Much as their presence constrained me, I still kept my place beside the sick-bed of his majesty, who would not suffer me to leave him for a minute.
At an early hour the marechale de Mirepoix returned, according to her promise. I met her in the corridor as I was passing along on my way to the king's apartment; her face was full of cheerful smiles.
"How greatly am I obliged to you for your prompt succour," said she, without even inquiring after my health or that of the king. "Do you know, I was but just in time; ten minutes later, and I should have been refused payment for your cheque. M. de Laborde, who was so devotedly your friend only yesterday, counted out to me the glittering coin I was so anxious to obtain. He even accompanied me to my carriage, when behold, just at the moment, when, with his hat in his hand, he was most gallantly bowing, and wishing me a pleasant journey, a courier arrived from Versailles bringing him the news of the king's illness. He looked so overwhelmed with consternation and alarm, that I could not prevent myself from bursting into a hearty fit of laughter, nor has my gaiety forsaken me up to the present moment."
"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."
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