Part 2 out of 5
behind her, her brilliant black eyes flashing upon the assembled
company. Although she had accomplished nothing great ('twas before she
wrote "Corinne" or "De l'Allemagne"), she was already famous for her
appreciation of Monsieur Rousseau. Indeed, there was something so
unusual, so forceful in this large, almost masculine woman, that
Calvert was as much impressed with her as he had been disappointed in
Monsieur Necker. It seemed as if the mediocre talents of the Minister of
Finance had flamed into genius in this leonine creature who was as much
her mother's inferior in looks as her father's superior in intelligence.
Mingled with this masculinity of mind and appearance was an egotism, a
coquetry, a directness of thought and action that combined to make a
curious personality. It was amusing to note with what assiduity she
showered her attentions on Mr. Morris, the man of the world, of whom she
had heard much, and with what polite indifference she dismissed
Calvert--though it is but doing her justice to say that later, tiring of
her ineffectual efforts to interest Mr. Morris, she made the amende
honorable and essayed her coquetries on the younger man, much to his
embarrassment. With a slight gesture of command she pointed Mr. Morris
to a seat beside her on the divan upon which she had sunk.
"Ah! Monsieur," she said to him, with a languishing glance out of her
brilliant eyes and a smile that displayed a row of wonderfully white
teeth, "Monsieur de Lafayette tells me that you are un homme d'esprit."
"Madame," returned Mr. Morris, bowing low--perhaps to conceal the
ironical smile playing about his lips--"I do not feel myself worthy of
such a compliment."
"Mais, si!" insisted Madame de Stael, with another glance, which did not
and was not meant to conceal her newly awakened interest in the
distinguished-looking American. "We hear that Monsieur has even written
a book on the American Constitution."
"Alas, no, Madame! 'Tis a libel, I assure you," returned Mr. Morris,
this time laughing outright with the amusement he could no longer
conceal. "I have but done my duty in helping to form the Constitution."
"Indeed!" exclaimed Madame de Stael, and then lowering her voice
slightly and dropping her coquettish manner for a serious air, "perhaps
we shall have occasion to beg of Monsieur Morris some ideas la dessus.
There is nothing this poor, distracted France stands so much in need of
as a constitution. My father is a great man, on whom the King and
country depend for everything" ("In my life I never saw such exuberant
vanity," thought Mr. Morris to himself), "but even he must fail at times
if not supported by a reasonable constitution. You must come to see me,
Monsieur, when we can be alone and discuss this. One who has helped to
form his country's laws and has been wounded in her services," and she
pointed with an eloquent, somewhat theatrical gesture to Mr. Morris's
wooden stump, "cannot fail to be a good adviser."
"Oh, Madame, I must indeed cripple myself in your esteem now," says Mr.
Morris, laughing again heartily. "'Twas not in my country's service that
I lost my leg--'twas but a runaway accident with two fiery little ponies
in Philadelphia! But, indeed," he goes on, still laughing, "I do not
miss it greatly, and can get around as easily as though I were a
centipede and had a hundred good legs at my disposal!"
As for Calvert, he had been only too glad to make his escape on Madame
de Stael's cool dismissal, and had retreated to the side of Madame
Necker, who was kindness itself to the young man, pointing out the great
celebrities of the Paris world who thronged the rooms, and presenting
him to many of the most famous people of the day. Thither had come
Monsieur le Marechal de Castries, Monsieur le Duc d'Aiguillon, Mr.
Arthur Young, the noted English traveller, His Grace the Duc de
Penthievre, the richest and best noble of France, together with Monsieur
de Montmorin, of the Foreign Affairs, and Monsieur de la Luzerne,
Minister of Marine. Monsieur Houdon, the sculptor, was there, with a
young poet named Andre Chenier, and later entered the daintily beautiful
Madame de Sabran, followed by her devoted admirer, the Chevalier de
Boufflers, abbe, soldier, diplomat, and courtier. Madame de Chastellux,
the Duchesse d'Orleans's lady-in-waiting, whom Calvert had once met in
America, was also making a tour of the salon, accompanied by that
charming hedonist, Monsieur le Vicomte de Segur, than whom there was no
wilder, lighter-headed youth in Paris, unless it was his bosom friend,
Beaufort, who, catching sight of Calvert standing beside Madame Necker,
straightway went over to him.
"As ever, the Squire of Elderly Dames," he whispered to Calvert, smiling
mockingly. "Are you looking for d'Azay? Well, he has not arrived, nor
Madame la Marquise, nor Madame la Duchesse. Trust me for seeing them as
soon as they come! In the meantime, my dear Calvert, there are some
beauties here whom you must meet. Madame de Flahaut, for example. I
shall ask Madame Necker's permission to take you to her. But wait," he
said, with a little laugh, and, laying a hand on Calvert's arm, "we are
forestalled! See, Mr. Morris is just being presented," and he motioned
to where a beautiful young woman sat, before whom Mr. Morris was making
a most profound bow. Calvert thought he had rarely seen a more lovely
face, though there was a touch of artificiality about it, young as it
was, which he did not admire. The soft, fair hair was thickly powdered,
the cheeks rouged, and the whiteness of the chin and forehead enhanced
by many patches. The eyes were intelligent, but restless and insincere,
the mouth too small.
"'Twill have to be for another time, Calvert," said Beaufort, after an
instant's pause, during which Mr. Morris installed himself beside the
lady with the evident intention of staying. "'Tis plain that the
beautiful Madame de Flahaut has thrown her spell over him, and 'twill
not do to break it just yet. But by St. Denis!" he suddenly whispered to
Calvert, "here comes d'Azay with the Duchess and Madame de St. Andre,
attended as usual by St. Aulaire."
Calvert followed Beaufort's glance and saw entering the room his friend
d'Azay, at whose side, slowly and proudly, walked an old woman. She bore
herself with a nobility of carriage Calvert had never seen equalled, and
her face, wrinkled and powdered and painted though it was, was the face
of one who had been beautiful and used to command. Her dark eyes were
still brilliant and glittered humorously and shrewdly from beneath their
bushy brows. The lean, veined neck, bedecked with diamonds, was still
poised proudly on the bent shoulders. Her wrecked beauty was a perfect
foil for the fresh loveliness of the young girl who, with a splendidly
attired cavalier, followed closely behind her.
"Is she not a beauty?" said Beaufort, under his breath, to Calvert. With
a start the young man recognized the original of the miniature that
d'Azay had shown him that last evening at Monticello, so many years ago.
It is to be doubted whether, in the interim, Calvert had bestowed a
thought upon the beautiful French girl, but as he looked at the deep
blue eyes shining divinely beneath the straight brows, at the crimson
mouth, with its determined but lovely curves, at the cloud of dark hair
about the white brow, it suddenly seemed to him as if the picture had
never been out of his mind. "The Lass with the Delicate Air" was before
him, but changed. The look of girlish immaturity was gone--replaced by
an imperious decision of manner. A haughty, almost wayward, expression
was on the smiling face--a look of dawning worldliness and caprice.
