The king made no reply, but, turned heavily in his bed and threw the coverlet over his face. A silence ensued, which lasted until the return of the physicians, when, finding they made no allusion to his condition, the king addressed them in a cool and offended tone.
"Why," said he, "have you concealed from me the fact of my having the small-pox?" This abrupt inquiry petrified them with astonishment, and unable to frame a proper reply, they stood speechless with alarm and apprehension. "Yes," resumed the king, "but for La Martiniere, I should have died in ignorance of my danger. I know now the state in which I am, and before long I shall be gathered to my forefathers."
All around him strove to combat this idea, and exerted their utmost endeavours to persuade the royal patient that his disorder had assumed the most favourable shape, and that not a shadow of danger was perceptible, but in vain; for the blow had fallen, and the hapless king, struck with a fatal presentiment of coming ill, turned a deaf ear to all they could advance.
Bordeu, deeply concerned for what had transpired, hastened to announce to the duc de Richelieu the turn which had taken place in the face of affairs. Nothing could exceed the rage with which the news was received. The duke hurried to the king's bedside.
"Is it, indeed, true, sire," inquired he, "that your majesty doubts of your perfect restoration to health? May I presume to inquire whether any circumstance has occurred to diminish your confidence in your medical attendants?"
"Duc de Richelieu," replied the king, looking as though he would search into his very soul, "I have the small-pox. "
"Well," returned the duke, "and, as I understand, of a most favourable sort; perhaps, it might have been better that La Martiniere had said nothing about it. However, it is a malady as readily subdued by art as any other; you must not allow yourself to feel any uneasiness respecting it, science has now so much improved in the treatment of this malady."
"I doubt not its ability to cure others, but me! Indeed, duc de Richelieu, I would much rather face my old parliament than this inveterate disease."
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