"It is a point," replied I, "that neither his majesty nor myself once thought of."
"Then such an omission proves him a vile egotist, and you a prodigious simpleton," answered she; "and were I in your place, I would commission the duc d'Aiguillon to make a direct demand of a future provision for you; you really should see about this, and secure to yourself a noble establishment for yourself and your friends, who ought not to suffer for your overstrained delicacy. Look at the duc de Choiseul, who has kept a regular court at Chanteloup, and never wanted for a train of courtiers at it."
After this lesson of worldly wisdom, the excellent marechale gave me a friendly kiss, returned to her carriage, and I saw her no more during my stay at Ruel.
The evening brought with it a second letter from the duc d'Aiguillon, it was as follows:--
"MADAM,--I hasten to acquaint you with the pleasing information of his majesty being considerably better; his strength appears to have returned, and he himself, in the consciousness of improving health, expressed aloud his regret for having been so hasty in advising your removal from him. He has continually repeated, 'How weak and selfish of me thus to afflict my dearest countess! would you not advise me, my friend, to request her immediate return?' Of course, my reply was in the affirmative. His majesty then put the same question to the duc de Richelieu, who answered, that in his opinion it was the best plan he could decide upon. The bulletin signed by the different physicians accompanies this: it leaves me nothing to add but to recommend your bearing with patience this temporary absence from court, to which you will ere long return, more idolized, more sought after, than ever. The duc de la Vrilliere and the abbe Terray present the assurance of their unbounded respect and devotion, etc., etc."
The duchess, my sister-in-law, and niece shared in joy at such
gratifying intelligence, and the ensuing day brought a concourse of visitors to Ruel; indeed, any one might have supposed that fresh swarms of flatterers and courtiers had been created only to swell my numbers of humble and obsequious adorers. I bestowed on each unmeaning guest a smiling welcome, for indeed, my heart was too light and I felt too happy to be enabled to frown even upon those who, when the storm appeared near, had basely deserted me.
It was amusing enough to see with what zeal any person, whom I had previously recommended was assisted by the various ministers in the pursuit of their object; the
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