

"None of them. Wait!" She sank into a chair to 
regain her breath, while Francois sounded a gong, intend- 
ing to order wine. 

" It is only Henri, who sends us an urgent note to come 
at once to his hdtel. I received it, and came for you. The 
coach is outside. He sent it." 

Madame shrugged. "What startling thing can have 
happened?" she said, smiling. "Perhaps Laure is dying, 
and wishes for me. However, I- come." 

And, after a gentle farewell for the day to d' Agenois, 
madame went. The Mailly-Nesle coach bore the two 
ladies at a rapid pace across the Rue St. Honore 1 , out upon 
the quay and on to the Pont Royal, on the opposite side of 
which, just across from the Theatins, was the H6tel de 
Mailly. During the drive the sisters scarcely spoke. Mme. 
de Chateauroux certainly did not seem curious as to the 
reason for Henri's imperative summons. To tell the truth, 
she was not thinking of it. She was finishing a dream. 

Henri himself met them at his door, smiled at Marie 
Anne's languid greeting, refused to reply to the eager ques- 
tion of Elise, but conducted them rapidly up-stairs into the 
grand salon. Here stood the Marquise, Henri's wife, with 
two people, a man and a woman. As she caught sight of 
the man's face, Mme. de Chateauroux gave a little cry, 
and turned suddenly colorless. 

"Claude!" she said. 



The Disgrace 281 

Claude came forward, raising her hand to his lips, and 
saluting Mme. de Lauraguais, who was staring at him as 
at one raised from the dead. 

Then de Mailly went back, and took the woman by the 
hand. A slight, straight, girlish figure she had, a fair 
complexion, and a pair of large grayish eyes, that were 
presently lifted to the face of la Chateauroux. 

"Anne," said Claude, quietly, "let me make known to 
you my wife." 

"Your wife!" 

Deborah, with rather a pathetic little smile, courtesied 
low. 




CHAPTER III 

November Thirteenth 

T was thus that Claude brought home his 
wife. Two months before he had been mar- 
ried to her in Dr. Carroll's chapel by Aime 
St. Quentin, with all Annapolis to witness; 
and next day he left America on the Balti- 
more, in company with Deborah, and her very modest 
little travelling coffer. Truly bridal weather was theirs. 
The skies were fair, seas calmly blue, and continuous 
light western winds, sent by the very gods themselves, 
carried them straight to the English coast. All told, they 
were on the ship but six weeks six strange, half-terrible 
weeks to the colonial girl. She was learning to know 
her husband, and he her. In a way, not always, but by 
spells, Deborah was happy. She loved the sea, and she 
grew to be very fond of the ship, clinging to it during the 
last days of the voyage as she had not clung to her far 
Maryland home. She had become dimly apprehensive 
of the life into which she was going, of which Claude had 
lately told her so much more than he could do during their 
comradeship in Annapolis. He also made her speak 
with him much in the French tongue, which she did readily 
enough at first, in a manner caught from St. Quentin, her 
first instructor. But when it came to using no English, 
to hearing none from Claude, her tongue faltered, and 
she would remain silent for hours at a time rather than 
appear awkward before him. Claude was very gentle. 
He made her finally understand, however, how much 
easier it would be for her to make mistakes now, than to 
do so in the land to which they were going. He told her 



November Thirteenth 283 

the story of Marie Leczinska, who had acquired all her 
knowledge of the language of her adopted country from a 
waiting-maid who spoke a Provencal patois, and how the 
Queen was ridiculed by all the Court till she studied secretly, 
many hours a day, with her confessor, and was now, when 
she chose to exert herself, one of the most excellent linguists 
in France. So Deborah took heart, and tried more bravely, 
until, by the time they had crossed the English Channel 
and landed in Calais, none but a close observer could have 
found a flaw in her ordinary conversation. 

Claude de Mailly himself passed a very contented six 
weeks on the Atlantic. A day or two after his marriage 
the realization of that marriage, its haste, its rashness, 
its short-sightedness, the fact that his wife had not one 
drop of blue blood in her veins, came over him in such a 
wave that he w r as half drowned. What was it that he had 
done? Who was he carrying back with him to the most 
fastidious, the most critical Court in Christendom? A 
bourgeois! A Provencal! A child! And Claude, with 
angry, anxious injustice, for three days avoided his wife, 
and barely saw her except at meals. The thing that re- 
attracted his attention to her was the fact that, during 
this time, Deborah never made the slightest attempt to 
force her presence upon him. If she were unhappy, he 
did not know it. He never saw her weep; he heard no 
word of complaint. And this unusual thing piqued his 
interest. On the fourth morning he found her sitting alone 
in the stern of the vessel, gazing back at the western 
horizon with far-off eyes. Seating himself beside her, he 
leaned over and took one of her hands in his. She turned 
towards him instantly, looked at him for a moment, and 
then drew it quietly away. 

"You needn't do that," she said. 

And then it was that Claude knew how glad he was to 
do it to have the right to do it. And thereupon he threw 
care to the winds and became her slave. He, too, regretted 
the end of the voyage, when it came. Nevertheless, he had, 
in the past, suffered severely from homesickness, and 



284 The House of de Mailly 

Paris, Versailles, Henri, Elise, and, more than all of them 
together, his other cousin, were constantly in his mind. 
He dreamed and talked of them when he slept, and, if 
Deborah had been proficient enough in French to make 
out the half-coherent sentences that passed her husband's 
lips at night, she would probably have learned still more 
about her approaching life in this way. 

Unquestionably, Deborah dreaded the new life. She 
had reason to; not alone because of the natural shyness 
attendant on a country girl's first appearance at a great 
Court. She knew that Claude's whole existence was 
bound up there. She believed that he cared rather more 
than he actually did about this life that she had never lived. 
In consequence, upon the drive of several days from Calais 
to Paris, Deborah grew more and more silent, more and 
more definitely apprehensive, with each new stage. On 
the evening of November 8th they arrived at Issy, 
and there spent the night. Next morning Claude rose 
with the sun, some time before Deborah even awoke. He 
went outside of their post-house and walked delightedly 
through the familiar streets, listening to his own language 
spoken with his own accent on every hand, discovering 
well-known shops and buildings, and returning in the 
highest spirits to Deborah at nine o'clock. They had 
their chocolate and rolls together, Deborah eating little 
and silently, Claude jesting and laughing continually till 
she was roused out of her apathy by his thoughtlessness 
towards her. It was not, however, till they were rolling 
along the Paris road that she spoke in English : 

"Well, Claude, you have brought your Madame the 
Countess home to the King. He'll be satisfied, I hope." 

Apparently both the allusion and the bitterness were 
lost upon him. He only answered with a bright smile: 
"I am satisfied, my Deborah. What the King thinks 
is not my concern. Oh, I had not told you, had I? 
that the King is not here. He is coming home with 
the army next Saturday, the I3th, from Strasbourg. You 
know he has been fighting all summer. They are going 



November Thirteenth 285 

to give him a triumph on his return. There will be a 
procession through the street, and the King will ride in it. 
You will see him then, Deborah. Shall you like it all?" 

"I don't know. I never saw a king," responded the 
girl, interested in spite of herself in the anticipation of 
these hitherto scarcely dreamed-of glories. 

At half-past eleven o'clock their chaise passed the bar- 
rier, and they rolled down the narrow street towards the 
river, in Paris at last. Claude himself was quiet now. 
He was a little anxious; he could not be sure just what 
he should find "at home." Moreover, the familiar streets 
and sounds no longer raised his spirits. Instead, they 
came so near to bringing tears to his eyes, that he was 
relieved when Deborah asked : 

"Where are we going? To another inn?" 

"I am not sure. I have directed the man to the H6tel 
de Mailly. But, if no one is there, we must go to an 
inn. Look, Deborah, there is the Seine, there is the Pont 
Royal, and there, just ahead, is Henri's house, where 
we are going. Are you glad little one?" 

It was half -past ten o'clock that night before Claude 
and his w r ife were again alone together. They had left 
the salon thus early through weariness, leaving the rest 
of the family party to disband as it would. Neither the 
Count nor Deborah spoke till the suite of apartments as- 
signed them on the second floor had been gained and 
the door to their antechamber closed. Deborah was going 
on to what she supposed must be their bedroom, when 
Claude caught her hand. 

"Surely you are going to say good-night?" he asked, 
smiling. 

"Good-night! Why I don't understand," she said, 
quickly. 

Of a sudden the smile left Claude's face. He had not 
thought of this before. "There, Debby, is your room 
on this side is mine. A maid whom Mme. de Mailly- 
Nesle has kindly lent you is waiting for you. Henri's 



286 The House of de Mailly 

valet is there where I sleep. We do not occupy the same 
room. It it is not the custom. Therefore sit here with 
me for a few moments, and tell me how you like them 
all my family?" 

Deborah stared at him in bewilderment during the 
explanation ; but, true to her nature, she accepted it with- 
out comment, permitting herself to be drawn down upon 
the little sofa where he sat, and passively leaving her 
hands in his. 

"Tell me now do you like them?" 

Deborah hesitated. "What mistakes did I make?" she 
asked, finally. 

" Not one, my Deborah, save that you were not insolent 
enough." 

She smiled faintly. "I like Monsieur le Marquis." 

"And he you! Yes, you must love him for my sake. 
He is more than my brother. And his wife?" 

" Is she his wife, Claude? Why does he always call her 
madame? Why did you call me madame? And she treat- 
ed him so so formally." 

" Parbleu ! you are right ; they do not know each other 
very well, else she could hardly help loving him ; and she 
would not be so bourgeois as that! Do you like her? 
She was kinder to you, Debby, than I have ever seen her 
to any woman. Answer me dost like her?" 

"Yes I liked her. She never looked at me when she 
spoke, and she scarcely spoke to any one else." 

" True. She does not approve them. But Elise Mme. 
de Lauraguais " 

"Yes, she is very pleasant, and a little pretty, too." 

" And now now you met Mme. de Chateauroux. What 
do you think of her?" Claude asked the question firmly, 
after a struggle with himself. 

Deborah turned crimson, and started to rise from her 
place, but de Mailly gently held her back. He would have 
his answer ; and it was given him. After all, he had mar- 
ried a woman, and one whose feelings, though often un- 
expressed, were none the less acute. She voiced them now. 



November Thirteenth 287 

" Claude I hate her ! She is not pretty. Her face is hid- 
eous ! She was rude to me, to her sister, to the Marquise, 
to every one but you. And you sat beside her almost the 
whole afternoon. Ah ! I cannot bear her ! Mme. de 
Mailly told me why she was in Paris, how she had been 
made to leave the King. Claude, are you not ashamed 
that she is of your blood?" 

Deborah was on her feet now, and flung her words straight 
at her husband. He sat silent, quite still, rather pale, 
through the outburst. After it he did not answer her 
question, but only murmured to himself, " Why do women 
so seldom like her?" Then, looking up at his wife, he 
said, kindly : 

"Deborah, you know that I have always been fond of 
my cousin. 1 have been very proud of her. So have we 
all. Was it unnatural that she should wish to talk with 
me after we had been separated for so long?" 

Deborah jerked her head impatiently. "I do not like 
her," she reiterated, with dogged displeasure. 

Claude rose, with a faint sigh. " Your French was won- 
derfully good. 1 was very pleased, dear. To-morrow 
you shall have some costumes ordered. Naturally, yours 
are a little ancient in mode. Good-night." 

"Good-night." 

He kissed her upon the forehead, and would have turned 
away, but that suddenly she flung her arms about his neck 
passionately, and, raising her lips to his ear, whispered: 
"Claude Claude 1 am a stranger here. You are all I 
have of the old life. Be be kind to me. " 

It was almost the first emotion that he had ever seen her 
display, and his heart was warm as he took her tenderly 
into his arms again, whispering such words as only lovers 
know. Five minutes later Deborah crept away to her room 
happier than she had been before upon the soil of France ; 
and not even the somewhat terrifying stiffness of madame's 
maid, nor the loneliness of this strange room, had power 
to banish the memory of her husband's good-night. 

The four succeeding days passed both rapidly and 



288 The House of de Mailly 

slowly. From late morning till late night Deborah's 
hours were filled. She and Claude were to remain at the 
Hotel de Mailly till the return of the King, after which 
they would take an apartment in Versailles. For the 
purpose of selecting one, they went together to the little 
city on Thursday. In the Rue Anjou, near the piece des 
Suisses, they discovered a very pretty abode in the sec- 
ond floor of a house rooms once occupied by the Chev- 
alier de Rohan, of duelistic fame, furnished and hung in 
perfect taste, with precisely the number of rooms desired. 
Then Deborah went to see the monstrous, silent palace and 
park; after which she and Claude dined together at a caf6 
in the open air, quite a la bourgeois, somewhat to the un- 
spoken apprehension of Claude, who was not pleased with 
the unconventional affair, which, however, unduly delight- 
ed his wife. They returned to Paris in the early evening 
by coach, well satisfied with the day. To Deborah's con- 
sternation, Claude next engaged a maid for her, a woman 
whom she was supposed to command at will, who was to 
dress and undress her, arrange her coiffure in the absence 
of the regular hair - dresser, care for her wardrobe, and 
conduct madame's affairs of the heart with discretion. 
To the little Countess's great delight, however, her first 
person in this line left her service after three days, for the 
reason that Mme. de Mailly seemed too devoted to monsieur 
the husband, and, in consequence, there were no chances 
for fees of secrecy such as she was accustomed to count 
upon as among her perquisites of office. By the time of 
their removal to Versailles, another attendant had been 
found who pleased her mistress better. Julie was lively, 
young, rather pretty, and not long from the provinces. If 
her modes for hair and panniers were not so Parisian as 
those' of her predecessor, at least she and young Mme. de 
Mailly took a fancy to each other from the first, and Deb- 
orah was more than content. Meantime Claude had hap- 
pily discovered and re-engaged his former valet, and thus, 
with the addition of a chef and scullion and two lackeys, 
their little menage would be complete. Before all these 



November Thirteenth 289 

matters were arranged, however, the Marquise de Mailly- 
Nesle, who had taken an unaccountable fancy to Claude's 
wife, accompanied Deborah to a milliner, to whom was 
intrusted the task of preparing a wardrobe for the Countess. 
Deborah watched the selections with delight and a secret 
consternation. Could Claude afford such things, and 
such an infinite variety of them? Finally, unable to 
hold her peace about the matter, she drew the Marquise 
one side, and stammered out the question of prices with 
pretty embarrassment. 

"Mon Dieu! child, why should I ask prices? If the bill 
is reasonable, be assured that Claude will pay. If it is too 
large pouf! he will refuse to look at it I That is all. 
Do not be alarmed." 

Deborah, surprised and disturbed, felt that she must stop 
proceedings at once, for the Maryland school of economy 
had been strict. But a shimmering blue satin, with cloth 
of silver for petticoat, and ruffles of Venice point, was now 
under consideration. Blue was her own color. She had 
never worn satin in her life and dearly she loved its en- 
ticing swish. Why, unless Claude forbade, should she re- 
fuse it? And Claude did not forbid. When she confessed 
her doubts during their anteroom conference that evening, 
he laughed at her, cried that she should live in blue satin 
if she chose, and asked what she was to wear on the mor- 
row at the royal procession. 

"Oh it is something that madame got at once white 
silk brocaded with pink flowers, and a petticoat with lace. 
And I am to have a lace cap with pink ribbons. " 

" Charming and good-night. Sleep late to-morrow, in 
preparation." 

Upon this Saturday, the I3th of November, Paris did not 
wake up until afternoon. By two o'clock, however, St. 
Antoine had left its domicile and was dispersing itself in 
unkempt groups along those streets which, as it had been 
posted, his Majesty would ride through in his triumphant 
home-coming, on his way to the Tuileries. Marie Lec- 
zinska and the Dauphin spent the morning in prayer, and 
19 



290 The House of de Mailly 

were off together, after a hurried dinner, to join their lord 
at the southeastern barrier. On the previous day Louis 
had been at Meaux, but left that town in the afternoon, and 
spent the night at no great distance from Paris. To tell 
the truth, he was not too well pleased at the information that 
his metropolis was desirous of giving him a heroic welcome. 
Certainly his title of bien-aim^ was anything but his own 
choice. Nothing bored him so thoroughly as affection 
taken in the abstract. All through his early life he seemed 
to be unfortunate in having about him people to whom he 
was totally indifferent, yet who persisted in blindly wor- 
shipping him. In the case of his wife, it had not always 
been so. As a boy he had been devoted to her. But for 
the Dauphin, with his Jesuitical manners and phrases for 
all occasions, his father had never pretended to care. The 
daughters were more amusing. This afternoon Louis 
would have been very well pleased to see them when her 
Majesty's coach came up with the royal staff, in the midst 
of which Louis sat on horseback. The Queen, after alight- 
ing, stood looking at her husband with wistful yearning ; 
but young France, dropping on one knee in a dry spot in 
the road, cried out, with very good expression : 

"Sire, regard me as the representative of that nation 
which, with tears of devotion and thanksgiving, greets 
its Father, its Hero, and its King!" 

There was a little pause. Then Louis remarked, cas- 
ually, "You will catch cold without your hat, child," 
after which he turned to one of his marshals with some 
remark upon the day. 

How the Dauphin arose from his knee is not recorded. 

Like all much -prepared -for cavalcades, this one was 
slow in starting. His Majesty objected to the length 
of the route planned. He was anxious to be at home 
again; and he was tired of people. Had somebody sent 
for his turning-lathe? He would do a bit of work when 
he reached the Tuileries. Why could not Richelieu take 
his place as representative, and let him get quietly through 
the city in a public coach? It was nearly dark now. Only 



November Thirteenth 291 

after an endless series of expostulations was he at last 
persuaded to conform to the wishes of his people, and 
show himself in all the real beauty of his manhood. 

Paris had waited very patiently through the bleak 
November afternoon, shivering and laughing in anticipa- 
tion of its pleasure. Now the windows of every house 
along the way were gleaming with candles and dotted with 
heads. On either side of the street torches began to be 
lighted among the standing throngs. Presently, as the 
heavy twilight fell lower, officers of the police began, here 
and there, to illumine the long chains of lanterns that 
were strung along the walls of houses, and, at short inter- 
vals, across the streets; for Paris would admit no night 
yet. Every now and then, down among the standing 
throngs, dashed the coach of some nobleman on the way 
to his own view-point. The drivers of these vehicles took 
no heed of the people in their paths. They were allowed 
to scramble away as best they might, or left to be crushed 
beneath the horses' hoofs if they chose. No one murmured, 
for the affair was quite usual. 

By half-past five o'clock a goodly company was assem- 
bled in the salons of Mme. de Mailly-Nesle ; ladies who, 
in their eagerness to behold the return of their King, were 
very willing to forget the fact that they had ever failed 
to recognize the Marquise, for reasons connected with a 
relative Duchess. Upon their arrival at their hostess' 
hotel they found awaiting them a new sensation in the 
person of Claude, and a two-weeks' subject of gossip and 
discussion in Claude's foreign wife. 

Deborah, arrayed in her brocade, her rebellious hair 
fastened stiffly in place with a thousand pins, the enor- 
mous hoops of her overdress annoying her as much as 
possible, patches and powder upon her face and hair, 
with the customary rouge on her cheeks, stood beside 
Victorine de Coigny, the only new-comer with whom she 
did not feel ill at ease. Mesdames de Mirepoix, Rohan, 
and Chatelet stared at her unceasingly, found her dress 
in good style, and her face, on the whole, not bad. L'Abbe 



292 The House of de Mailly 

de Bernis, who, to Henri's fruitless rage, had accompanied 
Victorine hither, looked upon Deborah approvingly. As 
to Claude, he did not approach his wife, but he watched her, 
quietly, from wherever he chanced to be, involuntarily 
admiring her presence, but undeniably dreading possible 
faux pas. Of these there had been as yet no signs. Deb- 
orah certainly was frightened, but she did not show it. 
Obeying her husband's last behest, she kept her head 
well up and her eyes on a level with those of the person 
to whom she talked. Mme. de Coigny, lively, good- 
natured, bored, but never supercilious, conversed with 
the little Countess for some moments upon her journey, 
upon Paris, and upon the return of the King. Deborah 
bravely answered her questions, and, less uncertain of her 
French than she had been a week ago, even hazarded a 
few remarks of her own with which the little Mare'chale 
seemed pleased. Their tete-a-tete, however, was checked 
in its early stages by the beginning of a general conver- 
sation opened by one of the dames d' etiquette, Mme. de 
Rohan, who cried to her hostess, from across the room : 

"Truly, Mme. de Nesle, you have here all the world 
but two people." 

" And who are those?" responded the Marquise, gracious- 
ly, while the salon grew suddenly quiet. 

"Those? why, the Due d'Agenois and your cousin, 
Mme. de Chateauroux. Where, if one may ask, are they?" 

There was a vaguely indefinite murmur of interest 
from every part of the room. Then from la Mirepoix 
came another remark, one such as only she was capable 
of making : " M. de Mailly oh, I mean the Count you 
were formerly always cognizant of the whereabouts of the 
dear Duchess. Can you not inform us of them now?" 

The company lifted its brow and a dozen glances were 
cast at Deborah this new little creature from the Ameri- 
cas. "She does not comprehend the allusion," was the 
general thought, when they saw her attitude of large- 
eyed, inattentive innocence. Only Claude, as he came 
forward a little, snuff-box in hand, turned white. 



November Thirteenth 293 

" Ah, Madame la Marechale, you speak of by-gone days. 
I know the engagements of Mine, de Chateauroux? Im- 
possible! Am I my cousin's keeper?" 

"Perhaps/' murmured the Marquise de Chatelet, sweet- 
ly, "she is to form part of his Majesty's escort." 

Silence followed this remark. Mme. de Rohan glared 
with displeasure at her companion, and the Marquise 
flushed a little beneath her rouge. It was too much, for 
once. Mme. de Mailly-Nesle, with commendable haste, 
turned to her near neighbor and reinstated the tete-a-tetes. 

"Ah!" murmured Mme. de Coigny to Deborah, "these 
dames d' etiquette are insufferable. They should be strick- 
en with a plague!" 

Deborah smiled very faintly, and could make no reply. 
One of her hands was tightly clenched. Otherwise she 
appeared unconcerned enough. 

At this moment M. de Bernis, having decided the new 
Countess to be rather presentable at a distance, drew 
nearer, with intent to converse with her. The abb6 was, 
to-day, in his clerical dress, and thus Deborah acknowl- 
edged Mme. de Coigny's introduction with great gravity. 
When Victorine presently turned aside to Coyer, de Bernis 
began his conversation: 

"Come to the window, here, madame, and look at the 
crowd upon the quay. In your country I dare swear you 
have no such canaille." 

" Poor things ! How dirty and ragged they look in all 
the light," murmured Deborah, in English. 

" You should one day drive through the Faubourg where 
they live; it would interest you," returned the abb, in 
the same tongue. 

Deborah looked at him with a quick smile. "English 
sounds very dear to me. Thank you vastly for speaking it." 

"One would learn Sanscrit to gain a word of praise 
from your lips, madame," was the abba's unnecessary 
reply, whispered, not spoken. 

The young girl was embarrassed. How could a priest 
say such things? Turning her head uneasily, she found 



294 The House of de Mailly 

Mine, de Coigny close to her, and beheld a new expres- 
sion on that childlike, fretful face. It was as well that, 
at this moment, the distant shouting of the throng pro- 
claimed the advance of the royal procession. Under cover 
of the general hastening to the lantern -hung windows, 
Victorine took occasion to murmur in de Bernis' ear : 

"Why are you always cruel, Francois? Why will you 
continually torture me so? This child, now! Have pity 
on her." 

De Bernis shrugged impatiently. "You are silly, 
Victorine. It is not my fault that you are jealous every 
time I speak to a woman." 

They were silent for a moment. Then Mme. de Coigny, 
as she stared into the torchlit street below, sighed. " Those 
faces the rags the dirt Francois, do they not remind 
you of our first days together in the Court of Miracles?" 

For reply the abbe 1 silently kissed her hand. 

All of Mme. de Mailly-Nesle's guests were by this time 
arranged in the windows along the front of the hotel. 
Claude, escaping from the women who would have ques- 
tioned his heart away, sought Deborah's side. She re- 
ceived him with a friendly little smile that relieved him 
of many fears. A silence of expectation had fallen now 
over the room, for the distant sounds of shouting and cheer- 
ing were increasing in clearness. 

To his intense relief, Louis' long ride was nearly over; 
and, almost at its end, when there should remain only a 
bridge to be crossed to the Tuileries, he was hoping for 
something that should repay him for all his sacrifice of time 
and comfort. Since the day of the dismissal from Metz 
the name of la Chateauroux had never crossed the King's 
lips. But silence is not indicative of forgetfulness. On 
the contrary, with every passing day Louis felt his life 
more intolerably lonely, in the absence of her for whom 
he really cared more than any one else. Now, as he drew 
near to the Hotel de Mailly, which he knew well, expecta- 
tion and hope increased his speed, and he passed the The"a- 
tins at a lively trot. 



November Thirteenth 295 

"See, Deborah, here is the royal regiment. Those, 
there, at the head, just coming under the lights, are the 
marshals ay, that is Coigny!" 

"Madame, your husband," murmured de Bernis in 
Victorine's ear. 

" And there are the Court pages in uniform, look on 
Ihe white horses Richelieu, d'Epernon, de Ge"vres, de 
Mouhy, Trudaine Heavens, how familiar they all are ! 
And here is the Queen's coach. Voila 1 She looked out 
just then, at the shouts. The Dauphin is with her they 
would not let the child ride. He's all of fifteen now is 
he not, de Bernis? And now, Deborah there, alone in 
front of the corps with the torches around him that 
is the King." 

Deborah Travis bent her head forward towards the win- 
dow till the light from the lantern that hung above her 
shone full in her face. In the street, directly below, she 
beheld a great sorrel charger caparisoned in white and sil- 
ver, bearing a rider also in white, with laced coat, cloth 
breeches, shining black riding-boots, white hat a la Garde 
Frangaise, and across his breast a wide blue ribbon, fas- 
tened with three orders. The eyes of Claude's wife flashed 
over the figure and to the face, which was markedly distinct 
in the light of the torches. 

"Is that the King?" she whispered to herself, uncon- 
scious of speaking. 

At the instant that Louis passed beneath the string of 
lamps across the way, Deborah's eyes fell upon his bright 
blue ones. As though she possessed magnetic power, 
the King responded to the look. It was not the face that 
he had hoped to find here, but it was one as fair. The 
royal hat came off, the royal figure bent to the saddle- 
bow. And then he was gone. Deborah's cheeks were redder 
than her rouge. Every woman in the room had turned to 
look at her, but some eyes, perhaps, stopped at sight of 
Claude. His face was deathly, and upon it was plainly 
written new, quickening dread; while both of his white 
hands were tightly clenched over his polished nails, 




CHAPTER IV 

Claude's Own 

HE Nouvelles a la Main of the isth of No- 
vember announced, among many things, 
that the Count and Countess de Mailly had 
entered their apartment in the Rue d'Anjou 
at Versailles. Deborah, who for some time 
had been secretly caressing the thought. of "home," went 
into the little suite of rooms with a glorified, colonial sense 
of mistress-ship. Madam Trevor's method of housekeep- 
ing was familiar to her in every detail, from candle-dipping 
to the frying of chickens; and, while she felt rather help- 
less, having no slaves at her command, she determined 
to do what she could with the two liveried lackeys, and to 
demand others of Claude if she found it necessary. She 
and Claude had never discussed housekeeping together, 
for the reason that Claude had no conception of the mean- 
ing of the word. 

They arrived and were served with dinner in their little 
abode on Monday. Tuesday afternoon found Deborah 
seated helplessly in the boudoir, with her husband, rather 
pale and nervous, before her. He had found her, utterly 
oblivious of the consternation of the chef, the lackeys, 
and the scullion, washing Chinese porcelain teacups in 
the kitchen. And it was then that Deborah received her 
first lesson in French great-ladyhood, by whose iron laws 
all her housewifely instincts were to be bound about and 
imprisoned. She must never give an order relative to the 
management of their menage. She must never purchase 
or arrange a single article of food that was to be prepared 
for their table. She must never dream of performing 



Claude's Own 297 

the smallest act of manual labor. She might designate 
the hour for meals, or inform the first lackey how many 
were to be served, or what beverage should be passed at 
her toilette. She might keep her appointments with cos- 
turners, milliners, hair-dressers, furriers, jewellers, toy- 
men; and she might see that her engagement-book was 
filled. That was all that was expected of her in the way 
of labor. She had made a great false step to-day, and it 
must not occur again. 

And Deborah listened to Claude's explanation in silence, 
with her pretty new world all tumbling about her ears. 

" We might, then, as well have stayed at your cousin's 
house. This is only our tavern, kept for our convenience/' 
she said, at last. 

Claude nodded, and paid no attention to the sarcasm. 
"This is where we sleep, where we change our clothes, 
where we receive our friends." 

"We've no home?" 

"On the contrary, we make all Paris, all Versailles, 
our home." 

Deborah folded her hands, and her face grew suddenly 
helpless in expression. " I don't like it," she said, faintly. 

"Dear, you do not know it. Wait. You will soon be 
too much occupied to think of it. Why is your coffer still 
here? Has not Julie unpacked it? You must not permit 
laziness." 

" She has done all that I would allow. I will finish it 
myself. Claude, may I have something?" 

" What ? You shall have it. " 

"You know in our salon there is, near the mantel, a 
little cabinet against the wall a little cabinet with two 
shelves, and a door and key." 

"Yes, yes. 'Tis for liqueurs, if we want to keep them. 
Well?" 

" I want that I want the cabinet to use for myself." 

"Just Heaven! Have you then so many valuables, 
or so many secrets?" He laughed, but there was curiosity 
also in his tone. 



298 The House of de Mailly 

"You know that I have neither, Claude. But I want 
the cabinet." 

Claude shrugged, never dreaming what she intended the 
place for. It was but a little thing to ask; and besides, 
curiously enough, Claude, who had been brought up 
among the most unreliable class of women in the world, 
had yet been so little affected by their ways that, ten weeks 
after their marriage, he was beginning to trust his wife. 
She was as honest as a man when she did not like a thing, 
or when she wanted one; she was not talkative; she did 
not make scenes ; he had beheld her angry, but it was not 
with a malicious anger ; and, more than all, she never com- 
plained. So far Claude had found nothing to regret in 
his marriage. He realized it now as he stood there in her 
dressing-room, while she sat looking at him expectantly. 

"Eh, well the cabinet and its key are yours. You'll 
not forget what I have been telling you this afternoon?" 

"No." 

He smiled again, went to her side and kissed her. " Good- 
bye, then. I am going out. You will not be lonely? Mme. 
de Coigny may come. After your presentation to the 
Queen, you know, there will be no idle moments." 

He left her with a little nod and smile, and, donning hat 
and cloak, departed towards the Avenue de Sceaux, from 
which he turned into the Rue des Chaniers, bound for a 
little building at the end of it, not far from the deer-park, 
which was much in favor as an afternoon assembling place 
for gentlemen of the Court during the unoccupied hours of 
the afternoon. Here one might gamble as he chose, high 
or low; drink coffee, rum, or vin d'Ai; fight his duel, if 
need be ; or peruse an account of the last one in a paper, if 
he did not want to talk. It was a comfortable and ugly 
little place, kept by M. Berkley, of fame somewhat unde- 
sirable in London, but of gracious personality here. 

To-day, for the first time in months, the little place was 
creditably filled with its customary patrons, noblemen and 
lords to whom camp-life had lately become more familiar 
than the Court. Here were assembled all those gentlemen 



Claude's Own 299 

who, two days ago, had ridden into Paris with Louis ; and 
a good many more who mysteriously reappeared out 
of the deeps of lower Paris, where they had been hidden 
from salon gossip and too many women. That morning 
Richelieu, d'Epernon, and de Gvres left the Tuileries 
in despair. The King, clad in a stout leathern suit, was 
shut into an empty room with his friend the carpenter, mak- 
ing snuff-boxes with all his might, and admitting neither 
silk, velvet, his wife, nor the Dauphin into his presence. 
His gentlemen were now less harmlessly occupied. De 
Gevres was opposing d'Epernon on the red. Richelieu, 
in a mood, played solitaire a la Charles VI. against him- 
self, the sums that he lost being vowed to go to Mile. 
Nicolet of the Opera ballet. De Mouhy, d'Argenson, de 
Coigny, de Rohan, Maurepas, Jarnac, and half a dozen 
others were grouped about the room, drinking, betting, 
and gossiping. The conversation turned, as it was some 
time bound to do, on la Chateauroux and d'Agenois. 

" The King has not yet, I believe, discovered the renewed 
relationship," drawled d'Epernon, mildly. 

"Perhaps not. But in a week imagine it! Madame 
la Duchesse is fortunate in having gentlemen scattered 
over most of the civilized world on whom she may cast 
herself for protection in case of need!" returned Richelieu, 
crossing glances with Maurepas. 

There was a little round of significant looks and nods. 
Evidently the Duke's sang-froid had not deserted him. 
Every one knew very well that the deposed favorite and 
her former preceptor were soon bound to be at oppo- 
site ends of the scales, and that her rise now meant his 
fall. 

" I wonder " began Coigny, thoughtfully, when again, 
for the twentieth time, the door opened, and some one en- 
tered whose appearance paralyzed the conversation. 

" Well, gentlemen, I am thankful only that I am not a 
debutante at the Op&ra. Such a reception would ruin me. 
Am I forgotten?" 

" Forgotten I" It was a chorus. Then one voice con- 



300 The House of de Mailly 

tinned : " When one sees a ghost, Claude, one fears to ad- 
dress it hastily. It might take offence." 

" ' I think it is a weakness of mine eyes that shapes ' " 

"'This monstrous apparition'? Thanks, truly I" ob- 
served de Mailly. 

Richelieu then strode forward and seized his hand. 
" He's in the flesh, messieurs. I am delighted, I am charmed, 
I am somewhat overcome, dear Claude. I should have 
pictured you at this moment flirting in Spain, storming a 
seraglio at Constantinople, toasting some estimable frau- 
lein in beer, drowning yourself in tea and accent in Lon- 
don, or fighting savages in the West. Anything but 
this! Your exile is over, then?" 

Claude smiled, but, before he spoke, Maurepas had come 
forward : 

"My faith, gentlemen, you seem to be but slightly in- 
formed of the last news. Monsieur has been in Paris for 
a week with Madame the Countess his wife, and " 

"His wife! Diablel" 

" Come, come, then, I was not far wrong. Is she Span- 
ish, Turkish, German, English, or by some impossible 
chance French ? Speak !" 

"I have not before had the chance, my lord," returned 
Claude, bowing. " However, my tale is not so wonderful. 
When I went upon my little journey the King was so gra- 
cious as to express the hope that I would return to Ver- 
sailles when I should be able to present to him madame 
my wife. Well in the English Americas I was so happy 
as to have engaged the affections of a charming daugh- 
ter of their excellent aristocracy there. We were married 
nearly three months ago in a private chapel by the Father 
Aime' St. Quentin; and so, madame being pleased to re- 
turn with me to Court, we set sail shortly after the wedding, 
and behold me!" 

" Bravo bravo ! You have been making history I Ma- 
dame, of course, is not yet presented?" 

"Scarcely, Chevalier, since her Majesty is barely re- 
turned." 



Claude's Own 301 

"Are you stopping in Paris?" 

" We have Rohan's former apartment in the Rue d'Anjou 
here." 

"Aha! Madame possibly brought a worthy dot is it 
not so?" 

If the question displeased Claude, he did not show it. 
Shrugging and smiling with some significance, he moved 
towards a card-table, and instantly the estimate of Mme. de 
Mailly's prestige went up a hundred thousand livres. The 
room was now all attention to Claude. He ordered cognac, 
and his example was followed by a dozen others. De 
Gevres and d'Epernon ceased their play. Even Richelieu 
seemed for a moment to be on the point of leaving the 
interests of Mile. Nicolet, but eventually he continued 
his amusement, only stopping occasionally to glance 
around at the group of new sycophants, biding his own 
time. 

"Of course, you have seen la Chateauroux, Claude?" 
questioned Rohan, a little intimately. 

De Mailly stared at him. " Of course, as you say, I have 
seen her." 

" D'Agenois' reign will be short, then/' muttered Coigny 
to Maurepas. 

Claude heard, flushed, and turned again to Rohan: 
"Chevalier, will you dice?" 

"With pleasure." 

Cups were produced, and the rest began betting among 
themselves on the outcome of the first throws. Odds were 
not in Rohan's favor. 

"A thousand louis, Chevalier, that my number is less 
than yours." 

This was an unusual stake. Rohan's eyebrows twitched 
up once, but he took the wager calmly. Deborah's re- 
puted fortune went up another hundred thousand francs, 
and advanced still further when Claude won his throw; 
for they only win who do not need to do so. De Rohan 
made an effort to retrieve himself, but failed. Then the 
stakes diminished, for Claude had had his revenge for 



302 The House of de Mailly 

an impertinent question, and did not desire to gain a new 
reputation for wealth. However, he was three thousand 
louis to the good when Richelieu came over and touched 
him on the shoulder. 

" Enough, Claude, enough for the time. Come with me. 
I need you now. M. Berkley will be always here to wel- 
come you. I well, I shall not be here every day. Come." 

Claude rose, good-naturedly. "Certainly I will come, 
du Plessis. Au revoir, gentlemen." 

" Au revoir I Au revoir ! When do you present us to 
madame?" 

"We shall be delighted to see you as soon as Mme. de 
Mirepoix has bestowed a card upon us." 

A few further good-byes, and de Mailly and his old-time 
friend left the house together and moved slowly down the 
street, the Duke leading. Claude did not speak, for it was 
for his companion to open conversation. This Richelieu 
seemed in no haste to do. They had proceeded for some 
distance before he remarked, suddenly : 

"It is cold." 

"Most true. What hangs upon the weather?" 

" This. It is too chilly to wander about outside. Take 
me to your apartment and present me to the Countess." 

"With pleasure, if you wish it." 

"Many thanks." They turned into a cross street that 
led towards the little Rue Anjou, when Richelieu, after a 
deep breath, began quickly, in a new strain: "Claude 
do you know that my fall is imminent?" 

"What!" 

" Oh, it is true. My fall is imminent. I am frank with 
you when I say that never before has my position been so 
beset with difficulties. You would learn soon, at any rate, 
and 1 prefer that you hear now, from me, what every mem- 
ber of the Court save Mme. de Chateauroux herself knows 
that it was I who, beside myself with anxiety for the 
King, was the instrument of her dismissal from Metz." 

Claude opened his mouth quickly as if to speak. Think- 
ing better of it, however, he remained silent and waited. 



Claude's Own 303 

" As 1 have said, madame, now out of touch with Court 
circles, has not yet heard of what she would term my 
treachery. But during the first conversation she holds 
with a courtier she must learn the truth. Of course, you 
perceive that, if she comes again into favor 1 am dis- 
missed. Of course, also, her every nerve is strained tow- 
ards the natural object of reattaining to her former posi- 
tion. My dear Claude, 1 am speaking to you in my own 
interests, but they are yours as well. Your cousin is just 
now playing with d'Agenois in order to rouse the possible 
jealousy of the King. It is her method. It may, for the 
third time, prove successful. But if the success does 
come, it will be over my fallen body. 1 shall oppose her 
as I have opposed nothing before, because never before 
have I been so deeply concerned. I would ask you, Claude, 
which side you will espouse hers or mine?" 

Claude was silent for a few steps. Then he said, mus- 
ingly: "A battle between my cousin and my friend. 
You ask me a difficult question. Perhaps you are think- 
ing that, if a d'Agenois alone fails with his Majesty, a 
d'Agenois and a de Mailly might do her work. Is that 
your notion? Hein?" 

"Your astuteness is as perfect as of old. That is my 
notion. And I would beg of you that you do not allow 
yourself to be played with again." 

" As a de Mailly I might be willing. As the husband 
of my charming wife I do not need your pleading to 
decide me." 

Richelieu laughed, and there was relief in the tone. 
He had secured himself from one danger, and, out of grat- 
itude, he should befriend this unknown wife if she were 
in the smallest degree possible. " And now for Mme. de 
Mailly!" he cried, gayly, with lips and heart, as they ap- 
proached the house in the Rue d'Anjou. 