'Twas as if the thought which had once passed through Calvert's mind had
come true--that countenance which had been capable of developing into
noble loveliness or hardening into unpleasing, though striking, beauty,
had somehow chosen the latter way. The spiritual beauty seemed now in
eclipse and only the earthly, physical beauty remained.
Calvert had opportunity to note these subtle changes which time had
wrought in the original of the miniature while Mr. Jefferson bent low
over the withered, beringed hand of the old Duchess, and he waited his
turn to be presented to the ladies. The ceremony over, he and d'Azay
greeted each other as old friends and comrades-in-arms are wont to do.
They had scarce time to exchange a word, however, as Monsieur de Segur,
coming up hurriedly, carried d'Azay and Beaufort away to where a group
of young men were waiting for the last news of the elections. Already
politics were ousting every other topic of conversation in the salon.
As for Madame de St. Andre, she did not at all imitate her brother's
warmth of manner toward Calvert. He was conscious of an almost
contemptuous iciness in her greeting, and that mentally she was
unfavorably comparing him, the simply dressed, serious young American
before her, with the splendid courtiers who crowded around. Certain it
was that she was much more gracious in manner to Monsieur le Baron de
St. Aulaire, who had accompanied her into the salon and still remained
at her side. It was the first time that Calvert had seen St. Aulaire,
and, remembering Beaufort's words about him, a sudden pang shot through
his breast as he saw the young girl turn aside with him to make a tour
of the rooms. For, in truth, Monsieur le Baron de St. Aulaire was the
epitome of all that was most licentious, most unworthy, most brilliant
in the Old Order, and was known throughout the kingdom by
reputation--or, more properly speaking, by lack of it. But in spite of
his long life of dissipation and adventure (he had campaigned with the
Swiss Guards at thirteen, and, though he was much past forty, looked
like a man of scarce thirty), there was still such an unrivalled grace
in all he said and did, such an heroic lightness and gallantry in all he
dared--and he dared everything--that he seemed to be eternally young and
incomparably charming. It was with a new-born and deep disgust that
Calvert noted the attentions of this man, whose life he disdained to
think of, to the beautiful girl beside him. And it seemed to him that
she took a wayward pleasure in charming him, though she kept him at a
distance by a sort of imperious coquetry that was not to be presumed
Calvert turned from his almost melancholy contemplation of the young
girl to the old Duchesse d'Azay standing beside him and talking volubly
to Mr. Jefferson.
"And have your friends newly arrived from America brought you news from
our old friend, Dr. Franklin, Monsieur?" she asks, in her grand manner.
"Ah, I wish we might see him again! I think there was never an
ambassador so popular with us--snuff-boxes with his face upon them,
miniatures, fans! I was present when he was crowned with laurel. We had
thought it impossible to replace him, Monsieur, until you arrived!"
"Ah, Madame, I did not come to replace him," corrected Mr. Jefferson,
making his best bow, and which was very courtly and deferential,
indeed, "not to replace him--no one can do that--only to succeed him."
"Bien, bien, Monsieur," cried the Duchess, tapping her fan against her
long, thin fingers and breaking out into an appreciative little cackle.
"Monsieur understands our language" (they were both speaking French)
"quite as well as that paragon of wit and erudition, Dr. Franklin
himself. Ah! what a man," she went on, musingly; "'twas he who gave the
Duchesse de Bourbon a lesson in chess! She put her king in _prise_ and
Monsieur Franklin promptly took it! 'But we do not take kings so,' cried
Her Grace, furiously, for you may be sure she was greatly put out. 'We
do in America,' said the Doctor, calmly." And she broke out laughing
again in her thin, cracked voice at the recollection of the discomfiture
of her archrival, the old Duchesse de Bourbon. "Truly that America of
yours must be a wonderful place."
"Ah, Madame," said Mr. Jefferson--and there was a note of sadness in his
voice--"I think there is no land like it, no rivers so broad and deep,
no woods so green and wild, no soil so fertile, no climate so
delightful. I wish I might show you but one garden-spot of it--my
Virginia--to prove to you, Madame, that I do not exaggerate when I sing
my country's praises. The Duc de la Rochefoucault-Liancourt promises to
visit me at Monticello within the next few years. Cannot I persuade you,
Madame, to come, too?"
"Ah, Monsieur, 'twould give me infinite pleasure, but I shall never
leave my France--although"--and here she lowered her voice and shrugged
her lean shoulders contemptuously--"did I listen to but one-half of what
I hear prophesied in these revolutionary salons, to but one-half of what
I hear openly discussed at the card-tables, I might accept your
invitation as a refuge! But I have no fear for my King. I am not shaking
with apprehension at the turn affairs are taking, like that
poor-spirited little Madame de Montmorin, whose husband knows no more
about foreign affairs than does my coachman, but I wish with all my
heart, Monsieur, that you had kept your revolution chez vous! 'Tis a
fever, this revolution of yours, and our young men return from the war
and spread the contagion. They clamor for new rights, for assemblies,
for States-Generals--'twas that fever-stricken young Lafayette himself
who demanded that, and, instead of being in attendance at court, as a
young noble should be, he is buried in Auvergne, trying to get himself
elected to his own States-General! Bah! what will it all come to?" She
fastened her keen, bright eyes on Mr. Jefferson's face and spoke with
indomitable energy and haughtiness. "The noblesse is all-powerful. We
have everything--why should we cry for something more? As for the
commons, they don't know what is good for them and they have all they
deserve. At any rate they will not get anything more. These contentions,
these revolts of the lower orders"--she stopped, for at that instant the
young Vicomte de Segur came up and, making a profound bow, offered his
arm to the Duchess.
"Madame," he said, "the Duchesse de Chastellux begs that you will join
her at a table of whist." He paused a moment, and then, with a languid
shrug of his shoulders and a whimsical smile, "Your Grace was speaking
of the discontent of the lower orders? They are very unreasonable--these
lower orders--they spoil one's Paris so!"
Calvert was about to follow the two figures into the crowd, when
suddenly he heard his name called softly, and, turning, found himself
beside St. Aulaire and Madame de St. Andre. She was looking at him, her
eyes and lips smiling mockingly. Calvert met her gaze calmly and fully.
They stood thus, looking at each other, courteously on Calvert's part,
curiously, almost challengingly, on the young girl's. It was Madame de
St. Andre who broke the silence. When she spoke, her voice was
exquisitely sweet and low, and her eyes became kind, and the artificial
smile faded from her lips. Looking at her so, Calvert could scarce
believe that it was the same arrogant beauty who had regarded him so
haughtily but a moment before. 'Twas as if she had let fall from her
face, for a moment, some lovely but hateful mask, which she could resume
instantly at will.
