In common with all who knew the real nature of the complaint, I sought to conceal it from the king, and in this deception the physicians themselves concurred. In the course of the morning a consultation took place; when called upon for their opinion, each of them endeavoured to evade a direct answer, disguising the name of his majesty's disease under the appellation of a cutaneous eruption, chicken-pox, etc., etc., none daring to give it its true denomination. Bordeu and Lemonnier pursued this cautious plan, but La Martiniere, who had first of all pronounced his decision on the subject, impatient of so much circumlocution on the part of those around him, could no longer repress his indignation.
"How is this, gentlemen!" exclaimed he, "is science at a standstill with you? Surely, you cannot be in any doubt on the subject of the king's illness. His majesty has the small-pox, with a complication of other diseases equally dangerous, and I look upon him as a dead man."
"Monsieur de la Martiniere," cried the duc de Duras, who, in quality of his office of first gentleman of the bed-chamber, was present at this conference, "allow me to remind you that you are expressing yourself very imprudently."
"Duc de Duras," replied the abrupt La Martiniere, "my business is not to flatter the king, but to tell him the truth with regard to his health. None of the medical gentlemen present can deny the truth of what I have asserted; they are all of my opinion, although I alone have the courage to act with that candour which my sense of honour dictates."
The unbroken silence preserved by those who heard this address, clearly proved the truth of all La Martiniere advanced. The duc de Duras was but too fully convinced of the justice of his opinion.
"The king is then past all hope," repeated he, "and what remains to be done?"
"To watch over him, and administer every aid and relief which art suggests," was the brief reply of La Martiniere.
The different physicians, when separately questioned, hesitated no longer to express their concurrence in the opinion that his majesty's case was entirely hopeless, unless, indeed, some crisis, which human foresight could not anticipate, should arise in his favour.
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