"She will be delighted. I fancy her afternoon so far 
has been lonely." 

In this Claude was wrong. Deborah's afternoon had 
been far from dull. Quite without her husband's assist- 



304 The House of de Mailly 

ance she was learning something more of this Court life, 
this atmosphere in which he had lived through his youth. 
When he left her, early in the afternoon, after the gen- 
tle lecture on manners, Deborah's first move had been 
to take from her trunk those articles which Julie had been 
forbidden to touch, to carry them into the empty salon, 
and place them in the little black cabinet by the mantel, 
where she stood regarding them for some moments ab- 
sently. They were ten crystal phials, of different sizes, 
filled with liquids varying in tone from brown to limpid 
crystal. Upon each was pasted a paper label, covered 
with fine writing, which told, in quaint phraseology and 
spelling, the contents of the bottle, and the method of 
obtaining it. Beside the flasks was a small wooden box 
with closed lid, containing a number of round, dry, brown- 
ish objects, odorless, and tasteless, too, if one had dared 
bite into them. They were specimens of amanita mus- 
caria and amanita phalloides which Deborah, still cater- 
ing to her strange delight, had brought to her new home, 
together with the best of her various experiments in me- 
dicinal alkaloids. To her profound regret, she had been 
unable to pack Dr. Carroll's glass retort. But here, some 
time when Claude was in humor, she would ask him to 
get her another ; for surely, in this great city of Paris, such 
things might be obtained. Then, even here, in her own 
tiny dressing-room, she would arrange a little corner for 
her work, and so make a bit of home for herself at last. 
Poor Deborah was young, heedless, enthusiastic, and in 
love with her talent, as, indeed, mortals should be. She 
did not consider, and there was no one to tell her, since 
she did not confide in Claude, that no more dangerous 
power than hers could possibly have been brought into 
this most corrupt, criminal, and intriguing Court in the 
world. Reckless Deborah! After a last, long look at 
her little flasks, she closed the cabinet door upon them, 
locked it, and carried the key into her dressing-room, 
where she laid it carefully in one of the drawers of her 
chiffonier. From this little place she did not hear the 



Claude's Own 305 

rapping at the antechamber door, nor see her lackey go 
through the salon. It was only when, with a slight cough, 
he announced from the doorway behind her, " The Mare"- 
chale de Coigny," that Mme. de Mailly turned about. 

"Oh!" she said, in slightly startled fashion. It was 
very difficult for her as yet to regard white servants as her 
inferiors. As she entered the little salon with cordial haste, 
Victorine, cloaked and muffed, rose from her chair. 

" You are very kind to come. Cl M. de Mailly is out. 
I was quite alone." 

"That is charming. We shall get to know each other 
better now is it not so? May I take off my pelisse? 
Thank you. M. de Coigny and I have just come out to 
Versailles, you know for the winter. Later, we may be 
commanded to the palace. If so, I shall have to be under 
that atrocious Boufflers; and, in that case, life will be 
frightful." 

While Victorine spoke she had, with some assistance 
from Deborah, removed all her things and thrown them 
carelessly upon a neighboring chair, after which she seated 
herself opposite her hostess, smiling in her friendliest man- 
ner. 

"1 should like to be able to offer you something, ma- 
dame," said Deborah, hesitatingly, unable to banish the 
instinct of open hospitality. "What would you like?" 

Victorine smiled again, with a quick pleasure at the 
unaffected offer. "Thank you very much. A dish of 
the & I' anglais would be delightful." 

Deborah's heart sank. In Maryland tea was a luxury 
drunk only upon particular occasions. She had not the 
slightest idea that there was such an article in her kitchen 
here. Bravely saying nothing, however, she struck a little 
gong, and, at the appearance of Laroux, ordered, rather 
faintly, two dishes of Bohea. Laroux, receiving the com- 
mand with perfect stoicism, bowed and disappeared, to 
return, in a very short space of time, with two pretty 
bowls filled with sweet, brown liquid. These he deftly ar- 
ranged on a low stand between the ladies, placing beside 
20 



306 The House of de Mailly 

them a little plate of rissoles. Madame la Comtesse de- 
cided at once that such a servant as this should not soon 
leave her. 

" Ah this is most comfortable. 1 am going to remain 
with you during the whole afternoon. It is wonderful 
to find some one who is neither a saint, an etiquette, nor a 
rival. My faith, madame, one might say anything to 
you!" 

Deborah smiled, sipped her tea, and could find nothing 
to reply. Her face, however, invited confidence; and the 
Mar^chale sighed and continued : 

" You seem to be almost happy 1 The look on your face 
one sees only once a lifetime. It is youth, and inno- 
cence, I think. How old are you? Oh, pardon! I am 
absurdly thoughtless! But you look so young 1" 

"I am eighteen/' responded Deborah at once. 

"And I nineteen. Beside you I appear thirty. It 
is because I have lived here for three years. Ah! How 
I have been bored!" 

"It must have been very lonely all the summer. But 
now, with Monsieur the Mare'chal returned, it will be better/' 

"Oh, you are right! It will be more difficult now, and 
so, more absorbing. But Jules lets me do almost as I 
please. If he were but more strict, less cold, Francois 
would have more interest. He is growing indifferent. 
Dieu! How I have worked to prevent that! But it is 
imbecile of me! I care so much for him that I cannot be- 
have as I should!" 

"I do not understand/' said Deborah, indistinctly, 
with a new feeling, one of dread, stealing over her. In- 
stinctively she feared to hear what this pale, big-eyed 
little creature was going to say next. 

For an instant Victorine stared at her. Then, leaning 
slowly forward and looking straight into Deborah's honest 
eyes, she asked, in a low tone, " You did not know that 
de Bernis that I " 

Deborah sprang up, the empty tea-bowl rolling unheeded 
at her feet. She had grown suddenly very white, and, 



Claude's Own 307 

as she returned Victorine's own look, searchingly, she 
found in the other face what made the horror in her own 
deepen, as she backed unconsciously towards the wall. 

" You don't know ! Mon Dieu ! Why, Claude was 
mad, mad, to have brought you here! Why, madame 
Deborah we're all alike! You mustn't look at me 
like that. I am not different from the others. Henri 
de Mailly the Marquise the Mirepoix Mme. de Rohan 
Mme. de Chateauroux child, it is a custom. The King 
Claude himself before " 

" Ah !" Deborah made a sound in her throat, not a scream, 
not an articulate word, but a kind of guttural, choking 
groan. Then she covered her face with her hands. For 
a moment that seemed an eternity she stood there repeating 
to herself those last cruel, insensate words, " ' Claude him- 
self before ' 

And then Victorine, looking at her, came to a realiz- 
ing sense of what she had done. Moved by a half-im- 
pulse, she started up unsteadily, swayed for an instant, 
and then fell back upon her chair, covering her head with 
her hands and arms, and bursting into a passion of sobs 
so heart-broken, so deep, so childlike forlorn, that they 
roused Deborah from herself. Letting her hands fall, 
she looked over towards her visitor. There was a note in 
the Marechale's voice, and a line of utter abandon in her 
position, that brought a pang of woman's sympathy into 
the heart of the woman-child who regarded her. Putting 
away from her all selfishness, even that miserable thought 
of Claude, forgetting the brutal openness with which 
Victorine had spoken, she suddenly ran across the room 
and took Victorine into both her strong, young arms. 
Victorine's head found a resting-place on her shoulder; 
Victorine's aching, hopeless, impure heart beat for an 
instant in unison with that other one ; Victorine's racking 
sobs ceased gradually. She gave a long, shivering sigh. 
There was a quickening silence through the room. Then 
the frail little figure loosed its grasp on Deborah, straight- 
ened quickly up, and turned to move to the chair where 



308 The House of de Mailly 

her wraps lay. Dully, Deborah watched the Marechale 
tie on her hood and pull the cloak about her shoulders. 
Then, picking up gloves and muff, the visitor turned again 
and moved back to where Deborah stood. In front of 
her she stopped, and her eyes, in which shone two great 
tears, rested in dim pity and sorrow upon Deborah's white 
face. The look lasted for a long moment. Then, slowly, 
without a word, the Mar6chale picked her handkerchief 
from the floor where it lay and began moving towards the 
door. Before she had reached it Claude's wife spoke 
again, more steadily : 

"Mme. de Coigny you must not go yet." 

The Mar6chale paused, with her back to Deborah, and 
stood hesitating. 

"You must not go yet," repeated the voice. "You 
must tell me, first about Claude." 

A little moan came from Victorine's lips. "Claude 
Claude I c-cannot tell you about him. I know nothing ! 
I I lied to you. He is not like the rest." 

"No, madame; that is not so. You try to be kind. 
Was it tell me Mme. de Chateauroux? Yes. Now I 
know. That is true." 

Victorine faced quickly around, the tears coming again 
into her eyes. Mme. de Mailly had begun to walk up and 
down the room, speaking in a monotone, twisting and 
untwisting her fingers as she went. 

"I see. I know. Claude was exiled because the King 
did not like him." Here she turned about and looked 
her companion squarely in the face. "Claude married 
me so that he might return to Court. In his letter the 
King said that he might return when he could present his 
wife at Versailles. Yes. Claude read that letter to me, 
and still I married him. Oh, madame " a nervous 
laugh broke from her " did M. de Coigny do that to you?" 

Victorine stared at her in horror of her tone. " Deborah 
Deborah don't look so! Claude isn't like that. And 
you you are good. You are pure. Ah I cannot for- 
give myself while I live for what I have done ! Is there 



Claude's Own 309 

anything that I can do? Tell me, is there nothing noth- 
ing that I can do?" 

" Oh, madame, may we not help also? Is it a new cos- 
tume, or 

It was Claude who spoke. He and Richelieu had en- 
tered the antechamber just in time to hear the last phrase. 
Mme. de Coigny faced about sharply. She knew that 
Deborah must have time to recover herself. 

" It was not a garment but a secret, messieurs. Mon- 
sieur le Due, I am offended that I meet you for the first 
time since your return in the apartment of a friend. 
Have you struck me from your list?" 

"Ah, madame, one does well to keep from your side, 
since one does not fight an abbe". M. de Bernis has more 
enemies from jealousy than any man about the Court/' 
returned Richelieu, a trifle maliciously. 

Claude, much displeased with the Duke's ill-timed pleas- 
antry, glanced anxiously at his wife. Her manner was 
composed, but her expression he did not know. 

" Madame, allow me to present to you M. de Richelieu, 
of whom I have so often spoken. Monsieur, Mme. de 
Mailly." 

Deborah courtesied, and Richelieu bowed profoundly. 
For some unaccountable reason, the Duke's ready gal- 
lantry suddenly deserted him, and he could conjure up no 
fit compliment for this girl with the unrouged cheeks 
and the calm, frigid self-possession. Deborah's mood was 
new to Claude, and he regarded her with amazement, 
as she stood perfectly silent after the introduction, her 
glance moving slowly from Richelieu's immaculate shoes 
to his large brown eyes and the becoming curls of his 
wig. Once more it remained for Victorine to save the 
situation. She was wondering anxiously if her eyes 
were very red, as she asked: 

" Gentlemen, you have been to Berkley's that name ! 
have you not?" 

"Yes, madame, and we left your husband there. He 
lost to Claude here, I think. Mordi, Claude! The gods 



310 The House of de Mailly 

are too good to you. If you would not have Mme. de 
Mailly carried off by some stricken gentleman, you should 
keep her locked in a jewel-case. Are you to be presented 
soon, madame, and by whom?" 

Deborah blankly shook her head. "I do not know, 
monsieur/' 

Claude looked at her, more puzzled than ever, and 
Richelieu commented mentally: "Beauty and presence, 
without brains. It is as well." 

"Mme. de Mailly-Nesle may present her, is it not so?" 
asked Victorine, again ending the pause. 

"Certainly I believe so. She has been a lady of the 
palace." 

"I should advise Mme. de Conti, Claude. Her price 
is about two thousand francs, but she does it with an un- 
equalled manner. She will direct the courtesies, the train, 
the kiss, the retreat, everything perfectly. Besides 
that, you have her patronage forever after, particularly 
if you supplement the two thousand with a small jewel, or 
some such gift. Her rents are mortgaged, and she lives 
now on her presentations." 

"When does the King leave Paris?" asked Claude, con- 
templatively. 

Richelieu shrugged. "On Wednesday, we trust. He 
is now making snuff-boxes by the score, and if a fit of 
cooking succeeds that Heaven knows ! He may remain 
at the Tuileries till Christmas." 

Deborah stared at this information, and Victorine turned 
to her, laughing nervously : " Has not monsieur told you 
what an excellent cook his Majesty is? He rivals Marin; 
and it is said that, could he win a cordon bleu, he would 
wear no other order. His bonbons are delicious. 1 once 
ate some of those that he sent to " she stopped suddenly. 

"Mme. de Chateauroux," finished the Duke, fearing 
that her hesitation was for him. 

Victorine nodded hastily. "Well, dear madame/' she 
continued, turning to Deborah, "1 must go, 1 have been 
with you an eternity. It grows late." 



Claude's Own 311 

"Do you return to Paris, madame?" inquired Richelieu. 

" No. We are already living here. My chair is below." 

"Permit me, then, to escort you," said Claude, seeing 
that Deborah did not press her to remain. 

" My dear Count, you must resign that happiness to me/' 
observed Richelieu. "1 am to sup with the King, and 1 
have just time to reach Paris. Mme. de Mailly, I trust that 
our first meeting may prove our shortest." 

" That is safe gallantry, monsieur, since one could scarce 
be shorter," returned Deborah, with something of her usual 
manner. 

" Ah ! That was better. Perhaps it is only embarrass- 
ment," thought Richelieu, as he made his farewells to 
Claude and bowed to Deborah's courtesy. 

A moment later de Mailly and his wife were alone to- 
gether. The sound of steps in the outer hall had died 
away. The little salon was quiet. Then the man and 
woman faced each other, Deborah mute, heavy-eyed, ex- 
pressionless, her husband curious and expectant. After 
two minutes of uncomfortable silence he spoke : 

"What is the matter, Debby? What has Victorine de 
Coigny said to you?" 

Then, to his utter amazement, for he had never imagined 
her doing such a thing, he saw the girl's lip tremble, her 
face work convulsively with effort at control, and finally, 
as an ominous drop suddenly rolled over her eye and down 
her cheek, she turned from him sharply and ran into her 
boudoir, shutting the door after her. 

Before Deborah consented to come forth from her retreat, 
his Grace de Richelieu had arrived at the Tuileries, made a 
necessary alteration in his dress, and was admitted to the 
presence of the King, who, in company with de Ge"vres and 
Maurepas, awaited him in the small supper -room. The 
Duke made proper apologies for tardiness, which Louis 
graciously accepted on condition that, during the entre- 
mets, he should recount the adventure that had kept 
tim. 

" Ah, Sire, it has been my fortune to encounter the lady 



312 The House of de Mailly 

whom you deigned to salute on Saturday, in the window of 
the Hotel de Mailly." 

There was a murmur of interest from the other two as 
the King looked up. "By my faith, du Plessis, you are 
phenomenal! Who is she? what is she? Is she eligible 
or not?" 

"Ah!" A sudden thought crossed Richelieu's mind. 
He answered very slowly, crumbling a bit of bread the 
while, " She is the Countess de Mailly, Claude's wife, and 
so a cousin to Madame la Duchesse de Chateauroux." 

There was a pause. The atmosphere was dubious. 
De Gevres and Maurepas rejoiced to think that they had 
been wise enough to voice no curiosity. Richelieu, per- 
fectly calm, inwardly calculating, finished his soup. Sud- 
denly Louis's mouth twitched, his eyes twinkled, and he 
permitted himself to laugh. 

"Parbleu! he has taste in women, this Claude! Have 
her presented, du Plessis, and de Mailly shall have back 
his place. Her Majesty holds a salon on Sunday the 
2 ist, hein? Have her presented at all hazards. By my 
faith, the fellow has a taste in women!" 




CHAPTER V 

Two Presentations 

PON the 1 8th of November their Majesties, the 
dauphin, the royal suites, and, in a word, 
the French Court, returned to Versailles and 
took up its abode in palace or town for the 
winter. The little city was alive with nobility 
and nobility's servants. Every fourth person one met bore 
with him, as a mantle of dignity, some fifteen generations 
of ancestry ; and every third man with whom one came in 
contact was one whose forebears, for fifteen misty and not 
wholly glorious generations, had been accustomed to the 
honor of adjusting nobility's wig and helping him on with 
his coat. 

The great park of Versailles, with its leafless bos- 
quets, its bare avenues, its deadened terraces, its lifeless 
fountains, was forlorn enough. But within the monster 
palace hard by everything hummed with preparation for 
the gayest of winters. Here was a hero-King returned 
from the scene of his heroisms, bored with doughty deeds, 
waiting to be entertained with matters strained to less 
heroic pitch. There on the second floor, behind the court 
of the grand staircase, with a little private stair of its own, 
empty and desolate behind its locked doors, lay the deserted 
suite of the favorite's rooms. And who shall say how many 
a great lady, honorable to her finger-tips, with some honor 
to spare, cast a mute, curious glance at that closed door, in 
passing, and went her way with a new question in her 
heart? Who shall tell the germs of intrigue, struggling 
jealousy, rivalry, hatred, ambition, and care that were 
fostered in this abode of kings during that third week in 



314 The House of de Mailly 

November, when the "season" was budding, and would, 
on Sunday night, at the Queen's first salon, open into a 
perfect flower? 

During that week, ever since Richelieu's visit on Mon- 
day, one would scarcely have thought that Deborah de 
Mailly had had time for thinking. There was never an 
hour when she could be alone. Claude's words were proven 
true. She had known nothing of what this life would 
mean; and she possessed not one leisure moment which 
she could have given to the care of their abiding-place. 
Slightly to her husband's surprise, certainly much to her 
own amazement, she had become a little sensation; and 
almost every member of the Court followed the speedy ex- 
ample of Mme. de Mirepoix and called upon her during 
that first week. The tale of the King's salute, of her forth- 
coming presentation, and, more than all, a story whispered 
behind Richelieu's hand of a possible favoritism, had 
wrought this result. 

Deborah bore herself very well at the innumerable after- 
noon visits. Claude was always with her; but, after the 
first two days, she ceased to watch his eye, and found 
herself able to pay some little attention to the character- 
istics of the different people. She had small fancy for the 
Marechale de Coigny, and an equally accountable dislike 
for de Bernis, who, for some reason of his own, paid her 
assiduous attention. 

Each morning Deborah went to Paris, to her milliner's, 
where the presentation dress was being made. Claude 
almost always accompanied her on these trips, and during 
the long drives there should have been more than enough 
opportunity for them to discuss her first impressions of the 
new life. Though Claude could not tell why, such con- 
versations never occurred. He felt, vaguely, that his wife 
was holding aloof from him. She was perfectly courteous, 
sometimes merry, in his company ; but she was never con- 
fiding as she had been. At home there was no longer any 
necessity for them to linger in an antechamber before re- 
tiring, for the sake of being alone together, After eleven 



Two Presentations 315 

at night they had their apartment to themselves. But, 
oddly enough, they now never saw each other alone. Deb- 
orah was occupied, was too tired, was not in the mood any 
of a thousand things. Claude wondered, and was disap- 
pointed, but never pressed the point. Not once did it occur 
to him to connect her present impenetrability with the 
singular crying-spell on Monday evening, after her after- 
noon alone with Victorine de Coigny. He put her new 
manner down rather to the growing influence of the Court 
customs. And perhaps, to some extent, he was right. 

Just now Claude's attention, like that of the rest of the 
Court, was concentrated upon the approaching Sunday 
evening. He was ambitious for Deborah. He wanted 
to make her success as great as possible. The danger 
of success he knew, perhaps, but the other alternative was 
worse; and, besides, not a hint of Richelieu's careful gossip 
had reached his ears. As to the royal salute which had, 
at the time, so annoyed him, he had now all but forgotten 
it in the renewal of his old connections, his old associa- 
tions with every foot of this ground that was home to 
him. He had played a good deal during the week, to 
such purpose that there was now small cause to fear the 
necessary expenditures for the winter; and out of his 
first day's winnings at Berkley's he could pay for Deb- 
orah's entire wardrobe. Claude took more interest than 
his wife herself, perhaps, in the presentation dress, which 
had been especially designed to emphasize her freshness, 
her youth, and her slender figure. She was to wear very 
small hoops, which articles of dress were now in their larg- 
est possible state, preparatory to a long -needed collapse 
to the graceful puffs of the Pompadour era. Her petticoat 
was of white India cre'pe, embroidered in white. Her over- 
dress was of lace, made en princesse, with the train falling 
from the shoulders and flowing behind her for more than 
a yard, like a trail of foam in the wake of a ship. 

The busy week ended almost too soon, and Sunday 
dawned about an hour before his Majesty rose. During 
the morning Versailles was deserted. Not a lady had risen, 



316 The Mouse of de Mailly 

and the gentlemen went shooting, after mass, with his 
Majesty. Deborah, greatly to her displeasure, had been 
commanded to stay in bed till three in the afternoon, at 
which hour she might begin her toilet. Claude was with 
the hunting-party, however, and his wife rose at ten o'clock 
and had her chocolate in the dining-room, to the bland 
amazement of the first lackey. A little later, however, 
Madame la Comtesse regretted her wilfulness, for she had 
nothing to do. Despite Mme. de Conti's reassuring in- 
structions, she was extremely nervous as to the evening. 
She had already practised the presentation at home, with 
Julie for her Majesty, chairs for the ladies of honor, and 
the King rather inadequately represented by her dressing- 
table. This morning, however, Deborah was not in the 
mood for the tiresome manoeuvres, but instead sat dis- 
consolately at the window, rigorously keeping her thoughts 
from home, and trying to fasten them, for want of a better 
subject, on the lady who was also to be presented that 
evening by Mme. de Conti. This, as history would have 
it, was a person of somewhat humbler birth than Deb- 
orah herself, styled in the beginning Jeanne Poisson, 
later wedded to solid Lenormand d'Etioles, and at some 
day now neither dim nor distant to become that Marquise 
de Pompadour whom an Empress of Austria should salute 
as an equal. Deborah mused for some time on this un- 
known lady, ate her solitary dinner without appetite, and 
lay on her salon sofa for two hours more, thinking un- 
happily of Maryland, before Julie roused her to begin the 
momentous toilet. 

Evening drew on apace.. Claude, returning at some- 
thing past five from his royal day, found the hair-dresser 
at his task, and so proceeded to dress before he visited his 
wife. Supper was served to monsieur and madame in 
their rooms. Claude ate heartily and gossiped with his 
valet while his wig was being adjusted, his face powdered, 
and his suit, the most costly that he had ever worn, together 
with his diamonds, put on. When all was to his taste, he 
despatched Rochard to inquire, with much ceremony, if 



Two Presentations 317 

madame would receive her lord. Madame would. And 
so Claude, with a smile of anticipation, drew from a little 
cabinet a large, flat, purple morocco box, and, with this 
in his hand, crossed the passage and tapped gently at 
the door of Deborah's boudoir. 

Julie opened it. Within, facing him, her back to the 
toilet-table, stood his wife. The room was not very light. 
Only four candles burned in it, and the disorder of the 
little place was but dimly exposed. Deborah was quite 
dressed. Her figure looked taller than usual, from the 
smallness of her hoops ; and, in her delicate, misty robes, 
with the uncertain light she appeared like some shadowy 
spirit. Claude stopped upon the threshold and looked at 
her in silence. She did not speak. And Julie, who had 
rightly thought her mistress the most beautiful woman in 
France, stood back in quick chagrin that Monsieur le 
Comte did not go into ecstasies of delight over madame. 

"More light, Julie. She is very well so, but there will 
be a trying glare in the Queen's salon/' was his first re- 
mark. 

Deborah herself felt disappointed, and turned aside as 
her maid hastily lit the various waxen tapers in the brackets 
on the walls. When the little place was as bright as it 
could be made, Claude went to his wife, placed a hand 
upon her shoulder, and drew her gently about till she once 
more faced him. Then he stood off a little, critically ex- 
amining her, and carefully refraining from any expression 
of his pleasure. Finally, when he had decided that art 
could do no more, he merely said, with a little smile, " You 
wear no jewels, Debby." 

She was silent with displeasure, knowing him to be well 
aware that she possessed none. He passed behind her, 
however, picked up the box that he had brought in with 
him, and put it into her hands. 

"It is my presentation gift," he said, a little wistfully. 

"Claude!" she whispered, without lifting the cover. 

"Open it open and put it on. It is growing late." 

Quite breathless now, she opened the box, and gave a 



318 The House of de Mailly 

low exclamation. Julie shrieked with rapture, and Claude, 
reading his wife's expression, was satisfied with the recep- 
tion of his gift. 

"Oh, they are much much more beautiful than Vir- 
ginia's!" murmured Deborah, as, half afraid to touch 
them, she lifted the jewels from the box. They consisted 
of three rows of white pearls, clasped with a larger one, 
the first string passing just comfortably about her throat, 
the second somewhat longer, and the third touching the 
lace edge of her dress. The ornament was simple enough, 
but the stones needed no pendants to set them off. In size, 
evenness, and purity they were incomparable. Deborah's 
heart was touched. He was very kind to her as kind 
as any real lover could be. Why must she always re- 
member that she was a secondary object to him? Why 
could she never forget that he had only brought her here 
that his exile might be ended? 

"Well then you are pleased?" he asked, still wistfully. 

"Oh yes! You are too good to me, Claude." 

"A kiss, then?" 

As she kissed him gently upon the forehead he seized 
one of her hands, clasped it tightly for an instant, and then, 
putting it quickly away from him, let her go. Julie ap- 
proached with her wraps, and the lackey announced that 
the coach was waiting. 

The apartments of the Queen in the palace of Versailles 
were on the south side of the rez-de-chausse, in the body 
of the palace, looking out along the south wing. They 
consisted of five rooms, the Salon de la Reine, where 
so many royal functions were held, being between her 
Majesty's bedroom and the Salle du Grand Couvert; while 
a third door on the north side opened into the antechamber 
which led out to the Court of the Staircase. This last 
small room was, to her Majesty's circle, what the CEil-de- 
Breuf was to the general court. 

The reception planned for this evening of Sunday, 
November 2 1st, was to be rather more ceremonious than 
such affairs became later in the season. There would be 



Two Presentations 319 

six presentations a large number; and, to the Queen's 
delight, not only her usual small circle of friends, but the 
entire Court, had assembled here for the first time in 
more than a year. Judging from her smiling appearance, 
it was not probable that the Queen guessed that the reason 
why her rooms were so frequented was that certain tongues 
had set afloat the rumor that a new candidate for the 
favorite's post was to be presented to-night to Queen and 
Court, to be judged by them as eligible or not. 

At one side of her salon, upon a raised dais, beneath a 
golden canopy, sat Marie Leczinska, royally dressed, look- 
ing only like the gentle Polish woman that she was, talking 
in low tones with Mme. de Boufflers, who would have liked 
very well to escape for a few moments into the throng. In 
two semicircular lines, from the throne to the door of the 
anteroom, leaving between them an open space, stood the 
dames d 'etiquette, or, more properly, the ladies of the pal- 
ace of the Queen, among whom, magnificently dressed, 
with the proceeds of her forthcoming task, was the Prin- 
cess de Conti. Behind these formidable rows the rest of 
the Court stood, packed in such close masses that many 
a hooped toilet was threatened with collapse. About the 
throne were gathered the Queen's immediate friends, the 
"Saints," as they were termed by members of the King's 
set; Mme. de Boufflers, from necessity; the Due and 
Duchesse de Luynes; M. and Mme. de la Vauguyon; 
the Due and Duchesse de Luxembourg; the Cardinal de 
Tencin; the Cardinal de Luynes; Mme. d'Alincourt; the 
inevitable Pere Griffet; and President Renault. One per- 
son, however, who was becoming a very familiar figure 
to the Queen's household, was not with them to-night. 
This was the Abbe Francois de Bernis, whose connection 
with Mme. de Coigny had never been discussed in that part 
of the palace. 

M. de Bernis was not, however, absent from Court on this 
interesting occasion. At the present moment he was in 
the antechamber, conversing in his peculiarly charming 
manner with a lady to whom he had just been presented by 



320 The House of de Mailly 

Richelieu, and who was to be presented to the Queen by 
Mme. de Conti Mme. Lenorraand d'Etioles. An ex- 
tremely pretty woman she was, thought the abbe ; and well 
dressed also, in her white satin, with stately hoops, and 
her neck covered with the sapphires that matched her eyes. 
While chatting with de Bernis she eyed Richelieu or 
made close scrutinies of the half-dozen other ladies in the 
room, with one of whom her stout husband was talking 
nervously. 

"Are all the women here, Monsieur 1'AbbeT' she asked, 
presently. 

De Bernis glanced about him. "1 have not yet seen 
Mme. de Mailly. She is late." 

"Ah, Mme. de Mailly the new Countess, is she not? 
I am curious to see her. She is a cousin of Mme. de Cha- 
teauroux." 

"Her husband is the cousin. His wife " de Bernis 
shrugged "ended his exile for him, and so brought him 
back to his famous Marie Anne. However, they say that 
he never sees her now, so furious is the jealousy of his fair 
colonial. You know it has been whispered, madame, that 
his Majesty is less insensible than the young de Mailly." 

"Ah! She is not lost yet, then?" inquired Mme. 
d'Etioles, hastily. 

"Not yet. But when you have been presented, ma- 
dame " and de Bernis finished the tactful sentence with a 
look which completed it admirably. 

Mme. d'Etioles smiled with affected indifference; and her 
next remark was interrupted by the entrance of some one 
whose arrival at the anteroom created a small sensation. 
Deborah, with Claude beside her, carrying her cloak, and 
Henri de Mailly a step behind, with her fan and scarf, 
floated delicately in, her laces trailing noiselessly about her, 
apparently unconscious of her beauty, or of the fact that 
every eye in the little place was upon her. Richelieu, 
abruptly leaving de Mouhy, hurried to her side, inwardly 
delighted with her appearance. To Claude's surprise, 
and perhaps a little to Deborah's also, he paid her no com- 



Two Presentations 321 

pliment whatever, but merely began a flying conversation 
on the people, the evening, and the season's promise of 
gayety. 

"So that is the Countess de Mailly," observed Mme. 
d'Etioles, after a long scrutiny. "How very a colonial 
she appears, and how inelegant she is with those small 
hoops ! Her manner is bourgeois, one can perceive at once. 
Present her to me, Monsieur 1'Abbe." 

De Bernis, with an inward smile and very willing obe- 
dience, crossed over to Mme. de Mailly, and, after his salu- 
tation and some murmured phrases that made Deborah 
flush, informed her of the request of Mme. d'Etioles. Debo- 
rah assented readily, for she hailed with no little relief the 
prospect of talking to a woman. She was not fond of the 
conspicuousness that Court ladies struggled for, and which 
resulted from being surrounded with men. A Maryland 
training was not that of Versailles.' 

In the end it was Richelieu who performed the introduction 
between the women. After their courtesies, Mme. d'Etioles 
addressed Deborah very cordially, and with so many pretty 
words about her toilet that de Bernis nodded to himself at 
her display of one of the traits which promised a Court suc- 
cess. While the little group stood talking in one corner of 
the anteroom the first lady was summoned for presenta- 
tion. No one but the abbe took any notice of the exit. He, 
however, whispered to Richelieu : 

" They say that the King will not be present this even- 
ing. Is it so?" 

The Duke took snuff, slowly. " My dear abbe", if I could 
read his Majesty's mind I should be first minister in a 
week/' 

De Bernis smiled, but looked unsatisfied as he turned 
again to the ladies. Presently, however, Richelieu contin- 
ued in his ear : " The King had supper with Monseigneur, 
who made certain dutiful remarks regarding his fiancee, 
the Infanta Marie. These, since they might be construed 
into casting a slur on his Majesty's devotion to the Queen, 
threw Louis into a^ well, a temper. One cannot tell wheth- 
21 



322 The House of de Mailly 

er he will recover or not. 1, like the rest of the Court, shall 
infinitely regret it if he does not receive these charming 
women." 

" Ah, my lord, has it ever occurred to you beneath the 
rose that Mme. de Mailly almost, in beauty and charm, 
approaches her cousin, the Duchesse de Chateauroux?" 

A quick frown passed over Richelieu's face, and he 
glanced sharply about him. Seeing no one who could 
have overheard the remark, however, he nodded shortly, 
saying in a tone that finished the matter : " Approaches 
perhaps. That, Monsieur 1'Abbe, many women might 
do." 

By this time, in the salon, the first four presentations 
were over. They had been utterly uninteresting, the cos- 
tumes commonplace, the courtesies only passably exe- 
cuted, and, worse than all, the King had not appeared. 
It was already long after ten o'clock, and there was small 
chance now of his entering on the scene. The Court 
yawned, not even behind its hand, and the very " saints " 
began to long for some better amusement. Rumor of in- 
terest to be found in such functions was certainly false. 

After the fourth presentation came a pause. 

"Are they finished?" inquired the Queen, hopefully, of 
the first lady. 

" Mme. de Conti announces still two more, your Majesty." 

"Two! That is not quite customary. However, bid her 
hasten them. This is very fatiguing." 

A moment later the Princess de Conti passed into the 
antechamber, the pages at her side. Two or three moments 
after came the clear announcement from the chamberlain, 
at the door : 

" Mme. de Conti has the honor to present to her Majesty 
the Comtesse de Nesle de Mailly." 

At that moment a small, tapestried door cut in the wall 
beside the throne, and designed for unceremonious escape 
or arrival of royalty, was pushed quietly open, and Louis 
appeared. He was not instantly perceived, for every eye 
in the room was just then fixed on Deborah, who, with 



Two Presentations 323 

Mme. de Conti at her side and a royal page bearing her 
train, entered and passed slowly up the salon towards the 
Queen. Half-way up the aisle, at a slight sign from her 
conductress, she made the first reverence. They were 
not simple to perform, these presentation courtesies. One 
was obliged to stop short in the walk, and, without any 
perceptible break in movement, sink slowly to the floor, 
rise again, and proceed. Many had been the nervous 
debutante who overbalanced in going down, and had to 
be rescued from disgrace by the skill of her lady of honor. 
The barest murmur approval from the gentlemen and 
assent from the ladies floated through the room as Deb- 
orah went gracefully down a second time. And the 
murmur continued, changed into one of surprise, when, 
Marie Leczinska being perceived to have risen, the King 
was discovered beside the throne, his whole attention con- 
centrated on Mme. de Mailly in her laces. Deborah her- 
self was extremely nervous. She alone, of all the roomful, 
had witnessed the entrance of the King. And now, as she 
finished the progress, her eyes, unconscious of what they 
were doing, remained fixed on Louis' face. The King was 
delighted. He answered the gaze with a slight smile, and 
beheld the young woman's eyes quickly fall, while the color 
rushed into her cheeks. The Queen, owing to the presence 
of her husband, stood, while Deborah made the last of the 
three grand courtesies. Her Majesty was greatly pleased 
with the youthful innocence of Mme. de Mailly's face and 
the odd simplicity of her costly dress. Therefore, when 
Deborah made the motion of kissing the hem of her gar- 
ment, she extended her hand instead, and afterwards 
murmured, graciously : 

" It is with delight, madame, that we receive you in our 
salon." 

And as Claude's wife repeated the formula of her grati- 
tude and devotion, his Majesty gayly advanced, and, with 
a "Permit me, Madame la Comtesse," kissed her, as was 
his custom, upon the left cheek. 

Deborah had not been informed of this possible part of 



324 The House of de Mailly 

the ceremony, and would have backed away in horror had 
not Mme. de Conti vigorously pinched her arm. A moment 
later they began the retreat. This time all the ladies of 
the palace must be included in the semi-courtesies which 
occurred with every four or five backward steps. It was 
a difficult performance for all three of the party, the pre- 
sented, the presenter, and the train-bearer. Moreover, it 
was generally done under a running fire of whispered 
comments, some of which generally reached the ears of 
the debutante. Only one speech, however, was audible to 
Deborah as she passed ; and over this she pondered, at in- 
tervals, for some days after, so that, when its full meaning 
was apparent to her, the shock of it was lessened. 

" Positively, my dear," observed Mme. Crequy to Mme. 
de Grammont, " I begin to believe that the post is heredi- 
tary in this family." 

It was with a sigh of perfect relief that Deborah saw 
the portiere of the antechamber fall before her, blotting 
out the view of the salon, and, as she turned to Claude, 
Mme. de Conti said to her, graciously: 

"Madame, permit me to make you my compliments on 
a most successful debut. It is a pleasure to have been 
your conductress." 

Mme. d'Etioles, hearing this from the corner wherein 
she still talked with de Bernis, at once advanced to her: 
" Mme. de Mailly, you put me in a difficult position. How 
am 1 to equal your success?" 

Deborah looked a little nonplussed, for the insincerity 
of the remark was perfectly apparent to her. Claude, 
however, said at once, "Mme. d'Etioles, you have but 
to enter the room, when any one who appeared before you 
will be utterly forgotten." 

Mme. Lenormand was satisfied, and responded to her 
summons without any apparent embarrassment. She was 
so complete a contrast to Mme. de Mailly that the two 
were not compared. Her manner, her bearing, her dress, 
all were perfectly conventional, all were of Court make, 
and of such extreme elegance that they defied criticism. 



Two Presentations 325 

There was neither affectation nor particular modesty in her 
air as she made her three graceful courtesies, was addressed 
by the Queen, and saluted by the King. Neither were 
there many comments while she performed the retreat. She 
was more or less a familiar figure to the Court, where, though 
the fact of her low birth hampered her at every turn, she 
was secretly a good deal admired by many. On her re- 
turn to the antechamber her husband received her, she 
exchanged a few cool words with him, a jest with de Bernis, 
and then, leaning upon the arm of the latter, returned to 
the salon, which was now a lively and informal scene. 

The presentation of Mme. d'Etioles having been the 
last of the evening, her Majesty descended from the dais, 
the lines of the ladies of the palace were broken, and the 
promenade began. Richelieu, taking a flattering leave 
of Claude and Deborah, made his way as rapidly as pos- 
sible to his Majesty, who, by a coincidence, was hurrying 
towards him. 

" Ah, du Plessis, I find that I did well to come. Where 
is d'Argenson?" 

"Just behind us, Sire. He is talking with the Count 
de Mailly." 

" Come with me, then. I must speak to them both, but 
separately. You understand? You will occupy one, 
while " 

"I understand, Sire." 

Claude and young Marc Antoine ceased their conver- 
sation as the King approached. After saluting both gen- 
tlemen, his Majesty turned to Claude. "Monsieur," he 
said, heartily, " we welcome your return with the greatest 
satisfaction. You read our letter well. Oh, we have not 
forgotten, you see. And we compliment you, monsieur, 
upon having won the most charming of ladies. She is 
English, Monsieur le Comte?" 

"From the colonies, Sire." 

"A pity they are so far away. One would like to visit 
them." 

Claude forced a smile, while Louis turned next to 



326 The House of de Mailly 

d'Argenson. Upon this Richelieu at once crossed to the 
Count and opened conversation with him so adroitly that 
the King's next remarks were happily inaudible. 

" And, by-trie-way, my dear Voyer put Mme. de Mailly, 
the new Countess, on the supper-list for Choisy." 

D'Argenson bowed profoundly, to conceal his expression. 
"And Mme. d'Etioles, Sire?" he ventured. 

Louis hesitated. "Not not as yet/' he said, finally. 




CHAPTER VI 

Snuff-Boxes 

T was the afternoon of November 22d, ten 
days after the King's return to Paris, not 
yet twenty -four hours since her Majesty's 
first salon at Versailles. The Abbe 1 de 
Bernis, companionless, was proceeding slow- 
ly out of the grand entrance of the palace and down 
the broad avenue towards the first fountain. It was 
a raw day, gray and bleak, with a northeast Austrian 
wind, and an atmosphere resembling the relations be- 
tween France and England. Nevertheless, the Abb6 
Francois was not walking hurriedly. If he were going 
into the town of Versailles, he was taking a circuitous 
route. The dress that he wore was decidedly non-clerical, 
being a rich costume of cramoisie satin, with very present- 
able Mechlin ruffles, and a heavily embroidered waist- 
coat. The wig was the only thing about him that pro- 
claimed his calling, and even that, just now, was concealed 
by his hat and the high collar of the black cloak in which 
he was muffled. 