"Mr. Calvert," she said, "I hope my brother has had a chance to talk
with you. He is most anxious to see you." As she spoke, Calvert thought
he had never heard anything so beautiful as the sound of those clear,
French words, each one as sweet and distinct as the carillon of a silver
"Alas, no, Madame! We have exchanged but a dozen words. 'Tis almost
five years since we last talked together. That was at Monticello, where,
indeed, I had the pleasure of making your acquaintance--in miniature!"
He bowed and smiled as he noted her look of surprise. "And where---"
"And where," interrupted Beaufort, who at that instant joined them and
who had overheard Calvert's last words, "d'Azay promised to introduce
Mr. Calvert to you as an American savage!"
"Indeed, my brother spoke to me on the subject," returned Madame de St.
Andre, laughing outright at the recollection (and if each word she spoke
was like the sound of a silver bell, her laugh was like a whole chime of
them). "I had looked for something quite different," she went on, in a
mock-disappointed tone, and with an amused glance at Beaufort. "Perhaps
paint and feathers and a--a--what is the name, Monsieur? a--tomahawk to
kill with! Ah! Monsieur"--here she sighed in a delightfully droll way
and swept Calvert a courtesy--"as an American you are a great
"I am inexpressibly grieved to be the cause of any disappointment to
you, Madame," replied Calvert, calmly. "But as for paint and feathers,
surely they can be no novelties to you," and here he looked meaningly
around at the bedaubed, bedecked ladies of fashion (though 'tis but fair
to say that the young beauty before him disdained the use of furbelows
or cosmetics, as well she might with such a brilliant complexion); "and
as for tomahawks--the ladies of this country need no more deadly weapons
than their own bright glances. But truly, Madame, did you expect to see
a young savage?"
"I was hoping to," she said, demurely. "'Twould have been more
interesting than--than--" And here she stopped as if in seeming
embarrassment and loss for words. "Is not America full of them?" she
"Assuredly, Madame, as you must know, since they have so often been your
As Calvert spoke, all the amusement and good-nature died out of Madame
de St. Andre's face, and she resumed her mask, becoming again the
haughty and distant young beauty.
"But 'tis not an uncivilized land by any means," went on Calvert, who
was young and ardent enough to espouse warmly the cause of his country
from even the badinage of a spoilt young girl. "There is much learning
and the most gracious manners to be found there, as you must also know,
since we have been able to spare two such shining examples of both to
this court--Dr. Franklin and Mr. Jefferson."
"Monsieur does not mean to compare the civilization of his own country
to that of ours?" contemptuously demanded St. Aulaire, who, up to that
time, had stood superciliously by, taking no part in the conversation.
"Indeed, no!" returned Calvert, with suspicious promptness. "In my mind
there can be no comparison, and surely you will acknowledge that a
country which has produced the greatest man of the age is not one to be
"And who may that be?" asked Monsieur de St. Aulaire, with lazy
"I had thought, my lord," returned Calvert, bowing low, "that the
subject of so enlightened a state as you say France is would surely have
heard the name of General Washington. Monsieur does not read history?"
"'Tis impossible to read yours, since you have none," returned St.
Aulaire, with a contemptuous little laugh.
"We are making it every day, Monsieur," said Calvert, calmly.
"Ah, sir!" demanded Madame de St. Andre, "are all Americans so
"Yes, Madame--if 'tis presumptuous to admire General Washington."
"We have heard of him in effect," sneeringly broke in Monsieur de St.
Aulaire. "A lucky adventurer with a pretty talent for fighting British
cowards, a beggar who has not been turned away empty from our doors.
Why, hasn't the whole country given to him?--from the King down--and
truth to tell we were glad to give as long as he whipped the English."
"No, no, Monsieur de St. Aulaire," suddenly interrupted Madame de St.
Andre, turning upon him, "do not wrong France, do not wrong your King,
do not wrong Lafayette and Rochambeau and Dillon and so many others! We
gave because France was strong and America weak, because it was our
greatest happiness to help right her wrongs, because 'tis ever France's
way to succor the oppressed. As for General Washington, Monsieur
Calvert does well to admire him. The King admires him--can Monsieur de
St. Aulaire do less? We are devoted royalists, but we can still respect
and admire patriotism and genius under whatever government they
flourish." She changed her tone of authority and accusation and turned
to Calvert. Again the mask had been dropped, the eyes were once more
kind, the voice and smile once more tender. "I should like to hear more
of your General Washington and of America, Monsieur," she said, almost
shyly, and Calvert wondered at the change in her. "If Monsieur skates,
we should be happy to have him join us to-morrow afternoon on the ice
near the Pont Royal. 'Tis for three o'clock." And she smiled as she
turned away, followed by Monsieur de St. Aulaire, apparently in no very
When Calvert again looked around him, after having watched Madame de St.
Andre disappear, he noticed Mr. Jefferson at the farther end of the room
looking much disturbed and talking earnestly with Monsieur Necker,
Monsieur le Comte de Montmorin, and Mr. Gouverneur Morris, who had at
length left the side of the charming Madame de Flahaut. Calvert
approached the group, and, as he drew near, he could hear Necker
speaking in an anxious, despondent tone.
"My dear friend," he was saying, "'tis not only difficulties with the
finances which alarm us! Obedience is not to be found anywhere. Even the
troops are not to be relied on." And he turned wearily away.
When Mr. Jefferson caught sight of Calvert, who had stopped, hesitating
to join the group lest he should intrude on some important and private
business, he beckoned the young man forward.
"Is anything the matter?" asked Calvert, in a low tone. "You look
"I will tell you later, my boy," returned Mr. Jefferson, smiling
reassuringly. "Go and talk to Madame de Flahaut--Mr. Morris has promised
to send you to her."
Calvert did as he was desired, and found Madame de Flahaut a very
entertaining lady, but who, in spite of her charms, he was not sorry to
see go, as she did presently, with Madame de Coigny and Monsieur de
Curt. And soon after she retired the company broke up and only Mr.
Morris remained behind to have a last glass of wine and a few moments'
quiet chat with Mr. Jefferson and Calvert. It was while they were thus
engaged in the now deserted drawing-room that Mr. Jefferson told Calvert
the cause of his perturbed look, which was none other than a
conversation concerning the state of the kingdom confided to himself and
Mr. Morris by Monsieur Necker. He explained at great length to Calvert
the delicacy and danger of the Comptroller-General's position and the
wretched condition of the country's finances and army. To which Mr.
Morris added some of his own observations, made with the rapidity and
justness so characteristic of him.
