This opinion changed the moral face of the chateau. The duc de Duras, who had not previously suspected even the existence of danger, began to feel how weighty a burthen reposed on his shoulders; he recommended to the medical attendants the utmost caution and silence, pointing out, at the same time, all the ill consequences which might arise, were any imprudent or sudden explanation of his real malady made to the august sufferer. Unable to attend to everything himself, and not inclined to depend upon his son, whose natural propensity he was fully aware of, he recalled to his recollection that the comte de Muy, the sincere and attached friend of the dauphin, son to Louis XV, was then in Versailles. He immediately sought him out in the apartments he occupied in the chateau, and communicated to him the result of the consultation respecting the king's illness.
The comte de Muy was one of those rare characters reserved by Providence for the happiness of a state, when kings are wise enough to employ them. He thought not of personal interest or advantage, but dictated to the duke the precise line of conduct he himself would have pursued under similar circumstances.
"The first thing to be done," said he, "is to remember that the king is a Christian, and to conform in every respect to the customs of his predecessors. You are aware, my lord duke, that directly any member of the royal family is attacked by the small-pox, he ought immediately to receive extreme unction; you will, therefore, make the necessary arrangements, and apprize those whose duty it becomes to administer it."
"This is, indeed, an unpleasant commission," replied the duke; "to administer extreme unction to his majesty, is to announce to him cruelly and abruptly that his last hour has arrived, and to bid him prepare for death."
"The duty is nevertheless imperative," answered the comte de Muy, "and you incur no slight responsibility by neglecting it."
The consequence of this conversation was, that the duke sent off two couriers immediately, one to madame Louise, and the other to the archbishop of Paris. He also apprized the ministers of the result of the consultation which had taken place, whilst the comte de Muy took upon himself the painful office of acquainting the dauphin with the dangerous state of his grandfather. This young prince, whose first impulses were always amiable, immediately burst into tears; the dauphiness endeavoured to console him. But from that moment her royal highness appeared to show by her lofty and dignified bearing, her consciousness of the fresh importance she had necessarily acquired in the eyes of the nation. Meanwhile, the dauphin hastened to the sick room of his beloved relative, anxious to bestow upon him the cares and attentions of a son; but in the anteroom his progress was stopped by the duc de la Vrilliere, who informed him, that the interests of the throne would not permit his royal highness to endanger his life by inhaling the contagious atmosphere of a room loaded with the venom of the small-pox. He adjured him, in the name of the king and his country, not to risk such fearful chances. The lords in attendance, who did not partake the heroism the young prince, added their entreaties to those of
No sooner had the princesses learned the danger of their august parent, than without an instant's hesitation they hurried to him. I was in his chamber when they arrived; they saluted me with great gentleness and affability. When the king saw them, he inquired what had brought them thither at so unusual an hour.
"We are come to see you, my dearest father," replied madame Adelaide; "we have heard of your indisposition, and trifling as it is said to be, we could not rest without satisfying our anxious wish to know how you found yourself."
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