De Bernis was on his way to spend an hour or two with 
Mme. de Coigny, whom of late he felt that he had neglect- 
ed; and as he walked he reflected upon certain objective 
but important things. In the Court circles, as they stood 
to-day, and as he carefully reviewed them, there were 
infinite possibilities for advancement. It was a time 
when no level-headed man could fail to take certain ad- 
vantages of the present situation for the betterment of his 
position. For the first time in ten years, the Court was 
open. No favorite ruled the King, and, by consequence, 



328 The House of de Mailly 

the kingdom. And here the way was almost as clear for 
the ambitious among men as among women. For he 
who should be the one to bring to the notice of the King 
of France his next more than queen might, by his own 
unaided effort, obtain all the honor, glory, and left-handed, 
subtle power now divided among half a dozen minister? 
and courtiers. 

By the time de Bernis got so far in his meditations 
he had reached the Star, and was about to enter the 
grand park, with its love -named allies, and the gloomy 
bosquets, so enticing in summer, now so grimly gray. 
The bare, black trees and shrubs, the frozen ground, the 
unshaded statues, poetic only when set in plumy foliage, 
hideous and indelicate now all suddenly flashed over the 
abba's senses as being like the remains of a dead passion, 
stripped of all the softening graces and secret beauty lent 
by love when love is hot. The simile turned his mind 
again to the woman whom he was going to see Victo- 
rine, the little Victorine, whose whimsicalities had won his 
heart, but who was as tiresome as any other woman when 
she became to him devoted, submissive, content to obey, 
without even the desire to rouse jealousy in him. Was he 
tired of Victorine? Was her influence gone? Was she no 
longer of any use? De Bernis paused for an instant and 
thought. Of use? There was only one usage to which he 
could put a woman of Mme. de Coigny's position. That 
was make, or at least attempt to make, her the great- 
est lady at Court. Would Victorine de Coigny be capa- 
ble of filling that place at his request? Had she influence 
enough in high places? Would she be fresh enough to 
his Majesty to please? Should he make the attempt? 

By the time the abb6 reached his temporary destina- 
tion he had made shift to answer his not very creditable 
questions and come to a kind of hazy determination con- 
cerning his course. 

Mme. de Coigny was at home and would receive him. 
He was shown directly from the antechamber to the little 
salon off her boudoir. Here he seated himself by the 



Snuff-Boxes 329 



heavily curtained window, after throwing hat and cloak 
upon a chair beside the tall escritoire. Madame kept him 
waiting. He crossed his knees, and pulled from one of 
his pockets a little article wrapped in a feminine hand- 
kerchief. Returning the wrapper to the pocket, he sat 
idly examining what he held. It was a cross of golden 
filigree, apparently of Eastern workmanship, and set 
with red stones. The sun, at the moment, was near to 
breaking through the clouds, and he held the little thing 
up to watch the light play over the garnets, when the 
boudoir door opened and Victorine came quietly in. 

"What have you there, Francois?" 

He rose, looked approvingly at her toilet, and held out 
the cross. 

" I found this, by chance, two or three days ago among 
some old possessions of mine sent from Tours. Would 
you care for it? I offer it not as a symbol, you under- 
stand. Merely an ornament. It is not valuable." 

"Thank you. It is valuable to me. 1 will keep it al- 
ways like all of your gifts." 

He smiled slightly as she seated herself at a little dis- 
tance from him. She was even paler than usual, and 
looked as though she might have been suffering physically. 

"You are not well to-day?" he asked, gently. 

"Oh yes; perfectly. I am never ill. 1 scarcely saw 
you last night. What did you think of the presentations? 
Is not Mme. de Mailly lovely?" 

The abbe shrugged. "Very pretty. Parvenu, how- 
ever. 1 prefer Mme. d'Etioles ; but you before them all, 
Victorine." 

A smile broke over her face, and, for a moment, trans- 
figured it. " Ah, Francois, that is as you were. Lately, 
sometimes, I had thought you changed towards me." 

He saw here an approaching opportunity for his dif- 
ficult proposition. Rising, he drew another chair close 
to her, seated himself in it, and negligently took one of 
her hands into both of his. " Dear Victorine, 1 shall never 
change towards you," he said, in a low voice. " But there 



330 The House of de Mailly 

are some things some things which you do not quite 
consider." 

"What things? Tell me, Francois. Indeed, I will 
consider them. Only tell me all that is in your heart. 
1 belong to you. You know that," she whispered. 

De Bernis moved uneasily. Tell what was in his heart? 
He was wiser than that ; but his way was not easy. " You 
know, little one, that 1 am not a powerful man not an 
influential one. Yet 1 am ambitious. I have but a small 
place to keep. There is a great one which 1 wish to win. 
A cardinal's hat, Victorine! That is my dream! You 
see, 1 am opening my heart to you." 

"Ah, if 1 could make you a cardinal if I could make 
you Pope, Francois! If 1 could make you the greatest 
man in the world!" 

"You have made me the happiest," he answered, ten- 
derly, touched a little by her unselfishness. 

"Then, if that is true, Francois, what more can you 
desire? The beretta could do no more for you." 

"I am caught, my philosopher. And yet and yet 
ambition does remain. 1 am not quite the happiest of 
men. 1 would wish to give yott a higher place. 1 wish 
to be worthy of you. 1 would give you, for your slave, 
the most powerful man in France." 

"Ah," she said, smiling, "I could love him no better 
than I love you. My dear, if I were given my choice be- 
tween you and the King of France, do you not know which 
I should choose?" 

He bent over her quickly. " Which would you choose?" 

"How can you ask? You do not doubt me?" 

" Nay, but, Victorine, if, by being favorite of the Court, 
of the King, you could further your own interests, if you 
could further mine if I asked it of you " 

He broke off suddenly. Her face was changing. 

"What do you mean?" she demanded, and there was 
something in the tone which made him thankful that he 
had gone no further. " Are " she breathed convulsively, 
but went on in a lighter manner "are you testing me? 



Snuff- Boxes 331 

Are you trying to learn my nature how far I would sink? 
Ah, Francois, you, who have given me such joy, the only 
happiness that I have known, have given me also my 
greatest sorrow. Do not think, because 1 renounced every- 
thing for you, that 1 am like the women of the Court. 1 
loved you I love you you always more dearly than 
honor. But, Francois, it was only for love. I am proud 
that you had no position to give me. 1 swear to you, by 
what I still hold sacred, that if the post won by Mme. de 
Chateauroux were offered me by his Majesty, on his 
knees, I would prefer to die than to accept such a thing." 
She passed her hand over her forehead, and lay back again 
in her chair, smiling a little at his earnest frown. "1 do 
not censure Mme. de Chateauroux, Francois, you under- 
stand. She loved the King as 1 love you." 

The actual veracity of this last statement was an im- 
material thing. It was Victorine's belief in it that did 
her honor. Francois did not remark upon it, neither did 
he voice any further confessions of ambition. Mme. de 
Coigny was singularly blind to her interests and his. She 
was not the type of woman that belonged to a court. True, 
had her position been rather more influential, no man 
need have desired better things than would have fallen 
to the lot of the sagacious abbe". But, being only the 
wife of a Marquis field-marshal, and too single-hearted 
for wisdom, she was a luxury undesirable for a rising man. 
For an instant de Bernis' thoughts were directed to the 
husband. After all, his position as one of the favorite 
courtiers, and one really esteemed, would have been dif- 
ficult to overcome in order that madame might be installed 
alone in the palace. It was as well, perhaps, that her 
trend of mind was such as he had discovered it to be. It 
was also as well that, in the midst of the reflective pause, 
the antechamber door should unexpectedly have opened, 
and M. de Coigny himself have entered the room. 

"Ah! Pardon me, madame. I was unaware that you 
were engaged." 

Victorine rose quickly, looked at her husband, saw his 



332 The House of de Mailly 

eyes meet those of the abbe 1 , and remained silent. De 
Coigny was about to turn upon his heel and leave them, 
to her great relief, when Francois spoke : 

" I beg, monsieur, that you will not let me deprive you 
of madame's society. I am just on the way to Paris, and 
was taking my leave as you came." 

He finished, quite heedless of Victorine's imploring 
glance, which, however, de Coigny caught. 

" If you are going to the city, you must first have some- 
thing a glass of wine. Yes, yes! It will not be long. 
I will order at once." 

In spite of de Bernis' earnest protestation, Victorine 
summoned the valet and ordered wine and rissoles for all 
three. 

"You will, then, allow me to partake with you?" asked 
the Mar6chal, with a quizzical scrutiny of his wife, who 
merely nodded, saying, dully : 

"We are delighted, monsieur." 

De Bernis was displeased. It was never agreeable to him 
to face Jules de Coigny, and he would have been glad to 
escape at once after that destructive silence of Victorine's. 
He had all his ideas to readjust, a fresh plan to make, and 
a verse or two to compose for extemporaneous use during 
trie evening. However, he made better show of being at 
ease for the next quarter of an hour than did madame; 
and he managed to carry on a very creditable conversation 
about the Vauvenaigues salon while sipping his wine and 
crumbling the pate. He took his departure, without undue 
haste, at just the right moment, kissed madame's hand 
with ceremony, and bowed himself away from the Mar6- 
chal, feeling that he should not often see that small salon 
again. It would not be wise. 

When the abb was gone, and Jules and his wife were 
left alone together, Victorine looked uneasily about her, 
hoping for a means of escape. 

" I must ask your pardon, madame, once more, for having 
been so stupid as to have intruded upon you. Geiome did 
not inform me " 



Snuff-Boxes 333 

" It is of no consequence, monsieur. As you heard, the 
abbe was on the point of departure. Did you, by some 
chance, wish to speak with me?" 

" The matter was not of great importance. However, I 
thought that it might please you to learn that Mme. de 
Chateauroux is likely soon to be reinstated. This after- 
noon his Majesty was good enough to talk with me freely 
en tete-a-tete. He misses the Duchess very much. He is 
preparing, quietly, to place her at her post again. She is 
your friend. I thought that it might give you pleasure to 
know. Of course, what I have told must not be repeated." 

" Thank you, Jules. I am very glad. Marie has been 
my good friend always." 

"It was she, I believe, who presented to you M. de 
Bernis?" 

"Yes," replied Victorine, looking up at him in surprise. 

There was a pause. De Coigny should have been mak- 
ing his departure. Yet still he stood there, as awkwardly 
as possible, half turned from his wife, who sat regarding 
him in some astonishment, and without the desire to say a 
word. The marshal's head drooped a little. He put one 
hand to his forehead, and seemed to be going through an 
inward struggle. Several moments passed. Madame 
moved restlessly. Finally she said : 

"What is it, Jules? What have you further to say to 
me?" 

Coigny shook his head and passed his hand over his eyes. 
" It is immaterial, Victorine. I have already said it once. 
I will not repeat myself. It is immaterial, I say. Good- 
afternoon." 

"Good-afternoon." 

And thus it was to the vague relief of the woman that 
he left her there, in her small salon, alone. 

The first part of the foregoing conversation might have 
proved very serviceable, at this time, to the Abbe" de Bernis. 
He was not, however, so fortunate as even to chance upon 
the idea of such a thing as the reinstallation of la Cha- 
teauroux. As he drove towards Paris he continued his 



334 The House of de Mailly 

meditations on the topic which had occupied him all day. 
They had now taken a surer trend. One doubtful possi- 
bility was done away with. He found himself left with two 
others, less dubious, but, had he the wit to surmise it, pos- 
sibilities which half the men of the Court were quietly plan- 
ning, even as he himself, to make their own. 

De Bernis dined at the Caf de la R6gence, a popular and 
fashionable resort ; and thereafter, being now happily inde- 
pendent of the Lazariste and all such houses, betook him- 
self to his rooms in the Rue des Bailleuls, not a great way 
from the H6tel de Ville, and near the old Louvre. After 
adding, here, a few touches to his toilet, he took a chair to 
the H6tel de Tours, where M. de Vauvenargues held his 
brilliant salons. 

It was a night when nothing was happening at Versailles. 
The Queen, satisfied for the time with her success of the 
previous evening, played cavagnole with Renault, and 
prepared for an extra hour in her oratory. His Majesty 
had claimed de Berryer for the night, and gone off on one 
of those strange expeditions in which he occasionally in- 
dulged. The great palace thus being desolate, all the 
world bethought itself of Paris, and, in the same instant, 
of the Hotel de Tours and its host. The rooms there were 
crowded by the time de Bernis arrived. Every possible 
circle, from the Court to the philosophical, was in evidence. 
In the first room, where Monsieur was obliged to receive 
till a late hour, the lesser and most professional lights of 
society mingled in a heated throng. In the second salon, 
connected with the first by a small, yellow-hung ante- 
chamber, the gaming-tables were set, around which, talk- 
ing or at play, were grouped the aristocratic dwellers of 
Versailles. Among these was Claude, sunk in piquet, and 
Deborah, conducted by Mme. de Jarnac, and hence claim- 
ing place with the bluest-blooded dames of the day ; which 
fact, however, incredible as it seemed, failed to make her 
happy. 

While the crowded and uncomfortable devotees were 
circling in slow masses through the larger apartments, 



Snuff- Boxes 335 

there had been gradually collecting, in the yellow ante- 
chamber, a small group of gentlemen who, as it happened, 
had more at stake than gold. The tacit subject of their ap- 
parently superficial conversation was the decision of the 
next ruler of Versailles and the consequent determination 
of their own forthcoming influence in Court circles. Here, 
foremost of all, with most at stake, was Richelieu Riche- 
lieu in violet satin and silver, with pearls, point de Bru- 
xelles, and snuff-box. Next to him, upon a tabouret, appar- 
ently half asleep, indolent, smiling, was de Gvres, with 
opposition to Richelieu coursing in fiery determination 
through every vein. Yonder sat d'Epernon and Pen- 
thievre ; while, completing the group, were Holbach, who 
had left Montesquieu at the point of interaction between 
body and soul, and Francois de Bernis, swelling with van- 
ity at being seen in such company. All about this impene- 
trable band, during their conversation, incomprehensible 
to him who should catch but a syllable or two of it, wan- 
dered men and women of various degrees, curious, envious, 
anxious, one and all willing to have given half a fortune to 
have been able to join this party, which represented the 
dwellers in sacred, nearest places to royalty, to France's 
King. Possibly these men were unconscious of their 
greatness. Certainly they were too interested in them- 
selves and their plans to enjoy, for the moment, the appar- 
ent adulation of outsiders. It was like a meeting of the 
Council of Ten held in the middle of St. Mark's Square of 
an afternoon. 

Penthievre had finished an anecdote of the far-off 
days of Gabrielle d'Estr6es, containing a clever apo- 
logue, for which he was mentally applauded by the 
group. 

"A clever woman!" murmured Richelieu, dreamily. 
" 1 cannot help thinking that if Sully had taken her part, 
instead of opposing her -" 

"Marie de M6dicis would have made less difficulty." 

Richelieu stared at de Gevres, who had interrupted som- 
nolently, and remarked, with some insolence : " You miss 



336 The House of de Mailly 

the point, I think. Her Majesty is scarcely included in 
the affair." 

"Noailles Sully. Marie de Medicis Fate," was the 
retort. 

Richelieu shrugged. "It was too vague, Jacques." 

" Let us return to the present. We shall find it less com- 
plicated/' suggested Holbach, quietly. 

The others acquiesced with alacrity. Their problem 
was too important to trust to forgotten history for solu- 
tion. At this moment Richelieu, with serious intent, took 
snuff, raising the cover of his box in so significant a man- 
ner that it was impossible that all should not perceive its 
miniature to have been removed, leaving the tarnished gold 
alone visible under the pearl-surrounded glass. 

"Ah!" murmured d'Epernon, "what has become of the 
Duchess?" 

"1 shall present the picture, as a mark of my high es- 
teem," said Richelieu, "to M. d'Agenois." 

There was a general smile. Then de Ge"vres remarked, 
slowly: "1 will purchase that miniature of you for my 
own use, du Plessis." 

"What! Have you not one of her?" cried de Bernis. 

De Gvres pulled out his own box and handed it to the 
abbe. In it was an exquisitely painted portrait of Marie 
Anne de Nesle, done just before she was created Duchesse 
de Chateauroux. 

"What, then, would you do with another?" 

"1 should present it, in a few weeks' time, to the King." 

"Diable! You are not stupid enough to believe that 
she is to be reinstated?" 

"1 am sufficiently stupid to believe exactly that." 

Richelieu looked seriously annoyed. For a long time 
he and de Ge"vres had, from policy, been the best of friends 
and strong allies. They, together, one summer evening, 
on the terraces of Versailles, had first presented the Mar- 
quise de la Tournelle to the King. And since then they 
had worked constantly on her behalf. De Ge'vres, how- 
ever, having been the more moderate of the two, was now 



Snuff- Boxes 337 

in a position which Richelieu had recklessly forfeited 
sure of favor in any case. 

Baron d'Holbach, seeing the situation a little uncom- 
fortable, broke the pause by producing his own snuff- 
box and displaying its cover. "Messieurs/' he said, 
" we are carrying with us to-night the history of France. 
Behold!" 

All leaned forward to look upon the delicately painted 
features. They were those of Pauline Felicite de Vin- 
timille, the sister and predecessor of Mme. de Chateau- 
roux. 

"It is old-fashioned, gentlemen, but I have always 
liked the face so young so gentle so sad beneath the 
smile," observed the philosopher. 

"1 can complete the trio," said Penthievre, laughing, 
and producing another round lid. "1 was reminiscent 
to-night, and selected this from my collection." 

" Parbleu ! it is entertaining," remarked d'Epernon, 
while the others were silent, thinking a little, perhaps, of 
days not long past ; for the third miniature was of Louise 
Julie de Nesle, Comtesse de Mailly, Claude's cousin and 
sister-in-law. 

"D'Epernon and de Bernis, let us see yours. Perhaps 
they will have a new bearing on the subject, and will bring 
a prophecy." 

D'Epernon shook his head. "My top is merely amber, 
without decoration." 

"And you, Monsieur l'Abb6?" 

De Bernis flushed. " Mine is personal, gentlemen. 1 
shall change it." 

"Let us see ah! Mme. de Coigny. Did you take it 
from Mailly-Nesle?" 

"No, M. de Ge'vres. Mme. Victorine was so good as 
to present it," was the slightly haughty reply. 

"But you are going to change it, you know. Tell us, 
what new face is to displace this?" 

"I will tell you, M. de Richelieu, when you have con- 
fessed what one is to fill your empty space." 
22 



338 The House of de Mailly 

"Ah, yes make your prophecy, du Plessis," drawled 
de Ge"vres. 

" Well then, if you will know/' Richelieu lowered his tone, 
" the post is going to continue for a fourth turn in the fami- 
ly de Mailly. Within three months 1 shall place here the 
face of Count Claude's wife." 

"Ah!" 

"Really!" 

"The colonial?" 

"Perhaps!" 

"And now you, abbe?" 

" 1 differ from M. de Richelieu. 1 should rather suggest 
the lady now standing behind M. d'Epernon." 

The party glanced discreetly about to behold a pretty 
woman in pink brocade, who was laughing at some re- 
mark from the Abbe Coyer. 

"What! The last debutante? Mme. d'Etioles?" 

"Bah! Pardon, de Bernis, but she is of the bour- 
geoisie." 

" And is Mme. de Mailly of higher birth?" 

There was a moment of unexpected silence. Then 
Richelieu said, slowly: "1 had understood that she was 
of excellent blood. Six generations, it has been said." 

Penthievre and d'Epernon nodded agreement. Such, 
certainly, had been the rumor. De Bernis looked a little 
nonplussed. 

"Then Mme. de Mailly is your choice?" he asked of 
Richelieu. 

"Oh," the Duke shrugged, "that is a little direct, Mon- 
sieur 1'Abbe. 1 much admire Mme. de Mailly. His Maj- 
esty admires her." 

"She is on the supper-list for Choisy," murmured Pen- 
thievre. 

"Ah! Where did you hear it?" 

" From young d'Argenson. The King was pleased with 
her appearance at the presentation." 

"And it was not by his arrangement, either." 

"1 wonder," asked d'Holbach, musingly, of the air, 



Snuff-Boxes 339 

"if Claude de Mailly will let her go, without expostula- 
tion, to one of the Choisy suppers." 

"It is doubtful/' replied de Gevres, yawning. 

Richelieu said nothing, but under his languid exterior 
was a fierce determination that Mme. de Mailly, Claude 
or no Claude, should go to a Choisy supper, and the first 
to which she was asked. 

" And now, Monsieur TAbbe, what attributes for the post 
has your pretty bourgeoise, Mme. d'E doles?" inquired 
d'Epernon. 

Softly, as he answered, the abbe tapped Victorine's min- 
iature. " One attribute, Monsieur le Due, which 1 think 
that Mme. de Mailly lacks, and without which a woman 
is to be frank useless. Mme. d'Etioles has ambition 
to win the place." 

"You know that? She confesses it?" asked Richelieu, 
leaning suddenly forward, and betraying more interest 
than, considering the proximity of de Gevres, was digni- 
fied. 

"Confessed it? Not in words. There was but her eye, 
her animation, her color, the quivering of the nostril an 
air hard to describe, easy to read, which you all know, 
messieurs." 

"But yes!" 

" And she has the tact to compliment a rival. That is 
excellent." 

" True. But Mme. de Mailly is a far newer type. She 
is young, ingenue, nai've; would not understand even 
that compliments were required. And novelty, gentle- 
men, novelty, is what we all, not less than his Majesty, 
require." 

"That is true. 1 feel it necessary at this moment. 
Supper must surely have been announced by this time. 
I go to seek 'la Poule',"* observed de Ge"vres, rising. 

"Is Mme. de Flavacourt here?" whispered d'Epernon of 
Penthievre as, the conference over, the little group broke up. 

* Louis XV. 's nickname for Mme. de Flavacourt. 



34 The House of de Mailly 

"Yes. She has just passed into the other room with 
d'Henin." 

"Ge*vres follows her." 

"Of course, since he is avowedly for la Chateauroux." 

"And Richelieu approaches the little American. Be- 
hold, he is going to be her supper companion." 

" Now it is only left for the abbe" to seek Mme. d'Etioles." 

"Dastard! He deserts his colors. See, he is coming 
with Mme. d'Egmont. Coigny not being here, it seems 
he lays siege to the second lady of that family." 

"Hein? It is very warm here. Au revoir. I am going 
to seek the Marquis de Mailly -Nesle you see, I am on 
two sides so." 

Penthievre disappeared in the throng which had begun 
to move more rapidly to the supper apartment in the rear. 
"It now behooves me," murmured d'Epernon to himself, 
" to take pity on de Bernis' choice. But that will be an 
effort. No. I will be original. 1 will go in alone. 1 will 
be the only man of all Versailles to-night who has no 
woman in his brain 1" 



CHAPTER VII 

Concerning Monsieur Maurepas 




OTW1THSTANDING de Richelieu's confi- 
dence in the rising of the new de Mailly star 
in the Versailles heavens, and Francois de 
Bernis' more reserved and more diffuse 
plans, it appeared, after all, that de Gevres' 
stubborn loyalty to the old favorite was not misplaced. To 
the vast chagrin of most of the court, and the strong anx- 
iety of a small portion of it, his Majesty, attended by his 
private suite and Jean Frederic Phelippeaux de Maurepas, 
went from Versailles back to the Tuileries on the after- 
noon of November 23d. 

M. de Maurepas had the honor of driving alone with the 
King. The roads were bad, and the royal coach grievously 
heavy, so that the poor minister came to be in difficulties 
for entertaining conversation towards the last stages of the 
three-hour journey. Louis listened good-naturedly to his 
various remarks, but at length took occasion to switch 
the topic round to that one of all others which Maurepas 
had been trying to avoid. 

"'Tis said, Phelippeaux," observed the King, blinking, 
"that our dear friend the Duchesse de Chateauroux, and 
you, our other dear friend, are not amicably disposed 
towards one another. How is this?" 

"Sire, believe me the little difficulty began through 
no fault of mine, if through the fault of any one." 

"Relate it to me." 

Maurepas coughed. The situation was undeniably dis- 
agreeable, but an effort must be made. The less hesita- 
tion, at all events, the better. "Your Majesty, it had to 



342 The House of de Mailly 

do with a house, the H6tel Maurepas, which three years 
ago was the Hotel Mazarin, but fell to me at Mme. de Ma- 
zarin's death, thus obliging Mme. de la Tournelle to leave 
it on the demise of her grandmother. We are connected, 
you know, Sire." 

For a moment or two the King remained silent, and his 
companion sat dreading an outbreak of displeasure. Pres- 
ently, however, Louis remarked, without much expression : 
" Since her leaving the Hdtel de Mazarin was the occasion 
of her appearance at Versailles, one might imagine that 
madame would strive to modify her anger. Is that all the 
reason, monsieur?" 

" Latterly, Sire, it has been intimated to me that madame 
thought me her opponent a politically. Need 1 assure 
your Majesty that my only political interest is yours, and 
that in so far as Mme. de Chateauroux has been essential 
to your good pleasure, in so far she has been esteemed by 
me. Unfortunately, however, it is whispered that madame 
believes me the instrument of her departure from Metz. 
This, indeed, is utterly false, 1 as " 

Louis, who was looking slightly amused, raised his hand : 
" Enough, Phelippeaux. 1 am aware of some things. We 
shall try, during the forthcoming week, to give you the 
opportunity of proving to madame your entire innocence 
in that regrettable affair. 1 wish you to become reconciled 
to madame, Phelippeaux, for, to be plain, 1 can do without 
neither of you." 

Maurepas acknowledged this high compliment with some 
little pleasure; but, as the horses hurried forward, and 
silence fell between the two, the Marquis found himself at 
liberty to think some by no means agreeable thoughts. 
It was quite true that, even in former times, when there 
was no open rupture between them, love had never been 
lost between the King's minister and the favorite. Mau- 
repas found his Court path very much smoother when the 
Duchess was not moving just ahead of him, and, despite 
his loyalty to the King's wishes, he had small desire that 
the King's well-beloved should return to Versailles. For 



Concerning Monsieur Maurepas 343 

that reason this present journey to the Tuileries, its object 
now becoming perfectly plain, began to assume a decidedly 
unpleasant appearance. Maurepas was well able to cope 
with the favorite in his own way; but his way was not 
that of the King. How, then, was he to gain his point, 
satisfy himself, and, at the same time, please that difficult 
pair, Marie Anne de Mailly and Louis de Bourbon, equally 
well, as he needs must? 

During this soliloquy the royal coach passed the barrier 
and entered the dark streets of the city. After twenty 
minutes of silent and rapid driving, Louis touched his 
minister's arm. 

"Look, Phelippeaux, there is the very house towards 
which, to-morrow, 1 take my way/' 

Whether by accident or by order, they were passing 
through the little Rue du Bac on their way from the bridge 
to the palace. Maurepas obediently leaned out of the win- 
dow and gazed up at the narrow house now inhabited by the 
most celebrated woman in France. The lower story of the 
building was dark. The upper one was lighted brilliantly, 
in front. 

"Possibly she is ill," muttered Maurepas, under his 
breath. 

And Maurepas' surmise was right. La Chateauroux 
was ill. A long and fruitless course of d'Agenois, of re- 
pining for her lost position, of battling for herself, single- 
handed, against the drawn ranks of the dames d' etiquette, 
with but a momentary glimpse of the King on his way to 
mass after his return, with the news of the beginning of the 
winter fetes, and, finally, more than all, the possibility 
that she had been effaced from Louis' memory by the ap- 
pearance of a rival these things had preyed upon her 
woman's nature till they threw her into a nervous fever 
which medicine but increased, and for which there was 
but one remedy. Sad weeks, indeed, these were. Her 
brave defiance was broken. Day after day, through the 
long gray hours, she would lie in her bedroom, silent, im- 
patient, answering sharply if spoken to, otherwise mute, 



344 The House of de Mailly 

uncomplaining, and melancholy. Young d'Agenois was 
with her constantly, and now importuned marriage till at 
times she was near consent. What frayed strand of hope 
still held her back it were difficult to surmise. How had it 
been with her had she accepted this young man's eagerly 
proffered self? Had the tragedy of Versailles been doubled 
or avoided? Had de Bernis or Richelieu won his wager? 
Useless to guess. At eleven o'clock on this night of the 
23d of November young d'Agenois left his lady's fauteuil, 
and the light in the top story of the Rue du Bac went out 
for a little time. 

At twelve o'clock on the following day, while madame 
was meditating another struggle with the clothes that so 
tortured her fevered body, Fouchelet, down-stairs, was 
called to the door. At the entrance stood a muffled man, 
bearing in his hand a note for the Duchesse de Chateau- 
roux. Fouchelet was well trained. He gave no sign, but 
his heart grew big, for his own position's sake, when he 
recognized the sharp features of Bachelier, the King's con- 
fidential valet. 

"There is no answer?" queried madame's man, peering 
out. 

"Yes/' was the reply. And so Bachelier waited in the 
lower hall. 

In ten minutes the lackey returned. Bachelier rose. 
"Well?" he asked. 

"At nine o'clock this evening," was the message. And 
with it, and a nod of satisfaction, the royal servant left the 
house. 

He left much behind him that may be easily enough 
imagined. Enough to say that the designated evening 
hour found the once gloomy little hdtel in a most unwonted 
condition. The whole lower floor was lighted softly, with 
not too many candles, for Mme. de Chateauroux's face bore 
the ravages of anxiety and illness. The salon, in per- 
fect order, was empty. Not so the little dining-room, a 
charming place, with elaborate decorations of palest mauve 
and gold, a crystal chandelier, and a tiny round table in its 



Concerning Monsieur Maurepas 345 

centre, heaped with a profusion of flowers, and the most del- 
icate collation that Mme. de Flavacourt and the chef to- 
gether could devise. No wines had been brought up, for 
they were kept cooler below. But here, upon her chaise- 
longue, no rouge upon her flaming cheeks to-night, hair 
elaborately coiff ed for the first time in many days, swathed 
all in laces, covered with a piece of pale, embroidered satin, 
arms and hands transparent in the light, her whole form 
more delicate than ever before, reclined Marie Anne de 
Mailly waiting. 

Minutes passed and the hour drew near. Madame 
moved nervously, her hands wandering over the shad- 
owy garments. The whole hidden household breathed 
uneasiness, anticipation. Clocks chimed nine. The hour 
was past. He was late no ! Mme. de Chateauroux sat 
up. There had been the faintest knock at the door. Fou- 
chelet hurried through the hall. For an instant the Duch- 
ess tightly clenched her hands. Then her face changed 
utterly in expression. All anxiety and eagerness slipped 
away from it. It had become calm, cool, indifferent, 
showing strong marks of physical suffering. The eyes 
burned with determination, but her mouth wore a peculiar, 
disdainful smile that few women, in her place, would have 
dared to use. 

Now a black-cloaked figure hurried through the salon, 
stopping on the threshold of the room where madame lay. 
Here the protecting hat and coat were rapidly thrown 
aside, and the new-comer hastened to madame. 

"Anne!" cried the King, gazing down at her in delight. 

The cheeks of la Chateauroux grew a little redder, her 
eyes a little more brilliant. "Your Majesty will pardon 
me that 1 do not rise?" she said. 

"Bachelier told me of your illness. I am sincerely 
sorry," he returned, examining her closely. 

"Will your Majesty be pleased to sit?" 

"'Majesty,' Anne? 'Majesty?' What nonsense is 
this? Have you become a waiting-maid? It is 'Louis' 
when we are together, you and 1." 



346 The House of de Mailly 

Madame drew away a little. "You wish that?" she 
asked, looking at him keenly. 

' Tis what 1 have come for. Ah, madame Versailles 
is empty now! I have been bored they have bored me 
to death." He turned away with one of those abrupt 
transitions from tenderness to fretfulness which were 
so characteristic of him as a king. He yawned as he 
drew a small chair up to his Duchess, and seated him- 
self heavily thereon. "I wish you to return to Ver- 
sailles," he said, with an air of putting an end to the 
matter. 

Mme. de Chateauroux glanced at him and slightly 
shrugged her shoulders. "That will not be so easily 
arranged." 

"What! You do not wish to return?" 

" Why should I? Life there was not at all easy. Many 
changes would be necessary before 1 should consent to 
live again inside its walls." 

"What changes? Do you want larger rooms? More 
servants? A cabriolet added to the berline? Your cook 
was always very good." 

"Ta! Ta! Ta! Rooms ! coaches ! It is people I 
mean, Sire." 

"Oh!" Louis' face grew more grave. Madame lay 
perfectly still, watching him. He was obliged, after a 
moment or two of painful silence, to ask, sulkily, " What 
people do you want dismissed?" 

"Your Majesty might easily surmise that." 

"I? How am I to surmise your rancors, Anne?" 

"My dismissal from Metz " 

"It was against my wishes, I swear to you!" he put in, 
hastily. 

"Then your repentance for scandal," she murmured, 
quickly, smiling beneath her lids. As the King flushed 
she was wise enough to waive the point. "1 am aware 
that you were so generous as to wish me to remain there," 
she observed. "But the man who did cause my depart- 
ure, my dis " 



Concerning Monsieur Maurepas 347 

"Was Chartres, madame. I am unable to dismiss a 
prince of the blood from Versailles even for you." 

"I did not refer to Monseigneur. It is Maurepas that 
I want sent off." 

" Maurepas ! Mordi ! Do you fancy he had anything 
to do with it?" 

" He had all to do with it. He hates me, that man. I 
vow that until he has left Versailles I will not show my 
face there at any cost." 

Louis grew red with irritation. "You are absolutely 
wrong, Anne. De Maurepas had no more to do with your 
going than I. I swear it!" 

"Then who was the man that instigated Monseigneur 
to force his way into your apartment?" 

The King hesitated. Richelieu was a great favorite 
with him. Were it possible he would have kept the truth 
of the matter from madame. If it were not possible he 
sighed, mentally Richelieu must go. He could, at all 
events, be spared better than Maurepas, who had the in- 
valuable ability of steering the water-logged ship of state 
very skilfully between the oft-threatening Scylla of debt 
and Charybdis of over-taxation. 

Presently Louis rose and moved over to the table. Here, 
after looking absently about, he picked up an egg filled 
with cream (a new and delicate invention). Taking up 
a knife, he struck off the egg's head. This was a favorite 
trick of his, and one which he performed with unerring 
daintiness. "Look, Anne. Had it been Maurepas who 
forced our consigne, this is what we should have done 
to him." He smilingly held up the end of the shell for 
her to see, and then, putting it down, began to eat the 
cream. 

"I had not heard that any one had been beheaded of 
late. I thought it was out of fashion," observed madame, 
with apparent interest. 

"True enough. I'll send Maurepas to tell you about 
everything. But, look you, if I have that person exiled, 
if I present you with a list of courtiers for you to do as you 



348 The House of de Mailly 

wish with, if I reinstate you mistress of Versailles, will 
you in turn grant me two requests?" 

"Let me hear them." 

" You must see no more of d'Agenois the creature whom 
I once exiled. And Ph61ippeaux and you must be recon- 
ciled. I will not have quarrels in my household. Will you 
agree to these things?" 

He looked at her sharply, and she returned the glance 
with one that he could not read. "The first d'Agenois 
pouf! You may have him. He wearies me inexpres- 
sibly," she said, after a pause. " But Maurepas Besides, 
I have not yet signified a wish to return to Versailles. A 
month ago I wrote to Richelieu that I never should." 

"Really! To Richelieu! And what was his reply?" 

"Nothing. He did not reply." 

"A pity. Well then you refuse to come back?" 

"No. That is, I would not refuse, but that I am not 
fond of M. de Maurepas." 

She had carried her stubborn insolence too far at last. 
The King frowned, threw away his egg, and marched 
steadily over to where he had thrown his hat and cloak. 
" It is as well. I gave you your choice, madame. Maure- 
pas is no Comtesse de Mailly. Neither you nor any woman 
can drive him from my court." 

At the tone of Louis' voice madame 's heart had suddenly 
ceased to beat. She saw her mistake. Was it too late? 
No. On the threshold of the doorway the King, after a 
hesitation and struggle with himself, turned. She seized 
her final opportunity without a pause. Holding out her 
arms with exaggerated feebleness, she said, slowly: 

"Send Phe'lippeaux to me to-morrow. He shall plead 
his cause." 

And thus her danger must have ended, and Louis' 
point have been satisfactorily gained; for it was past 
midnight when France left the Rue du Bac, to proceed 
by chair to the Tuileries. "Maurepas will be with you 
at noon ; and may the god of friendship preside at the 
meeting!" were his parting words to the Duchess, who 



Concerning Monsieur Maurepas 349 

nodded and smiled her approval. Then, while Fouchelet 
and the second valet cleared the remains of the feast from 
the little, disordered table, the mistress of Versailles, pale, 
burning with fever, and exhausted with fatigue, every 
nerve quivering with excitement at the life reopening to 
her, dragged herself to her bedroom, where Mme. de Lau- 
raguais and the round-eyed maid awaited her arrival. 

On Thursday morning, which was the 25th of No- 
vember, the King broke fast with Maurepas at his usual 
hour. Louis was sleepy, and slightly, very slightly, in- 
clined to be sharp of temper. When he informed his com- 
panion of the impending visit for that day's noon, Maure- 
pas made no objection in words or manner. Neverthe- 
less, he was intensely displeased. He knew very well his 
master's ways, and he realized that the tone in which he 
was bidden to come to a full and cordial understanding with 
her Grace was not to be disregarded. Therefore, at five 
minutes to twelve, with official punctuality, M. Jean Fr6- 
deric Phelippeaux, Marquis de Maurepas, carefully but 
not elaborately garbed, arrived in his chair at the hdtel 
in the Rue du Bac. He was admitted there without delay, 
and Fouchelet 's answer to the suave inquiry for Mme. 
de Chateauroux was: 

"Will Monsieur le Marquis do madame the honor to 
ascend to madame 's bedroom?" 

The Marquis, very much put out, did madame that honor. 

Mme.de Chateauroux was dressed and lying back in a 
deep arm-chair. To accentuate her pallor and the fever- 
flush, she wore a 'neglige of red, and over her knees was 
thrown a velvet robe of the same color. In his first 
glimpse of her the minister noted all of this, and distin- 
guished the affectation from the reality. He perceived 
his disadvantage, and began at once to calculate how far 
he might try her strength without inducing tears, before 
which he was as helpless as any man. 

"Monsieur, I am charmed to behold you again." 

" And I, madame, am desolated to find you not perfectly 
well." 



35 The House of de Mailly 

There was a little pause. The Marquis anticipated 
being asked to sit down. Madame seemed to forget this 
courtesy. So, to his chagrin, Maurepas continued to 
stand, concealing his awkwardness and his ill-humor as 
best he might. At least the Duchess took no notice of 
his discomfort. 

"Madame, his Majesty commanded my appearance 
before you. Doubtless there was a reason, of which, 
however, 1 am entirely ignorant. There was a hint on 
the King's part of a reconciliation necessary between us. 
I did not understand the use of the word. Have we, then, 
need for reconciliation?" 

He spoke with a smile which annoyed madame, not for 
the first time. " Monsieur, last evening his Majesty was 
here to request my return to Versailles, and the resump- 
tion of my duties as lady of the palace of the Queen. 
This, on certain conditions, I am willing to do. You 
will, however, readily perceive how impossible it would 
be for me to return while at Versailles dwells the man who 
brought about my dismissal from Metz, in August. Do 
you not agree with me?" 

"And if I do?" queried Maurepas, warily, doubtful of 
her point. 

"If you do, monsieur! Will you, then, exile yourself 
on my arrival?" 

"Exile myself? Pardon me, I do not understand you." 

" I ask you, monsieur, if it was not you who wrote the 
letter of dismissal from Metz that one delivered to me 
by d'Argenson?" 

"Ah! I understand now. No, madame, I can freely 
say that I had nothing to do with your dismissal in any 
way. I had not dreamed that I was suspected of it." 

Madame lay back, knitting her brows. The man before 
her had unquestionably told the truth. She knew that 
as much from his indifferent manner as from the lack of 
protestations in his denial. At first disappointed, the Duch- 
ess became, after a moment's reflection, intensely curious. 