"Monsieur Necker seems to me, indeed, to be in a disagreeable and
sufficiently dangerous position. His business stands thus: if any
mischiefs happen they will be charged to him. If he gets well through
the business others will claim the reputation of what good is done by
the States-General. If he is a really great man, I am deceived. If he is
not a laborious man, I am also deceived. He loves flattery--for he
flatters. He is therefore easily imposed upon."
But here Mr. Jefferson would not allow Mr. Morris to proceed with his
dicta, declaring that he did Monsieur Necker a gross injustice, and
defending him warmly, both as a financier and statesman. Mr. Morris
still clinging to his hastily formed opinion, the two gentlemen
continued to argue the matter until, Mr. Morris's carriage having been
announced, he took his final leave and stumped his way down the broad
staircase, attended to the door by Calvert.
But deeply as Calvert was already interested in the affairs of France,
it was not the miscarried business of a nation that troubled his sleep
that night. For the first time in his life the face of a woman haunted
his dreams, now luring him on with glance and voice, as it seemed to
him, now sending him far from her with teasing laughter and disdainful
AN AFTERNOON ON THE ICE
Calvert's second morning at the Legation was even busier than the first
had been, so that there was no time for disquieting thoughts or the
memory of troubled dreams. Indeed, the young man had very good nerves
and such power of concentration and so conscientious a regard for
whatever he might have on hand to do as always kept him absorbed in his
work. The packet by which he and Mr. Morris had arrived being ready to
start on the return voyage, it was necessary to make up the American
mail, which Calvert found to be no light task. Mr. Jefferson's large
private correspondence always necessitated the writing of a dozen or
more letters for every packet, several copies of the more important
having to be made, owing to the unreliability of the vessels themselves
and the danger of all communications being opened and possibly destroyed
by the French agents before they could even be sent on their way.
Besides these private letters there were also many communications
concerning official business to be written. The most important one was a
letter to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jay, concerning the
recall of Monsieur le Comte de Moustier, whose conduct had become most
offensive to the American Congress, and the possible appointment of
Colonel Ternant to his office. This officer had won a great European
reputation as _Generalissimo_ of one of the United Provinces, and it was
even hinted that, had he been put at the head of affairs instead of the
pusillanimous Rhinegrave of Salm, the cause might have been saved. All
this and other details had to be communicated to Mr. Jay, and so
delicate was the business that Calvert was instructed to put the letter
in cipher lest it be opened and the French Government prematurely
informed of the dissatisfaction felt with its representative in America.
It was well on toward three in the afternoon before all the business was
disposed of and Calvert had leisure to recall his engagement. When Mr.
Jefferson heard of it he declared his intention of going, too, for it
was ever one of his greatest pleasures to watch young people at their
amusements. The carriage was ordered, and, after stopping in the rue de
Richelieu for Mr. Morris, Mr. Jefferson ordered the coachman to drive to
the terrace of the Jardin des Tuileries, near the Pont Royal, which
particular place the fashionable world had chosen for a rendezvous from
which to watch the skating upon the Seine.
It was a beautiful and unusual sight that met Calvert's eyes for the
first time on that brilliant winter's afternoon as he alighted from Mr.
Jefferson's carriage. The river, which was solidly frozen over at this
point, and which was kept smooth and free of soft ice by attendants from
the Palais Royal, was thronged. Officers of the splendid Maison du Roi
and the Royale Cravate, in magnificent uniforms, glided about; nobles
in their rich dress, the sunlight catching their small swords and
burnishing them to glittering brightness, skated hither and thither; now
and then in the crowd was seen some beautiful woman on skates or more
frequently wrapped in furs and being pushed luxuriously about in a
chair-sleigh by lackeys and attended by a retinue of admirers. On the
terrace of the garden overlooking the river a throng of the most notable
people of the court and society, drawn hither by the novelty of the
pastime and comfortably installed in chairs brought by their servants,
with chaufferettes and furs to keep them protected from the intense
cold, looked on at the shifting, swiftly moving pageant before them. For
the time being the Parisian world was mad about skating, both because of
its popularity as an English sport and because of the rarity with which
it could be enjoyed in France.
Joining the throng of spectators, Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Morris quickly
found themselves surrounded by friends and acquaintances, and Calvert
left them talking with Madame d'Azay, Madame de Flahaut, and the
Marechal de Segur, while he put on his skates. The young man was no
great proficient in the art of skating as he was in that of swimming and
riding (indeed, he was a most perfect equestrian, seeming to have some
secret understanding and entente cordiale with every animal he ever
bestrode), but with that facile acquirement of any physical
accomplishment which ever distinguished him, he was soon perfectly at
ease on the ice.
It was while opposite the Place du Carrousel and almost out of sight of
the crowd of onlookers, that Calvert suddenly came upon Madame de St.
Andre. She had ventured upon the ice on skates, and was talking to St.
Aulaire, who skated slowly beside her. Even in the bright sunshine the
Baron de St. Aulaire did not show his age, and moved and bore himself
with incomparable grace on the ice. Indeed, in his rich dress and
splendid decorations he made a dazzling appearance, and quite eclipsed
Mr. Calvert in his sober garments and unpowdered hair. Calvert would
have passed by or retreated without intruding himself upon Madame de St.
Andre, but before he could do either she had caught sight of him, and he
saw, or fancied he saw, a look of relief pass over her face and a
welcome dawn in her eyes. Thinking so, he skated slowly toward her,
wishing to be sure that he was wanted, and, as he did so, the gentleman,
perceiving his approach, ceased speaking and looked most obviously
annoyed at the young man's arrival.
Madame de St. Andre waved her hand lightly. "Au revoir, Monsieur de St.
Aulaire!" she cried. "Here is Monsieur Calvert, who will take me back
over the ice, so I shall not have to trouble you," and she laughed in a
relieved, if somewhat agitated, fashion as St. Aulaire, doffing his hat
and scowling fiercely at Calvert, skated rapidly away. As Calvert looked
at the retreating figure, Beaufort's words of two days before flashed
through his mind again, and it was with a sort of horror that he thought
of this dissolute nobleman having even spoken with Madame de St. Andre.
Was this beautiful girl born under some unlucky star that she should
have to know and associate with such creatures? Calvert had only met her
the night before, and already he had seen her twice with a man whose
very presence was contaminating. 'Twas almost with the fear of finding
some visible sign of that debasing influence upon the fair face beside
him that he turned and looked at Madame de St. Andre. It would have been
impossible for anyone to have looked more innocently charming. The court
beauty was in eclipse, and in her place was a radiant, gracious young
girl. Perhaps it was the short, fur-trimmed dress she wore and the small
cap with its tuft of heron plumes, a fashion lately set by the Princess
de Lamballe, which gave her that childish air. Or, more possibly, it was
the unaccustomed look of embarrassment upon her face and a half-laughing
petulance as of a naughty child caught in mischief.
