"There would, in that case, be considerable danger," replied Bordeu, not without extreme embarrassment..
"Perhaps even to the extinction of all hope?" asked I.
"God alone can tell," returned Bordeu.
"I understand," interrupted I, quickly, "and, spite of the mystery with which you would fain conceal the extent of his majesty's danger, I know, and venture to assert, that you consider him already as dead."
"Have a care, madam," exclaimed Bordeu, "how you admit such an idea, and still more of proclaiming it. I pledge you my word that I do not consider the king is in danger; I have seen many cures equally extraordinary with his."
I shook my head in token of disbelief. I had uttered what I firmly supposed the truth, and the sight of my evil genius in the person of the prophet who had awaited my return to Versailles, turned the encouraging words of Bordeu into a cold, heavy chill, which struck to my heart. Bordeu quitted me to resume his attendance upon the king. After him came the duc d'Aiguillon, whose features bore the visible marks of care and disquiet. He met me with the utmost tenderness and concern, asked of me the very smallest details of the disastrous events of the morning. I concealed nothing from him, and he listened to my recital with the most lively interest; and the account of the apparition of the wonderful being who seemed destined to follow me throughout my career was not the least interesting part of our conversation.
"There are," said the duke, "many very extraordinary things in this life, reason questions them, philosophy laughs at them, and yet it is impossible to deny that there are various hidden causes, or sudden inspirations, which have the greatest effect upon our destiny. As a proof, I will relate to you the following circumstance. You are aware," continued the duke, "that the cardinal de Richelieu, the author of our good fortune, spite of the superiority of his mind, believed in judicial astrology. When his own immediate line became extinct by the unexpected death of his family and relatives, he wished to ascertain what would be the fate of those children belonging to his sister, whom he had adopted as the successors of his name, arms, and fortune. The planets were consulted, and the answer received was, that two centuries from the day on which Providence had so highly elevated himself, the family, upon whom rested all his hopes of perpetuating his name, should fail entirely in its male descent. You see that the duc de Fronsac has only one child, an infant not many days old. I also have but one, and these two feeble branches seem but little calculated to falsify the prediction. Judge, my dear countess, how great must be my paternal anxiety!"
This relation on the part of the duc d'Aiguillon was but ill calculated to restore my drooping spirits, and although I had no reason for concluding that the astrologer had spoken prophetically to the grand cardinal, I was not the less inclined to believe, with increased confidence, the predictions uttered respecting myself by my inexplicable visitor of the morning. My ever kind friend, the duchesse d'Aiguillon, was not long ere she too made her appearance, with the view, and in the hope of consoling me. I could not resist her earnest endeavours to rouse me from my grief, and a grateful sense of her goodness obliged me to deck my features with at least the semblance of cheerfulness. Every hour fresh accounts of the king's health were brought me, of a most encouraging nature; by these bulletins one might naturally suppose him rapidly recovering, and we all began to smile at our folly in having been so soon alarmed; in fact, my spirits rose in proportion as those about me appeared full of fresh confidence, and the mysterious visit of my evil genius gradually faded from my recollection.
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