"Who, then, was it?" she cried, at last. 



Concerning Monsieur Maurepas 351 

A smile broadened Maurepas' lips. His eyebrows 
went up, and his shoulders were lifted a hair's-breadth. 
"Madame how should I know?" 

" Ah, peste ! In the same way that the whole court 
must know! Truly, I should be a fool to go back to Ver- 
sailles ignorant of the name of him who had sought to 
ruin me. Every one would be laughing behind my back. 
Monsieur le Marquis, you may either answer my ques- 
tion or return to the King the message that I shall, after 
all, remain here." 

"Madame this is beyond my province. I am quite 
innocent of evil intent towards you. What others have 
done is not my concern." Maurepas spoke urgently. 
He saw himself getting into such difficulties as a diplo- 
matic man dreads most. 

Madame was angry. "You have heard what I say. 
You shall abide by it. Tell me or go." 

Maurepas sought his snuff-box agitatedly, and took 
a large pinch. On one side stood the anger of the King; 
on the other the life-enmity of a man who had before climb- 
ed gallantly out of deeper difficulties than the one into 
which the reinstallation of madame would throw him 
Louis Armand du Plessis, grand-nephew of the greatest 
cardinal. And now was he, Maurepas, reduced to trust- 
ing to a woman's word? Must he sue for that? Twice 
he paced the room from door to windows and back again, 
saw no help during the distance, and finally, disgusted 
with himself, waived lack of invitation, drew a chair to 
the Duchess' side, and sat carefully down. 

"Mme. de Chateauroux listen. 1 am unfortunately 
placed. 1 am anxious to do you the favor you ask; and 
yet, for political reasons, 1 am unwilling to incur the dis- 
pleasure of a powerful man by allowing it to be known 
that it was I who informed you of his lack of devotion to 
your cause. You perceive this?" 

The Duchess looked thoughtful. The words had been 
crisply spoken, and had betrayed none of Maurepas' real 
discomfiture. "Certainly," said she. 



352 The House of de Mailly 

"Well, then, regretfully but necessarily, I must impose 
certain conditions under which, only, will I consent to 
divulge this matter to you." 

"What are the conditions?" 

"Ah! They are neither unreasonable nor difficult, 
madame. As soon as you re-enter Versailles his Majesty 
will send to you as he informed me himself a list of 
the courtiers' names, which you will have the privilege of 
revising. Now, madame, if you will give me your word 
that this man whose identity I am going to reveal shall 
be dismissed from Versailles simply by means of that list 
and not with any marked indignity, if you will also assure 
me that 1 shall never be mentioned as concerned in the 
affair in any way, then, madame, 1 am but too delighted to 
enlighten you." 

There was a pause. La Chateauroux considered. 
Maurepas, his undiplomatic proposition made, philosoph- 
ically took snuff. Fortunately, the times when one must 
place confidence in a woman were rare. They His in- 
cipient meditations were, however, interrupted. 

" Monsieur le Marquis " 

"Madame!" 

"I agree to your conditions. I give my word." 

"You have reflected well?" 

"1 have reflected. Quick! The man!" 

"Richelieu, madame." 

"Oh! Ah! Why did I not see it before!" 

With such speed did madame run the whole gamut 
of evidence : the last morning at Metz ; Richelieu's absence 
from the rooms; his imperturbability before Chartres; 
her letters since dismissal scantily answered, and, some 
of them, not at all ; his failure to visit her since the return ; 
and then, last night, Louis' uneasiness at her curiosity. 
Yes. It was but too plain. Richelieu, King's favorite, 
her own mentor, had turned traitor at last. 

"Ah! The villain! The wretch! The traitor! The 
imbecile! Never again shall he see me at Versailles! 
Monsieur, will you pour me a glass of water there?" 



Concerning Monsieur Maurepas 353 

Upon the little table at her side stood a high pitcher and 
a small silver goblet. Maurepas hastened to comply 
with the request, and, as he handed her the cup, he noted 
how eagerly she drank, how bright was the flush on her 
cheek, how transparent the hand that she held to her face ; 
and then the rather grim question came to him whether, 
after all, Richelieu's banishment would endure very long. 
But the thought was only transitory. After all, a woman 
of twenty-seven, strong of body and stronger of spirit, is 
not carried off at the very summit of her career by an 
intermittent fever. Thus, when she returned the empty 
cup to the King's minister, and their glances met for 
a second, he read in her face resolution and to spare to 
carry her through much more than such a sickness as her 
present one. 

"Have no fear of me, monsieur. I shall not betray 
you. Will you accept my gratitude?" 

Maurepas bowed courteously. "When shall we at 
Versailles have the opportunity of welcoming you and 
Mme. de Lauraguais back again?" 

The Duchess looked quickly up with a nicker of amuse- 
ment in her eyes at his elaborate tone. "1 do not know. 
I am, at present, as you may perceive, scarcely able to be 
moved so far or to enter upon my week of duties as lady 
of the Queen, even should I reach Versailles safely. I 
must wait here till 1 am stronger. Till that time M. de 
Richelieu may relieve the King's ennui. Must you retire 
so soon?" 

Maurepas was evidently upon the point of departure. 
"My the affair between us is concluded, is it not? May 
1 take to his Majesty the word of our renewed friendship?" 

Mme. de Chateauroux held out her hand, and, while 
the minister bent over to kiss it, she smiled down on the 
powdered head with a look in her eyes that he, could he 
have seen it, would have considered with something like 
apprehension. "Our friendship is ratified, M. de Maure- 
pas. Au revoir." 

"1 shall be the first to welcome you at Versailles." 
23 



354 Th e House of de Mailly 

"Thank you. With Maurepas for one's friend, who 
could dread anything?" 

"You flatter me too much. Au revoir." 

So, with a final salute, and a grim smile at himself for 
his undeniable defeat at a woman's hands, Maurepas 
concluded his task, and, with relief at his heart, crossed 
the threshold of the dwelling of the favorite of France. 



CHAPTER VIII 




Deep Waters 

HE King and his companion returned to Ver- 
sailles on Friday, as quietly as they had left 
it three days before; and it was probable 
that most of the court was unaware that his 
Majesty had been invisible for any but usual 
reasons exclusive hunting, and intimate suppers, some- 
where, with some one. The little circle of royal compan- 
ions who selected what details of gossip might cross the 
threshold of the Salle du Conseil or the Petits Cours In- 
terieurs into the (Eil-de-Bceuf were extremely discreet. 
For days Rumor, always with the name of la Chateauroux 
as a refrain for her verses, flapped over Paris and Ver- 
sailles, chanting vigorously. Keepers of journals, d'Ar- 
genson and the worthy de Luynes, wrote wildly, contradict- 
ing one day all that had been said on the day before, and 
which, in turn, would be falsified to-morrow. Was Madame 
la Duchesse really to be reinstated, or, like her sister prede- 
cessor, to be kept on there in Paris in sackcloth and regret 
ever after ? This question no one definitely answered. Mme. 
d'Etioles, now and then in the palace, more often away 
under the close surveillance of her husband, trembled be- 
tween anticipation and despair. There was another at 
court in much the same way. This was Richelieu, who, 
for the first time since his dbut, living as he did at the very 
door of the kingdom's adytum, was still outside the pale of 
knowledge. Daily he scanned the face of Maurepas, a 
suavely blank space, which hinted tantalizingly at how 
much lay behind it. The King's demeanor was no less 
incomprehensible. He was generally sulky; seemed to 



356 The House of de Mailly 

have settled down into a routine ; attended four war coun- 
cils and two of finance, to Machault's terror, in one week ; 
ate little; drank much; was seen often in unofficial but 
very private conference with Maurepas ; and now and then 
treated Richelieu with such open and kindly affection that 
fainting hope revived in the Duke's heart, and he ceased 
numbering days. 

As a matter of fact, la Chateauroux continued to be ill ; 
for a king's favor will not banish malaria in one day. Mme. 
de Lauraguais was growing intensely anxious to be safe 
at Versailles again. The Duchess, curiously enough, was 
infinitely less impatient. Perhaps she knew too well what 
Versailles meant to experience unmixed joy at the pros- 
pect of the return. Not till physical strength was hers 
again did she care to go into the inevitable maze of 
intrigue, enmity, and deceit which one entered by the door 
to the little apartments. Dr. Quesnay, of M6re, a friend 
of Mme. d'Etioles, none the less a good physician and a 
bluffly honest man, attended her in Paris assiduously. 
Under his care the favorite certainly improved, day by day, 
till, on the 4th of the last month of the year, four mes- 
sages flew over the road, two from Paris to Versailles, and 
two from the palace there to the Rue du Bac. And that 
night the King did not sleep, but was, nevertheless, late to 
mass on the morning of the fifth, when a new day and a new 
era dawned for the (Eil-de-Bo2uf and for the history of 
France. 

The 5th of December fell on Sunday, and proved a day 
dull enough for all the court. For once their Majesties 
dined together in the Salle du Grand Couvert, as Louis XIV. 
would have had them do. But the King did not appear at 
his consort's salon in the evening. He merely informed 
her that it was his pleasure that she should hold a special 
reception two nights later, on the evening of the 7th, 
at which he would be present; why, he did not explain. 
Though it would be the evening before the Feast of the Con- 
ception, and therefore a time for extra devotions, Marie 
Leczinska gratefully acceded to her husband's request, 



Deep Waters 357 

delighted at anything which should bring him into her 
rooms. In the evening Louis supped in the small apart- 
ments with a select company of privileged gentlemen, his 
pages of the Court, Maurepas, and d'Argenson. 

" It is a feast of nine, my friends the old Roman num- 
ber. Let us, then, be classic in our drinking and our con- 
versation," observed his Majesty, with unusual loquacity. 

" And is it to gods or goddesses that we chant our praises, 
Sire? Do we look to Olympus or Cythera?" demanded 
Maurepas, slyly. 

The King did not at once reply. Finally, with a smile pe- 
culiar to himself, he glanced at his favorite. "You shall 
choose the toast, du Plessis. Jove or Venus?" 

Richelieu, ignorant of a cause, was at a loss to read the 
subtlety. " Venus, Sire," he replied, raising a glass to the 
candle-light before he drank. 

" Merely the goddess in abstract?" murmured de Sauvr6. 
" Surely her present living counterpart were better worthy 
the wine." 

" Sire, will you not christen the toast?" 

"Is it necessary? There is but one." The King neg- 
ligently lifted his glass, while only de Coigny of all the 
tableful breathed normally. "Marie Leczinska, your 
Queen, gentlemen!" 

Each face fell slightly. Glasses were emptied without 
a word, and the silence continued as the dishes of the first 
course were passed. 

"These birds are very fine, but there is no venison," re- 
marked Louis, helping himself to his favorite fillet of par- 
tridge. 

"The last hunt was four days ago," observed Pen- 
thivre. 

The King looked quickly up. " Quite true. The coun- 
cils have demanded me. But 1 am arranging a hunt a 
large hunt. What meetings to-morrow, d'Argenson?" 

" An important one, Sire, at which M. Machault reads a 
report of the taxes of the Navarraise clergy during the last 
quarter " 



358 The House of de Mailly 

" Ah, yes. You and Machault are diligent enough there. 
But the day after the yth? 1 do not wish to be at coun- 
cil on that day." 

"There will be none, Sire/' responded the young man, 
obediently, the interest dying out of his eyes ; and Maure- 
pas, with some amusement, watched him begin to crumble 
his bread. 

"That is very well. On Tuesday, gentlemen, we will 
follow the hounds through Senart, retire to Choisy in the 
afternoon, and return to Versailles in time for her Majesty's 
salon in the evening. At Choisy, gentlemen, 1 shall my- 
self prepare a dish, an especial one, which Mouthier* has 
created for me, and in the making of which the greatest 
delicacy is necessary. It is to be a vol-au-vent royal, a la 
the last of the name is not important. It will be a triumph 
of art." 

" Shall you prepare it for the company, or for one per- 
son, Sire?" queried de Gevres. 

"There will be more for the party. This one is par- 
ticular." 

" For her Majesty, without doubt," murmured d'Epernon, 
smiling. 

Maurepas and the King exchanged glances, and Riche- 
lieu, intercepting the look, started suddenly, not recovering 
his poise till de G vres had read into his mind. 

"Sire, this one person whom you so honor returns in 
the party to Versailles is it not so?" asked de Sauvr6, 
bravely. 

"Naturally her Majesty returns to Versailles." 

"She holds a salon that evening," muttered de GeVres 
to de Coigny, who sat next him. 

" Who? The Queen?" whispered the marshal in his turn. 

"1 don't know. We are not really speaking of the 
Queen?" 

"D'Argenson, you hold the supper -list for Choisy. 1 
a would speak with you about invitations later this 

* Louisv favorite chef. 



Deep Waters 359 

evening. You will be in the Salle des Pendules at an early 
hour." 

D'Argenson bowed. 

The supper -list? Deborah was upon that. Richelieu 
breathed deeply. Was he wrong in his fears? And yet, 
was it possible that this secrecy should be used in the 
installation of a new favorite? Certainly none at that 
table except Maurepas was any more enlightened concern- 
ing this affair than he was himself. He scanned the 
faces around him. De Sauvre" and Coigny were uncon- 
cerned. Veiled curiosity was perceptible in the eyes of 
d'Epernon and Penthievre. D'Argenson, like a very 
young diplomat, appeared reflective, and inclined to con- 
jecture by analysis the real object of his forthcoming 
interview with the King. And de Ge"vres, whose face 
was invariably set in an expression of bored indiffer- 
ence, had now something in the line of mouth and eyes 
that gave his countenance a suggestion of alertness and 
satisfaction. Richelieu concluded his scrutiny with even 
less hope than he had begun it. However, since the table 
were eating with good appetite, he made shift to follow, 
and forget himself as far as might be in a well-seasoned 
ragout of pigeon. 

" Vol-au-vent is certainly a charming dish 1" cried Louis, 
presently, harking back to his favorite pursuit. 

"And of what is it made, Sire? Is it sweet?" 

"Ah, Sauvr6, that is a secret. You shall learn it on 
Tuesday. Bring an appetite with you from the hunt. 
Perhaps you may even assist in its manufacture. I told 
Mouthier that I would have no cooks meddle with my 
dish, but that my good friends would assist me in the 
kitchen." 

"We are honored," came the little chorus. 

Louis inclined his head. 

" Your Majesty has a been making candies, of late," 
observed d'Epernon, with intended malice. 

The King coughed. " A few chocolates. I have been 
experimenting with a new fondant. It is delightful," 



360 The House of de Mailly 

"Who gets them? the de Mailly?" whispered de 
Sauvr6 to Richelieu. 

The Duke shook his head helplessly. "I have never 
seen any there. I do not think that it is she." Again 
he looked round the circle, and again was Maurepas' 
the only intelligent face present. Richelieu bit his lip 
in anger; but, as the second course and much wine now 
made its appearance, the conversation turned to less am- 
biguous topics, and the drinking, with all its conviviality, 
began. Many were the ladies to whom Louis deigned 
to raise his glass, the Countess de Mailly being among 
the first of them. And when, an hour later, the nine 
gentlemen rose from the table, the cares and fears .of all 
of them were lighter. After a bottle of old Tokay, a tender 
partridge, and a successful epigram, who would not rise 
above a dread of the intrigues of a fickle, unhappy King, 
whose best hours were spent with men, and to whom, at 
such times, women seemed unimportant enough? 

On being dismissed from their liege, several of the 
gentlemen departed towards the salon of the Queen, to 
join the promenade and see the newly presented ladies. 
One or two left the palace for appointments in the town. 
Richelieu, out of spirits, and glad to be alone, went off 
to the King's bedroom, where, as first gentleman of the 
chamber, he ousted Bachelier, and himself prepared the 
room for the grand couche. Next to this bedroom, towards 
the front of the palace, its windows opening upon the 
little Court of Marbles, was the Salle des Pendules. Here, 
after the supper, according to his Majesty's command, 
came young d'Argenson, with the list of courtiers eligible 
for Choisy suppers in his pocket. The King did not 
keep his youthful minister waiting. After a few smiling 
words with Maurepas, who was now blessing Fate for 
that past interview and "reconciliation" in November, 
Louis hurried from the Salle des Croisades up the corridor, 
into the Salle du Jeu, and so to that of the clocks. 

"Ah! You await me, monsieur. Your promptness is 
gratifying." 



Deep Waters 361 

D'Argenson made obeisance. 

The King passed across to the window, and stood with 
his hand on the sill, looking out across the court at the 
lights in the opposite rooms. "D'Argenson, have you, 
beside the Choisy list, one of the entire Court and all the 
families here represented?" 

" There is such a list, Sire, but it is in the keeping of M. 
de Berryer. At your command, I will obtain it from him." 

The King hesitated, seemed to reflect for a moment, 
and then, with his eyes still fixed outside the room, 
answered: "Yes, that were as well. De Berryer is in 
Paris, I believe. And, well, Monsieur le Comte " the 
King turned and faced him "I have a mission for you 
to-morrow." 

D'Argenson bowed. 

" You will leave for Paris, at an hour as early as you 
find convenient. Arrived at the city, go at once to the 
Prefecture, obtain the written list of the Court from de 
Berryer 1 will send you an order to-night and proceed 
with that to the Rue du Bac, num6ro ." 

In the candle-light young d'Argenson started violently. 

His Majesty smiled. "Yes. You will find there Mme. 
de Chateauroux ; and to her you will present the list. She 
will be so gracious as to read it through and to strike from 
it the names of those who have not the happiness to please 
her. In the afternoon you will return to me with the 
revised list, which um I shall put into execution on 
Wednesday, probably. That is all, monsieur. I wish you 
good-evening. " 

The Count was about to leave the apartment, when 
the King himself turned upon his red heel and abruptly 
left the room. D'Argenson, with a new horizon to his world, 
moved weakly to the side of the room, and sank upon a 
tabouret just as the door opposite to him swung open, 
and Richelieu, his task completed, appeared from the 
King's bedroom. 

"Hola, Marc! What is the matter? You need rouge," 
he said, wearily. 



362 The House of de Mailly 

"I should prefer a glass of Berkley's English gin/' 
responded the Count, without animation. 

"What is it? You have seen his Majesty?" 

"Yes." 

"Well your news?" 

D'Argenson looked about him nervously. Then, ris- 
ing, he moved over and spoke in Richelieu's ear. "The 
new dish vol-au-vent is to be a la Chateauroux. To- 
morrow she revises the Court list." 

" Mon Dieu ! " Richelieu whispered the exclamation, and 
raised one of his slender hands to his forehead. " What 
to do? You you also are in dread, Marc?" 

D'Argenson shrugged, with a pitiful attempt at indif- 
ference. "I carried her the message of dismissal from 
Metz." 

"Ah!" Richelieu hesitated for a second. Then he 
said, softly : " When will the revisal of the list be carried 
into effect at Court? Do you know?" 

"On Wednesday." 

"There is, then, a day of grace." 

"One. The King hunts. We shall all be at Choisy. 
Madame joins us there, you know, and returns with us 
for the salon of the Queen." 

"Naturally." 

"What shall you do? Resign your post now?" 

Richelieu was silent, and his face looked drawn. This 
sensation of helplessness was very new to him. He 
seemed to hesitate. Then, after a few moments he said, 
slowly : " No, I shall wait. One thing will you do me a 
favor?" 

"What is that? There are few enough in my power 
now." 

"To-morrow evening, when you return from Paris, 
show me the list." 

"Monsieur, I cannot seek you. If we should meet 
by chance " 

Richelieu bowed. "Certainly. It is all I ask. If we 
should meet by chance." 



Deep Waters 363 

" In that case, I will do so. At any rate, I will tell you. " 

"My thanks are yours." 

Both bowed. Thereupon d'Argenson would have turned 
away, but Richelieu suddenly held out his right hand. 
"It is no ordinary affair," he said. 

The young Count frankly accepted the offer. Their 
hands clasped firmly for an instant, and the moment of 
brotherhood did both good. 

"Do you go, now, to the salon of her Majesty?" 

" I had thought not, to - night ; but I have changed my 
mind." 

"I will come with you." 

"And to-morrow morning," added the Duke, as they 
left the room together " to-morrow morning, after mass, 
I shall go to the (Eil-de-Boeuf and remain there till you 
return in the evening." 

" Why do that? You will gain nothing there." 

"1 shall gain atmosphere. It reeks of the Court, as a 
chandler reeks of tallow. 1 shall like to take it away with 
me." 

D'Argenson smiled faintly; and then in silence they 
passed into the Queen's antechamber. 

Marie Leczinska's salon was not so brilliant as the one 
of two weeks before. It was, however, sufficiently filled 
to put one in proper mood, without danger of ruining hoops ; 
which, after all, was a slight relief. Both Claude and 
Deborah were here to-night, never together, but also never 
very far apart. Mme. de Mailly had become one of the 
most-sought-after persons in the Court, and her husband, 
while he conformed always to the conventions by not ap- 
proaching her in public, was, nevertheless, aware of every 
person who spoke to her of an evening, heard every com- 
pliment paid her by men, and a good many of the enviously 
malicious speeches that were beginning to be made about 
her by the women. To-night Richelieu, on entering the 
salon, made his way at once to Deborah's side. She had 
been speaking with the Marquis de Tesse, while the Prince 
de Soubise hovered near, thinking up a suitable gal- 



364 The House of de Mailly 

lantry with which to pounce upon her. Richelieu adroitly 
forestalled him, however, and reached her first, well pleased 
at being able to do so. The Duke was moving at random, 
for he had found no plan of possible salvation yet. There 
only lay in his mind a dim notion that, if safety should be 
his at the eleventh hour, it would come to him through 
this same Deborah. The idea was surely instinctive, for 
it had small reason in it. What could a little colonial, 
what could any woman the poor, pale Queen herself do 
against Claude's cousin, the reinstated favorite, the great 
Duchesse de Chateauroux, and that gently spoken, inflex- 
ible, indomitable "Je le veux" which Louis of France had 
used? True, Deborah had become a de Mailly, had been 
much noticed by the King, and was talked of in peculiar 
whispers by all the Court. Nevertheless, what so pre- 
carious as her position? What favors might she ask? 
None. And yet, here was falling Richelieu hurrying to 
no Maurepas, no Machault, or Berryer, or any powered 
man, but to the side of her who had been born, eighteen 
years before, in a wide-roofed Virginia farm-house. 

" Madame, do you go to the Ope'ra to-morrow night?" he 
asked, idly. 

" I do not know, Monsieur le Due. What is it to be?" 

"'JephteY I have heard Montclair, you know. P6- 
lissier and Theve'nard are to sing, and the ballet in that 
piece is delightful. Salle and Nicolet will lead it." 

" Oh, I should like to go ! I have seen Mile. Sall6 last 
week. And Mme. Pelissier also. She has such a voice!" 

" Will you, then, you and monsieur, do me the honor to 
occupy my box? We will have Mme. de Coigny and the 
abbe" ' 

"Oh no! Please " Deborah began, impulsively, but, 
realizing what she was doing, stopped short in embarrass- 
ment. 

" Pardon me, I did not know that you and the little Vic- 
torine were uncongenial. Whom shall I ask?" 

" Any one any one, of course. Mme. de Coigny, by all 
means, monsieur." 



Deep Waters 365 

Richelieu looked at her curiously, and might have spoken 
his thought had not Claude at that moment moved some- 
what closer to them, and the Duke, therefore, turned to him. 
"1 am just praying Madame la Comtesse to arrange a 
party for me for the Opera to-morrow evening. Will you not 
join us?" 

" Thank you, I am engaged to St. Severin for a supper 
and the Frangais. Madame, if she has no other engage- 
ment, will be delighted to accept your kindness, I do not 
doubt," returned Claude, pleasantly. 

Deborah turned a half-wistful glance towards her hus- 
band, but was met with a gentle smile of refusal that sud- 
denly changed her manner. 

" Monsieur le Due, 1 shall be but too happy to accompany 
you, if you will arrange the party. 1 do not think that I 
know quite how." 

Richelieu bowed his thanks, and looked long into her 
honest gray eyes. "1 will call for you in my coach at 
seven, madame, if you will permit. 1 bid you au revoir." 
With a bow such as he would have given to a superior in 
rank, he moved away, making room for M. de Soubise, who 
had settled upon his compliment, and was itching to have 
it out before it should lose flavor with silent rehearsal. 

Richelieu did not remain much longer in the room. 
Towards the end of the promenade his Majesty, his dog 
Charlotte under one arm, unexpectedly made his appear- 
ance, negligent in manner, intent, as it seemed, on speaking 
with Deborah. Richelieu saw the King with a new feeling. 
It was the first time that he had ever thought of Louis as 
holding interests foreign to his own. Hitherto they had 
been allies in every council, in every amusement. Now, 
at last, in desire and intention, they were separated, and 
it was a woman who stood between them. Richelieu shook 
himself. His thoughts were becoming bitter. Cutting 
short an exchange of graces with Mme. de Mirepoix, he 
left the rooms, and, informing the grand chamberlain that 
he would be unable to assist at the royal couche that even- 
ing, sought his own apartment, and was put to bed by his 



366 The House of de Mailly 

valet, not to sleep, but to plan, to twist, to turn, and still, 
with a new, unconquerable dread, to anticipate the morrow. 

Morning came late. Richelieu, in fact, rose with the 
dawn, for the King was always roused at eight, and it was 
the duty of the first gentleman, since he had been ab- 
sent on the previous evening, to bring water in which his 
Majesty should wash, and to put the royal dressing-gown 
about the royal shoulders. Louis was in a quizzical mood, 
and tried, rather unkindly, to play with the feelings of his 
favorite courtier. Richelieu's sang-froid was imperturbable, 
however. He was now bound in honor to his own code to 
exhibit no trace of the feeling which, last night, he had 
almost been guilty of betraying, through nervous uncer- 
tainty. 

The King dressed, he completed his prayers, despatched 
the early entries, and, when he was finally installed with 
his chocolate and eggs in the council-hall, where the matter 
of the Navarraise taxes was later to be taken up, Richelieu 
himself partook of a light breakfast, and then made a dig- 
nified progress towards the room of rooms the CEil-de-Boeuf 
where, possibly, his fate might, by accident, be already 
known. On his way through the halls of the gods and the 
grand gallery, he met not a few with the same destination 
in mind. Certainly none could have told, from his meas- 
ured morning greetings, his offers or acceptance of snuff, 
his lightly witty words, what a tumult of anxiety raged 
within him. By this time d'Argenson must be entering 
Paris. Did any besides himself know that errand on which 
he went? More, did any surmise its result? How long had 
he still to remain in this, his home? Hours? Years? Was 
his dread, after all, reasonable? Had any one divulged 
to her his part in the Metz affair? True, it was Court 
property; but ah! he had been very rash in the Alsatian 
city. Never should he forget the morning when he had 
cried out, before all the salon there, the news that Louis 
had grown worse in the last hours. Here, even now, like a 
ghost conjured up by memory, was young Monseigneur 
de Chartres, coming out from the Bull's-eye. Du Plessis, 



Deep Waters 367 

as he saluted, quivered. Then, with a gallant recupera- 
tion, he smiled to himself, and passed on into that little room 
of fate. 

Considering that the hour was before morning mass, the 
CEil - de - Boeuf was unusually thronged. Both men and 
women were there, and the place hummed with conversation. 
For the first moment or two Richelieu held off from the com- 
pany, judging, by means of his trained ear and his long 
experience, the nature of the gossip from the key of the con- 
glomerate sound. It varied to-day, now high with laugh- 
ter, now more ominous, again medium with uncertainty. 
The omen was good. It boded no definite evils of knowl- 
edge yet. Thereupon the Duke permitted himself to be 
accosted by M. de Pont-de-Vesle, of the King's formal 
household, an old man, tall and lean, wearing his wig d, la 
Catogan, and with a miniature of Ninon de 1'Enclos in his 
snuff-box. 

"Good-morning, Monsieur the Grand-Nephew! Whom 
does the King receive to-day during the little hours?" 
With the question he proffered snuff. 

"Thank you. Ah! You use civet. The King does 
not receive to-day. He is in council. Machault reads 
the report," returned Richelieu, very civilly, considering 
the fact that Pont-de-Vesle had addressed him in the form 
which, of all Bothers, he most disliked. 

"Ah! When his Majesty has not hunted for a week 
we are all forlorn. When he takes to council Ciel! it 
is like the beginning of a reign of Maintenon. How do 
you perfume your snuff?" 

"Oh, it is something aromatic, composed for me by 
Castaigne, of Paris. Sandal wood, cinnamon, attar I for- 
get the rest. Do me the honor to try it." 

With ceremonious solemnity Pont-de-Vesle accepted a 
pinch, just as young d'Aiguillon came smilingly up to 
them. " Good-morning, Monsieur le Due ! Do you bring 
news, or come for it?" 

"I come for it, my dear Count," returned Richelieu. 
"What do they talk of in the CEil to-day?" 



368 The House of de Mailly 

"One subject only." 

"So bad as that? Who has committed it? I am all 
ignorance ! ' 

" You mistake. There is no fresh scandal. It is " 

"Women," put in Pont-de-Vesle, sourly. 

"Oh! What women?" 

"That is more difficult. There are many rumors. It 
is said in Paris that Mme. de Chateauroux is to come 
back." 

The Duke raised his eyebrows. " Paris ! That is a cu- 
rious news-mart. What says Versailles?" 

" Oh! " Young d'Aiguillon stopped, assuming a mys- 
terious expression. 

".We say," interrupted the other, quickly, "that there 
are other candidates who would please better." 

"For instance?" 

"Well, for one, the little American, Mme. de Mailly. 
But, parbleu ! the post must not remain forever in one 
family! I think that this girl should never have been 
taken up. What is her blood? Her husband swears to 
five generations; but the husband! Pouf!" 

" But the Queen was delighted with her, and the King 
will be," cried the young Count, pleasantly. 

"Who is your candidate, monsieur?" demanded Rich- 
elieu of Pont-de-Vesle. 

" Mine? Oh that is a delicate question. Nevertheless, 
1 think 'tis time we had a woman of station. Now, Mme. 
de Grammont " 

"Heavens!" 

"An etiquette? You are mad, monsieur I" 

"Not at all. I protest" 

"Is she, then, so willing to accept the post?" 

Pont-de-Vesle stiffened. "Oh, as to that I cannot 
say. She is spoken of not to." 

" Ah, well," decided d'Aiguillon, sagely, "after all, it will 
be the ladies, not we, who will settle matters for themselves. " 

"As for me, I should like to find a woman who would 
refuse the post," 



Deep Waters 369 

And with this Richelieu, who could see no advantage 
in continuing the conversation, saluted his companions 
of the moment and passed on to others, whose talk, how- 
ever, did not much vary from the foregoing style. By 
the time that the hour for mass arrived, and the Court 
wended a leisurely way towards Mansard's chapel, the 
favorite Duke was comforted in mind and heart. He 
hoped; though why, and on what grounds, he could not 
have told. The GEil - de - Bceuf was densely ignorant of 
the King's real project. He, Richelieu, knew it only 
too well. La Chateauroux was to come back. Paris 
knew. How, then, had he any right, or any reason, to 
hope? And, with this logic, the shadow of despair came 
over him again, and through it, as through a veil, he heard 
the melancholy intoning of priests' voices and the monot- 
onous chanting of the choir. 

Dinner passed, it were difficult to say how, and the 
afternoon began. There was attendance on his Majesty, 
who alternately played with three dogs and sulked be- 
cause there was nothing further to do; a few moments 
at English tea with the circle of Mme. de Boufflers; an 
enforced interchange of polite hostilities with de Ge"vres, 
in the Salle d' Apollo; and then, some little time after dusk 
began to fall, Richelieu made his way down to the landing 
of the Staircase of the Ambassadors, out of sight of the 
Suisses and the King's guards, in the great vestibule 
below. He was intensely nervous. With each beat of 
his heart a new shock thrilled unpleasantly over him. 
D'Argenson must be returning soon now, and must come 
in this way. Minutes only remained before he should 
know the end. The lights in the great candelabra at the 
stair -top illumined the vast, lifeless ascent but dimly. 
Dreamily Richelieu thought of the pageants that he had 
seen upon this stair; wondered, indeed, if he should see 
such again. Before great dread, time itself flies. It seemed 
no half -hour, but a few seconds only, to the waiting 
man before a darkly cloaked figure entered into the ves- 
tibule, passed the Suisses in silence, and came, with wearily 
24 



370 The House of de Mailly 

dragging steps, up the stairs. Half-way up, the candle- 
light gleamed for an instant into his pallid face. Riche- 
lieu's heart quivered downward as he stepped out from 
his sheltering pillar and stood before young d'Argenson. 

"Well, then you return." 

D'Argenson shot a look into the other's face. "For a 
day," he replied, without much expression, his lip curling 
slightly. 

"Then she" 

"Struck me off at once." 

Richelieu drew a heavy breath. "And I?" he asked, 
softly. 

"And you also." 

It had come, then. The two men stood still on the stairs, 
facing each other for an unnoted time. Then Richelieu 
smiled. "You are wet with the rain, Marc. When you 
leave the King, come to my rooms. There you will find 
Grachet and some hot rum. I must make my toilet 
now. I have a party to-night for the OpeVa." 

D'Argenson stared. "Mon Dieu!" he muttered to him- 
self, "we diplomats have not such training!" 




CHAPTER IX 

The Duke Swims 

OMETHING over an hour after d'Argenson's 
return, Richelieu, in full dress, glittering with 
jewels and orders, left the palace in his coach, 
bound for the Rue d'Anjou. He was commit- 
ting the curious faux-pas of being too early. 
It was barely half past six when he left the Boulevard de 
la Reine, whence it was less than five minutes to his des- 
tination. But Richelieu, under his gayety, his frequent 
laughs, and his flood of brilliant conversation, so witty 
that d'Epernon, seeing him in his rooms, fancied that 
he had been drinking, was desperate. Until a month 
ago he had not realized how much his life meant to 
him. He was now forty-eight years old, and, since his 
fourteenth year, he had never lived out of the atmosphere 
of the Court. That atmosphere was part of him. It clung 
about his every gesture and about his speech, punctuated 
as that still was with the low patois in which he had de- 
lighted as a young rake. His garments and his wigs 
were of set and fashion so inimitable that the Jew to whom 
he sold them realized a profit equal to their original cost 
in selling them to members of the haute bourgeoisie 
with Court ambitions. It was Richelieu who had made 
Louis XV. and his Court what they were. It was Rich- 
elieu who was at all times King of the King's house. To 
the last inch of what soul he had, he was imbued with 
Court manners, Court love, Court lordliness. And now 
now, at the simple word of a woman of yellow hair 
and twenty-seven years his name was struck from the 
Court list! He had been in straits before, but never one 



372 The House of de Mailly 

wherein he was so apparently helpless. This was incred- 
ible, monstrous, impossible true. Yes, the great Rich- 
elieu was falling. Whom to turn to? Berryer? Machault? 
The King himself ? No. Instinct, with one of its incom- 
prehensible turns, was leading him, unresisted, to that 
house in the Rue d'Anjou where dwelt a little girl from 
the American colonies, with her husband, the cousin of the 
woman who thought to ruin him. 

Unable to rid himself of this curious notion, Richelieu 
alighted from his vehicle in the Rue d'Anjou, was admitted 
by the porter, and proceeded up the stairs to the de Mailly 
apartment. Claude was not there. Richelieu knew that 
from his own statement. Madame alone was within. 
How much depended on the next few moments the Duke 
could not surmise. Nevertheless, he gently tried the door 
from the hall, without knocking. It was open. Noise- 
lessly he entered the antechamber, and, crossing it, would 
have passed into the salon but for a sight which halted 
him on its threshold, in the shadow of the hangings. 

The room before him was half lighted, and contained 
one person, who stood motionless, her back towards the 
antechamber, on the other side of the room. It was Deb- 
orah, fully dressed for the evening, if Richelieu judged 
correctly; but in an attitude which threatened to destroy 
the elegant simplicity of her coiffeur. She was in front 
of a little cabinet which stood against the wall beside the 
mantel-piece, her two elbows, in their cloudy lace ruffles, 
resting upon one of the shelves. Her powdered head lay 
upon her arms ; and now and again her slight frame could 
be seen to quiver with the depth of a long-drawn sob. What 
was the matter? What was she doing? What was it 
that the cupboard contained? Richelieu wondered and 
waited. Then he was struck with a welcome notion. 
Here was she in a sorrowful, therefore tender, mood. He 
alone was near her. Their growing friendship why 
not cement it with a delicate passage, delicately arranged? 
Who so able to manage this successfully as Richelieu? 
For Richelieu believed that he knew all women. 



The Duke Swims 373 

Silently, then, though without especial effort to make 
no sound, he began moving towards her by leisurely de- 
grees. She heard nothing, and seemed to feel no presence 
near her. Indeed, at that moment she was very far away, 
among the memories which the bottles had conjured up 
for her ghosts of many things and people : home, Vir- 
ginia, Dr. Carroll, Sir Charles, black Sambo, the warm 
sunlight, the river, and the free, wild woods that were 
her own. 

"Chere Comtesse!" 

The words were so delicately murmured that they could 
not startle her. She only lifted her head like one awak- 
ing from sleep and looked slowly about. Seeing Richelieu 
at her side, and remembering the evening, she suddenly 
straightened, forced herself back into the present, and be- 
gan, with an effort : " Pardon, 1 beg of you, mons " 

"Ah! You to demand pardon of me? Impossible! 
1 am early to-night, dear friend. We have much time. 
See you grieve for something some one. You will con- 
fide the grief to me? You will accept my sympathy?" 

As Deborah looked for an instant into the large, limpid 
brown eyes of the man before her, her own fell. Her 
mood also changed. She was suddenly inclined to be on 
her guard with this man, whom she knew best as Claude's 
mentor. 

"My grief was for many persons and things. 'Twas 
for home, my own people, my old friends there across 
the water " and she pointed whimsically into the cabinet 
at her former treasures. 

Richelieu, with unfeigned curiosity, moved towards the 
shelf. Picking up one of the bottles, with its neatly writ- 
ten label, he examined it, not very closely, his eyes ques- 
tioning the girl before him. Deborah, with an absent 
smile, looked at the crystal phial and its white, oily con- 
tents, with the inch of gray sediment at the bottom* 

"That is from the Spartium scoparium," she said. 

"Really?" muttered Richelieu, considerably puzzled. 
The turn which the scene was taking, if not as he had 



374 The House of de Mailly 

planned it, was none the less interesting. "And is this 
some new cordial or liqueur which you and Claude have 
discovered together?" 

"Heaven forbid!" was the half -laughing, half -serious 
reply. 

"Eh! You mean" 

" Thirty drops have been fatal. M-medicine and alka- 
loids were my tastes, sir, when 1 had my still-room." 

"And these," the Duke pointed to the contents of the 
shelf "all these are medicines or alkaloids?" 

" They are both," she replied, with a hint of troubled hesi- 
tation in her tone. 

"Tell me of them. I am interested," he asked, quietly. 

She shook her head. "There is not time. Besides " 

"Ah! And these! Now these are, indeed, curious, 
Mme. de Mailly! What are they?" 

In the rear of the shelf he had spied the box of fungi. 
Drawing it towards him, he took from it one of the shrivelled 
brown things and examined it on all sides. Deborah 
watched him in silence, her feeling of uneasiness growing. 

"What is it?" he repeated, smiling. 

" It is the Amanita muscaria poison mushrooms, that 
we use sometimes in Maryland for fly-poison." 

"And how do they kill?" 

"Monsieur, will you not put them up? I think it is 
time to go." 

"Instantly, madame; but tell me first how they kill." 

He was regarding her in such apparent amusement that, 
for the moment, she was nettled by the suspicion of mockery. 
" They are now five months old what I have there. But 
two of them would kill a grown man to-day. There is 
no perceptible effect till from four to nine hours after eating. 
Then then, monsieur," she said, dryly, "the agony is 
not pretty to behold." 

"Urn and do they taste?" 

"No. They are like leather now. Will you replace 
them in the cupboard, monsieur? and we will speak of 
other things." 



