The duchesse d'Aiguillon was waiting for me while I perused the above letter; at length, with a sigh, I prepared to quit that palace of delights where I had reigned absolute mistress. I cast a mournful look around me, on those splendid walks, fountains and statues, worthy the gardens of Armida, but where there reigned, at this early hour, a sort of gloomy silence; whilst, in that chamber where love had well nigh deified me and recognised me as queen of France, lay extended the monarch so lately my protector and friend.
It was the Wednesday of the fifth of May that I took my seat in the carriage of the duchesse d'Aiguillon accompanied by my sister-in-law and the vicomtesse Adolphe, who would not forsake me. Bischi remained with madame d'Hargicourt, whose duties detained her with the comtesse d'Artois. Her husband also remained at Versailles, while comte Jean and his son proceeded to Paris. I will not attempt to describe the emotions with which I quitted my magnificent suite of apartments, and traversed the halls and staircases already crowded by persons anxiously awaiting the first intimation of the king's decease. I was wrapped in my pelisse, and effectually eluded observation. It has been said that I left Versailles at four o'clock in the morning, but that was a mere invention on the part of my servants to baffle the curiosity of those who might have annoyed me by their presence.
We pursued our way in mournful reflection, whilst madame d'Aiguillon, with her wonted goodness, sought by every means to distract me from the dejection in which I was buried. Her husband, who remained with the king, engaged to write me a true account of all that transpired during my absence, and I shall very shortly present you with a specimen of the fidelity with which he performed his promise. The duchess did the honours of Ruel.
"Here," said she, "the great cardinal Richelieu loved to repose himself from the bustle and turmoil of a court."
"I think," answered I, "it would have been less a favourite with his eminence had it been selected for his abode on the eve of his disgrace."
Immediately upon my arrival I retired to bed, for fatigue had so completely overpowered me that I fell into a heavy slumber, from which I did not awake till the following day; when I found the duchesse d'Aiguillon, my sister-in-law, Genevieve Mathon, and Henriette, seated by my bed: the sight of them was cheering and gratifying proof of my not being as yet abandoned by all the world.
I arose, and we were just about to take our places at table, when madame de Forcalquier arrived. I must confess that her presence was an agreeable surprise to me; I was far from reckoning on her constancy in friendship, and her present conduct proved her worthy of her excellent friend, madame Boncault, whose steady attachment I had so frequently heard extolled. The sight of her imparted fresh courage to me, and I even resumed my usual high spirits, and in the sudden turn my ideas had taken, was childish enough to express my regrets for the loss of my downy and luxurious bed at Versailles, complaining of the woful difference between it and the one I had slept on at Ruel.
The duchesse d'Aiguillon, who must have pitied the puerility of such a remark, gently endeavoured to reconcile me to it by reminding me that both the marquise de Pompadour and the cardinal de Richelieu had reposed upon that very couch.
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