"Good-day, Monsieur l'Americain," she said, gayly, smiling into the
serious face Calvert turned toward her. "Will you forgive me for
pressing you into service in so offhand a manner?--but perhaps you were
looking for me?"
"No, Madame," returned Calvert, calmly, as they skated slowly toward the
Quai des Tuileries, "but 'tis a pleasure to be of service to you."
A cloud gathered on Madame de St. Andre's brow at this honest and
somewhat uncomplimentary reply, but suddenly the humor of the situation
seemed to strike her and she burst out laughing.
"Are you always so truthful, Monsieur Calvert, and do American ladies
absolve you from making pretty speeches? If so, I warn you you must
change or you will not succeed with the ladies of Louis's court."
"Ah, Madame! I am no courtier--nor, indeed, do I care to be," said
"Worse and worse!" cried Madame de St. Andre, still laughing. "But even
though you disclaim all effort to find me, or wish to be agreeable when
found, yet I will still confess that you arrived most opportunely.
Monsieur de St. Aulaire grows fatiguing," she went on, with a pettish
shrug of her shoulders. "He is as prodigal of compliments as you are
chary of them."
Calvert looked at the young girl beside him.
"He dares to compliment you! A compliment from Monsieur de St. Aulaire
can be nothing less than an insult," he said, gravely.
Madame de St. Andre lifted her eyes quickly to Calvert's face and,
noting the ill-concealed disgust and quiet scorn written there, blushed
scarlet and regarded him haughtily.
"Monsieur le Baron de St. Aulaire is one of the greatest gentlemen in
Europe--and--and anyone whom he distinguishes by his attentions must
"Monsieur le Baron de St. Aulaire is one of the greatest roues in
Europe," corrected Calvert, calmly, "and anyone whom he distinguishes by
his attentions ought to feel disgraced."
Madame de St. Andre was speechless in sheer amazement and indignation.
Though she had been annoyed, even frightened by the nobleman's ardent
manner and words, she was now eager to defend him from Calvert's attack.
She knew him to be in the right, and the rising admiration for his quiet
dignity and courage, which she could not repress, only added to her
petulance and desire to be revenged on him. It is so with all
women--they hate to be put in the wrong, even when the doing so means
protection to themselves. And so it was wellnigh intolerable to the
spoiled beauty, who had never been used to the lightest contradiction,
that this calm young American should so openly show his disapproval of
"I will pass by your reproof of myself, Monsieur," she said at length,
haughtily; her eyes flashing and a deep blush mantling her brow, "but I
cannot consent to listen in silence to your condemnation of a personage
whose talents and rank should protect him from your sarcasms."
"Rank, Madame!" burst out Mr. Calvert at these words. "I never knew
before that morality or immorality, loyalty or treason, honor or
dishonor had aught to do with rank! In our country 'tis not so. A king's
word can make of the meanest scoundrel a duke, a marquis, but an honest
man holds his rank by a power greater than any king's." He bent upon her
such a compelling gaze that she was forced to turn and look at him.
Before Calvert's flashing eyes and manly, honest indignation her own
anger died out and an unwilling admiration took its place. She blushed
again deeply and bit her lips. This young American, with his noble
face, his simplicity of manner and democratic scorn of her rank and
pretensions, had not only accused, but silenced her. At any rate he
should not see that he had impressed her! She laughed lightly.
"What a noble sentiment, Monsieur! Did you find it in one of Monsieur
"No, Madame, it was not in the works of the famous Monsieur Rousseau
that I found the expression of that sentiment," replied Calvert,
hesitating slightly. "'Tis the theme of a little song by a young man
named Robert Burns, who writes the sweetest poetry in the world, I
think. He is a friend and protege of Dr. Witherspoon, of the College of
Princeton, who never tires of reading his verses to us. I wish I could
give you some idea of the beauty and power of the poem," and he began to
translate "For a' that, and a' that" into the best French at his
command, smiling every now and then at the strange substitutes for
Burns's Scotch which he was forced to employ and at the curious
metamorphosis of the poem into French prose. But he managed to infuse
the spirit and sentiment of the original into his offhand translation,
and Madame de St. Andre listened attentively.
"I would like to hear more of your poet," she said, gently, when Calvert
had finished speaking. "I do not remember to have heard Monsieur Chenier
speak of him or the Abbe Delille, either. The Abbe is often good enough
to read poetry to us in my aunt's drawing-room, but 'tis usually his
own," and she laughed mischievously. "The poor gentleman makes a great
fuss about it, too. He must have his dish of tea at his elbow and the
shades all drawn, with only the firelight or a single candle to read by,
and when we are all quaking with fear at the darkness and solemn
silence, he begins to recite, and imagines that 'tis his verses which
have so moved us!" and she laughed merrily again. "You shall come and
read to us from your young Scotch poet and snatch the Abbe's laurels
from him! Indeed, my aunt has already conceived a great liking for you,
Monsieur, so she told me last night on her way from Madame Necker's, and
intends to urge upon Mr. Jefferson to bring you to see her immediately."
She smiled at Calvert so graciously and with such unaffected good-humor
that he looked at her with delight and wonder at the change come over
her. Once more the mask was down. All the haughtiness and capricious
anger had faded away, and Calvert thought he had never beheld a creature
so charming and so beautiful. Her dark eyes shone like stars in a wintry
sky, and, though the air was frosty, the roses bloomed in her cheeks. As
he looked at her there was a troubled smile on his lips and he felt a
sudden quickening of his pulse. A curious sense of remoteness from her
impressed itself upon him. He looked around at the unfamiliar scene, at
the towering palace walls on his right, at the crowds of spectators on
the river's edge, at the brilliant throng of skaters, at the great stone
bridge spanning the frozen river over which people were forever passing
to and fro, some hurriedly, some with leisure to lean over the parapet
for a moment to watch the unaccustomed revelry below. And as he looked,
another scene, which he had so lately left, rose before him. In fancy he
could see the broad and shining Potomac, on its banks the stately old
colonial house with its colonnaded wings, something after the fashion of
General Washington's mansion at near-by Mount Vernon, the green lawns
stretching away from the portico and the fragrant depths of the woods
beyond. A voice recalled him from his abstraction. It was that of
Monsieur de St. Aulaire, who, as they neared the crowded terrace of the
Tuileries gardens, emerged from a group of skaters and, approaching
Calvert and Madame de St. Andre, made a profound bow before the latter.
"Is Madame de St. Andre to show favor to none but Monsieur Calvert?" he
asks, in a low voice that had an accent of mockery in it as he bent over
the young girl's hand.
"'Tis no favor that I show Monsieur Calvert," she replied, smiling.
"'Tis a privilege to skate with so perfect a master of the art."
