"You are very fortunate," said I, "to be enabled thus to preserve your good spirits."
"My dear creature, I would fain cheat time of some of his claims upon me. But now I think of it, what is the matter since I was here? Is the king worse, and what is this I hear whispered abroad of the small-pox?"
"Alas, madam," answered I, much hurt at the insensibility she displayed, "we run but too great danger of losing our friend and benefactor for ever."
"Dear me, how very shocking! But what has he settled on you? What have you asked him for?"
"Nothing! very admirable, indeed; but, my good soul, these fine sentiments sometimes leave people to eat the bread of charity. So, then, you have not followed my advice. Once more, I repeat, lose not the present opportunity, and, in your place, I would set about securing my own interest without one instant's delay."
"That I could not do, madam," said I; "it is wholly foreign to my nature to take advantage of the weakness of a dying man."
"Dying man!" repeated the marechale incredulously, "come, come,
he is not dead yet; and whilst there is life there is hope; and I suppose you have carried your ideas of disinterestedness so far as to omit mentioning your friends, likewise. You will never have any worldly sense, I believe. My dear soul," said she, stooping down and whispering in my ear, "you are surrounded by a set of selfish wretches, who care nothing for you unless you can f forward their interests."
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