The Duke Swims 375 

Without further protest Richelieu obeyed her, putting 
the fungi carefully away, replacing the scoparium among 
the other bottles, and closing the little door of the cabinet 
after him. Its key was in the lock. He turned it. And 
then then Deborah was wrapping a cloudy veil about 
her head ; she was turned from him he suddenly drew the 
key from the lock and slipped it into his pocket. It was 
instinct that bade him do it perhaps. Five minutes later 
a coach rolled away from the house in the Rue d'Anjou 
and entered upon the Paris road. 

"Who are to be with us this evening?" asked Deborah, 
as she settled back in a corner of the roomy vehicle. 

"Marshal Coigny, Mme. d'Egmont, Mme. de Chaulnes, 
and d'Aiguillon will join us at the opera. Afterwards 
supper will be served us in my salon at Versailles. These 
long drives I trust they will not fatigue you. Were it 
not for the hunt to-morrow, we might have remained over- 
night in Paris. As it is, however, it will be necessary to 
return. Will you be at Choisy to-morrow afternoon, when 
the hunt goes there for its famous refreshment?" 

"I was asked to go. Claude " She stopped suddenly. 

"He did not wish it?" asked Richelieu, gently. 

"I am going," was the unexpected reply. 

In the darkness Richelieu smiled. 

"Jephte" proved to be a decided success. The opera- 
house was crowded, both Queen and Dauphin were present, 
and most of Versailles were gathered into the badly light- 
ed and wretchedly aired building. Richelieu's party were 
found to be fairly congenial, and the Duke, who had exerted 
himself almost beyond his powers, during the drive, to ban- 
ish from Deborah's thoughts the incident of the cabinet, now 
allowed d'Aiguillon to hold full sway over the conversation, 
and himself sat almost entirely silent during that part of the 
evening. How try to imagine the gradual trending of his 
thoughts? How surmise their final concentration? It is 
something that no mortal of inexperience has ever been 
able to conceive, no anthropologist capable of analyzing 
that secret, stealthy working of the brain faculties round 



376 The House of de Mailly 

and round one point; how they approach it nearer and 
nearer, retreat a little, hesitate, advance again, till the point 
has suddenly been reached ; the idea and the will are one ; 
determination is born. 

The party of six returned, after the opera, to Versailles, 
in one wide-seated coach. Arrived at the palace and Riche- 
lieu's apartment within it, supper was found awaiting them; 
and the evening progressed with all possible gayety. Later 
the Marechal de Coigny escorted Mme. de Mailly home; 
and, at four o'clock in the morning, long before the De- 
cember dawn, Deborah Travis slept. 

His Grace de Richelieu was not so happy. Before his 
salon was cleared of the remains of supper and set to rights 
again, Grachet, his valet, had put him gently to bed, all 
pomaded, perfumed, silken-gowned, and capped. But the 
warming-pan had made the sheets too hot ; and the cham- 
pagne had more than usually heated his head. He turned 
and tossed and twisted like any mortal, the great Richelieu, 
for the two heavy hours which constituted his night ; and 
it was during that time that the Determination was born. 
The idea and the will the little bronze key and the 
desire to use it had met. Crime, or the planning of crime, 
hovered there in the darkness over the heavy canopy. 
Satan, cloven-hoofed, laughing, reclined in a chair near his 
new friend. Richelieu fell gradually into a drowsy state. 
Strange whispers poured from his lips. Such a night he 
had not spent before, such would never spend again. 

Morning came, finally. The Duke rose, with relief, at a 
little past six, and dressed by candle-light. Grachet won- 
dered in sleepy silence as he prepared the chocolate at such 
an unheard - of hour, but came near to the unpardonable 
false step of an exclamation, when his master, toying idly 
with an egg, said, suddenly : " Grachet, go and ask Mou- 
thier his Majesty's chef to come to me at once if he can. 
Rouse him, if he is not yet up." 

When the man had left the room upon his unprecedented 
errand, Richelieu flung down his napkin and sprang to his 
feet. To have seen his face and heard his hoarse breathing 



The Duke Swims 377 

would have been to judge him physically in pain. He 
walked in great strides up and down the apartment, re- 
fusing to struggle against his impulses, crushing out the 
final prompting of a long-weakened Other Nature. Pres- 
ently he came to a halt before his chamber door, just as 
Grachet re-entered, bringing with him an imposing per- 
sonage, somewhat dishevelled as to wig, but attired in a 
very neat black suit, with waistcoat of cherry silk, and the 
blue ribbon of his order elaborately arranged thereon. 

"M. Mouthier, my lord." 

" Good-morning, Mouthier good-morning good-morn- 
ing," observed the Duke, staring hard at the new-comer, 
and monotonously repeating his words. " You're early/' 
he added, at length. 

" Your Grace, in one hour, in company with my staff, I 
depart for Choisy," responded the great cook, with re- 
proachful respect and something of the manner of a world- 
famed general announcing the opening move of the cam- 
paign to his sovereign. 

"Ah Choisy." Richelieu smiled as he drew out his 
words. 

Grachet stared at his master, and Mouthier instantly 
resolved to be eccentric of a morning if possible. 

"Mouthier, you are, to-day, going to allow his Majesty 
to create a vol-au-vent royal a la Chateauroux is it not 
so?" 

"His Majesty has informed your Grace?" 

" No. The gods whispered it. But, Mouthier, the gods 
refused to go further than the name. Therefore I come to 
you, that I may learn more of a dish which a king will pre- 
pare for a duchess. Tell me, oh, prince of thy art, is this 
dish of kings sweet or sour, thick or thin, cold or hot? 
I would match my coat to its consistency. What ingre- 
dients does it contain? Of what is it compounded?" 

" Your Grace " The cook hesitated painfully, but found 
his professional instinct stronger than his reverence for 
rank. " Your Grace if I might be assured that Marin 
had nothing to do with this affair " 



378 The House of de Mailly 

"Marin? Oh! I see! But you cannot deem Marin 
your rival? Mouthier, between us, Marin is a no one, a 
second-rate man, unfit even for the taste of M. de Soubise. 
How the cordon bleu ever came to be delivered to him 
bah! Mouthier, you would not imagine me as intriguing 
with with a Marin, eh?" 

"Ah, Monseigneur, Monseigneur, forgive! My suspi- 
cions were base, false. Monseigneur, the vol-au-vent royal 
a la Chateauroux is a pate, a round pastry case, filled 
with a delightful compound of of chicken, of sweetbreads, 
of truffles, of cock's-combs, of mushrooms " 

"Ah! You may go, Mouthier. You may go, I say!" 

Grachet stole a terrified glance at the Duke. Mouthier, 
cut short at the very beginning of a recitation delicious to 
his creative soul, looked with pathetic appeal at the great 
man, saw him point relentlessly to the antechamber door, 
with unmistakable command in his face, and so, thorough- 
ly disappointed, and scarcely, in that disappointment, find- 
ing time to wonder, began reluctantly backing, and, still 
murmuring raptly, " seasoned with salt, with black butter, 
delicate spice, with bay-leaves, and covered with the sauce 
a la ," disappeared through the doorway and was visible 
no more. 

" Ah ! That is settled, then. Grachet, a cloak and hat. " 

"MM Monsieur?" 

"A cloak and hat! Diable! What has got you?" 

The valet, stumbling with awkward haste, obeyed him. 
Richelieu wrapped himself in the cloak, took up the hat, 
and, before he left the room, tossed his man a louis d'or. 
"There. I am not mad, Grachet except in giving you 
that, perhaps. But be silent about Mouthier. You un- 
derstand?" 

Gold quickens the understanding. Grachet's eyes grew 
bright again as he murmured quickly: "Mouthier was 
never here, Monsieur le Due." 

Richelieu laughed. "Very well. Have a good hunt- 
ing-suit out when I return, and I will ride Graille to the 
meet." 



The Duke Swims 379 

Then Richelieu left his apartment and strode away 
through the dim, deserted corridors, carrying along with him 
a hollow, dreary echo. Descending the grand staircase where 
yesterday he had waited for d'Argenson's return, he passed 
the drowsy guards in the vestibule, and entered into the 
gray, chilly morning. It was very cold. In the night the 
rain had turned to snow, and the Great Cross Canal lay 
before him frozen to ice. The esplanade, the star, and the 
park were covered with soft white, still unbroken, for it was 
too early as yet for marring footprints. With blood quick- 
ening in his veins, and breath smoking in the frosty air, 
Richelieu hurried into the desolate park, emerging at length 
on the Avenue de Paris, on the edge of the town of Ver- 
sailles. The little city was barely awake. The dwelling- 
streets were still. Nevertheless, two or three men whom 
Richelieu knew, and who took as much pains as he could 
have wished to avoid notice, were moving dismally, on foot 
or in chairs, to their respective rooms. Shutters of shops 
were being taken down, and a single church clock boomed 
a quarter to eight when the Duke halted before the house 
in the Rue d'Anjou. 

Richelieu had some difficulty in rousing the concierge. 
When the door was finally opened to him by a man in a red 
nightcap, he pulled his own hat so far over his face and his 
cloak so much about his ears as to be unrecognizable, and 
hastened up-stairs. At the door of the de Mailly apart- 
ment he stopped, hesitating. Was any one up within? He 
was, perhaps, ruining himself by coming so early; yet it 
was the only thing to be done. From an inner pocket he 
pulled the little bronze key to the cabinet in the salon so 
near at hand. The sight gave him courage, and he tapped 
at the door. There was a pause. His heart beat furiously 
now. Presently he tapped again. Thereupon, as much 
to his surprise as to his relief, the door was thrown open by 
a tired-looking lackey. Richelieu walked swiftly into the 
antechamber, passed through it, and paused in the salon, 
where the servant, astonished and mistrustful, came up 
with him. Here the Duke removed his hat. 



380 The House of de Mailly 

"Your Grace! Pardon!" muttered the man. "Mon- 
sieur le Comte is risen," he added. "Shall 1 announce 
you?" 

" By no means! 1 have simply come to ask Mme. de 
Mailly if this which was found in my salon this morn- 
ing could have been dropped by her during supper last 
evening. It is somewhat valuable, 1 believe. Will you 
inquire of her maid?" 

Richelieu held out to the man a pearl pin containing 
stones of some rarity, which, as a matter of fact, belonged 
to himself. The servant looked at it and slightly shook his 
head, but, catching a peremptory glance from the Duke, 
he went off, wondering why such a man as Richelieu had 
not sent a servant on his errand. 

The moment that he was left alone, the man who bore the 
family name of Louis Xlll.'s great minister turned sharply 
towards the little black cabinet by the wall. With a cold 
hand, his limbs stiffened, all apprehension stifled by his 
eagerness, he unlocked the door, thrust his hand inside 
to that little box that lay just where he had placed it on 
the night before, extracted therefrom four of the small, 
round, dry mushrooms, placed them in an inner pocket of 
his coat, closed the door again, relocked it, put the key on 
the mantel, in the shadow of a porcelain vase, and was sit- 
ting down, tapping the floor impatiently with his foot, when 
the lackey returned empty-handed. 

"The pin does belong to madame, Monsieur le Due. 
Her maid tells me that she wore it for the first time last 
evening, and will thank you much for returning it." 

Richelieu came very near to laughing. Only by making 
a strong effort did he control his expression. "1 am de- 
lighted that it was found," he murmured; and thereupon 
he rapidly departed from that small apartment where, it 
seemed, dwelt more people than M. and Mme. de Mailly. 

After all, du Plessis could not have disposed of his pearls 
to better advantage. He had not been designed by nature 
for such a part as he was playing now ; and the affair could 
scarcely have been conducted with less prudence. Provi- 



The Duke Swims 381 

dence or Satan had favored him in a most unexpected 
way; for who was there now to tell of his early and un- 
wonted visit to the de Mailly household? Certainly not 
the clever person who had made five or ten thousand livres 
out of it. On his return walk towards the palace, Mon- 
sieur le Due mused appreciatively on the past incident. 

" I wonder if it behooves me quietly to signify to Claude 
that such a man as his first lackey is wasting a valuable 
life in his present position? No. On the contrary, I will 
let Claude discover that for himself. When that man is 
discharged, I should very much like to employ him. Gra- 
chet is getting a little old." 




CHAPTER X 

"Vol-au-Vent Royal" 

WELVE miles from Versailles, or fourteen by 
the Sceaux road, nearly eight from Paris, 
situated upon the bank of the Seine, shaded 
with woods and flanked by a tiny hamlet, 
stood the most famous retreat of Louis XV., 
the chateau or palace called Choisy-le-Roi. As Marly, with 
its rows of cold salons, its stiff corridors and great suites of 
rooms, was Louis XIV. 's ideal of a private house, so Choisy, 
with its tiny apartments, cosey fireplaces, little, circular 
reception-room, and miniature salle-&-manger, with ample 
kitchen and magnificent appurtenances on the first floor in 
the rear, was the present Bourbon's great delight. Here 
for ten years, now, ever since the first months of Louise de 
Mailly's reign, Louis, in increasing fits of ennui or weari- 
ness, and, later still, perhaps, during periods of regret, had 
been accustomed to seek relief from the formality of his 
existence in parties taking different degrees of freedom, 
which, more often than not, rose towards their end to a 
pitch of positive rowdyism. Only a certain set of the 
Court was ever asked here; and nothing, perhaps, could 
more plainly illustrate the difference in the characters of 
Louis XV. and of his grandfather than the contrast be- 
tween the list for Marly in the old days and that for 
Choisy half a century later. 

The gayety to be attained by this party of the jth of De- 
cember, however, promised to be less notable in several re- 
spects than was usually the case. First, the whole thing 
must take place in the afternoon, since the King was to re- 
turn to her Majesty's salon at Versailles in the evening. 



" Vol-au-Vent Royal" 383 

Secondly, the gentlemen of the company would have been 
all day in the saddle, and were certain to be weary and 
inclined to eat, rather than talk. Thirdly, according to 
general rumors, his Majesty, and, in consequence, the pages 
of the Court, would be occupied in the kitchen till refresh- 
ments were served, thus leaving the lesser lights alone to 
entertain the women for an hour or more. After the repast 
it would be necessary to depart speedily for Versailles, in 
order to be in time to make a toilet for the Queen's salon. 

As a matter of fact, this entire affair had been planned 
with the greatest care by Louis himself, who, with purpose 
very different from usual in visiting Choisy to-day, had 
taken care to leave no loophole for impropriety, which, in 
its wholesale form, was the most distasteful thing that Mme. 
de Chateauroux ever had to endure. 

At eleven o'clock in the morning Mouthier, with his staff 
and extra train of servants to assist those regularly in- 
stalled at the chateau, arrived, and entered immediately 
upon his duties. In a box which he himself had borne all 
the way from Versailles on his knee, reposed twelve cases 
of fresh pastry, with elaborate scroll-work patterns upon 
their sides and covers. One of these, smaller by half 
than the rest, was a work of art such as only Mouthier 
could have contrived. These were the foundations for the 
dish of the day ; and the special case was to be filled with 
a composition of the King's own, for the delectation of 
the so-called most beautiful, certainly the most far- 
famed, lady in France. 

At something after two o'clock in the afternoon there 
arrived at the grand entrance of the chateau a panelled 
coach, the first of a little procession of vehicles, each bearing 
a costly burden of petticoated beings, in great pelisses and 
hoods, with muffs for their hands that were very much 
larger than any three of their heads put together and had 
as much in them, perhaps. By half past two the circular 
hallway was a fluttering mass of panniers, silks, brocades, 
and satins ; while the adjoining salons echoed to the hum 
of light conversation and feminine laughter. No dames 



384 The House of de Mailly 

d' etiquette in this gay company ! No sheep of Pere Griff et's 
flock here; and only one among them to whom this was 
the first of Choisy. 

The one was Deborah, who, in direct disobedience to 
Claude's angry commands, after a sharp quarrel with 
him, had had her own headstrong way and come hither, 
to see, forsooth, what it would all be like. As yet she 
had found nothing, certainly, that could drive from her 
thoughts the unhappy image of her husband, with the 
love-light gone out of his eyes ; and she was waiting with 
intense eagerness for the arrival of the hunting-party. 
The rest of the company being in the same state of an- 
ticipation, her restlessness called forth only one whisper 
from Mme. de Gontaut, to the effect that it was shockingly 
bad taste to watch openly at the windows for the arrival 
of his Majesty. The companion lady sniffed slightly, but 
presently rustled over herself to join the group of dames, 
who were looking out upon the snowy driveway and the 
black, bare-branched trees before them. Presently there 
came from this little company a quick murmur of ex- 
clamations, which occasioned an instantaneous general 
movement towards them. 

"1 hear no horns. Have they shot nothing to-day?" 
cried one who could not see. 

"My dear, it is not .the King. It is a coach." 

"Ah!" 

"MonDieu!" 

"What is it? Who is it? Who is so late? Are not 
all here?" 

Deborah had watched the arrival of the coach with some 
indifference. A liveried footman leaped down from be- 
hind and opened the door. Thereupon a woman, hooded 
and cloaked in scarlet velvet, sable-lined, her huge panniers 
managed with graceful ease, her great fur muff held high 
in both hands, stepped forth, alone. 

"It is the Duchesse de Chateauroux," said Deborah, in 
a curiously quiet voice, her words being utterly unheeded 
in the babel rising round her. This, then was this why 



"Vol-au-Vent Royal" 385 

Claude had angrily forbidden her to come? Was he riding 
here simply to meet this woman for whose sake he had 
been exiled from France? Naturally she his wife the 
American colonial was not wanted at the meeting. And 
thus Deborah leaned back against the wall, having sud- 
denly become very white. 

"Look at the de Mailly!" whispered Mme. de Gontaut 
to Victorine de Coigny. "His Majesty's arrival will be 
different now." 

"You belie her. Mme. de Mailly is not in love with 
the King," returned the little Marechale, quietly. 

The Gontaut did not reply. She had no more time to 
waste upon Deborah, who had ceased to be observed 
in the general tumult. The chorus of exclamations fell 
now to a series of whispers, for la Chateauroux was in 
the house. How to receive her? After so many months 
of utter disgrace was she at once, without protest, to step, 
with all her old, disdainful insolence, into the second seat 
at Versailles? Certainly it must have been at royal bid- 
ding that she came here. The hopeless daring of the other- 
wise was not conceivable. Nevertheless, this was a shock 
difficult to recover from. The whispers, which, during the 
anticipation, had almost ceased, began to run again round 
the room. 

"The Duchess is long enough in removing her wraps." 
"She is disconcerted to find herself before the King." 
"Nevertheless soon or late she must face us." 
"Ah, if we but dared all of us to refuse recognition!" 
"It is impossible. Besides the King would banish 
the whole Court." 
"Here she is." 

At last, amid a perfect stillness, Marie Anne de Mailly- 
Nesle re-entered that Choisy room which she had seen last 
nine months before. Then, her exit had been the signal 
for the cessation of pleasure. Her rule was unthreatened, 
absolute. Now, as she came in silence. She passed 
slowly across the room, glancing now and then, to the 
right and left, at tne froaen groups of women who, a year 
25 



386 The House of de Mailly 

ago, would have risked the ruin of their costliest garments 
for the sake of the first word with her. Yet now, still, 
silence. 

The costume of the Duchess was a marvel to see. But 
her face received most mental comments : it was so thin, 
the eyes were so large, the cheeks hotly flushed even 
through the regulation rouge, the patches emphasizing 
strongly the marble whiteness of the temples and lower 
part of her face. An ordeal like this, however, might 
have turned any woman pale. Deborah realized it, as, 
dully, she watched Claude's cousin. A kind of pity, 
mingled with anger at the women about her, came over 
her own unhappiness. These women what had they 
to lose by the arrival of madame? Not a husband's love. 
Only a possible smile from the master of a miserable, 
helpless Queen. And so they stood here, like statues, 
torturing a woman, for the pure malice of it. Faugh! 
These Court ways were not Deborah's. A moment more 
and two women, out of the twenty, had started suddenly 
forward to the Chateauroux. The first was Victorine de 
Coigny; the second was Deborah Travis of Maryland. 
As she courtesied to the favorite, and felt one of her hands 
taken into the cold palm of that golden-haired cousin, a 
sudden fanfaronade of hunting-horns and a cutting of 
hoofs through the crisp snow to the road broke the still- 
ness. The great Duchess drew a long sigh. Her ordeal 
was over. In five minutes a stream of gentlemen was 
pouring into the room after Louis, their King, who moved 
straight to the side of his lady, raised her hand to his 
lips, and then said, in a ringing tone: 

" We learn of your recovery from illness with the great- 
est happiness, madame, and it is our pleasure to welcome 
you again to our Court, where we trust that you will 
to-morrow resume your former duties, as usual." 

Then his Majesty, dropping the Majesty and his voice 
together, whispered a few words that brought a smile to 
the curved lips ; after which he stepped back to make way 
for the press of men and women, who were fairly struggling 



"Vol-au-Vent Royal" 387 

with each other for the opportunity of speaking to their 
dear Duchess. 

Louis, on retiring from madame's side, found himself 
near Deborah. Her piquant face had always pleased him. 
He bent over her now with a gallant compliment. The 
girl, quickening with pleasure, dropped a courtesy, mur- 
muring, a little confusedly, "Your Majes " 

"Not Majesty never Majesty here dear madame. 
I am simple Chevalier, to be addressed only by those who 
love me. Will you now allow me to continue our con- 
versation?" and Louis smiled slyly. 

"Yes, Chevalier," was the demure response. "For it is 
the duty the du " she stopped speaking, suddenly, her 
eyes fixed on something across the room. Louis, see- 
ing her expression, at once followed the gaze, and himself 
presently encountered the look of Claude, who, with face 
set and pale, was staring at them, oblivious of surround- 
ings, time, and place. 

The King shrugged. " Peste I It is the husband. He 
is an annoyance that man ! Well, then I retire, Madame 
la Comtesse, to prepare refreshments for our company." 
Smiling at her astonishment, Louis bowed and left her, 
making his way to the side of Richelieu, who was talking 
with Penthievre. 

"Come, gentlemen, I retire to the kitchen. See that 
d'Epernon, de Coigny, de Gvres, and Sauvr6 follow us 
immediately." 

Thereupon the King, obstructed by nothing more serious 
than the wistful glances of the women, passed over to a 
small tapestried door, which led out of the salon and 
through a long passage into the celebrated apartment where 
Mouthier and a reverend staff awaited him. 

"Ah, my good Mouthier! All is ready? Hein? Ex- 
cellent! What menu is there besides our famous pate"? 
My garments, Clement!" 

While the chef, with many bows, recited with great 
unction the enormous quantity of dishes which were to 
be served as "light refreshment" for the distinguished 



388 The House of de Mailly 

company, a young valet of the King's household ap- 
proached with a set of white linen garments which the 
King, his hunting - coat and waistcoat removed, pro- 
ceeded to don with great satisfaction. The toilet made, 
and the white cap set over his wig, he turned to the 
chef: 

"And now, Mouthier, for the great dish. How does 
it go? What do we need for it?" 

"Upon this table, Chevalier, are arranged all the in- 
gredients. They are not, however, prepared as yet." 
Mouthier waved his hand over the special table which 
was covered with a variety of utensils and the materials 
necessary for the composition of the vol-au-vent. Louis 
went over and began examining them with interest. 

" How long does it take in the cooking, Mouthier?" 

"In half an hour the dish might be completed. Here 
is the case of pastry which was prepared beforehand." 

"Yes certainly. Ah, gentlemen ! You are in time!" 

The last words were addressed to the six men who now 
entered the kitchen in a body. They were at once fur- 
nished with garments duplicating those of the King, which 
they proceeded to don with much real or forced merriment. 
For all the pages, it must be confessed, did not share their 
sovereign's love for this plebeian art. No one noticed 
when Richelieu made a deft removal of something unseen 
from the pocket of his hunting-coat to that of his cooking- 
jacket; for Louis was fussing over the chicken, and the 
others still jested with each other, or looked, with some 
distaste, over the large room, with its rough stone walls 
and chilly floor, and at the great, open fireplace, with its 
iron hooks and bars for kettles, its spits for roasts, and 
iron pots swinging on chains or placed in the ashes, from 
which already fragrant steam was rising. About this great 
place, which resembled a volcanic crater tipped to one side, 
clustered a group of Mouthier 's assistants, busied over 
various dishes under preparation. 

"Come, my friends, come! To work! We must not 
keep the ladies too long waiting; and there is also the 



" Vol-au-Vent Royal" 389 

return to Versailles to-night. I am famished now. Mou- 
thier, once again read to us the rules for vol-au-vent." 

Mouthier took a slight pause for breath and mental 
concentration, and then, with joyful obedience, com- 
menced : " Your Majesty will find before him, in proper 
quantities, which I have myself unerringly measured, the 
cooked chicken, the uncut sweetbreads and mushrooms, 
truffles whole, selected cocks '-combs, essence of chicken 
jellied, wheat flour of the most delicate variety, fresh but- 
ter, cream, an onion, a carrot, salt, pepper, mace, ground 
spice, and a fine lemon. Now in this small kettle the flour 
and butter must first be warmed together and stirred to a 
cream; and when it boils we will add one-half the salt, 
pepper, and jelly of chicken, together with a suspicion of 
carrot and onion, which must boil in a tout ensemble for 
some moments " 

"Yes, yes, yes! I will do it at once!" cried Louis, seiz- 
ing the kettle. 

Mouthier sprang towards him. " Sire, I beg I plead 
one moment ! This must not be begun till the sweetbreads 
are chopping, the mushrooms and truffles cut in cubes, 
the lemon grated and its juice pressed out." 

"Certainly. Let us begin! Mouthier, you shall direct 
us all as we proceed. De G6vres, you shall prepare the 
sweetbreads " 

"And I, Chevalier, will cut mushrooms, while d'Eper- 
non, who is on tiptoe with enthusiasm, does the truffles!" 
suggested Richelieu, smiling. 

"Very well very well! Marshal, you shall slice the 
carrot. You may imagine that it is an English army. 
Sau vre" weep over the onion ! ah ! That progresses now ! ' ' 

While he flung these rapid phrases about him, the King, 
with a by no means unskilful hand, had thrown the flour 
and butter into his kettle, and hurried to the fire, while an 
attendant made ready a bed of red embers in a corner, 
where the hottest flames might be avoided. Here, over the 
first pait of his preparation, squatted the grandson of the 
Sun King, spoon in hand, stirring vigorously, puffing with 



39 The House of de Mailly 

heat, and mightily enjoying himself. No casual observer, 
looking into the room at this moment, could have distin- 
guished born cook from Marquis, scullion from Duke, chef 
from King. M. de Gevres, his delicate brow damp with 
the sweat of toil, sat gloomily upon a wooden stool, a flat 
board on his knees, a villanous knife in his hands, hack- 
ing vindictively at the helpless sweetbreads. De Coigny, 
with a light touch, sliced carrots and carried on a laugh- 
ing conversation with M. de Sauvre, who, with nose tilted 
in the air, demolished a very large onion with a very bad 
grace; while d'Epernon, near by, his usual blase manner 
gone, worked laboriously at the truffles, proving so slow 
at the business that Penthievre, after watching him for 
a moment or two, obtained an implement from Mouthier, 
and went to his assistance. De Richelieu was more ex- 
clusive. He, with board, bowl, knife, and four dark mush- 
rooms, had crossed the room and seated himself in a dis- 
tant corner. Who was to note any change in the appear- 
ance of four of his fungi? Who suspicious enough and 
discourteous enough to question such a man about the 
contents of his earthen bowl when the King, after much 
measuring, stirring, boiling, and adding, finally called in 
excited tones for the mushrooms, truffles, and cocks'-combs, 
announcing to the anxious de Gevres that for five minutes 
still he must work at the sweetbreads? 

The three Dukes, each with his tribute, approached the 
fireplace, where Louis knelt over the savory mixture, 
which had by now been transferred to a larger kettle. 

"The truffles, d'Epernon slowly with care Voil&I 
Tis done." 

Louis stirred vigorously, and d'Epernon, with a sigh 
of relief, returned to the table, his task completed. 

" The cocks'-combs, Penthievre so ! That is well. That 
goes charmingly. And now, du Plessis the mushrooms. 
They are finely cut?" 

"I trust so, Chevalier." 

The King glanced into the dish, but the flames which 
danced before his eyes made it impossible to notice the 



" Vol-au-Vent Royal" 391 

slight trembling of Richelieu's hands. Slowly the con- 
tents of his bowl streamed into the rich mixture. 

"That is all now. Your linen will burn," observed 
Louis, as the Duke remained standing before him. 

Richelieu started. "Pardon, Sire," he said, absently, 
as he moved off towards the table. 

"And now the sweetbreads and the chicken!" cried his 
Majesty. 

" The vol-au-vent is nearly completed. When shall we 
announce refreshment?" asked Mouthier, as he bent over 
and sniffed his invention. 

"In fifteen minutes. It is really delightful, Mouthier. 
Du Plessis, my coat!" 

As the Duke helped his sovereign again into the green 
hunting-coat, he took occasion to whisper, with well- 
concealed anxiety : " Will your Majesty grant me a favor 
for the afternoon?" 

"What's that?" 

" Permit me to sit at table at some distance from Mme. 
de Chateauroux." 

The King shot a swift look into his gentleman's eyes, 
and it seemed as though he would speak. Richelieu knew 
from the glance that the fatal list had already been seen, 
though not executed, by the master of Versailles. "Sit 
where you choose. It will be as usual hors d' etiquette," 
he said, at length, with indifference. And then, when the 
others came up, after recoating themselves, his Majesty 
led the way back to the salons. 

The re-entrance of the royal group apparently made no 
stir in the drawing-room. No one rose; but a new, more 
open note crept into the conversation, and there ensued 
a short, interested silence as the King, speaking on the 
way to various ladies and gentlemen, made his way slowly 
to the side of the Chateauroux, seated himself by her, and 
told her companion, d'Egmont, by a very readable look, 
to depart which the Count did. Five minutes later the 
repast, which could be called neither dinner nor supper, 
was announced. 



392 The House of de Mailly 

In a slow, rustling stream the gayly dressed dames, 
and the gentlemen in their disordered hunting-suits, 
poured into the delightful little supper-room, with its 
panels by Watteau and Lancret, its great crystal chan- 
deliers in which candles already burned, and with its two 
long tables covered with flowers, silver, glass, and decan- 
ters of glowing wine. Places were chosen indiscriminately, 
for no order of rank was observed. Madame and the 
King seated themselves on the left side of the first table. 
Richelieu was at the far end, with Mme. d'Egmont. Deb- 
orah and M. d'Aiguillon sat across from the King, not 
a great distance down from him ; and Claude, with a per- 
sistent Marquise, managed to face his wife. At the other 
table Mme. de Coigny was in an awkward situation, with 
Henri de Mailly-Nesle upon her right hand, and her 
husband, the Marshal, on the other side. Messieurs 
d'Epernon and Penthievre also, to their disgust, had been 
obliged to retreat to the second table; but de G6vres, 
always lazily fortunate, was at the right hand of la Cha- 
teauroux, as the King sat at her left. 

His Majesty inaugurated the meal and an era with a 
toast to "Our dear friend, Marie Anne de Chateauroux, 
and her happy recovery from recent illness." 

Every glass was promptly raised and the toast drunk 
after a murmur of concurrence. Madame smiled slightly, 
in her peculiar way. She was wondering with what heart 
certain gentlemen near her would have drunk could they 
have foreseen the morrow. Her eyes travelled to Riche- 
lieu's place. No doubt he still deemed her ignorant of 
the Metz treachery. He should discover, later, his mis- 
take. 

At the conclusion of the toast the room was invaded by 
six footmen, bearing, on silver platters, the first dish of the 
afternoon the long-awaited vol-au-vent. Just inside the 
door, however, they halted in two lines. There followed a 
pause, an instant of delay, and then Mouthier himself en- 
tered from the kitchen, bearing in his hands a round, golden 
plate, on which, delicately smoking, was the King's pat6. 



" Vol-au- Vent Royal' 393 

As it was placed before Mme. de Chateauroux a murmur of 
polite interest rose from every side. 

"This is for me alone?" inquired the Duchess, smiling 
languorously at her liege. 

" For you alone. 1 made it myself, Anne. Like it, then, 
for my sake!" 

His words were audible to many around them, and from 
all sides came little murmurs of applause and praise for 
such devotion. The favorite's heart throbbed. Her mis- 
ery was at an end. The old days had at last returned. 
The waiting had not been in vain. As a footman from the 
right presented one of Mouthier's pates to Louis, her Grace 
slid the pastry cover of her own dish off, and, with a 
spoon of the same metal as her platter, dipped the hot 
and creamy filling into her plate. It was not such food as, 
in her debilitated condition, she should have had. This 
she was well aware of, and determined that no morsel of 
any of the other complicated entries served hereafter 
should pass her lips. This one thing it was her place to 
eat. As, for the first time, she raised the fork to her lips, 
she was conscious of the fire of many eyes. It was won- 
derful, indeed, that the gaze of Louis de Richelieu did not 
burn her through all the others, so steadily fixed, so dilating 
with dire prophecy was it. However, it was the big gray 
glance of Deborah de Mailly that she caught, as the fork 
was lowered to the plate again. Deborah was watching, 
with fascinated curiosity, this woman whom she saw for 
the second time this woman for whom Claude had been 
exiled. 

Madame turned to the King. " It is a marvel the most 
truly delicious thing that 1 have ever tasted," she said. 
And her remark was not utterly untrue. The dish was 
good. 

"Mouthier shall have fifty louis from the treasury to- 
morrow," observed France. "He invented it." 

"1 shall eat nothing else this afternoon," she added. 
And the King was quite satisfied with his success. 

She was true to her word, steadfastly refusing to try 



394 The House of de Mailly 

the numberless dishes that followed the first. Richelieu, 
talking rapidly and brilliantly with Madame d'Egmont, 
watched the golden spoon return to the plate again 
and again, till that which he had helped the King to 
make was gone, and his die and hers were finally cast, 
though the cups would remain over them still for a little 
while. 

The meal only endured for the space of an hour. Louis 
had become visibly impatient and restless. His dish once 
made, served, and praised, he was satisfied with his day, 
and would have been glad to start at once upon the return 
to Versailles. Since this could not be, he made the tedium 
as brief as possible. Certainly the affair was anything 
but lively. Deborah wondered more and more why Claude 
had forbidden her coming here. Her first suspicion that it 
was his plan to meet his cousin had been gradually dis- 
pelled. Perceiving the King's intentions, he had had 
nothing at all to do with her. The matter was puzzling. 
To be sure, much champagne and mn d'Ai were being 
consumed by every one. The conversation flowed easily 
on the edge of questionable topics, and the broadness of 
her neighbor's compliments annoyed her. But Deborah 
had seen all this, and more, in many other places. In fact, 
it was the common tone of Court society. The bugaboo of 
Choisy and its wild carousings was rapidly being driven 
from her belief. 

At a little past five o'clock the King gave the signal for 
the breaking up of the party, and, after a few moments of 
lingering in the halls over wraps and hoods, coaches began 
to drive away from the royal retreat into the dark direction 
of Versailles. The first vehicle to depart was that of the 
Duchesse de Chateauroux ; and in it, beside her, sat the King. 
Louis was very happy. Marie Anne de Mailly was more 
to him, infinitely more, than either of her sisters had been. 
Her type of character, her quiet hauteur, her indifference 
to many things usually prized, the few demands that she 
made upon him, her long periods of silence, the hours when 
he knew her to be suffering as much from ennui as he was 



" Vol-au-Vent Royal" 395 

himself all of her moods, in fine, were sympathetic to him; 
and for this he had made her what she was. Both of them 
were intensely cold-blooded. He knew that he lacked in 
feeling. He divined her to be like himself. And this fact, 
which might have repelled many men, pleased him, as 
he realized that it put him beyond all danger of rivalry, so 
long as she was sure of an undivided sway over him. 

It was a curious drive from Choisy to Versailles. They 
traversed almost the whole distance in silence. The road 
was dark, save for what faint light the carriage lamps and 
the postilion's lantern cast ahead, and the horses plunged 
rapidly over the frozen road, dragging the heavy coach in 
and out of deep ruts, and over many stones embedded in the 
snow. Occasionally Louis spoke in a low voice, and ma- 
dame made effort to answer him; but the effort was ap- 
parent. She felt strongly disinclined towards conversation, 
though her brain worked feverishly enough. When finally, 
about seven o'clock, the town of Versailles was gained, and 
there were but ten minutes left of the drive, Louis broached 
a necessary subject. 

"Your old apartments are ready for you, Anne; and I 
have also had prepared for you two extra rooms in the little 
interior courts. In the absence of Elise, our good Hen 
will be your companion. Your servants are already in- 
stalled; and 1 have commanded d'Argenson to meet you 
at the chapel entrance. We shall not arrive publicly." 

Madame tried to speak, but was obliged to make two or 
three efforts before the muscles of her throat responded. 
"D'Argenson goes to-morrow?" she said, finally, with a 
dull intonation. 

" For your sake yes. He is hard to spare. I was going 
to make him Minister of Foreign Affairs." 

Madame saw no necessity for replying to this ; but pres- 
ently she observed, "So her Majesty is not yet informed 
of my return?" 

" She is unaware that her salon to-night is held in your 
honor. The Court also is ignorant of that. I have planned 
it so that your appearance may be that of a meteor in the 



396 T-he House of de Mailly 

heavens the rising of an unlocked - f or star, a new 
planet." 

"You treat her your wife very badly, France." 

" Mordi ! She is only a machine for prayers. She does 
not think." 

Silence fell on this remark, for the coach was rolling 
up the approach to the palace. Passing the Court of 
Ministers, where was the grand entrance, it entered an- 
other long, narrow court, a kind of cleft between the main 
building and the north wing, halting before a little private 
door leading into the hallway between the vestibule sup6- 
rieure and the chapel itself. This door was open, and 
by the light of the lantern hanging from an iron projection 
above it might have been seen a man in household livery, 
watching. As the King alighted from the coach the ser- 
vant called softly, "Monsieur!" 

Out of the darkness beyond came a man, who appeared 
in time to behold la Chateauroux step from the vehicle. 

"D'Argenson conduct madame to her suite." 

"Madame 1 have the honor," muttered young Marc 
Antoine, faintly. 

With a small, cruel smile, visible in the lantern-light, 
Marie Anne de Mailly extended her hand. D'Argenson, 
inwardly quivering, lifted it to his lips. 

Something more than an hour later Claude and Deborah, 
in chairs, arrived at the grand entrance of the palace, 
and went in together. They were a little late for the 
Queen's salon, which fact was due to Claude's fastidious- 
ness. Both he and his wife had made fresh and elaborate 
toilets, and, as Deborah was very much more rapid in her 
operations than her lord, she had had nearly half an hour 
to wait for him at their apartment. Debby Travis never 
was noted for great patience, save in still-room processes ; 
and though she made no comments, when Claude finally 
signified his readiness to proceed, it was just as well that 
a lady's panniers took up all the room in one chair, so 
that custom obliged him to be carried in another. 



" Vol-au-Vent Royal" 397 

They went up the Staircase of the Ambassadors together, 
in perfect (apparent) amicability, ascended the left side 
of the second flight, stopping to speak to two or three more 
belated couples, hurried through the marble room at the 
top, and so passed into the Queen's antechamber, in which 
stood half a dozen gentlemen. From the salon beyond 
came a subdued murmur of conversation; and Deborah, 
as soon as a servant had taken her cloak, passed into it. 
Claude, however, was detained by M. de Pont-de-Vesle, 
who seized him by the coat-lapel. 

"My dear Count what is the world here for? Why 
is his Majesty in the next room there? Why do we wait? 
What is the news?" 

"You speak like a catechism, monsieur. How should 
I know the news?" 

"Humph! You are a de Mailly." 

"Confessed! What does it betoken?" asked Claude, 
smiling. 

"These rumors that la Chateauroux is on her way 
back to Versailles are they true?" 

"Am I my cousin's keeper?" 

"You were." 

"But am not." 

"Then do you know nothing?" persisted the old fellow, 
disappointedly. 

"Nothing, monsieur." 

"Ah, pestel I am still in every one's boat. I, also, 
know nothing. What is one to do?" 

"Here is du Plessis. Ask him." 

Richelieu was just entering from the salon. As the 
light from the candles in the antechamber fell upon his 
face Claude saw the expression, and wondered a little. 
It was like that of a harassed animal who has been goaded 
too far. Going up to de Mailly, he seized him by the arm, 
and, adroitly avoiding the importunities of the other man, 
pulled him roughly to one side. 