"I shall be most happy to take a lesson from Monsieur later in the
afternoon," returned St. Aulaire, courteously, but with a disagreeable
smile playing about his mouth. "In the meantime, if Monsieur will but
resign you for a time--" He stopped and shrugged his shoulders slightly.
Calvert moved from his place beside Madame de St. Andre.
As he made his way toward the shore, intending to remove his skates and
find Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Morris, d'Azay and Beaufort came up and urged
upon him to join them. Both were good skaters, but the young American
excelled them in a certain lightness and grace, and the three friends,
as they circled about, trying a dozen difficult and showy manoeuvres on
the ice, attracted much attention. It was after half an hour of the
vigorous exercise and as Mr. Calvert stopped for an instant to take
breath and pay his respects to Madame de Flahaut, who had ventured upon
the ice in a chair-sleigh surrounded by her admirers, that Monsieur de
St. Aulaire again presented himself before him.
"I have come for my lesson, Monsieur," he said to Calvert, bowing after
his incomparably graceful fashion, which Calvert (who had never before
wasted thought upon such things) suddenly found himself envying, and
with the disagreeable smile still upon his lips.
"I am no skating-master, Monsieur," returned the young man, quietly, and
with as good grace as he was master of, "but I shall be happy to have a
turn upon the ice with you," and with that he moved off, leaving St.
Aulaire to stay or follow as he chose. He chose to follow and skated
rapidly after Calvert with no very benevolent look on his handsome,
dissipated face. Although he was by far the best skater among the French
gentlemen who thronged the ice, and although it was little short of a
marvel that he should be so active at his age, he was scarcely a match
for the younger man either in lightness or quickness of movement. And
although his splendid dress and jewels so overshadowed Mr. Calvert's
quiet appearance, he was conscious of being excelled before the crowd
of spectators by the agility and sure young strength of the American.
Piqued and disgusted at the thought, the habitual half-mocking
good-humor of his manner gave way to sullen, repressed irritation.
Knowing his world so well, he was sure of the interest and curiosity
Calvert's performance would arouse, and longed to convert his little
triumph into a defeat. Being accustomed to doing everything he undertook
a little better, a little more gracefully, with a little more eclat than
anyone else, he suddenly began to hate this young man who had beaten him
at his own game and for whom he had felt an aversion from the first
moment of seeing him.
He tried to bethink himself of some plan of lowering his enemy's colors.
In his younger days he had been a notable athlete, excelling in vaulting
and jumping, and suddenly an idea occurred to him which he thought would
result in mortification to Mr. Calvert and success to himself. So great
was the interest in the skating of the two gentlemen that the greater
part of the crowd had retired beyond a little ledge of roughened ice and
snow which cut the improvised arena into two nearly equal parts from
where they could conveniently see Monsieur de St. Aulaire and Mr.
Calvert as they skated about. This rift in the smoothness of the ice was
some fifteen feet wide and extended far out from the shore, so that
those wishing to pass beyond it had to skate out around its end and so
get to the other side. Monsieur de St. Aulaire came up close to it, and,
as he did so, he suddenly called out to Calvert:
"Let us try the other side, Monsieur, and, as it is too far to go
around this, suppose we jump it," and he laughed as he noted Calvert's
look of surprise at his proposition.
"As you wish, Monsieur," assented Calvert, though somewhat dubiously, as
he noted the breadth of the roughened surface, and mentally calculated
that to miss the clear jump by a hair's-breadth would ensure a hard,
perhaps dangerous, fall. 'Twas no easy jump under ordinary
circumstances; weighted down by skates the difficulty would be vastly
"Tis too wide for a standing jump, Monsieur," said St. Aulaire, looking
alternately at Calvert and the rift of broken, jagged ice, and laughing
recklessly. "We will have to run for it!" And without more words the two
gentlemen skated rapidly back for twenty yards and then came forward
with tremendous velocity, _pari passu_, and, both jumping at the same
instant, landed on the far side of the ledge, scattering the applauding
spectators right and left as they drove in among them, unable for an
instant to stop the swiftness of their progress.
"Well done, Monsieur!" called out St. Aulaire, as he wheeled beside
Calvert, who had succeeded in checking his impetus. He was smiling, but
there was a dark look in his eyes. "Well done, but 'twas too easy--a
very school-boy's trick! We must try something a little more difficult
to test our agility upon the ice--unless, indeed, Monsieur has had
enough?" and he looked at Calvert insultingly full in the face. "The
eyes of the world are upon us--" and he waved his hand mockingly toward
the throng of spectators on the terrace where the ladies were applauding
with gloved hands and the men tapping the frozen ground with canes and
swords. From where he stood Calvert could see Mr. Jefferson looking at
him and Mr. Morris sitting beside Madame de Flahaut and Madame de St.
Andre, who had left the ice and joined the onlookers.
"It has never been my custom or my desire, Monsieur, to furnish
amusement for the crowd," said Calvert, returning St. Aulaire's insolent
look, "but I should be very sorry to stand in the way of your doing so
by declining to act as a foil to your prowess. If there is anything else
I can do for you--?" and he bowed and smiled tranquilly at Monsieur de
St. Aulaire, who blushed darkly with vexation at the way in which the
young man had turned his attack.
"Monsieur is too modest," he said, suavely, controlling himself, and
then, calling one of the attendants who was busy near-by sweeping the
snow cut by the skates from the ice, he instructed the fellow to bring
one of the chairs which had been taken from the palace to the terrace
for the convenience of those who had not had their servants bring them.
In a few moments the man returned with a large chair whose deep seat and
long arms just suited the purposes of Monsieur de St. Aulaire. Under his
direction the man placed it sidewise upon the stratum of broken,
irregular ice and snow, the crowd looking on with curiosity at the
"By the example and with the approbation of Monsieur le Duc d'Orleans,
Monsieur," said St. Aulaire, turning gravely to Calvert, "we do all
things a l'Anglaise--for the moment. You, who, after all, are English,
will doubtless recognize many of your customs, manners, and sports among
us--always supposing Paris is fortunate enough to keep you," and here he
smiled deprecatingly and shook his head as if afraid such good fortune
could not be true. "I have just conceived the idea of having a
steeple-chase on the ice. 'Tis but a poor little hurdle," and he
shrugged his shoulders disdainfully, "but 'twill have to do. We will
take fifty yards start, Monsieur, and clear the fauteuil, rough ice and
He broke out again in his mocking laugh, and, sculling rapidly backward,
soon put the distance between him and the improvised barrier. Calvert
turned and followed, not without some inward disgust at the trap laid
for him, although outwardly he wore the quiet air habitual to him, and,
in spite of his disgust, he could not help but admire the reckless
courage and activity which would dare such a thing, for 'twas evident
now that the jump had not only to be dangerously long but high also, and
any failure to clear the chair and broken ice would inevitably result in
a ludicrous, probably serious mishap.