" Claude, where is the Duchess ? She is late. The King 
is becoming irritated at the delay. The Court knows 



398 The House of de Mailly 

nothing, and waits to learn. There are all sorts of rumors. 
Have you seen her?" 

" Mordi! You hurt my arm! What in the world is the 
matter? How should 1 have seen her? Do you think 
here she is." 

The Duchesse de Chateauroux was at the threshold of 
the antechamber; stood there, quite still, for a moment, 
perhaps that those within the room might see her. She 
was worth looking at, attired as she was in royal purple 
velvet, her neck and waist girt with diamonds, her cheeks 
much rouged, but her temples as white as her powdered 
hair. Her sister, Mme. de Flavacourt, a foil in white, 
followed at train 's--length. 

"Ah, Claude!" observed Marie Anne, in a voice hoarser 
than usual, "1 have come to life again, you see!" She 
smiled, extending her hand. Claude took it, wondering 
at its burning heat. There was no opportunity for re- 
plying to her; for, the instant that she began to move 
forward, the few who were in the small room pressed 
towards her, eager for a first word. 

"You have returned returned to us forever?" croaked 
Pont-de-Vesle, as Richelieu slipped quietly away behind 
him. 

"Yes, yes. I am making my re-entrance before her 
Majesty now. Al allow me to pass!" 

Those who saw her suddenly gasp thought it, perhaps, 
excess of emotion. She made her way through the group 
in a quick, uncertain, almost tottering way. She gained 
the threshold of the salon, seeing once more, with failing 
eyes, that room, as she had dreamed of it so many times. 
All were before her Court, Queen, King. Yes. Louis' 
eyes met hers, and held them for an instant. She must 
begin the advance now. But but this pain this new, 
hideous, torturing pain this burning of her throat this 
frightful thirst! She had been uncomfortable for an 
hour past. This was unendurable. Walking standing 
were impossible. Her clothes pressed her as though they 
were of iron. The Court stood staring at her hesitation. 



" Vol-au-Vent Royal" 399 

One or two men started forward a little as if to go to her. 
Suddenly from her lips broke a harsh, guttural cry, fol- 
lowed by a fainter one " Au secours !" They saw her try 
one step. Then, as the sweat of agony broke out, cold 
and dripping, over her whole body, she sank, in a reck- 
less heap, down upon the polished floor. 



CHAPTER XI 



Thy Glory" 




EBORAH lay in bed thinking. It was two 
hours now since she and Claude, with the 
rest of the frightened Court, had received 
a sharp command from the ushers to depart 
instantly to their various apartments, in the 
palace or out of it. That the ushers' voices were the 
echo of the King's was beyond doubt; and that fact was 
reason sufficient for the prompt obedience given to the 
bidding. 

Thus Deborah, like every other witness of the evening's 
sensation, had retired, to lie wide awake, and go, over and 
over again, through the little chain of incidents which 
had passed before her eyes. Her meditations were more 
involuntary, less purposive, than most, however. The 
sight of a human being in great suffering had roused in 
her that keen instinct which had lain nearly dormant now 
for so many months. After the fall, she had been one of 
the first to reach the side of Claude's cousin. She recalled 
the press of fluttering women and excited men. The 
King himself had been obliged to force his way to her. 
The Queen, supported on either side by Mesdames de 
Boufflers and de Luynes, remained in her chair, making 
frightened, unanswered inquiries as to the Duchess' state. 
And through it all madame had lain prostrate, writhing 
and shuddering, in her long velvet robes. It was finally 
Mirepoix, with d'Argenson, white-lipped, Maurepas, very 
stern and still, and Marshal Coigny, who, at a sign from 
their sovereign, lifted the woman from the floor and car- 
ried her away from the eager, gaping throng to her own 



"Thy Glory" 401 

rooms. The King, having despatched two messengers, 
one for Falconet, the other for Quesnay, and having left 
the whispered command with the ushers, himself departed 
after la Chateauroux, taking with him his usual com- 
panion in all things, Richelieu. Hereupon followed the dis- 
persal of the Court, and here, later, was where the recollec- 
tions and meditations of the common courtiers ended, and 
only a fresh beginning could be made and gone through, 
for future gossip and reference. It was different with 
Deborah. Her heated brain had reflected the whole ka- 
leidoscopic picture in a flash, as a single impression, again, 
and once again. But it was not upon small incidents, 
the acts or words of others, that her later imagination 
halted. Instead, she was reviewing, moan by moan, 
shudder by shudder, wild look and desperate closing of 
the eyes, the strange illness that had so suddenly seized 
the woman Claude had loved. That guttural cry, as if 
the throat had contracted suddenly the fever -flush, 
visible to a keen gaze beneath the rouge the growing 
dulness of the eyes that contradicted the theory of natu- 
ral fever the incessant, useless retching the paroxysms 
that had wrung a groan of pity from Louis himself all 
these, incomprehensible to those about her, Deborah had 
noted. And she found two things, two little points, which 
seemed to convey, as out of some past, a shred of memory, 
a suggestion that she had been witness of another such 
struggle somewhere at some time. The first fact was 
that la Chateauroux, as the pain, after a second's cessation, 
reat tacked her with new fury, suddenly threw up her arms 
and clutched, with stiffening fingers, at the air. Secondly, 
just after this, a bright sweat broke out upon her forehead, 
and, as a great drop rolled down her face, Deborah saw the 
body quiver as if with cold. 

Such things where had she seen them before? Who 
was it that had passed through her life undergoing such 
experience? No shadow of grief clung about the memory. 
No. There had been no death, then. Who had been with 
her ? Carroll ! Sambo ! The amanita muscaria pitted 
26 



402 The House of de Mailly 

against the atropa belladonna ! It had all come back now. 
She had seen the symptoms of poisoning by the deadly 
fungus again, here, in this France. She, even here, pos- 
sessed the means of saving life again, perhaps; if if if 
there was only time! 

Simultaneously with that last thought Deborah leaped 
out of bed, and, holding up her long white gown, ran swiftly 
through her quiet boudoir and into the salon, which was, 
as usual, faintly lighted with a night-lantern. Seizing 
this from the table where it stood, she opened its door, 
snuffed the candle within to greater brilliancy, and carried 
it over to the mantel-piece, where she set it down. An in- 
stant more and the cabinet was open before her. Inside, 
in their even rows, stood her bottles of liquids, and near them 
near them the box of amanita muscaria. Deborah's 
eyes fell instantly upon this object. Strangely enough, 
the thought had not heretofore struck her that she possessed 
some of these things. The blood around her heart sud- 
denly grew cold. Who was it that had seen them not 
three days ago? Who was it that had stood beside her 
here, had taken that box down from its place, and asked her 
about its contents? How much had she told him about 
them? Had could he No ! Suspicion was carrying 
her too far. The thing was preposterous impossible. 
Nevertheless, with a hand that shook, and fingers numb 
with cold, she took down the white box. In it there had 
been ten of the things. Now she must look. Could 
she? Her eyes, that should have sought the box, were 
raised for a moment. She saw that the room was lighter. 
Behind her another candle burned. She faced about. 
Then, seeing some one in the doorway, Deborah's over- 
wrought nerves gave way, she shuddered convulsively, 
dropped the box and its contents to the floor, put both hands 
pitifully out towards the figure, and swayed where she stood. 
Claude sprang forward, and caught her just in time. For 
a moment or two she leaned heavily upon him. Placing 
his light upon the mantel near the lantern, and taking her 
in both arms, he carried her over to a small sofa near the 



"Thy Glory" 403 

dark window. There, smoothing the tangled, half-pow- 
dered curls back from her face and neck, and taking both 
the cold hands in his to chafe warmth back to them again, 
he asked, gently : 

" What is it, Deborah? What is the matter? What were 
you doing here?" 

The figure in his arms trembled and stiffened. Deborah 
sat up, and then rose to her feet. Drawing one hand away 
from his, she put it over her eyes. "Claude," she said, in 
a 'low voice, "pick up for me those those things on the 
floor and put them into the box. Hunt well don't let any 
of them escape you. Then tell me how many there 
are." 

Claude wondered, looked at her intently for a moment, 
and finally obeyed her without a word. He picked up the 
small black objects that lay about the box, searching the 
floor carefully to get them all, and counting them as he re- 
placed them, with a kind of interest. 

"Look well," she repeated. "As you believe in God 
do not miss a single one!" 

"They are all here." 

"How many?" 

"Six." 

Silence followed that word; and Claude, watching his 
wife, could not see that a muscle in her body moved. Never- 
theless, he dared not break the stillness. When she spoke 
at last, it was in a normal tone. 

" Claude, we must go to the palace at once." 

" Child! You are mad! What do you mean?" 

"Claude, you must trust me. I know the sickness of 
your cousin. I can perhaps save her life. Come with 
me now, at once." 

"No." 

"Claude! For the sake of mercy, you must come!" 

Claude de Mailly sent towards his wife a glance that cut 
her like a knife. " What do you know ?" he asked. 

"Everything." 

"Tell me." 



404 The House of de Mailly 

" No ; I cannot do that. You must wait. Mme. de Cha- 
teauroux has been poisoned. 1 know how by whom but 
not why. By making me wait, you are killing her. Claude, 
you love her. 1 will save her life for you. Do you hear? 
1 will save the woman you love ! Come ! " 

Claude looked about him feverishly. "I love her!" he 
muttered. Then aloud he asked : "Who was it that tried 
to kill her?" 

"Claude! Claude! Be still! Come with me!" 

Claude de Mailly strode over to his wife's side and 
grasped one of her wrists so tightly that she bit her lips 
with pain. 

"Answer me. Who was it? What do you know?" 

Deborah cast at him a look which had in it a kind of de- 
spair, but which held neither fear nor dread. "You will 
be her murderer if you delay longer. Claude, the coma will 
come. We shall be helpless then. Let me go 1 am going 
to the palace !" 

Claude released her and stepped back. Something in the 
expression of her clear eyes had brought him boundless re- 
lief. There was no guilt in her face, none in her manner. 

"Dress yourself. 1 will go!" he said, sharply; and 
then, after seeing her fly away towards her room, he retreated 
to his own, to don heavy cloak, hat, and rapier, for he had 
not yet undressed for the night. When, after some mo- 
ments, he returned to the salon, his wife, in her heavy p6- 
lisse and hood, with muff under her arm, was standing in 
front of the still open cabinet, looking at the bottles within. 
At last, from among them, she took one that was half filled 
with clear liquid. Fixing its cork in tightly, she slipped 
the flask into her muff, and turned to Claude. 

" 1 am ready now. How long you were!" she said. 

They passed together out of their rooms, through the 
dark passage, and down the stairs. It was scarcely yet 
midnight. The front doors of the house were still un- 
locked, and the concierge was just reflecting on bed. 

" How shall we go?" whispered Deborah, as they stepped 
into the frozen night. 



"Thy Glory" 405 

" It may be possible to find a coach. Otherwise, we must 
walk." 

They had gone but twenty yards up the street when, 
luckily enough, an empty vehicle, which had just left a 
party of roystering nobles at a gambling - house, came 
rattling towards them. Claude called out to the driver, 
who stopped on hearing his voice. 

" A louis d'or if you get us to the palace in ten minutes," 
cried young de Mailly. 

The coachman opened his eyes. " We shall do it in seven, 
Monseigneur," he said, eagerly. 

Claude opened the door and Deborah sprang in before 
him. There was a snap of the whip, a plunge of the horses, 
and for something like the time designated they fairly flew 
through the darkness, from the Rue Royale to the Avenue 
de Sceaux, and down St. Miche to the Boulevard de la 
Reine. When they finally crossed the second Avenue St. 
Antoine, Claude drew a deep breath. 

" We are nearly there," he said. 

In another moment they had drawn up before the grand 
entrance on the Court of Ministers. 

If Claude had been wise, he would have entered the palace 
by the chapel, and so avoided the guards. But this ad- 
venture was not of his planning. Deborah's desires he 
could only conjecture, for she had not spoken during the 
drive. Therefore, tossing the coachman his golden coin, 
he helped his wife from the coach, and with her entered the 
great vestibule, which was filled with Suisses and extra 
King's guards. These saluted respectfully enough as the 
couple entered the doorway ; but, when Claude proceeded 
towards the staircase, a musqueteer barred his way. 

" Your order, monsieur?" he said, respectfully. 

"My order? I have nonel" 

" It is not permitted to pass without, to-night. His Maj- 
esty's commands, monsieur," said the man. 

Claude turned to his wife. "You hear?" he said. 

For answer, Deborah herself turned towards the soldier. 
"We may wait here in the vestibule?" she asked 



406 The House of de Mailly 

"Certainly, madame," answered the guard, at once mov- 
ing out of the way. 

Claude and Deborah turned reluctantly and walked 
towards the other side of the great vestibule. As they 
went Claude accosted another member of the royal guard. 
"My good man, 1 am a cousin of Mme. de Chateauroux. 
We come on a matter of the greatest importance. Will 
you not permit us to ascend?" 

The man stared at them keenly, with a kind of smile. 
"Mme. de Chateauroux is not in the palace," said he. 

Deborah looked aghast. " Not in the palace!" she mur- 
mured. 

"Sh! It is the usual method. It means nothing. She 
is here. Listen, Deborah; 1 am going to ask Michot, 
yonder, whom 1 know very well, if you may retire to the 
little chambre-a-manteaux to wait. From there we can 
get into a passage which will take us to the little stair- 
case. Remain here for a moment." 

Deborah watched him go towards a Suisse, who addressed 
him by title as he approached. She perceived that he 
thrust something into the man's hand, and, when he re- 
turned to her side, it was with relief in his face. "That 
was better/' he whispered. "Come now here." 

He drew her hurriedly into a narrow room off the vesti- 
bule, and from there, three minutes later, through a small, 
panelled door that led into the south wing of the palace. 
Here they were safely beyond the provinces of guards; 
and, after passing through a long series of dimly lighted 
rooms, they came presently upon a small staircase just 
off what is now the Cour de la Surintendance. Up one 
flight of these, through two deserted rooms and a short 
hallway at the end of the King's state apartments,, and 
they halted before a tapestried door. 

"This is her antechamber," said Claude. 

Deborah put out her hand and pushed it open. They 
entered. The room was brightly lighted, but empty. 

"The boudoir," muttered de Mailly. He hurried across 
the room to another door, Deborah close at his heels. It 



"Thy Glory" 407 

was he who opened this. As they crossed the threshold 
of the Persian-hung room they faced two people, a man 
and a woman Antoinette Crescot and his Grace de 
Richelieu. 

"Madame!" 

Claude had never heard so strange an intonation from 
his friend's lips. He saw his wife start nervously and 
stand perfectly still, while the King's gentleman took 
two or three steps backward towards the door which 
led into the bedroom. Silence followed the exclamation. 
Antoinette, the maid, astonished at this appearance of 
the young man whom she had once known so well, together 
with a companion, a woman, whom she had never seen, 
dared not, by reason of her place, voice curiosity. She 
whom Richelieu had addressed simply as madame re- 
mained as if petrified, her large grayish eyes burning into 
Richelieu's, her face colorless, her expression inscrutable. 
And the Duke's eyes shifted a thing that no one had ever 
seen before shifted from Deborah's feet to her face, from 
her to Claude, and then stared away at nothing, while 
his white hands were clenched, and his graceful body 
stiffened. Finally, after uncomfortable minutes, Claude 
lifted his hand and pointed. 

"Marie Anne is there?" he asked. 

Richelieu drew back yet more closely against the door. 
"No one is permitted to enter," he said, in a low, dogged 
voice. 

His tone seemed to break the spell under which Debo- 
rah had been standing. "1 will enter !" she said, moving 
swiftly towards him. 

Du Plessis did not stir. 

"Let me pass," she whispered. 

"By what right, madame? Have you his Majesty's 
order?" 

"Let me pass!" she repeated, lower than before. 

"Why?" 

For answer she looked straight into his eyes; but he, 
though every muscle in his body quivered, steadily held 



408 The House of de Mailly 

his own. Then she said, rapidly: "I can save her life 
if only there is time." 

Thereupon, a little more stubbornly, a little more relent- 
lessly, he shrank against the door. 

Deborah drew a sharp breath, and suddenly seized both 
his large white wrists with her own hands. For an in- 
stant, by reason of the suddenness of her move, it seemed 
as though he must yield. With an effort he regained 
his equilibrium; and then all the strength which despera- 
tion might have put into her could not have moved him 
one inch. 

"Deborah, what are you doing?" came Claude's clear, 
sharp voice. 

" Claude help me ! 1 must pass that door. 1 must 
1 will pass that door ! Help me !" 

Claude gazed at his wife as though she had gone de- 
mented; and Antoinette, also astounded, stepped forward. 
"Pardon, madame, but his Majesty is in that room, to- 
gether with the doctors, Mme. de Flavacourt, and Pere 
Segand. Monsieur le Due had orders to allow none to 
pass to-night." 

This explanation had apparently no effect upon Mme. 
de Mailly. For a bare instant she turned to look at the 
girl, and then shook her head impatiently. "1 tell you 
1 can save the life of Mme. de Chateauroux. I am the only 
person who can do so, for only I " 

Suddenly she stopped. The door opened from the in- 
side. Richelieu straightened himself and stepped forward, 
as out of the bedroom came a man, tall and stoutish, 
in square wig and loose black suit which made him appear 
old. This was Quesnay. Closing the door behind him, 
he stood looking in some astonishment at the new-comers. 
Presently recognizing Claude, however, he bowed slightly. 
Claude returned the salute ; and no one stirred as the doctor 
crossed the room and flung himself upon a chair with the 
manner of one who has made up his mind on an important 
point. It was Richelieu, who, after a doubtful glance at 
Deborah, asked, gently: "She is worse?" 



"Thy Glory" 409 

Quesnay hesitated. Then, with a shrug, he replied, 
gruffly: "She's lost. 1 say so. She's lost. That fool 
Falconet would continue his insane bleedings and cup- 
pings. He no more knows her sickness than 1 do. Let 
her rest in peace now, say 1 'till the end." 

Despite his abrupt phrases, there was a good deal of 
feeling in Quesnay's voice; for the Duchess had been his 
friend. He now turned his back on the little party, and 
strode over to one of the windows, where he stood looking 
into the black gulf of the Court of Marble, below. So for 
many minutes no one within the room spoke ; no one moved. 
The silence was finally broken by the reopening of the 
bedroom door. This time it was Louis of France who 
left the bedroom of the dying woman. He entered the 
boudoir with head bent, brows knitted, one hand nervously 
brushing his forehead, the other hanging limp at his side ; 
and no one had ever before beheld the expression that 
now rested upon his face. To Deborah he looked in some 
way more kingly; to the rest he was more human, older, 
more cognizant than before of the deep under-life of things 
and of people. As for him, if he beheld the new-comers in 
the room, he evinced no surprise at their presence, nor had 
he taken any notice of the reverent lowering of heads as 
he came among them. 

"Richelieu, go to the little apartments and bring back 
with you Bachelier, Maurepas, and Marc Antoine d'Ar- 
genson. Speak to no others if you can possibly avoid it. 
If forced, you will say that the Duchess of Chateauroux 
is not in the palace." 

Richelieu bowed low. Nothing could have expressed 
his secret terror at leaving that room, which contained Deb- 
orah de Mailly and the King, together with none to 
prevent her speaking if she would. Nevertheless, he 
departed on his errand without protest. After the exit 
Louis seated himself in the chair that Quesnay had left, 
his head bowed on his hands, his attitude precluding any 
idea of speech on the part of any one present. Thus the 
four Quesnay, Claude, Antoinette Crescot, and Deborah 



410 The House of de Mailly 

stood there for ten long minutes about their master, like 
him waiting for Richelieu's return. 

When the Duke re-entered the apartment, Bachelier was 
alone with him. Maurepas and d'Argenson, neither of 
them dressed, were to follow presently. On seeing his 
valet, the King beckoned the little man to his side, whispered 
to him inaudibly for several seconds, and then dismissed 
him on some errand. Just without, in the antechamber, 
Bachelier encountered the two ministers. There was no 
speech between them, but looks, in a Court, are capa- 
ble of astonishing development. When Maurepas and 
d'Argenson appeared in the Persian boudoir they were 
prepared for many things. Neither made any sign at 
sight of Claude and Deborah. The King, bowed and 
deeply troubled, was before them, in his chair. After the 
salute there was a short silence, which Louis, with an effort, 
broke : 

" Gentlemen, we shall have need of you later. Mean- 
time you will remain in this room. While you are here 
we forbid you in any way to address any of those about 
you. And upon those who have, we know not how, been 
admitted here, we also impose silence. Hereafter this night 
must be by all of you forgotten. Any violation of my com- 
mand will mean understand well, messieurs and mes- 
dames will mean imprisonment for life." 

With these final words the King, after glancing sol- 
emnly around the semicircle of mute figures, rose slowly 
and moved towards the bedroom door. As he opened it 
all behind him saw Falconet, the royal physician, turn 
and face his Majesty, whispering something. Louis 
started back for a second, and covered his face with his 
hands. Then, turning about, he raised one hand in a sum- 
mons that was understood by all those who stood in the 
adjoining room. The little party moved forward into 
the sleeping -chamber of her who had ruled Versailles. 
Maurepas and d'Argenson stood aside for Deborah and 
her husband to enter; then they followed, with Quesnay 
behind. Antoinette Crescot, waiting to be last, saw 



"Thy Glory" 411 

Richelieu, whose face had grown ghastly white, falter to 
the threshold of the door. There he stopped, hesitating, 
struggling with himself. Finally, with an effort that 
cost him all that remained of his nerve force, he stepped 
quickly into the bedroom and halted just inside, his back 
to the wall. Antoinette, who had sent one glittering look, 
like a dart, through the man in front of her, followed him 
into the bedroom, and passed him, as he stopped beside 
the wall. 

Around the great bed of the third of the de Nesle sisters 
stood those who had just entered into that room, the spell 
of the hour, the nickering candle-light, and the terrible 
scene before them weaving a spell of slow fear about them 
all. The heavy velvet bed-curtains had long ago been 
pulled down, to give madame air in her agony. Up near 
the pillows, to the left, her face hidden in her hands, utterly 
exhausted with the horror of what she had seen, knelt 
Mme. de Flavacourt. At the other side was Pere Segand, 
the confessor, who had administered the last sacrament 
two hours before. Beside him stood Quesnay's superior, 
M. Falconet. Directly behind was the King, his eyes, 
like those of the rest, fixed upon the face of the woman 
he had loved. 

Marie Anne de Mailly-Nesle lay rigid on her bed. Her 
golden hair, shaken free from powder in the last four hours, 
framed, in shining waves, her face. That face! Dusky, 
wrinkled, gray; the eyes, half -open, catching the candle- 
light, and glittering, glassy black, beneath their frozen 
lids; the shapeless lips, two drawn, gray lines, from be- 
neath the upper of which the white teeth peered forth; 
was this visage that which once had been the peerless 
countenance of the most superb woman of her time?* And 
one thing more there was, which seemed a mark put on her 
by some master will to stamp the life which she had led 
unmistakably on her in death. Below the left corner of 

* Description taken from a medical report of the coma produced by 
the amanita muscaria. 



412 The House of de Mailly 

her mouth, unloosened in her life-struggles, was a black 
patch, cut in the shape of a crescent, named by the Court 
fop who had originated it, the " coquette." 

And so, through these December midnight hours, the 
little circle remained about that bed, gazing, in tremulous 
fascination, at what lay before them. Maurepas knew, 
now, why they had been admitted here. Who, ever after, 
would voluntarily gossip of such a scene as this? Who 
would willingly recall it to memory? Prudent- wise with 
a terrible wisdom was this King of theirs become ! Maure- 
pas, standing here, recalled, even as Claude was doing, 
another death which had taken place in this palace of Ver- 
sailles: that of little Pauline Felicit6 de Vintimille, sister 
of this woman, seventeen years old, a mother, who had 
also left her bright world behind because of the unhallowed 
infatuation of the unapproachable man who stood here 
now Louis Bourbon, King of France. 

Long, endlessly long, was the train of hapless recollec- 
tions called up by this scene; and when at last a whis- 
per fell upon the silence, its words were an echo of other 
thoughts. Antoinette Crescot, forgetting everything save 
the unknowable face of her former mistress, muttered, 
softly, half to herself, "Is she dead?" 

And in the room six, like her, waited for some reply. 
It came; not from the lips of Quesnay or of Falconet, but 
as an articulate breath from Deborah de Mailly, "Not 
yet not yet but soon." 

Again the silence and the chilling spell, to be broken, 
this time, by the voice of the little golden clock from the 
mantel across the room. Two strokes rang out. The 
winter dawn was yet many hours away. Then, as if she 
had been waiting for a sound, the corpse-like figure on the 
bed suddenly, without apparent effort, sat up. The sight- 
less eyes opened and were turned towards him whose scene 
this was. Louis shuddered under the look. Mme. de 
Chateauroux stretched out her gray lips in a long, slow 
smile. Then, in the voice of one speaking from the 
hereafter, she said, audibly, with uncanny lack of ex- 



"Thy Glory" 413 

pression, "Thou knowest if I have wished thy 
glory." 

It was the end. Pere Se'gand caught the body as it fell, 
and laid it gently upon the pillow and sheet. Then, high 
over her, he raised the crucifix that hung suspended from 
his waist. Those in the room sank to their knees. Mme. 
de Flavacourt's sobs were the only ones heard. Minutes 
passed, and Deborah felt hot drops from her eyes trickle 
slowly down her clasped hands and fall to the floor. Then 
came to her ears the tones of a hard, monotonous voice, 
in which all tears had long since been petrified to stone. 

"Mesdames and messieurs you have not witnessed 
the death of Mme. de Chateauroux; for Mme. de Cha- 
teauroux has not been in Versailles since the month of 
June. Mme. de Chateauroux died four days ago, on the 
morning of the 4th of December, in Paris, at her hdtel in 
the Rue du Bac of a malignant fever."* 

It was the voice of a King ; and of such was the glory of 
Versailles. 

* Historians differ as to the date of the death of the Duchess of 
Chateauroux. It occurred upon either the 4th or the 8th of December, 
1744, how or where has never been definitely known. 




CHAPTER XII 

One More de Mailly? 

fENRI Henri why are you questioning me? 
I know nothing ! Mon Dieu I I know less 
than nothing!" 

Claude and his cousin sat together in 
the Marquis' salon in the Hotel de Mailly. 
Before them, on a table, were various liqueurs and some 
untasted cakes. The two young men had returned from 
a visit to the Ursuline convent in the old city, where lived 
and repented Henri's sister, Claude's sister-in-law, Louise 
Julie de Mailly, once queen of the little apartments in 
Versailles. Four days ago the funeral of la Chateau- 
roux had taken place, with quiet unostentation, in the Rue 
du Bac, the body being carried to St. Cyr. Henri and 
Claude were now in black, though their period of mourn- 
ing, according to Court etiquette, could last but a short 
time. 

The Marquis sipped his cordial tentatively. "Claude/' 
said he, after the pause which had followed his cousin's 
foregoing exclamations, " we have not been much together 
since you came home." 

" No. Of course, it is very different from the old days. 
One is so much more bound when one is married." 

"I have not found it so," was the dry response. 

"Oh but you married into a French family of our 
station. Naturally, Madame la Marquise conformed more 
easily to our customs than Deborah." 

"And yet," said Henri, contemplating a panel, "yet 
the Countess has not been backward in comprehending 
the forms. Do you think so?" 



One More de Mailly? 415 

Claude's face flushed quickly. "What do you mean?" 
he asked, playing nervously with his glass. 

Henri's eyes fell from the picture and sought his cousin's 
face. His look was very kindly, but he made no reply to 
Claude's question. 

"What do you mean? Do not hide from me what you 
know. We have been as brothers always. Nom de 
Dieu, Henri, speak!" 

The Marquis perceived Claude's great agitation with 
some surprise. Emotion from Claude was not usual. 
"What shall I say?" he asked, quietly. 

"The tnith about Deborah. What do you hear about 
Deborah?" 

Henri passed a hand over his forehead before he said, 
slowly and with weariness: "What one hears of most 
women." 

"Ah!" The exclamation was like a sharp cry. Henri 
had a glimpse of Claude's face grown very white, and then 
Claude's head sank forward till it rested on the table, en- 
circled by both arms. 

The Marquis sat and looked for a little on the bowed fig- 
ure. Then he rose gently, moved to his cousin's side, and 
laid a hand upon the black shoulder. " Forgive me, Claude ; 
forgive me. It was brutal. It is probably untrue. Gossip 
from the (Eil - de - Boeuf ! Who credits that? Claude 
Claude" 

Claude shook his shoulders impatiently. Then he sat 
up again, ashamed of having betrayed his feelings. The 
line of his lips grew hard. " No, it is true," he said, harsh- 
ly. " The King means her for the next ; while I I the 
fool I love! llove! 1 love!" 

" Ah, yes so do we all. But 'tis not worth what we give 
for it. I am growing older, Claude. I see many things 
differently from what I did in youth. I should deeply re- 
joice at peace, honesty, fidelity, truth; but, since those 
things are not, and cannot be, I am satisfied with what 
I have money, life, clothes, wines, dinners, a good 
bed, and a man who really knows how to prepare 



416 The House of de Mailly 

_B^^HB*^^B^HV ^B ^ ^"^^^^^^^i^^^-^^ ^^^^^^^ ^^^^^i^ ^ ^ . 

perfect snuff. 1 let women alone. 1 am wiser than 
you." 

Claude looked sharply at his cousin. Certainly, if this 
were his creed, he was changed. The words and tone, how- 
ever, served for the moment to still his own growing dis- 
quietude. He leaned dully back in his chair. " 1 should 
like to go down for a week or two to my estate to Lan- 
guedoc if 1 dared leave," he observed. "It is an entire 
year since I was there." 

" I went in July. They were doing well with it. Take 
madame, Claude, and live there for a month or two. It 
would be an idea." 

"In all the cold? With a wolf -pack between us and 
every neighbor? Peste! What are you dreaming of? We 
should die. No. Some time Henri some time, soon, 
now, when Versailles has become unbearable to me, I shall 
sell my ancestral possessions in la belle France, and with 
the proceeds I will sail away, over seas, to King George's 
colonies, perhaps ; and there take up my abode among the 
good colonials, in the honorable capacity of tobacco-plant- 
er; a king in my own right, my plantation the kingdom, 
and the serfs all of ebony hue ; with an overseer for intimate, 
and not a little apartment in all my red brick palace." 

Claude spoke half bitterly, half in jest. To his aston- 
ishment, Henri answered, seriously : " That would not be 
an unwise plan. When you wish to carry it out, I will 
buy the estate from you." 

De Mailly laughed shortly. " Well, I return to Versailles 
to-night. 1 must leave you presently." 

" 1 am sorry. I should have liked to keep you here for 
the night." 

" A thousand thanks. It is impossible. " 

" Before you go, tell me something of the Court. What 
occurs? How is the King? What is said of the death?" 

De Mailly rose and began to pace the room. He did not 
speak at once, but, after a thoughtful pause, began, so- 
berly : " I have not been at the palace till yesterday since 
the night of her death. Yesterday Deborah and I were 



One More de Mailly? 417 

in the (Eil-de-Boeuf for fifteen minutes. It was extremely 
dull. Only such creatures as old Pont-de-Vesle, la Vau- 
guyon, Charost, two or three petty Chevaliers, and some of 
the Queen's women were there. His Majesty has not ap- 
peared, even in the circle of the Queen, of an evening, since. 
Marie Anne is never spoken of. She is forbidden as a 
topic. You know they say she died here, in Paris. All 
the journals d'Argenson's, the Boufflers 5 , Maurepas', 
de Luynes' as many as were known were examined, 
and the entries changed. I had that from Coigny. The 
Nouvelles a la Main for the week was suppressed. In the 
next, it is said, there will be an officially 'authentic' ac- 
count. Berryer or Maurepas, of course, will write it. 
Richelieu has gone away for a time on what business no 
one knows. It is not for the King ; for it seems that d'Ar- 
genson has written him, at royal command, that his Majesty 
misses him frightfully. Of course, there are a thousand 
conjectures, one as absurd as another. I have heard that 
he was going to marry. Meantime the younger women 
of the Court are preparing fresh and elaborate costumes. 
You know what the struggle will be. But but " 

"Why, then, are you fearing for your little Countess?" 

"1 cannot tell. 1 see her looked at, whispered after, 
sought by men, shunned by women. Her invitations to 
suppers, to the Opera, the Francais, are numberless. I, 
Henri, am not included in them. Mordi! 1 will not 
think ! Next month the King must wake from his lethargy 
for the marriage of the dauphin." 

"Ah, yes! The Infanta will soon be leaving Madrid." 

" She is expected to arrive here by the day of the feast of 
the Conversion of St. Paul." 

"The 25th, then." 

Claude nodded. " They say Monseigneur is busy learn- 
ing mottoes for her, and it is not pretty practising for 
the abominable night ceremony with Pere GrifTet as the 
bride." 

Henri burst into a laugh, in which Claude, after an in- 
stant, joined. 
27 



418 The House of de Mailly 

" Well, then, 1 will part from you in laughter, after all. 
Good-bye or, au revoir, cousin. Come to us when thou 
canst/' 

Claude seized cloak and hat, and hurried towards the door. 
Henri followed him. They clasped hands in silence. 
Claude sent a deep look into his cousin's eyes. The Mar- 
quis smiled, bitterly. " Were 1 you, Claude, my friend, I 
should trust the wife. She has honest eyes." 

This same afternoon was spent dully enough by Debo- 
rah, who sat for two hours in her salon, drinking tea and 
being entertained by a somewhat incompatible couple, ar- 
rived together by chance, and remaining through perverse- 
ness M. de Bernis and the Due de Gevres. 

These were exciting days for the fertile-minded abb6. 
The imminent danger of the reaccession of la Chateauroux 
had not troubled him, because he had known nothing of it 
till all was over. Just now his curiosity on that subject 
was insatiable. But, had it been never so moderate, it 
must have starved outright in the end, for nothing from 
any one could he learn. To every question, subtle or 
frank, the inevitable, instantaneous reply was given: 
" Madame la Duchesse died in her hdtel in Paris of malig- 
nant fever, on December 4th or 8th whichever day he 
pleased." 

"But mordi!" stammered the bewildered Francois to 
old Pont -de - Vesle, " they say that on the jih she was at 
Choisy; that the King " 

"Chut! Then it must have been on the 8th, dear 
abbe," was the lean and grinning response. "And let me 
suggest, monsieur, that you do not discuss the matter with 
imprudent ones. There have been whispers of Bastille for 
those who waste too much breath in speech." 

And Pont-de- Vesle, delighted at being able to mystify 
some one as much as he himself was mystified, leisurely 
took snuff and turned away. 

De Bernis, thus warned, grasped enough of the situation 
to keep him out of difficulties. Meantime, all doubt about 
the future of some new favorite being now removed, he em- 



One More de Mailly? 419 

ployed himself during the days of the royal retirement in 
a most thoughtful manner. He visited the Comtesse de 
Mailly at her own apartment with some frequency. This 
was in great measure the result of the conversation of the 
snuff-boxes on the evening of M. Vauvenargues' salon. 
If Richelieu himself considered Mme. Deborah so emi- 
nently qualified for the post, she was certainly a person to 
be treated with consideration. The abbe might be, with 
prophetic instinct, rather stubborn in his ideas concerning 
Mine. d'Etioles, to whom he clung loyally ; but he was none 
the less broad-minded enough to be very thankful for two 
new strings to his bow. 

The old string, the first which he had used at Court, that 
which had shot his first keen arrow into an inner circle of 
the great Court target, had become unsafe now, frayed at 
the ends. He dared use it but little. He felt that it kept 
him from trying his real strength. He was tired of treating 
it with care. He meditated on how he should take it off 
the wood and throw it entirely away. Some day, not far 
distant, that must be done. Yet, as the cord had served him 
long and faithfully, and he had once been very proud of it, 
perhaps some touch of sentiment, rather than a wish of 
appearing freshly equipped at just the right moment in the 
contest, prompted him still to hesitate in being rid of it. 

Poor little Victorine! These days of hers had become 
endlessly forlorn. Her face grew pale and pinched. She 
lost the piquant, fretful prettiness that had been hers a 
year ago. A year ago she had not yet lived. Now she 
had lived too long. After that first meeting with de Bernis 
in her woman's dress, had followed eight months of fierce, 
golden happiness, as beautiful to her as they were wrong. 
Then, with the first, faintest suspicion of weariness on his 
part, the first breath of fear, of unhappiness, crept over her. 
Its growth had been gradual. It was none the less sure. 
From the beginning Mme. de Coigny had been very quiet 
about her love. Now she was still more quiet in her growing 
misery. She spoke of it to no one, least of all to the abb. 
But he was not so blind as to be unaware that the misery 



420 The House of de Mailly 

was there ; and the knowledge was not pleasant to him. He 
was acting according to the strongest quality of his nature 
ambition. Nevertheless, there were occasional rebellions 
from the side of humanity that caused him sleepless 
nights and wearisome days. At such times he would, 
perhaps, spend a morning at Victorine's side. But the af- 
ternoon was sure to find him, conscience appeased, either 
on his way to the chateau of Senart or to the apartment 
in the Rue d'Anjou. 

The dull December days passed, and Christmas week, 
with its religious festivities, drew near. The Court roused 
itself into interest. At last the King must come forth 
from his retreat, and then And then? This was the 
indefinite and suggestive question which most of the young 
women of the Court were asking themselves, as they de- 
vised fresh ways of expending gold or credit upon al- 
ready priceless toilets. In many families it was impossible 
that madame and monsieur should dress with proper mag- 
nificence. Thus, at this period, there sprang to life cer- 
tain Paris houses, backed with good capital, where single 
garments or entire costumes of any design, color, or elab- 
oration might be rented for a day or evening, at from five 
to fifty louis. Each costume was guaranteed unique, and 
no article was ever worn twice at any time by any one. It 
was the most madly extravagant period of the most ex- 
travagant reign in the history of France. Monseigneur 
de Chartres appeared one evening in a coat which was val- 
ued at thirty thousand livres. He was not particularly 
marked in it. But, when he was guilty of wearing the 
thing just as it was a second time, he excited the sneers 
and the malicious wit of the (Eil and of every salon in 
Paris prince of the blood though he was. 

Of all the women who hoped and planned to entrap roy- 
alty in royal Versailles, none was supposed to have more 
justifiable hope of success than Claude's colonial wife, the 
last eligible de Mailly. She was watched, commented on, 
envied. Wherever she was seen, a train of followers was 
to be found. Her style in dress, which still, though none 



One More de Mailly? 421 

but Claude knew it, was an adumbration of Maryland 
fashions, began to be copied. Extremely curly hair, and 
great neatness as to bodices and petticoats, with a lessen- 
ing of hoops, became gradually more and more common. 
Deborah was unaffectedly demure. It had been instilled 
into her from babyhood as the proper manner for a gentle- 
woman. The French notion of simplicity, which was no 
more than a new form of coquetry, became something which 
was practised everywhere. Despite imitative flattery, how- 
ever, Deborah was not sought after by many women. She 
had more than one bitter enemy at Court, had she known 
or cared for it; and many were the spiteful whispers cur- 
rent about Mme. de Mailly's dull stupidity. 

True, Deborah lacked French verve. Nor did she pos- 
sess French deceitfulness. But, as Louis de Richelieu 
had disastrously discovered, she was neither heavy nor 
stupid. During the days that followed the death of Mme. 
de Chateauroux, while the King lived in retirement, the 
Countess de Mailly existed dully, as in a dream. It seemed 
as though the night that followed the return from Choisy 
had blunted her sensibility. She could not understand 
her apparent want of feeling; and Claude was no more 
surprised at her than was she at herself. They had never 
afterwards discussed the incidents of that night, though 
both had intended to open the subject some time. Yet, 
had Claude questioned her again as to her discovery, and 
the manner of it, Deborah could not be sure that she would 
have told him. They seemed now to be growing always 
further apart. Claude, unhappy and lonely, went his own 
way. Deborah permitted herself to be tossed, unresisting- 
ly, on the waves of circumstances. Only two things she 
dreaded. One was the sight of that cabinet in the wall, 
wherein still stood the row of bottles and the white box. 
The second was the return of Richelieu to Versailles. How 
would the great Duke meet her, and how was she to treat 
him upon that inevitable return? A difficult question, 
this last. And yet Deborah need not have worried upon 
it, for it was Richelieu himself who would determine the 



422 The House of de Mailly 

affair; and, though it seemed impossible that he should 
ever reap as he had sown, yet the two weeks that he spent 
away from Versailles were two which, in later years, he 
never permitted himself to contemplate in memory. 