"'Tis evident that we cannot both jump at the same time," says Monsieur
de St. Aulaire, courteously. "Shall we try for the honor?" and he drew a
coin from his pocket and lightly tossed it upward. 'Twas the fashion in
Paris to decide everything by the fall of a coin. "C'est a vous,
Monsieur," he says, looking at the gold piece _as_ it lay face upward
in his palm, and he laughed lightly again as if not displeased with his
luck. As for Calvert, he was no less pleased, for he suddenly felt
impatient and eager for the trial. He gave a glance at the fastenings of
his skates and then, sweeping around to the starting-place, he skated
slowly at first but with ever-increasing speed. As he reached the gilt
chair he paused for the infinitesimal part of a second as a horse does
at a hurdle, and then, with one clean spring, was over safely. As he
slid along the smooth ice, unable to check his impetus, he could hear
the applause of the spectators on the shore and the exclamations and
laughter of the ladies. Suddenly he bethought him of St. Aulaire. He
turned quickly and was just in time to see St. Aulaire start off. There
was a gallant recklessness in his bearing, but Calvert noted that his
movements seemed heavy, though his pace accelerated greatly as he neared
the improvised hurdle. Indeed, he was coming too fast, and, as he
reached the unlucky fauteuil, he was going with such speed that he could
neither calculate the length of the jump nor raise himself sufficiently
for it, and it was with a little cry of horror that Calvert and the
onlookers saw the Baron essay it and fall short, catching his skates in
the arm of the chair and crashing down heavily upon the ice. In an
instant Calvert had reached him. Monsieur de St. Aulaire was lying quite
still and unconscious, with a thin stream of blood trickling from a
scalp wound on the temple, which had struck a splinter of ice. In a few
minutes, after much chafing of his hands and head, he opened his eyes,
and Calvert and the crowd who had quickly surrounded the two were
relieved to see that the injury had not been serious. A dozen fine
handkerchiefs were torn up, and Calvert bound the wounded temple and
helped him, still half-stunned, to rise. The fresh air revived him
somewhat, and, Madame de Segur's coachman running up at this moment to
tell him that his mistress's carriage was at his disposal, he was helped
to it, and, amid the sympathetic murmurs of the crowd, was sent off to
his apartments in the Palais Royal.
"A thousand pardons for causing you so much trouble, Monsieur," he said,
turning to Calvert, with one foot on the step of the carriage. "I shall
not forget this afternoon," and he bowed with his accustomed grace,
looking incomparably handsome in spite of his pallor and weakness and
the bandage about his forehead, and Calvert could not help but admire
the courtly ease of his manner, though he saw, too, the evil smile on
his lips and the ugly look in his eye. As he turned away he caught sight
of Madame de St. Andre, who stood looking after the carriage with an
expression of anxiety on her face, which Calvert noticed had lost its
rosy color and was now quite pale. He would have gone to her to reassure
her concerning Monsieur de St. Aulaire's safety, but when he went toward
her she pretended not to see him, and quickly joined Madame d'Azay and
the Marechal de Segur.
The company broke up soon after the accident to Monsieur de St. Aulaire,
and in a few minutes Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Morris, and Calvert were in
their carriage on the way to the Legation, where Mr. Morris was engaged
to dine that evening.
"I thought you had told me that Mr. Calvert was quite indifferent to the
fair sex," says Mr. Morris, laughing, and speaking to Mr. Jefferson, but
with a side glance at the young man. "If so, he takes a strange way of
proving it. He will be the most-talked-of, and therefore the most
envied, man in Paris to-morrow," and he began to laugh again.
"Was jumping in the curriculum at the College of Princeton?" asks Mr.
Jefferson, laughing, too.
"But beware of St. Aulaire," said Mr. Morris, suddenly becoming grave
and laying a kindly hand on Calvert's shoulder. "I misjudge him if he
will take even a fair defeat at sport in the right spirit. Look out for
him, Ned--he will not play fair and he will not forget a grudge, or I am
greatly deceived in him."
But it was not of Monsieur le Baron's possible revenge or even of his
cracked head that Mr. Calvert thought, but of his unrivalled gallantry
of bearing and his splendid appearance. And that night when he retired
to his own room he practised St. Aulaire's graceful bow before the long
cheval glass, though with most indifferent success, it must be
"'Tis no use," he said at length to the sober reflection in the glass,
and he threw himself into a chair and burst out laughing at his own
folly. "I am only a simple American gentleman, and Monsieur de St.
Aulaire's manners are too elaborate for such. Perhaps 'tis his splendid
dress and decorations which give such eclat to his every movement. At
any rate I see that I shall have to content myself with my own quiet
fashions. And why, indeed, am I suddenly dissatisfied with them?--why
wish to change them?"
But though he sat for some time staring into the fire he did not attempt
to answer his own queries, and, after a little, he blew out the candles
and resolutely addressed himself to sleep.
THE AMERICANS ARE MADE WELCOME IN PARIS
As Mr. Morris had predicted, Calvert's skill in skating and the accident
to Monsieur de St. Aulaire became the topic of conversation in all
salons. Accounts of the young American's success on the ice came like a
breath of fresh air into the stagnant gossip of the drawing-rooms, and
were repeated until the affair had become a notable exploit, and Mr.
Calvert could have posed as a conquering hero had he cared to profit by
his small adventure. But the young gentleman was not only entirely
indifferent to such success, but scarcely cognizant of it, for he was
greatly occupied, and threw himself so heartily into his work that Mr.
Jefferson could never sufficiently congratulate himself on having with
him so efficient and willing a secretary. There was an enormous amount
of business to be attended to at the Legation, and not even a copying
clerk or an accountant to aid in dispatching it. Indeed, the labor put
upon our foreign representatives was wellnigh inconceivable, and could
those who cavilled at Dr. Franklin's lax business methods but have
imagined the tenth of what he had to attend to, they would have been
heartily ashamed of their complaints. Many of the enterprises which the
good Doctor had begun and left at loose ends, Mr. Jefferson found
himself obliged to go on with and finish as satisfactorily as was
possible. Besides which there were constant communications on an
infinity of subjects to be made to our representatives in London and in
Madrid and to our charges d'affaires at Brussels and The Hague; money
loans negotiated, bonds executed, important creditors at Paris appeased,
and numberless schemes for financial aid to be devised and floated. In
all of these affairs Mr. Calvert had his share, so that the young
gentleman had but small leisure for that social intercourse into which
Mr. Morris entered with such zest and perfect success.