Richelieu, after gaining a surprised and peevish per- 
mission from his King, left Versailles at six o'clock on 
the morning of December 9th. He was perfectly aware of 
the comment which this conduct would excite; but for 
once he was beyond the dread of gossip. He could not 
remain in that palace. His insouciance his nerve had 
left him. He departed in search of it. The impedimenta 
which accompanied him were not ostentatious. He went 
post, in a series of coaches, his valet in front, his travelling- 
coffer behind, he alone in the body. In this way, by dull 
stages, they reached Chalons-sur-Marne. Here he had 
intended to remain for a little, when he chanced to re- 
member that Mme. de Chateauroux had written him from 
here, after her flight from Metz. It seemed that France 
had been created to remind him of her. He hurried on 
to Vitry, and there sought rest. Quiet enough were the 
long, frozen days passed incognito at a village inn. Mon- 
sieur le Due would have fared infinitely better at one of 
his three chateaux. He could now almost smile at himself for 
not having gone to them. But when he left Versailles it 
seemed that he was a man who must hide, and that to go to 
one of his own estates would have meant to remain there 
for life exiled by some sudden order of Louis. Truly, 
had any one prophesied to him six months before what an 
absolutely paralyzing shock his nervous system was to 
undergo, he well acquainted with that blase structure 
would have laughed at it as an impossibility. But this 
present species of accident necessary accident had not 
been foreseen. He forbade himself now, rigidly, to con- 
sider the matter, or to encourage memory in any form. 
But memory would come back, sometimes, in the form of 
some one of whom he must beware. Mme. de Mailly what 
to do concerning her? She knew had surmised every- 
thing. But she had no proof. Court gossip was well 



One More de Mailly? 423 

checked; for the Duke had stayed long enough at the 
palace to make sure of that. Mme. de Mailly, were she 
wise, would, for her own sake, say nothing. Was she 
wise? If not he was ruined unless he could ruin 
her. A counter-accusation might certainly be possible, 
however undesirable it would prove. After carefully 
balancing the matter for many nights, his Grace decided 
upon a middle course. If Deborah kept her silence, she 
might take her course with the King, unhindered secret- 
ly helped, perhaps, by her former champion. Richelieu 
would advance no other candidate, and the de Mailly might 
be very sure of the post. Then, when she was installed, 
would it be so difficult to ingratiate himself once more, he 
who, out of good-will to her, by her own methods, had for- 
ever disembarrassed her of her only rival? Ah, Richelieu 
was a diplomat a true French diplomat! But he had 
studied France only, and was moving along well-known 
ways. The American colonies were his unknown world. 

For three days Vitry was amusingly dull. For three 
more it was endurable. And for seventy -two hours after 
that Richelieu and his suffering Grachet remained in their 
impossible inn. Under a diet of salt meat, hard black 
bread, a rare egg or two, and milk soup, the Duke's gout- 
twinges left him, he found himself able to leave off half 
his usual rouge, and his conscience became stifled under 
the fiercer pangs of ennui. Then, into this wilderness, 
there came a letter from Marc Antoine d'Argenson, in 
reply to one of Richelieu's. 

"Why do you bury yourself, my friend? Surely your 
mourning cannot be as heartfelt as that of the King. Our 
poor master wears a look which makes us tremble for his 
life."* 

Then followed entreaties, innumerable and eloquent, 
to return to the King's side. There were reminders of 
Christmas feles, of the approaching marriage of the 
Dauphin, and the necessity that Louis make a speedy 

* Authenti?. 



424 The House of de Mailly 

reappearance among his gentlemen, or he would die of 
the vapors on Bachelier's hands. 

Richelieu smiled as he read. This was better. Evi- 
dently Mme. Deborah had been very wise, indeed. She 
really deserved what she would attain to. His Grace 
considered his nervous system for some minutes, pictured 
to himself certain ordeals through which he must pass, 
found that his nonchalance had returned, and so sum- 
moned his faithful Grachet to pack his things and order 
out a post-chaise at once. Needless to say, Grachet 
worked with delight. A court valet suffers as much from 
court-fever as any noble of them all; and no better proof 
of Richelieu's position could be put forth than the fact that 
his servant was content to stay with him through such 
days as had just passed, for the sake of still being known 
as "Richelieu's man." However, this very day, the 20th 
of December, saw the two once more upon their home- 
ward way. 

On the afternoon of the 23d the King walked the 
length of the great gallery with M. de Chartres and 
the Cardinal de Luynes, permitting himself to be seen by 
the whole (Eil-de-Bo2uf. That night, for the first time 
since December 8th, he slept in the small bedroom, re- 
moving from the state apartments in which he was al- 
ways so forlorn. On the following day, to his great delight, 
Richelieu reappeared, and was the first of the little entries 
to be admitted between breakfast and mass. The Duke 
seemed perfectly well, and in better spirits than ever be- 
fore. Louis brightened under his very glance, and kept 
him talking for an hour, to the displeasure of the minis- 
ters in the antechamber. When Richelieu finally emerged 
from the cabinet he was seized upon by d'Argenson, and 
accompanied that gentleman willingly enough into the 
empty Salle du Jeu, where, with a desire for mutual con- 
versation, they sat down opposite each other at one of the 
square tables. 

" Well, then, Monsieur le Due" 

"Well, then, my dear Comte " 



One More de Mailly? 425 

And thereupon, for some reason, they burst into laughter, 

When it had subsided d'Argenson's eyes still twinkled. 
"Well, du Plessis, we are still here/' 

Richelieu grew a shade more serious. "Let us thank 
the gods," he said, t dryly. 

"And the ' malignant fever/ What do you think of 
the King?" 

" He is pale. He looks ill. We must rouse him, amuse 
him, get rid of this ennui. In that case he will forget soon 
enough." 

" We intrust the task to you, then. None of us has been 
successful." 

" We shall see. Now, put me in touch with events. What 
has happened? Who is turned devotee? Who is the last 
unfaithful? Also, and principally, what is the last de- 
velopment in the contest for the post of King's lady?" 

"First, it is said that Mme. de Boufflers and the Vau- 
guyon have quarrelled. When one is in the Queen's circle, 
the other leaves it. Her Majesty is in great distress. The 
Cardinal de Tencin has insulted Marechal Saxe by re- 
ferring slightingly to the Marshal's mother. Trudaine 
is d'Henin's rival in the direction of Mme. de Chambord. 
And Mme. de Grammont is utterly furious with the little 
de Mailly." 

" Ah ! And why?" asked the Duke, softly. 

" Can you ask? Mme. de Mailly is to replace her cousin. 
Every one says it. The King talks of her, her youth, her 
naivete, her freshness, continually. You are to be con- 
gratulated. She was your choice, was she not, from the 
first?" 

Richelieu made an effort. "Yes yes from the first, 
as you say. What of the other, the bourgeois, Mme. 
d'Etioles?" 

" Oh his Majesty sees her sometimes, I think. She is 
pretty, but bourgeois, of course. M. de Ge"vres is fol- 
lowing in your lead. He is to be seen at all times with 
the Countess." 

"And what of Claude? Does he say nothing?" 



426 The House of de Mailly 

"Nothing, I believe. The King seems fatal to him." 

" Well, let us depart now for the CEil. I am anxious to 
behold all the gossips once again/' 

The two rose and passed together into the corridor, which 
opened on the great gallery. "Ah! By -the -way/' ob- 
served d'Argenson, as they went, "his Majesty has begun 
to cook again/' 

"To cook!" Richelieu's heart quivered suddenly. 
"What" 

"M. de Richelieu! Good-morning a thousand con- 
gratulations on your return to us. You go to the (Eil? 
I will return there with you. Charming charming the 
Court has been empty without you. You will reawaken 
his Majesty. Doubtless Monsieur le Comte has been giv- 
ing you the details of our deplorably dull state. Voyons!" 

At any other time de Tess6 would have annoyed Riche- 
lieu excessively with this shower of familiarity; but at 
the moment he was grateful for it, since it brought him to 
himself again. During the walk down the gallery they 
encountered half a dozen more ladies and gentlemen, all of 
whom greeted the Duke with effusive warmth, and enabled 
him to reach a very suitable frame of mind for his appear- 
ance in the famous Bull's-Eye, which was presently reached. 

The small room was crowded. Every one went there for 
the hour preceding mass a service which had lately be- 
come highly popular, it being the only place where his 
Majesty was visible. Richelieu was given but an instant's 
survey of the throng before a group closed in upon him. 
But in that instant he had found what he sought the 
figure of Deborah, who stood under the Bull's-Eye, de G- 
vres on her right hand, Penthievre on her left, de Sauvre" in 
front, and Claude ten feet away, against the wall, talk- 
ing abstractedly to d'Argenson's impossible and still un- 
married cousin. 

It took Richelieu ten minutes to reach the centre of the 
room, and even such speed necessitated not a few curt re- 
plies to questions, and some very brief salutations to several 
ladies who had hoped for much more. Mme. de Grammont, 



One More de Mailly? 427 

receiving from him only a bow, glared angrily ; and half 
a dozen others sniffed with envious significance as de 
Sauvre" made room for his friend before the unconscious 
Deborah. 

" Mme. de Mailly, I have the honor to make you my com- 
pliments/' came in cool, smooth, smiling tones from this 
master of situations. 

The color fled, to the last drop, behind the rouge on Deb- 
orah's face. Her knees shook, and her hands became 
suddenly cold and moist. The Duke was bowing pro- 
foundly giving her time. When he raised his head again 
she also had straightened, and her face was well under 
control. 

" I congratulate Versailles upon the return of Monsieur 
le Due," she said, after a strong effort. 

" Thank you," he replied, and then paused, as if waiting 
for something further. 

To cover the strain of the moment she made herself ex- 
tend her hand. He took it on the back of his, felt its icy 
coldness, and muttered " Brava!" to himself while he lifted 
it to his lips. Then, as he moved closer to her, the other 
gentlemen, with reluctant politeness, drew to one side. 

" You will be visible this afternoon in the Rue d'Anjou?" 
he asked. 

"No, monsieur." 

" To-morrow?" 

"No." 

" I beg, madame, that you will grant me an audience at 
any time." 

"No, monsieur. 

" We are friends?" he ventured. 

"You need have no fear," was her reply, as she looked 
him steadily in the face, her poise regained. "In the 
world we are friends." 

It was the man who was disconcerted. Her presence, 
her self-possession, amazed him ; though no more, indeed, 
than they did her. Her behavior had been an inspiration. 
Happily, at this moment, an usher appeared. 



428 The House of de Mailly 

"Messieurs and mesdames his Majesty descends to 
mass." 

There was an instantaneous movement towards the door 
of the grand gallery. As Claude advanced to his wife's 
side, Richelieu, with a nod to him, turned from her and 
sought out de Gevres, in whose company he entered the 
chapel. 

After mass, at which their Majesties sat together, the 
Court, much relieved in conscience, scattered for dinner. 
The de Mailly s, having no engagements for the next two 
hours, returned by coach to their apartment. The drive 
was accomplished in silence, neither having anything new 
to say; both, for different reasons, avoiding any remark 
upon the return of Richelieu, which was the only thing 
offering field for discussion. On reaching home they re- 
tired to their separate rooms to make some slight prepara- 
tion for the tete-h-tete dinner. As usual, Deborah was ready 
first, and seated herself in the salon to await her husband. 
Almost immediately upon her entrance her first lackey ap- 
peared and advanced hesitatingly into the room, carrying 
something in his hand. At a little distance from madame 
he coughed discreetly. 

Deborah looked towards him. "What is it, Laroux?" 

"Madame " he came closer "madame, at noon to-day 
something was delivered for you." 

"Forme? What is it? I have lost nothing. " 

The servant grinned, and held out to her a box a carved 
sandal -wood box on top of which was fastened a half- 
blown rose. 

Deborah took it from him. " What is it? Who brought 
it here?" 

"Madame," whispered the valet, mysteriously, "it was 
brought by Bachelier, the confidential valet of his Majesty. 
It is from the King." 

"From the King!" cried the Countess de Mailry, open- 
eyed. 

"The King!" echoed a hoarse voice beside her. "The 
King!" Then, suddenly, the box was furiously struck 



One More de Mailly? 429 

out of her hands. The lid fell open. Deborah and Claude, 
both pale, both trembling, the one with dread, the other 
with uncontrollable passion, stood facing each other, the 
box between them, and a shower of chocolate candies roll- 
ing upon the polished floor. 




CHAPTER XIII 

The Hotel de Ville 

OR the next seven weeks life in the de Mailly 
menage was anything but agreeable. Mon- 
sieur and madame addressed each other, 
when necessary, in rigidly polite terms. 
Ordinarily there was silence between them. 
Claude's jealousy was very real, and, if one judged by 
Court gossip and the manner of the King, instead of Deb- 
orah's acts, it was by no means unfounded. Claude 
always knew where his wife was and to what solemn 
functions and small parties she went. If questioned ab- 
solutely, he would have admitted that he believed her 
true as yet. But he lived upon the extreme edge of a 
volcanic crater, and the existence was not tranquil. He 
grew morose, irritable, and habitually silent. Rarely 
was he to be found in his usual haunts, in his usual com- 
pany ; but remained at home, or in Paris with Henri, when 
he was not, with all too palpable anxiety, following his 
wife. His new manner was speedily remarked by the 
Court. 

"De Mailly is showing execrably bad taste," observed 
the Marquis de Tess6 to the Comte d'Egmont, one evening 
at Marly. 

"Poor fellow! It is a pity he has such good taste in 
women. He courts his wife like a lover." 

"Bah! He watches her like a duenna. He courts 
something different." 

"And what is that, my dear Marquis?" 

"When the King is quite ready a new exile." 

"Ah!" 



The Hotel de Ville 431 

But the King was, at any rate, not ready yet. When 
he came out of his retirement he found many things de- 
manding immediate attention; and the chief of these was 
something which promised great and brilliant gayety 
for the Court. It was the approaching marriage of the 
Dauphin, whose betrothal to the Infanta Maria Theresa 
Antoinette Raphaelle, daughter of Philip V. of Spain, had 
been arranged to obliterate the memory of the insult to 
the younger sister of the Princess, who, designed for the 
wife of Louis XV. himself, and brought up in France, 
had been returned with thanks to Spain, at the instigation 
of Mme. de Prie, who had fancied herself, for a little while, 
a successful creator of queens. Preparations for the cel- 
ebration of the Dauphin's wedding were therefore begun 
on the most elaborate scale which the King and Richelieu 
together could devise; and with the beginning of the new 
year came a series of entertainments given at Versailles, 
or by great families in Paris hdtels, which allowed the 
Court no time for anything but thoughts of the splendor 
of existence and the details of new costumes. 

It was not till February, however, that the Dauphiness 
Infanta arrived in France; and on the 20 th day of 
that month the King rode to Etampes to meet her. She 
and her sixteen-year-old Dauphin were married in the 
Chapel of Versailles on February 23d, in the pres- 
ence of their Majesties and as many persons of blue blood 
as the place would hold. 

"My Heaven, but she is homely!" whispered the 
Marechale de Mirepoix to Mme. de Boufflers. 

"All princesses are, my dear. It is one of their duties 
to be hideous. The good God could not give them too 
much. They say she is sympathetic." 

"One would need to be with that countenance. Poor 
Dauphin." 

" Oh he does not know a pretty woman when he sees 
one, thanks to the good Pere Griffet and his mamma." 

"And shall you go on Tuesday to the H6tel de Ville?" 

"Certainly. The world will be there, They say that 



432 The House of de Mailly 

it will be a finer ball than that in the Galerie des Glaces 
on Saturday." 

"It will be more lively. Some of the bourgeoisie are 
asked." 

"Ah! Then we shall have that Madame what do you 
call her? d'Etioles there. She is mad over the King, 
they say." 

Mme. de Mirepoix leaned forward over the ribbon and 
gazed down the aisle to the altar, where the King was 
standing, close to his son. " 1 do not wonder at her. His 
Majesty is the handsomest man in France. See him now 
beside Monseigneur! Were 1 the Dauphine, I should 
have managed to marry the father instead of the son." 

"Yes, truly! She is nearer his Majesty's age!" 

The two smiled and crossed themselves. The ceremony 
was over. 

Mme. de Boufflers was right in her conjecture that Mme. 
d'Etioles would be at the ball at the H6tel de Ville. Much 
to the pretty woman's discomfiture, she and her stout hus- 
band had not been bidden to any of the festivities in 
Versailles, thus proving that one needed sometimes some- 
thing more than Mme. de Conti to secure a foothold 
among the noblesse. Some half-dozen ancestors had 
served better. Nevertheless, at this, her first opportunity, 
Mme. d'Etioles had determined to accomplish wonders. 
It was to be a bal masque, and the choice of costume, 
therefore, was perfectly unrestrained. Madame designed 
her dress without consulting monsieur. She would go as 
the huntress Diana, with Grecian drapery of China silk, 
falling in folds scant enough to show all the pretty, 
rounded lines of her figure. Over her left shoulder 
hung a golden quiver, and she would carry the classic 
bow in her hand. It needed but little imagination 
to picture all the possibilities for coquetry which these 
accessories to her toilet would open to her. Lancret him- 
self consented to design her Greek coiffeur, and to designate 
the exact spot from which her crescent must shine. And 



The Hotel de Ville 433 

in the end Mme. d'Etioles was able to regard herself with 
high satisfaction, when she stood before her mirror fully 
dressed, at nine o'clock on the momentous evening of the 
last of February. 

An hour later the H6tel de Ville presented a gorgeous 
spectacle. Its great hall, where the dancing was to take 
place, was hung from floor to ceiling with priceless tapes- 
tries. Above these, as a frieze, were festooned the old 
battle-flags of France, tattered banners of many a sturdy 
knight and many a long-past warrior-king. On the west 
wall, in the place of honor, just above the royal platform, 
hung the flag and pennants of Louis XV. 's own guard, used 
in the last campaign. The dais below these formed a 
centre of interest to the throngs of glittering and perfumed 
men and women who were by now pouring, in a steady 
stream, into the room. The platform was raised consid- 
erably above the floor, and was mounted by a little flight 
of six steps that extended across the front of the raised 
space. This was entirely covered with a carpet of white 
silk and gold, draped and fastened on the sides with golden 
rosettes, while over the whole hung a voluminous canopy 
of purple velvet, in the fashion of Louis XIV. 's time. Be- 
low, in the centre of the platform, stood the throne, a great 
gilt chair, with cushion and footstool of purple, around 
which were grouped the stars of the evening, twelve of 
the prettiest women of the bourgeoisie. All of these ladies 
were in the classic garb which had been wont so to delight 
the heart of the great Louis ; and among them, conspicuous 
alike for beauty of figure and of dress, was Jeanne Poisson 
d'Etioles, a little chagrined at the thought that her place 
proclaimed her class, but pleased with the assurance that 
the King must perceive her as soon as he entered the room. 
Like her companions, and, indeed, every one else in the 
room, she wore a small mask of stiff, white silk. And 
with masks, as with everything else, much may be done. 

It was understood that the twelve goddesses were to 
remain on their Olympus until Jove, otherwise his Maj- 
esty, made his appearance in the room. But it had oc- 
28 



434 The House of de Mailly 

curred to no one that, in all probability, the King's 
entrance would be unobserved, since he, also, was to be dis- 
guised. This, unfortunately, was the case. Louis had no 
idea of ascending to a purple-and-gold position this evening. 
Thus the twelve dames posed upon their platform for an 
hour or more, speaking but seldom, keeping their eyes fas- 
tened close on the grand entrance, and longing mightily 
to join the gay throng about them, where they also might 
enter into all the little intrigues and mysteries that formed 
the amusement of such an affair. 

Mme. d'Etioles was, whether by nature or cultivation, a 
remarkably graceful woman. As she moved slowly about 
the dais, each step was a classic pose, each movement as 
studied as it seemed careless. From her manner one 
would have imagined her as tranquilly happy as was the 
goddess whom she represented. In reality her heart pal- 
pitated with anger and mortification. She realized that 
the King must have arrived long before this. He was 
somewhere in that company which she looked upon, and 
from which, by means of this silly display, she was de- 
barred. In gazing leisurely over the crowd, she was able 
to recognize many of the women and not a few of the men 
merely by their figures and their manner of walking. 
There was the Comtesse de Mailly, her all-but-successful 
rival, fluttering beside a warrior of Clovis' time. Diana 
shrugged enviously at Deborah's costume. It was made 
to represent a large white butterfly, or moth, perhaps. The 
vestment was of white silk crepe, figured with yellow. On 
her back were two huge wings of grayish gauze, faintly 
patterned in yellow, and glittering with silver spangles. 
Her head was crowned with a silver circlet, from which, in 
front, sprang two long, quivering "feelers" tipped with 
tiny diamonds that flashed like fireflies as they swayed up 
and down. The butterfly was presently approached by a 
slender figure in star-spangled, black gauze draperies, her 
head ornamented with a larger crescent than that which 
Diana wore. Mme. d'Etioles did not recognize this black- 
masked figure, but it was Victorine de Coigny who had 



The Hotel de Ville 435 

chosen the sombre, commonplace raiment. Mme. d'Etioles 
beheld these two women accosted by a monk Richelieu 
who, later, with a humor of his own, exchanged his Capu- 
chin dress for the red-and-black one of a devil. The hel- 
meted warrior had turned to Mme. de Mailly with an evi- 
dent invitation to dance. Mme. d'Etioles saw them go off 
together, and then brought her gaze slowly back towards 
the platform, encountering, as she did so, a pair of blue 
eyes that were looking earnestly at her from a white mask. 
Diana smiled graciously. The owner of the blue eyes 
emerged from the passing throng and advanced to the edge 
of the dais. He proved to be a tall, slender person, in the 
garb of a miller. On arriving at the platform he looked 
up at Diana, and said, pleasantly : " Surely the old Olym- 
pus never knew so fair a goddess." 

Jeanne Poisson started. She recognized instantly that 
peculiar and undisguisable voice. Quickly taking com- 
mand of the situation, she drew from her quiver a golden 
arrow, and, pointing it at him over her bow, began slowly 
to descend the steps. 

"Beautiful huntress/' cried the King, advancing nearer 
to her, "the arrows you discharge are fatal!" 

Mme. d'Etioles returned the little missile to its place. 
Louis XV. was close beside her. With a quick, catlike 
movement, she raised one hand to her face. The white 
mask came off. 

"Ah!" murmured his Majesty. 

" Au revoir, Sire!" cried the audacious huntress. 

The mask was slipped into place again. Diana, free at 
last, slipped into the throng, leaving her handkerchief (a 
serious bit of anachronism, considering her character) at 
the feet of the powdery miller. 

Louis looked rather quizzically down at the lacy thing. 
He had hunted and been hunted many times before, but 
never just in this way. However, he was not a king to- 
night. Stooping down, he picked the costly offering from 
the floor and stood for a moment examining it. It bore no 
mark, but he needed none to assure him of the identity of 



436 The House of de Mailly 

its owner. Neither, perhaps, was he unaware of the light 
in which she regarded him. Ah, well ! Generally a king 
is a king. Sometimes he is a miller. Smiling to himself, 
Louis tied a loose knot in the handkerchief and then hurried 
into the crowd in pursuit of the Diana, who had left Olympus 
for good. He was not obliged to go very far. She stood 
upon the outer edge of the open floor, watching the dancers. 
Between him and her was an open space of twenty feet. 
He raised his hand. 

"Take care, your Majesty!" cried a daring voice from 
one of the sets. It was from the lips of a tall Capuchin 
monk. 

The King flushed. Every eye in the room was upon 
him now, he felt. The heart of madame beat furiously. 
Yet no the royal arm was not lowered. Louis, with a 
bow, tossed the handkerchief to her feet. A dozen hands 
sought to give it to her. Again from the irrepressible 
dancer came a cry which was echoed in laughter from 
every part of the throng. 

" The handkerchief is thrown \" Which were more truly 
translated, "The die is cast!" 

Nevertheless, the significance of that prophecy even 
Mme. d'Etioles herself did not realize until, in after- 
years, she had come to know too well that it had been a 
warning. 

Deborah, meantime, found the evening flying all too rapid- 
ly. Masked balls were by no means such hackneyed affairs 
to her as they appeared to be to most of the Court. That 
given at Versailles three nights before was the first in which 
she had participated; and the little mysteries occasioned 
by unguessed partners during the promenades amused 
her greatly. To-night she was able to pierce the disguises 
more easily ; and yet, all unknowing, she had danced with 
Richelieu, who was well pleased with this opportunity of 
being with her. She, like all the others, recognized the 
King by his voice. Nevertheless, at the throwing of the 
handkerchief, she laughed, and cried the catch-word with 
the others, evincing so little concern at the success of her 



The Hotel de Ville 437 

rival that de Gevres' admiration for a self-control that was 
not hers rose high. 

Deborah danced the fourth minuet with a Turk, who 
persisted in carrying on conversation by signs. When, 
however, in the midst of the dance, her companion was 
obliged to laugh at one of her observations, she understood 
his reason. It was the King again. Evidently Claude 
had pierced this new disguise when she did. He, in a plain 
white domino, had followed her all evening, danced in the 
sets with her, and rendered her as uncomfortable as she 
was to be made by his surveillance. The King himself 
noticed, without recognizing, this watcher. After the fourth 
dance, therefore, he made inquiries of de Ge"vres, who 
happened to be at hand : 

" The man in white, who is always near Mme. de Mailly ?" 

"Who should it be, Sire, but the husband? 1 under- 
stand that Monsieur le Comte is exceedingly fearful of 
madame's reputation." 

" Peste! That man is a nuisance. There will come a 
time, de Gevres, when Count Claude will be quite de trap." 

"Again?" ventured the Duke. 

"Again," responded his liege, turning on his heel and 
walking away. 

"Alas! poor Claude!" And de Gevres stood still for an 
instant, musing, with a philosophic smile, on the history, 
past and present, of this house of de Mailly, whose women 
were all too fair and too femininely weak. 

Deborah was now accosted by a black domino with a 
silver mask, who had just left the side of Mme. d'Etioles. 
She granted his. request for a dance, and then joined him in 
the promenade. He proved to be very complaisant and 
very gallant. Deborah quickly recognized his style of 
compliment, and the pretty couplets, with their epigram- 
matic turns, which flowed as easily from his lips as wine 
would have run into them. It was none other than the 
man of many strings the Abb6 de Bernis. He was in 
high spirits with his evening, with Mme. d'Etioles' odd 
experience, and the quick popularity which it had en- 



438 The House of de Mailly 

gendered among a certain set pleased him nearly as much 
as it did Diana herself. 

The abbe had not approached Victorine that evening. 
He of course recognized her at once, by her thin arms 
and slight figure ; and he was aware that she would know 
him by the silver mask, which he had worn on a previous 
occasion. She had even danced in the same sixteen with 
him while he was with Deborah, a fact which rendered de 
Bernis not a little uneasy for fear Mme. de Coigny should 
have seized some opportunity of addressing him with the 
conventional reproaches. His fears were not realized. 
Victorine made no attempt to waylay him. He only felt 
the steady gaze of her big eyes through the mask, and his 
nonchalance was proof against that. He began to con- 
gratulate himself on a possible happy issue from a disagree- 
able situation. But the good abbe was too quick to hope. 

Victorine was in a dull maze of thought. She was 
living far away, to-night, in a land where it seemed as 
though she could look back upon herself and her past 
life. She suffered neither mentally nor physically ; and 
she did not realize how she was pressing towards a great 
mental climax, presaged by this calm. Nevertheless, 
in the midst of the commonplace throng, she thought 
much. While she watched, now from one point, now 
another, the movements of the black domino, and while 
she talked with intelligence, even with wit, to a series of 
partners, she was- reviewing, with calm, methodical pre- 
cision, the history of the single human connection which 
had brought happiness into her child's life. From its 
inception to the present moment every scene in the drama 
which they two, de Bernis and herself, had acted, passed 
now before her mental eyes. She recalled, with a wonder- 
ing thrill, the great, perfect happiness of the first months ; 
and she perceived, with slow, sure precision, the later 
undeniable lessening of her hold upon his affections. 
The reason for this? That question she had never asked 
before. Now the answer came at once, quite plainly. It 
was not jealousy that made reply. No, no. She saw 



The Hotel de Ville 439 

truly. It was only ambition. She could not help him 
higher. She had given all that was hers to give, and more, 
perhaps. Had he quite ceased to profit by it? Was it quite 
finished? Victorine caught her breath and looked around 
her. De Bernis, drawn by accident, was just beside her, 
still talking to Deborah, towards whom the King was again 
advancing. At the same moment Victorine beheld a 
gentleman of Henry IV. 's time approaching her. His 
walk resembled that of the Marquis de Mailly-Nesle. 
Divining his purpose, she frowned with displeasure to 
think that he might keep her from her newly formed 
project. 

"Madame," said Henri, bowing, "may I ask your hand 
for the next dance?" 

"Monsieur," she returned, with a slight courtesy, "I 
remember that the King of Navarre was wont to enter into 
mad dances with Night. If you have not M. de Sully to 
accompany us, I am afraid to venture." 

De Bernis, from whom the King had taken Deborah, 
caught this remark, and, without turning to the speaker, 
stood still, listening. 

" Madame, in my old life Night was never cruel ; though 
I admit that she was never half so fair." 

" Ah, you are wrong ! The stars are very pale, to-night. " 

"The moon is over them, and they faint with envy." 

Victorine shrugged, rather impatiently. 

"Well your hand, Madame la Marchale?" repeated 
the Marquis, gently, abandoning the pleasantry. 

" 1 greatly regret, monsieur, that I am already engaged." 

"Indeed! To whom? Shall 1 seek your recreant 
knight?" 

"He is here," responded Victorine, calmly. "This 
black domino has my hand." 

De Bernis started. 

" Then, monsieur, you should claim it at once to avoid 
further mistake!" observed the Marquis, rather irritably. 
And, bowing to the lady, he turned upon his heel and 
walked away. 



44 The House ofde Mailly 

Mme. de Coigny and the abbe faced each other. Vic- 
torine did not speak. De Bernis, after a moment, did so 
from necessity. "Madame has done me the honor to 
make me a convenience. Does she wish, in reality, to 
dance?" 

"It has been your custom, Francois, to dance with me 
during the evening. Can you not recall the time when 
you begrudged me a single minuet, a single promenade, 
with another?" 

"One may remember many useless things, madame." 
If the Fates gave opportunity so soon, de Bernis was not 
the man to refuse to take it. If he broke with her to-night, 
the morrow would be free. 

"Give me your arm. I wish to walk," she said, in a 
quiet imperative. 

He offered it silently, and they joined the moving pro- 
cession. 

"You are very quiet, madame," he observed presently. 

"Let us go, then, to where we may speak freely." 

They crossed the room to the now deserted dais, and 
here, behind the purple folds of the canopy's drapery, they 
halted and stepped apart. In this recess they were well 
screened from the throng, which they could see passing, re- 
passing, mingling, circling in the space before them. And 
here, safe from curious eyes, Victorine removed the mask 
from her pallid face, and turned to the man. De Bernis 
also pulled off his silver disguise, breathing with relief as 
the air, hot though it was, touched his cheeks. 

" And now, Francois, here, at last, we will talk together, 
as we should have done many weeks ago." 

"What are we to say?" he asked, warily. 

"You shall answer my accusation." 

"What is that?" There was an expression very like a 
sneer upon his face. 

"That you are tired of me. That you intend to 
desert me." 

He smiled slowly. "Desert you? Impossible! You 
are married." 



The Hotel de Ville 441 

Her breath was caught by a sob, and her throat contract- 
ed spasmodically before she could make reply. " Spiritu- 
ally, it is the same thing. 1 have loved only you." 

De Bernis did not speak now. Perhaps he was thinking. 

"What have 1 done to turn you away? I have never 
wept before you, never complained to you, never showed 
jealousy of any one connected with you. What have 1 
done?" 

" Nothing, Victorine. " 

"Then why, Francois?" 

Her calmness was disconcerting. He could have en- 
dured an outbreak very well, but this was beyond him. 
He only answered, awkwardly, "I do not know." 

"But you are tired of me?" 

There was a moment's silence. The woman waited. 
The man, with a physical effort, gathered himself together. 
At length, stepping a little back from her, and looking, 
not into her eyes, for that he could not do, but at her low, 
white forehead that was crowned with the dusky hair 
and the bright crescent, he spoke : " Victorine Victorine 
you are mistaken in this matter. Well as you believe that 
you know me, after the long months that you have had in 
which to study me, you can no more judge me or my mo- 
tives than you can read the mind of monsieur your hus- 
band. You say that you have never shown jealousy to 
me. You were right not to do that, for there has never 
been need of it. You are probably the only woman for 
whom I shall ever care enough to regret having injured. 
You, 1 do regret. Believe it. It is true. But, madame, 
our connection is over. It has been over for me, as you 
surmise, for some weeks. 1 love no other woman. But 
there is something which 1 do value above all things, 
yes, above you. 1 am very frank, because it is necessary. 
My ambition, my desire for place, is what 1 live for. There 
is no room for you in that life of mine. You force me to 
say it. After to-night, Mme. de Coigny, after to-night, 
do you understand that 1 wish to meet you only as an 
acquaintance, as a woman of the world, of Paris, Versailles, 



442 The House of de Mailly 

the salons? 1 would have you quite understand this, 
now, since we are speaking together, alone." 

Victorine heard him without interruption, her eyes 
fixed upon his finely featured face. When he ceased to 
speak, those eyes closed for an instant. She passed her 
hand across her forehead. Then she said, in a tired voice : 
"After to-night, Francois. Yes. I understand." 

He watched her refasten her mask. Then she turned 
to him with a little inclination of the head. " Au revoir." 

He started forward. "Let me accompany you." 

"Thank you, no. I shall find an escort." And she 
walked away. 

De Bernis stared after her in amazement. How splen- 
didly she had behaved! In what a wretched light she 
placed him! After all, she was not an ordinary woman. 
Never before had he witnessed such self-command; never 
had he hoped to pass through the scene so easily, without 
a single reproach, without a tear. He could scarcely 
yet understand. 

Leaving the little recess, he stood for a moment or two 
undecidedly watching the throng before him. The noise 
of mirth was louder than ever, though the crowd was not 
so great. De Bernis' head ached with the heat. He 
would leave the H6tel de Ville and seek his own rooms 
for sleep. Making his way slowly to the dressing-rooms, 
he removed his domino, donned a black cloak and hat, 
and, leaving the great building, turned his steps wearily 
towards his apartment in the Rue Bailleuls. Twenty 
minutes later a slight, black-robed, closely hooded figure 
also left the Hotel de Ville, and, as she stepped into the 
waiting coach, gave an unusual order to the stolid foot- 
man: 

"To the Rue Bailleuls, the house at the corner of the 
Rue Jean Tissin." 




CHAPTER XIV 

Victorine Makes End 

HE Abbe" de Bernis did not keep a regular body- 
servant, for the excellent reason that his 
somewhat slender means did not admit of 
one. This fact was wont to pique his vanity 
not a little, and numberless had been his un- 
heard sighs of envy when Monseigneur This and Monsieur 
That raised their voices in lofty protestation that a perfect 
valet was worth more than a perfect woman, but that no 
valet in the kingdom, save Bachelier himself, deserved 
butter for his bread. There are, however, certain times 
when solitude is a boon to every one. Such a time to de 
Bernis were the last hours of this last night of winter, 
after his return from the brilliant evening at the Hotel de 
Ville. He was in a mood that did not admit of company. 
His swift walk homeward had, in some way, stirred his 
blood more than all the dancing had done ; and when he 
reached his rooms he found himself in no mood for sleep. 
Leisurely, then, by the flickering light of the two candles 
on his table, he removed the black satin suit which he had 
worn beneath his domino, took the wig from his aching 
head, put on a somewhat worn dressing-gown, and seated 
himself before the mirror of his dressing-table. 

A very different man was this Francois de Bernis from 
what he appeared to be in company. The affectation, the 
disguise, were dropped. Here, at last, was the actual man, 
whom only one other besides himself had ever seen : the 
peculiar head, with its clipped crop of bristling black hair 
encircling the tonsure; the dark, Southern face, with its 
straight brows, keen eyes, long nose, and firm, straight, 



444 The House of de Ma illy 

stubborn mouth, with an anomalous curve of weakness 
somewhere lurking in it. And his hands, unpowdered and 
unsoftened now by the falling ruffles of lace, showed for 
what they were bony, dark, long-fingered, and cruelly 
strong. Not so handsome, not so elegant a man, after all, 
was M. Francois en neglige. 

For some time he sat looking at himself, thinking less 
of himself, for once, than of the woman who had so easily 
accepted her dismissal. After all, the want of a scene had 
hurt his vanity. Could she be as weary of him as he was 
of her? Was there some other to her? The night out- 
side grew blacker. It lacked more than an hour to dawn. 
The candle-flames flickered in the darkness. The hour 
was dreary enough. It were as well to get to bed. De 
Bernis rose slowly, intending to finish his laggardly prep- 
arations for the night. He had not yet taken a step when 
there came a light, quivering knock on the door of the outer 
room, his salon. He stood perfectly still, listening. The 
knock was not repeated, however, and he decided that it 
had been a mistake. Ah! What was this? The handle 
of his bedroom door was being turned ; the door was pushed 
slowly open. There, in the space, stood a slight figure, 
cloaked, hooded, and masked in black. Two white hands 
were raised to the stranger's face. The mask dropped to 
the floor. 

" Victorine!" muttered the man. 

"That goes without saying/ 

"Grand Dieu! Did you think that I expected you?" 

"Why not?" The lips parted slightly, and he caught 
a gleam of teeth. " You could not have imagined that that 
at the ball was the last?" 

" So I did think. Well, what do you come for?" 

" Not that tone, please. You have no right to use it to 
me/ 

" What do you come for?" 

She made a sound in her throat which he took for a laugh. 
Afterwards, shivering slightly, she moved nearer to him, 
and at sight of her face he started back into an attitude of 



Victorine Makes End 445 

defence. He would have repeated his question, when sud- 
denly she answered it. 

"You gave me to-night. 'After to-night/ you said. 
Well, it is not morning yet. We shall finish to-night." 

"What do you mean?" He stared at her figure, at her 
working hands, as though he expected to discover weapons 
about her. 

Then her voice and her face both changed from reckless 
hardness to a kind of pitiful, childlike pleading : " Why, 
Franc. ois, are you so unkind? You gave me this time. 
You must not be cruel yet till I am ready." 

In spite of himself he softened before the helplessness of 
the little, delicate creature. "What do you want, Victo- 
rine?" he asked, gently. 

She was silent for some time, till he thought she had not 
heard him. When he was about to repeat his words, how- 
ever, she said, with the faintest hesitation: "I want to 
pray here, if you will listen. I can never pray alone, 
because I need you I need you when 1 am before God." 
She saw him shudder, and went on, imploringly: "Oh, 
Francois, let me pray here, once, for the last time ! Is it so 
much to ask? Let me set myself a little more right be- 
fore you." 

"Will you not be setting yourself more wrong? Can 
you pray?" he asked, sternly, after a troubled pause. 

Her answer was to fall upon her knees before a chair 
near which she had been standing. The seat of this she 
grasped painfully with both her thin, delicate hands. 
When she began to speak her voice was so low that the 
man could barely hear it. Gradually, however, it became 
more distinct : 

"0 God! merciful Father! Mary, Mother of Jesus! 
our Saviour Christ behold, 1 am come to you! Look 
down upon me where 1 am, and, in the name of Justice, no 
more, judge me! You, who know all things, know also 
my heart. You know my sin, but you know its reason. 
Oh, Thou who hast said, in pity, ' Because she has much 
loved, much shall she be forgiven,' behold me, pity me, also! 



446 The House of de Mailly 

" God, thou knowest this French Court, thou knowest 
its life, how they take us, who do not yet know, into the 
midst of it. We are children at first so young ! so young ! 
And we cannot foresee the end. We do not know the prices 
here for happiness. Is it, then, true that happiness is 
never to be found on earth? If we find it for a little while, 
are we not punished enough after to expiate? Why were 
we not told all at first? We heard that such a thing as 
happiness there was. We wanted it we hoped for it we 
thought we found it. But we pay too high. Why do you 
ask so much for so little? Will you condemn us for our 
youth, our ignorance? Why must we pay? Why should 
we pay with those years and years and endless years of 
sorrow? If 1 say that 1 will not pay what then? 

"God, thou art called merciful. Hast thou mercy for 
me, who have wronged none but myself? Ah, why was I 
decreed to be born and grow to womanhood? It has been 
useless. You will see. I 1 will not 1 can " She 
was beginning to gasp, sobbingly. The abbe, who had 
heard her in silence, came forward. 

" Victorine, rise. This is a useless blasphemy." 

"1 know. I know. 1 cannot pray. God will not 
let me!" Her words came convulsively, and she shivered 
with cold. He picked her up in his arms and carried her 
over to the largest chair in the room. Here she remained, 
helpless and passive ; and he left her, to return presently 
with a glass of cordial. In obedience to a look from him 
she took it, without protest. When he had set aside the 
empty glass, he turned to her and spoke : 

"Madame, it is nearly morning. You must go." 

Looking up at him, she smiled as she had sometimes 
used to do. " Not yet," she said, with pretty decision. 

" Not yet! Mon Dieu 1 what can you do? Why do you 
stay?" 

"Because in my last hours 1 wish to be with you," she 
said, softly and lightly, with old-time playful tenderness. 

In spite of himself this manner influenced him as no other 
would have done. He shrugged his shoulders slightlj 7 , 



Victorine Makes End 447 

and returned, with a gallant air : " Madame, 1 should wish 
to assist you with your cloak and mask; but if you have 
anything to ask of me, first " 

She sprang lightly to her feet, went to him, and placed 
her hands on his shoulders. He felt the force in her merely 
by her touch. It seemed as though fire from her fingers 
were trickling down through his flesh to his heart. 

" Yes, you are right ; I have something to ask, some- 
thing to tell. You have heard it before, but this last time 
you must learn it well, and must remember it. Francois 
I love you. In heaven or in hell, wherever I go, 1 shall 
love you. I will not forget and you shall not. This 
is the last night here. But out, somewhere in the 
infinite I wait for you. Now, sit here." 

She pushed him, gently, inflexibly, over to the chair 
whence she had risen. Then she passed to the table, 
where stood the two candles that lighted the room. Her 
great gray eyes fastened themselves burningly, steadily, 
upon those of de Bernis. Under the gaze he sat still, 
fascinated. "Victorine you are mad/' he murmured 
once, vaguely. 

Hearing the words, she smiled at him, but never moved 
her eyes. At length, when he had become passively ex- 
pectant, she lifted her hand. "Remain there do not 
move " she whispered. Then her fingers moved over 
the candle-flames. They flared and went out. There 
was a sound of rustling garments, a faintly murmured 
word from the man, a long breath, and then silence, heavy, 
absolute, in the thick darkness. 

It lasted long. All about that room, for miles in the 
blackness, the great city lay sleeping through the hour 
before dawn. The lights of the H6tel de Ville were out. 
King and valet alike rested. Mme. d'Etioles and Marie 
Leczinska had forgotten triumph and trouble. Riche- 
lieu, devil and monk, lay abed like an honest man. 
And Deborah de Mailly, under her canopy, dreamed, 
in the Versailles apartment, of the fresh quiet of her room 
at Trevor Manor, the golden dawn over the Chesapeake, 



448 The House of de Mailly 

and the lapping of the river against the banks that were 
lined with drooping willows and peach-trees. 

The first sound that broke the stillness in the room of 
the Rue Bailleuls was the same as that on which silence 
had fallen the long-drawn sigh of a woman.' Then de 
Bernis whispered, imperatively : " Madame you must go. 
Morning dawns/' 

A second after came the gentle reply: "Yes, Francois. 
Have no fear. I go." 

As the gray dawn came up at last over the eastern hori- 
zon, a coach rattled through the city streets upon its way 
to the Sevres barrier. Inside, upon the cushions, her 
reclining figure covered with a heavy velvet robe, her 
drawn face showing paler than the day in its frame of 
disordered hair, covered with the black hood, lay Mme. 
de Coigny. Her eyes wandered aimlessly from one win- 
dow of the coach to the other. Without thought, without 
feeling of any kind, she beheld the tall, narrow r houses 
with their wooden galleries and crazy, outer staircases; 
the shuttered shops, the narrow, lifeless streets. As they 
neared the barrier they passed the first market carts, laden 
with butter, milk, eggs, cheese, and meat. There were 
no green things at this time of year. And yet it was 
the first day of March, the first day of spring. The long 
winter was at an end. Summer would presently be back. 

The panelled coach passed out of the city without dif- 
ficulty, and entered, upon the country road. The pale 
yellow light along the end of the distant horizon grew 
brighter. Victorine regarded it dully. The coach jolted 
and jarred over the frozen ruts in the road. Bare-branched 
trees swayed in the biting morning wind. The inhabi- 
tants of the rude houses and taverns along the way still 
slept. The sweet, frosty air of very early morning came 
gratefully to the lips of the woman; but, as she breathed 
it in, she shivered, and drew her coverings a little closer. 
Presently they drew near to Versailles, and smoke began 
to rise lazily from the chimneys of the houses and to drift 



Victorine Makes End 449 

slowly upward. A few moments more, and the cum- 
brous vehicle stopped before a house of stone. It was 
Victorine de Coigny 's "home." A footman leaped from 
the back of the coach to the ground and opened the door 
for her. With a strong effort she alighted, leaning heavily 
on the servant's arm. 

At her knock the concierge, just dressed for the day, 
bowed her into the house, looking sharply the while at 
her pinched, expressionless face. She did not see him. 
Before her were the stairs. By the strength of her will 
she ascended them, and was presently admitted to the 
apartment on the first floor. To the slight surprise of 
the waiting valet, she forbade him to call her maid; and 
then, without further commands, passed into her own 
room. Here she flung off her hood and pelisse. Then, 
with quiet, stealthy steps, she crossed the passage into her 
husband's room. 

Marshal Coigny, weary with the long night at Paris, 
whence he had returned an hour or two since, conscience- 
free, careless, from long training, of his wife's whereabouts, 
lay in a sound sleep, dreaming of her, perhaps. He had 
not heard her return to the house; and he was perfectly 
unaware of her quiet entrance into his room. 

She passed him without a look, and went straight to 
the cabinet where he kept papers, orders, medals, trophies 
of the last campaign, his sword, and his duelling pistols. 
One of these last, silver-mounted weapons, loaded for 
possible use, Victorine took, weighing it in her hand a 
second before she began her retreat. She could not leave 
the room as she had entered it, without a glance at him 
whose name she had borne for three years. For an in- 
stant she paused beside his bed, looking a little wistfully 
at the face that was half turned from her. 

"Jules," she said, so softly that de Coigny, had he been 
awake, could not have heard her, "Jules, 1 have been 
very wicked, very cruel to you. May God put it into your 
heart that I tell you so now. Perhaps, somewhere, some 
time, you will find a good woman who will love you as I 
29 



45 The House of de Mailly 

did him. When that time comes, Jules, try to think a 
little kindly of me sometimes." 

Then, with a faint, tired sigh, she turned from him and 
went back into her own room. 

Three or four minutes later the Marquis de Coigny was 
roused from his sleep by the sharp crack of a pistol-shot. 
Opening his eyes dreamily for an instant, he rolled over 
again, murmuring, "Magnificent your Majesty 1" 

Then there came the sounds of a man's sharp cry and 
a hurrying of feet in the passage, and the MarSchal started 
up as a lackey rushed into his room. 

" Nom de Dieu, Ge"rome, what " 

"Monsieur monsieur madame madame la Mar6- 
chale " 

"What is it? Speak, fool!" 

"It was madame 's shot!" 





OR three days it was the supreme topic in the 
(Eil-de-Bceuf, and the Mare'chal gave an- 
other day's interest by himself taking her 
unconsecrated body back to the chateau 
where she had spent sixteen of her nineteen 
little years, for burial. No one of the Court had caught 
so much as a glimpse of de Coigny before his departure; 
but certain valets, news scavengers of Versailles, spent 
much time with the Marshal's servants, and learned from 
them that their master's hair was gray beneath his wig, 
that he was starving himself, and that none save old 
Gerome could make him speak. 

"1 always said that he had the bad taste to be in love 
with her," observed de Gevres, with a superior shrug. 

" Will the abbe be called out, or did the affair lie in an- 
other direction?" 

Again the Duke shrugged. "Really, my friend, I 
know nothing. The Mare'chal has never honored me with 
domestic confidences." 

This, in substance, together with the complete story of 
her death, and endless conjectures as to its immediate 
cause, was all that was anywhere repeated, in Bull's-Eye 
or salon. Naturally enough, then, people began to grow 
weary of the subject, and at length little Victorine, with her 
hopeless tragedy, was laid aside, to become one of that 
company of ghosts who, as memories, haunted the cor- 
ridors of the great palace, to be recalled occasionally 
from oblivion upon a dull and rainy day. 

And now another topic, one by no means new, but fresh- 



452 The House of de Mailly 

ened in interest, was introduced, by hints, to the general 
room from the King's cabinet, for the entertainment of 
the scandal-mongers. This was the de Maillys once 
more. For many weeks, now, his Majesty had purposely 
suspended the long-awaited choice, and had paid his court 
with equal gallantry to half a dozen women. After the 
incident of the "throwing the handkerchief/' a topic long 
since threadbare in the salons, Mme. d'Etioles, bourgeoise 
though she was, seemed to stand a fair chance for the 
post. Thereafter, periodically, she had been rumored as 
being separated from her husband, of living now at Paris, 
now at S6nart, again at Versailles perhaps in the palace 
itself. Nothing definite was known in the (Eil or the 
Queen's circle. D'Argenson looked wise, and Bachelier 
blinked occasionally, but the matter got no further, and 
nothing was proclaimed. All this, however, was later, 
through the last of March and the beginning of April. 
Some time since, during the first week in March, indeed, 
the Cabinet du Conseil learned something of royal in- 
tentions in another quarter. On a certain Friday some 
orders were given, a paper made out at Majesty's com- 
mand by de Berryer, and from Maurepas certain others 
demanded, the subject of which made even that imper- 
turbable person start with surprise. Such papers were 
expected to be in readiness by Saturday afternoon. 

Upon the momentous Friday young d'Argenson and 
Phelippeaux de Maurepas encountered each other, by 
chance, in the vaisselier. These two, who were never to 
be found talking together in the public rooms, were of 
necessity so intimate in private that the one could fairly 
read the other's thoughts by the curve of the lips or the 
shape of the brow. To-day, both minds being on the same 
subject, both mouths formed into the same peculiar smile 
of greeting as the two found themselves alone in this inner 
room. Maurepas was 'on his way to the grand gallery. 
D'Argenson, to his great disgust, was at work enumerat- 
ing candlesticks (the King being prone to periodic spells 
of household economy). At one end of the table Maure- 



Deborah 453 

pas stopped, looking down in some amusement at his 
comrade's task. 

"You would make a woeful housekeeper, Marc. Now 
I have been occupied in a more engrossing way." 

"Eh? Oh, something apropos of the little de Mailly." 

" Your astuteness is unsurpassed. Can you guess the 
next thing the subject of my labors?" 

"I thought that I had guessed it," was the reply. 

"Oh, no. Mme. de Mailly is their object." 

"I am, then, at a loss." 

"I have been occupied, my dear Count, in making the 
estates of Chateauroux, together with the duchy, fall, 
by a peculiar line of heredity, from the deceased Duchess 
to her living cousin-german, Mistress Deborah Travis, 
otherwise the Comtesse de Mailly." 

" Mordi! You have my compassion. My task is as 
nothing to yours." 

"Oh, you are wrong. The matter is nearly arranged. 
We shall see, my dear Count we shall see " 

"When?" 

"At no later period than to-morrow evening." 

"Ah! Then his Majesty is to escape from the levee?" 

"Yes, probably. Monseigneur the Dauphin will be 
asked to take his place after the fourth minuet. And 
you, Marc do you know what part in the affair is to fall 
to you?" 

"Alas, yes I can conjecture it. I had not feared that 
it would come so soon. The husband Claude will be 
my task." 

" I am, indeed, sorry for it. Once before, you remember, 
he fell to me. M on Dieu ! He took it manfully enough 
then ; but this is worse. Unhappily, he is fond of his wife. " 

"Monsieur le Ministre you of the school of Montes- 
quieu have you ever been able to picture to yourself an 
honest woman one who would refuse the post?" 

"Never, Monsieur of the Interior. In heaven there 
may be such. But then, in heaven, I am told, there are 
no kings," 



454 The House of de Mailly 

With which regretfully sincere bit of pessimism de 
Maurepas passed on, leaving his friend to mingle thoughts 
of Claude and Deborah and the King's way with bronze 
pairs and single silvers. 

Saturday evening saw the great Gallery of Mirrors filled 
with its customary brilliant throng. Claude and his 
wife were present as a matter of course, and were able to 
dance the second minuet together, since in that their Majes- 
ties were companions. Thereafter they were separated, 
probably for the remainder of the evening. Deborah was 
surrounded by many would-be partners, for she had long 
since been able to choose as she liked from the men of the 
Court. But the one who might command a dance, he whom 
she expected to be seen with at least once during the even- 
ing, did not, apparently, look at her to-night. The Court 
perceived this as quickly as she did ; and, in consequence, 
certain gentlemen left her side. Richelieu, who dared not 
approach her, smiled cynically at their want of foresight, 
and saw, with a nod of approval, that de Ge"vres, d'Epernon, 
de Sauvre" and Penthievre became more than ever assiduous 
in their attentions. If Deborah were disappointed, cer- 
tainly none could have guessed it. Her manner was 
just as usual quiet, eminently unaffected, and punctilious- 
ly gracious. It was becoming the best manner in the 
kingdom, de Ge"vres observed to his neighbor, d'Epernon, 
as she entered the King's set with Penthievre. D'Epernon 
weakly tapped his snuff-box, but said nothing for a time. 

" De Bernis is across the room/' he observed, finally. 

"Yes, and there will soon be thrushes in the bosquet 
of the Queen!" 

The other smiled and shifted his position. " It is more 
apropos than you think. Observe there is de Coigny 
returned." 

" Ah ! True ! He is accepting snuff from the abbe" ! " 

" We shall not be seconds after all, then. Let us go and 
speak with Jules." 

"I cannot now. I wait here for Mme. de Mailly." 

" Au revoir, then." 



Deborah 455 

" Au revoir. The Marshal looks well in black." 

Thus the evening wore on in customary fashion, and, 
as the hour for supper approached, a little quiver of ex- 
pectation fell upon the hearts of certain people in the great 
room, who, so far as an outsider could have determined, 
were in no way connected with each other. D'Argenson 
had been missing during the early part of the evening, but 
made his appearance at eleven o'clock. De Berryer and 
Maurepas, during the ensuing quarter of an hour, each 
approached and casually addressed him. De Ge"vres did 
not go near him, but received a nod from across the room 
that seemed to be satisfactory to both. The King himself, 
during a promenade, paused for an instant on his way to 
whisper something that his partner herself could not hear, 
into the ear of Marc Antoine. The answer was simply, 
" Yes, Sire," but the King moved on with new gayety after 
hearing it. 

Shortly afterwards supper was announced, and the brill- 
iant company leisurely prepared to get them to table. Dur- 
ing the recessional from the salon there were likewise three 
or four incidents, which, put properly together, formed an 
intricate little drama. Claude, who had just relinquished 
his last partner, Mme. de Grammont, to her new escort, 
was looking, somewhat half-heartedly, for an unattended 
dame, when, to his great satisfaction, Henri appeared be- 
side him and held him back for a moment or two of conver- 
sation, it being some days since they had met. For an in- 
stant the cousins eyed each other in silence. Then, as 
they drew aside from the doorway, Claude observed : 

" Henri, you are not well." 

The Marquis gave a slight, cynical smile. "On the 
contrary, dear Claude, 1 have now lost my last excuse for 
worry, care, or melancholy. What more could the gods 
devise for me?" 

"Ah! 1 know!" returned the other, very gently, as he 
laid one hand upon Henri's shoulder. " You must think 
only that she is happier now." 

Henri quivered suddenly and shook the hand away. 



456 The House of de Mailly 

"Stop, Claude. I I no, not even from you/' he ejacu- 
lated, harshly. 

"Forgive me." 

"Good-evening, gentlemen." 

Henri faced quickly about as Claude bowed to the man 
who had approached them. It was d'Argenson. 

" You look very serious, Monsieur le Comte. What is the 
matter? Do the powers of Europe threaten the last treaty, 
or is one of the King's lapdogs dead?" inquired Claude, 
with his most catching smile, and anxious to give Henri a 
moment to change his thought. 

D'Argenson's expression did not brighten. Rather, it 
grew still more gloomy. It seemed difficult for him to an- 
swer the laughing question. At this moment, in fact, he 
would have preferred being in the thick of Dettingen to 
standing here, where he was about to inflict a merciless 
blow on a defenceless head. "Monsieur le Comte," he 
began, looking steadily at Claude, " I wish you to believe 
me when 1 say that never before, in all my life, have 1 so 
regretted my duty. In speaking to you I am obeying 
an absolute command. Monsieur my friend Claude 1 
have been this evening to the Rue d'Anjou. 1 left there 
a letter from the King which you " 

He stopped. Maurepas had told him that this man 
would behave well. It was not so. Claude had turned 
deathly white. Both hands had flown to his head, and he 
reeled where he stood. Henri sprang forward and caught 
him about the body. 

"Let me alone," muttered Claude, thickly. "I sha'n't 
fall." 

"I will bring some wine," said d'Argenson, gently. 

"No. 1 will have nothing." For a moment the three 
stood motionless and silent. Then Claude opened his eyes 
and looked upon the King's minister. "The letter in- 
vites me to travel?" 

D'Argenson bowed. 

Claude slowly drew a handkerchief from his pocket and 
wiped his lips with it. " May God damn to hell the King 



Deborah 457 

of France ! All the armies in his kingdom shall not drive 
me from it till I've got back my wife!" 

"Claude! Claude! Come away!" said Henri, sharply. 

" No. Not till I have Deborah to go with me. " 

"Monsieur monsieur, that is not possible," whispered 
d'Argenson, anxiously. "Mine, de Mailly will be granted 
her choice. She will not be in any way forced. His 
Majesty will merely offer." 

After he had spoken these words d'Argenson was not 
sure that Claude had heard them. The young man stood 
for a minute or two staring at him stupidly, with a look of 
heavy indifference. Then his body began to straighten, he 
breathed sharply two or three times, and d'Argenson's mus- 
cles stiffened as he prepared to avoid an attack. Claude's 
hand opened and shut convulsively, but he made no move 
forward. After a long time, when the tension had grown 
almost past bearing to his cousin and the minister, de 
Mailly, with a dignity that Louis himself could not have 
equalled, said, measuredly: "Well, messieurs, I go home 
to await my wife. If her choice is free, if she is not forced, 
she will return to me. This is inevitable. Henri, let 
us go." 

The Marquis, with a melancholy glance at d'Argenson's 
astonished face, grasped his cousin's arm. Before they 
went away, however, Claude turned once more to the 
Count. 

" Monsieur, if Mme. de Mailly does remain, all the bolts, 
all the bars and walls of the Bastille will not be enough to 
save Louis of France from death at my hands. Tell him 
so." 

D'Argenson bowed low, and Claude, stumbling in his 
walk like a drunken man, left the room on Henri's arm. 

In the mean time Deborah had not reached the supper- 
room. De Gevres was her escort from the Hall of Mirrors, 
supposedly to the Salle du Grand Couvert ; but, when they 
stood upon the threshold of the first corridor, he bent over 
her, saying, in a low voice: "Madame, the public room 
will be crowded and disagreeable. In the Salle des Pen- 



458 The House of de Mailly 

dules there is to be a little supper, to which 1 am instructed 
to invite you. Will you do me the honor to accompany 
me?" 

And Deborah, to whom these private parties so frequent- 
ly arranged for six or eight in some courtier's suite were 
far preferable to the general feast, accepted the invitation 
with cordial good -will. Thereupon they turned from 
the procession and passed through various courts, halls, 
and antechambers till they reached the Grande Galerie. 
Down the still, empty length of this, into the long corridor 
opening out of it at the other end, and finally into the pas- 
sage of the Salle du Jeu, they walked. 

"It must be a small party, or are we the first?" asked 
Deborah, as they entered the room and paused before a 
closed door. 

De GeVres did not answer. Instead, he knocked twice 
upon the panel. 

"Enter," came a voice from within. 

The Duke pulled open the door, and Deborah passed be- 
fore him. The door closed again, softly, behind her. She 
was alone with the King. 

" Sire!" she cried, with a little gasp. 

Louis, who stood at the end of the room, his back to the 
fire, smiled at her. "Oh, there are no terms of etiquette 
to-night. We are only very good friends, you and 1, my 
dear little Countess. Do you see? Now let us sit down 
together at this little table, where Mouthier has prepared a 
most delicate repast; and as we eat and quaff together 
some of the golden wine of Champagne, we will talk. Will 
you not thus honor me, madame?" 

Deborah, who had grown very white during the King's 
speech, looked anxiously about her. 

" We are utterly alone. None can hear us," observed his 
Majesty again, with the idea of being reassuring. He did 
his companion unguessed injustice. She had been thrown 
into a sudden panic of fear. 

" Pardon, your Majesty, I 1 do not desire to eat. I am 
not hungry. When M. de Ge 1 vres conducted me here, I did 



Deborah 459 

not understand what he meant. If you will grant me per- 
mission, I will go." 

This speech pleased the King incredibly. Here at last 
was a woman who would not fall at his feet, whom it were 
worth his while to win. Her fear was certainly genuine. 
She was actually moving towards the door. He did not stir 
from his place, wishing not to alarm her further. 

" My dear Mme. de Mailly, how cruel to leave me quite 
alone ! As your sovereign, I might command. As a man, 
however, I only entreat. Try, for me, one of these ris- 
soles, which I myself assisted in making. Ah! That is 
better." 

Deborah, something reassured by the quiet tone and 
the apparent liberty which was hers, looked doubtfully 
over to the little table whose glass and gold shone brightly 
under the great chandelier. The King was holding a chair 
for her. Flight now, were there really nothing intended by 
this gallantry, might be a little awkward to explain next 
day. After a moment's thought, Deborah went slowly 
over and sat down at the table. Louis, with a sigh of 
comfort and relief, placed himself beside her ; and, taking 
her plate, filled it with portions from a number of dishes. 
The girl looked down at them with a troubled expression. 
She was thinking of Choisy 

"Madame pledge me in this," murmured the King, 
filling her broad -bowled glass with the sparkling wine 
which she did not very much like. Wetting her lips with 
it, however, she said, demurely : " To your Majesty." 

" Oh that is a cold toast indeed. See, I will do better. " 
He lifted his glass. " I drink to Deborah de Mailly, lady 
of the palace of the Queen, and beloved comrade of his 
Gracious Majesty the Fifteenth Louis of France. Eh, 
little one, is it not better?" 

"Lady of the palace of the Queen," repeated Deborah, 
slowly, her large eyes fixed upon the King's face. 

"Yes, I have said it. Your appointment is here," he 
replied, tapping the breast of his coat. "Now tell me 
what else there is in the world that you wish for. Ah 



460 The House of de Mailly 

there is something, I know. Estates money servants 
what will you have, my little one?" 

Deborah shivered with cold. She realized the situation 
now, and the nerves beneath her flesh were quivering. 
Pulling herself together with a strong mental effort, she 
sat up, rigid and stiff, before her untouched food. Her 
mind was quite clear, her path well denned. 

" What is it that you want? I read desire in your eyes," 
repeated the King, thinking to win his suit more easily 
than he had at first believed. 

"No, no. There is nothing. I thank your Majesty 
for your kindness. There is nothing that 1 want. In- 
deed, indeed, there is nothing." 

"Happiest of humankind! To want nothing! Yet 
there is something that 1 desire. 1, King of France, am 
not like you. Can you guess, Deborah, what it is that I 
long for more than I wanted my crown?" 

"Another rissole, Sire, I think." 

He was put out, and yet there was a little twinkle in her 
eyes that became her wonderfully, and seemed, too, to give 
him hope. After an instant he felt that anger was un- 
necessary, and thus recovered his ardent dignity as best he 
could. " I beg of you be serious. Since you will name 
for me nothing that you wish, I will at least tell you in 
what you are lacking. When you hear these things 
desire will be born. Madame read this." 

From his coat Louis took a broad paper, folded and 
royally sealed. Deborah, her face troubled and her hands 
shaking slightly, rose to receive it, and, after a moment 
of hesitation, at a most impatient nod from the King, 
broke the seals, and found the inside of the document 
covered with the neat, legible writing of Maurepas. She 
glanced quickly over its lines: 

" The right to confer titles of honor being one of the most 
sublime attributes of supreme power, the Kings, our pred- 
ecessors, have left us divers monuments of the use they 
have made of it in favor of persons whose virtues and merits 
they desired to extol and make illustrious. Considering 



Deborah 461 

that our very dear and well-beloved cousin, Deborah Travis, 
wife of the Comte de Mailly, issues from one of the greatest 
families of a nation closely allied to us, whom we delight 
to honor ; that she is attached as lady of the palace to the 
Queen, our very dear companion; that she is united by 
marriage to one of the most ancient and illustrious families 
in our realm, whose ancestors have, for several centuries, 
rendered important services to our crown; and that she 
joins to all these advantages those virtues and qualities 
of heart and mind which have gained for her a just and 
universal consideration, we take the highest satisfaction 
in proclaiming her succession to the title and estate of that 
esteemed and honored lady, her cousin, Marie Anne de 
Mailly, and we hereby invest her with the Duchy of Cha- 
teauroux, together with all its appurtenances and depend- 
encies, situated in Berry."* 

Deborah, having finished the perusal of this document, 
let it float from her fingers to the floor, while she stood 
perfectly still, staring at the face of the man seated before 
her. Her expression, first of amazement, then of horror, 
was changing now to something puzzled and undecided, 
which the King beheld with relief. 

"Madame," he observed, "you should thank me. I 
make you first lady of the Court. I give you title, wealth, 
power. I place a Queen below you in my own esteem. 
I give you ministers to command, no one to obey. I make 
your antechamber a room more frequented than my own 
cabinet. I leave it for you, if you wish it, to rule France. 
And what is it that I ask in return? Nothing! Nothing 
that your own generosity will not grant without the asking. 
Think of what you are, and of what you will become. 
Have you, then, no word in which to thank me?" 

He also had risen now, and was looking at her, as she 
stood, with a mixture of curiosity, admiration, and im- 
patience. 

*This form is taken from the letters-patent used in the case of 
Marie Anne de Mailly. 



462 The House of de Mailly 

Deborah was still so still that she might have been 
taken for a man-made thing. And by the expression 
of her face Louis knew that he must not speak more now. 
She was fighting her battle; his forces must win or lose 
as they stood, augmented no further. Before her had risen 
the picture of two lives, the one that was opening to her 
and the one that she had thought to live. As she thought, 
the real life, for a little, grew dim, distant, unimportant. 
The other, with its scarce imaginable power, glory, posi- 
tion, became clearer and still more clear till she could see 
into its inmost depths. Adulation, pleasure, riches, ease, 
universal sway, a court at her feet, a King to bar malice 
from her door, an existence of beauty, culture, laugh- 
ter, light, founded on what? ending how? Yes, these 
questions came, inevitably. To answer the first, she looked 
slowly over the man before her, as he stood in all the beauty 
of his young manhood and majesty. Nevertheless, through 
that beauty his true nature was readable, showing plainly 
through his eyes, in the expression of his heavy lower 
lip, in his too weak chin that sullen, morose, pettish, 
carnal, warped nature, best fitted for the peasant's hut, 
destined by Fate, lover of grim comedy, for the greatest 
palace of earth. This man, who had no place in her soul- 
life, must build her pedestal, must place her thereon. And 
the end of all when end should come ah ! Now Deborah 
saw again the bed of Marie Anne de Chateauroux, with 
the Duchess upon it, as she had lain there for the last 
time. And Marie Anne de Mailly had been Claude's 
cousin Claude 's 

" Mme. de Chateauroux, will you examine to-night your 
apartments in the little courts? Will you take possession 
at" 

"Oh! God! Help me!" 

"What are you saying!" uttered the King, sharply. 

Then she turned upon him with that which for the 
moment she had let lie dormant in her heart, now all awake 
and quivering with life her love for Claude. It was, 
perhaps, God, who was helping as she asked. 



Deborah 463 

"I am saying that 1 refuse to listen any more to your 
insults. 1 am saying that 1 am ashamed utterly ashamed 
that you should so have thought of me that you dare 
offer them. 1 am not Duchess of Chateauroux ! " She 
placed her foot on the fallen paper, and stammered over the 
French words as she spoke, for she was thinking in Eng- 
lish now. " God save me from it ! I am no lady of the 
palace of the Queen 1 am not of Versailles, nor of France. 
1 owe allegiance to no French King. I come from a coun- 
try that is true and sweet and pure, where they hate and 
despise your French ways, your unholy customs, your 
laws, your manners, your dishonoring of honest things, 
your treatment of women. I am honest. 1 hate myself 
for having lived among you for months as I have done. 
1 am going away, 1 will leave here, this place, to-night. 
If my my husband will not take me I shall go back 
alone, by the way 1 came, to my country, where the men, 
if they are awkward, are upright, if the women have not 
etiquette, they are pure. Let me go! Let me go!" 

Louis, in a sudden access of fury, had sprung forward 
and seized her by the wrists. Deborah's temper was fully 
roused at last; her blood poured hotly through her veins. 
Her life had become a little thing in comparison to the laws 
for which she was speaking, the sense of right which seemed 
to hold no part in this French order of things. Bracing 
herself as she might in her high-heeled slippers, she sud- 
denly threw all her weight forward against the man, taking 
him off his guard, and so forcing him back that he was 
obliged to loosen his hold of her in order to regain equi- 
librium. The instant that she was free Deborah turned 
and fled to the door. She flung herself bodily against it. 
It was locked from the outside. 

"Good Heaven!" muttered the girl, in English. 

" What is it you say, dear madame?" inquired the King, 
smiling in amused triumph as she turned to him, still 
grasping the handle of the door. 

" You are unfair ! This is unlawful ! I am not to blame 1" 
she said, her voice quivering. 



464 The House of de Mailly 

" Madame my dear Deborah who could be unfair with 
you?" He came towards her, looking not too well pleased 
that she shrank back as far as possible at his approach. 
When she was close against the immovable door, and he just 
before her, he stopped, looked at her for a long moment with 
a peculiar, half-patronizing smile, then suddenly fell upon 
his knee at her feet, and captured one of her unwilling hands. 

" Deborah my Deborah quel drole de nom! let us now 
forget locked doors, let us forget Majesties and riches and 
favors, and let us think only that here am 1, Louis, thus 
before you, declaring my love. Let us make as though we 
were two peasants. I swear to you that to me you are all 
in all. Without you 1 cannot live. All the days of my 
life 1 will work for you, will cherish you. Now tell me if 
you will not accept such love?" 

Deborah looked into the uplifted face of the King. Cer- 
tainly it was marvellously handsome beautiful enough to 
have turned the heads of many women. Perhaps, after 
all, there was excuse for those poor creatures, the three 
sisters, who had yielded to him. Perhaps, after all, pity 
was their only just measure. But she Deborah Travis 
had known handsome faces before. Indeed, she had 
come near to life -long unhappiness through that which 
she had known best. Suddenly, as in a picture, she beheld 
there, beside the King, the head of Charles Fairneld. Yes, 
Louis was the finer-featured of the two. Nevertheless, all 
temptation was gone. 

"Monsieur le Roi," she said, clearly, and with a kind of 
cynicism even through her nervousness, " you are too late. 
1 have been courted before, and I've plighted my troth and 
given my heart into some one's keeping. You are too late. " 

" Diable ! Dix milles diables !" cried his Majesty, scram- 
bling awkwardly to his feet and backing away from her. 
" Do you know who 1 am? what I can do, madame? Do 
you know that, with one word, I can exile you? Bah! Who 
who is the man you prefer to me?" 

" My husband," was the demure reply. 

"Ohl It is an insult! Already your husband has his 



Deborah 465 

commands. He leaves Versailles to-night, forever. Do 
not be afraid." 

"Leaves to-night I" A dark flush spread over Deborah's 
face. " Leaves to-night ! Mon Dieu ! When where 
how? Oh, I will go now! You shall let me go to him, do 
you hear? At once! Why, I shall be left here alone! I 
1 shall be like Mme. de Coigny. Your Majesty " 
suddenly she grew calm, and her voice gently sweet 
" Your Majesty, let me go." 

"As 3^ou have seen, the door is locked." 

" Open it, then, or there is another!" she pointed across 
the room to the door in the opposite wall which led into the 
royal suite. 

The King moved about quickly, placing himself in front 
of it. The act was sufficient. It showed Deborah that she 
had neither pity nor mercy to hope for, nothing but her own 
determination on which to depend. And, as the knowledge 
of helplessness became more certain, so did her will become 
stronger, her brain more alert. She looked about the room. 
Was there a weapon of defence or of attack anywhere with- 
in reach? On the supper-table were knives and forks of 
gold dull, useless things. On one side of the room was a 
great clock; on the mantel stood another. There were 
also stiff chairs, tabourets, an escritoire, and the table 
these were all. What to do? She must get home, get to 
Claude, as rapidly as possible. Would he be there? Would 
he have trusted and waited for her? If not what? She 
would not think of that now. She must first escape through 
that unlocked door guarded by the King. How to do it? 
Strategy, perhaps. 

"Well, madame, have you decided?" inquired the King, 
coolly. 

Deborah gave a slight, pretty smile. "I have only de- 
cided that I should like to finish Mouthier's comfits. We 
have not even touched the cream," she said, coquettishly. 

Louis laughed. "Ah! That is well, that! Let us sit 
down." 

Pardonable vanity, considering his experiences hereto- 
30 



466 The House of de Mailly 

fore, had thrown him easily off his guard. So the two 
seated themselves again at the little table, Deborah, for an 
added bit of flattery, as he thought, taking the chair which 
he had used before, and which was nearest the door of 
escape. The King helped her bountifully to the smooth 
cream, which she began upon with apparent avidity. 

" Louis," she said, suddenly, looking at him with a sig- 
nificant smile and eyes half closed, "pick up for me the 
paper that I dropped upon the floor. I have not finished 
reading it." 

The King was enchanted. She was surrendering at 
last. If she chose to make it easier for her vanity by treat- 
ing him like a servant why, he was willing. He rose at 
once and went back to the spot where Maurepas' document 
had fallen and been spurned by Deborah's heel. He 
stooped to pick it up. There was a crisp rustle of stiff, 
silk petticoats. He looked up just in time to behold his 
prize fling open the north door and hurry through it into 
the room beyond. This was the King's bedroom, and in it, 
at this hour, were only Bachelier, Levet, and two under- 
footmen. These four, in open-mouthed amazement, be- 
held the flying figure of a lady burst in from the Salle des 
Pendules, run across the royal room, and escape into the 
council-chamber, just as the King, purple with anger, 
shouted from the doorway: "Beasts! Fools! Idiots! 
Could you not hold her?" 

Bachelier started up. "Shall I follow, your Majesty?" 

"No, imbecile! Should the King's valet be seen chas- 
ing a woman through the corridors of Versailles at mid- 
night? Ah! It is abominable!" 

Thereupon his gracious Majesty threw himself into an 
arm-chair with an expression on his royal countenance 
which plainly told his valet that it would be many days ere 
an unnecessary word again passed the master's lips. 

Once more, as a year ago, Henri de Mailly-Nesle sat in 
Claude's bedroom, on the eve of that young man's de- 
parture from Versailles. But the situation was differ- 



Deborah 467 

ent enough this time. Now it was Henri who, with a 
strong effort, sat trying to calm the feverish excitement 
and anxiety of the other. Upon the floor an open coffer 
stood ready ; but nothing had yet been put into it. Claude 
would not admit a servant to the room. He was pacing 
rapidly up and down, up and down the apartment, talking 
sometimes wildly to Henri, sometimes silent, sometimes 
muttering incoherently to himself. His dress was disor- 
dered, his wig awry ; one slipper and his sword had been 
tossed together into a corner. He was for the time bereft 
of reason. It was now half an hour since the return from 
the palace. D'Argenson's letter had been found awaiting 
them, but Claude had not read it. What need was there to 
do so? 

"Henri, two hundred thousand is too much for the es- 
tate. The chateau is impossible you are giving me 
money. I'll not have it " 

"Chut, child! Do you think" 

"Ah! She has not come she does not come she 
does not come! 1 shall go mad. I shall shoot myself if 
she does not return! Mon Dieul Mon Dieul" 

"Claude, be calm. There is time. She could not yet 
have got away. Be calm. She will come, of course." 

Henri spoke soothingly, but, as the minutes passed, and 
still Deborah delayed, his heart sank. What to do with 
his cousin? Claude would, in a little time, be actually 
unbalanced, he feared. 

" Henri, the chateau might be repaired. 1 should like 
to live in it again. 1 should like to be buried there. Ah, 
if she is not here in ten minutes, 1 shall use my pistol. 
Then 1 will be buried there, in the vault, beside Alexandre. 
Poor Alexandre! You remember he never knew her. 
He knew what it meant to lose his Deborah! Deborah! 
Deborah! Mon Dieu, Henri, I have been brutal to her. 
She will not come back. The time is come the time is 
come 1 will put an end to myself!" 

Claude made a quick dash for the table, on which, amid 
a pile of varied articles, were his duelling pistols. He 



468 The House of de Mailly 

picked one of them up. Henri sprang from his place and 
seized his cousin round the shoulders. 

"Idiot! Put it down! Stop!" 

Claude was struggling to free himself from the grasp. 
The strength of a madman seemed to be in his arms. 
Henri felt his hold weakening. He was being repulsed. 

"Armand!" shouted the Marquis hoarsely. " Ar- 
mand! Amoi! Ausecours! Monsieur le Cotnte " 

"Mordi! you shall not!" growled Claude, furiously. 
"1 tell you she is not corning! 1 will kill myself! Let 
me let me go!" 

With a mighty wrench Claude pulled himself free, over- 
balancing his cousin, who fell heavily to the floor. Claude 
had the pistol in his hand. The valet had not appeared. 
For just the shade of an instant de Mailly hesitated. 

"Claude!" came a tremulous, quivering voice from the 
doorway. 

The weapon clattered to the floor. Claude held out both 
arms, and Deborah, dazed, weary, utterly happy, went into 
them and was clasped close to his heart. 

"Claude we must go away," she whispered, her lips 
close to his ear. 

"We will go/' 

" Where where Claude?" 

"1 have no longer a country, my wife. But 1 know 
that which is there for us over the sea that wherein 1 
found you first." 

Deborah gave a little sob of relief; and, as her lips met 
those of her husband, Henri de Mailly, who had kept him 
for her, sharply turned away. 




EPILOGUE 

A Trail on the Water 

ND thus at last we come down to the sea black, 
murmurous waste rolling vastly under the 
evening sky, and against the far golden hori- 
zon. In this swift approaching night all that 
has been, all the base dishonesty, the foul- 
ness, the little- visible much-felt, shall be washed away, for 
it is the world that was. When the dripping sun flashes 
up again out of the east, 'twill be to send a shower of golden 
beams down the wind that is bearing a white-winged bark 
westward over the blue expanse. What two souls this ves- 
sel bears, whence from what darkness of the Old whith- 
er to what brightness of the New need scarce be told. 
The trial of their faith and love is over. Obedient to the 
victory call, out of the depths that have so long surround- 
ed them, the future, star-crowned, rises up at last. 



THE END 



BY H. B. MARRIOTT WATSON 



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