Introduced by Mr. Jefferson and the letters he had brought with him, in
an incredibly short time Mr. Morris was known and admired in every salon
in Paris, and he stumped his way through them with that admirable savoir
faire and sturdy self-respect, dashed with a wholesome conceit, which
made him assure Calvert one day that he "had never felt embarrassment or
a sense of inferiority in any company in which he had ever found
himself." It was soon evident that of all the salons of Paris where he
was made welcome, the one most to his taste was that of the charming
Madame de Flahaut; but wherever he went in that aristocratic society
which claimed social preeminence over all others, this untitled
gentleman from a new, almost unknown, country, was easily and quickly
one of the most brilliant members. Utterly unawed by the splendid
company in which he found himself, he valued it at its true worth and
was keenly and amusingly observant of its pretensions, its shams, its
flippancy, its instability, its charm. Soon he had become as great a
favorite as Mr. Jefferson himself, though winning his enviable position
by qualities the very opposite of that gentleman's. Mr. Morris rivalled
the Parisians themselves in caustic wit, perfect manners, and the
thousand and one social graces of the time, while Mr. Jefferson
captivated all by his democratic manners and entire indifference to
social conventionality, much as the incomparable Dr. Franklin (whose
originality and address in society were indeed _sui generis_ and quite
unrivalled) had before him.
But Mr. Morris was possessed of greater qualities than those necessary
to make him shine in the vapid, corrupt society of the fashionable
world. He was a brilliant, yet sound, thinker, and his earnest
convictions, his practical statesmanship, and his shrewd business
abilities were quickly appreciated. Indeed, it was difficult to tell
whether ladies of fashion or troubled statesmen found him most
satisfactory. He could rhyme a delicate compliment for the one or draw
up a plan to aid France's crippled revenues for the other, with equal
dexterity. His opinion was sought upon the weightiest matters, and,
being unfettered by official obligations, as was Mr. Jefferson, he was
free to give it, and soon became associated with some of the greatest
gentlemen in the kingdom and intimately identified with many schemes for
the strengthening of the monarchy. For Mr. Morris, while a most ardent
republican in his own country, was a royalist in France, convinced that
a people, used from time immemorial to an almost despotic government,
extremely licentious, and by nature volatile, were utterly unfitted for
a republic. In many of the drawing-rooms where indiscriminate and
dangerous republicanism was so freely advocated, he was held to be trop
aristocrate. With amazing good-humor and keenness he attacked the closet
philosophers and knocked over their feeble arguments like tenpins,
urgently proclaiming that it was the duty and best policy for every son
of France to hold up the king's hands and strengthen his authority. It
was almost amusing to note the consternation his views caused among
those who, knowing him to be a republican of republicans, a citizen of
that country which had so lately and so gloriously won its civil
liberty, had expected far different things from him. Indeed, he ran foul
of many of the noblesse, with whom 'twas the fashion to be republicans
of the first feather, and of none more completely than Monsieur le
Marquis de Lafayette.
Monsieur de Lafayette, who had got himself elected from the noblesse in
Auvergne, had come back to town in March and was a frequent caller at
the Legation, having there a warm friend and ally in Mr. Jefferson. He
was unaffectedly glad to see Calvert after such a lapse of time and to
meet again Mr. Morris, whom he had also known in America. His admiration
and respect for Mr. Morris's qualities were very great, and it was
therefore with no little mortification and uneasiness that he noted that
gentleman's disapprobation of the trend of public affairs and his own
course of action. Indeed, Mr. Morris was seriously alarmed lest the
glory which the young Marquis had won in America should be dimmed by his
career in his own country. Believing in his high-mindedness and
patriotism, he yet questioned his political astuteness and his ability
to guide the forces which he had so powerfully helped to set in motion
by his call for the States-General. Fully alive to his great qualities,
he yet deplored a certain indecision of character and an evident thirst
Something of all this Mr. Morris expressed to Mr. Jefferson and Mr.
Calvert one evening when the Marquis had retired after an hour's
animated conversation on the all-engrossing subject of politics, during
which he had given the three gentlemen an account of his campaign in
Auvergne. But Mr. Jefferson, being in entire sympathy with Lafayette's
ideas, could not agree at all with Mr. Morris's estimate of him and
would listen to no strictures on him, except, indeed, the imputation of
ambition, which Mr. Jefferson acknowledged amounted to "a canine thirst
for fame," as he himself wrote General Washington. Though Mr. Jefferson
and Mr. Morris differed so widely respecting the Marquis's genius, Mr.
Morris still clung to his opinion, so that Madame de Lafayette, with
wifely jealousy and feminine intuition, perceiving something of his
mental attitude toward her husband, received him but coldly when he
called with Calvert to pay his respects at the hotel on the Quai du
Louvre. So marked was the disapproval of her manner, that Mr. Morris,
being both amused and annoyed, could not forbear recounting his
reception to Mr. Jefferson, who enjoyed a good laugh at his expense
and, as it seemed to Calvert, took a certain satisfaction in his rebuff.
"She gave me the tips of her fingers to kiss," said Mr. Morris,
laughing, "gazing over my head the while and smiling at this young
gentleman, on whom she lavished every attention, though she had never a
word for me!" and he sighed in mock distress and looked affectionately
at Mr. Calvert. He had become very fond of the young gentleman in the
few weeks they had been together in Paris, and was always anxious to
introduce him to his acquaintances, of whom he already had an
astonishing number. Mr. Jefferson, being busily occupied with public
matters, insisted on Mr. Calvert's accepting Mr. Morris's good offices
and, with his invariable kindness and thoughtfulness, made it appear,
indeed, that the young gentleman was aiding him by thus assuming some of
his social duties. He was secretly much gratified and pleased by the
accounts which Mr. Morris gave of his successes.
"Why, 'tis almost indecent the way the women spoil him," that gentleman
declared, laughingly, to Mr. Jefferson as they sat alone over their wine
one evening after dinner at the Legation, Calvert having retired to
finish the copying of some important letters to be despatched to Mr.
Short, who was at Amsterdam. "Elles s'en raffolent, but Ned, incredible
as it may seem, is far from being grateful for such a doubtful blessing!
His stoical indifference and unvarying courtesy to the fair sex are
genuine and sublime and pique the women incredibly. Indeed, 'tis almost
more than I can stand without laughing," went on Mr. Morris, "to see the
manly forbearance with which he treats the advances of some of these
grandes dames, who think nothing of taking the initiative in a
love-affair. Tis as rare as it is admirable here in Paris! Upon my word
I thought he would have taken to his heels yesterday when we called on
Madame de Flahaut, who, being at her toilet, invited us to her
dressing-room! He left me to stump upstairs alone and receive a good
rating from the Countess for not having kept him. He makes me feel very
old and sinful," went on Mr. Morris, after a pause, and smiling ruefully
at Mr. Jefferson on the other side of the table, "and I ought to dislike
the boy heartily for it. But, in faith, I can't, and am beginning to be
as fond of him as you yourself are."
"And, after all, he ought not to make us feel old," rejoined Mr.
Jefferson, smiling, too. "For in spite of his youth there is nothing of
immaturity in his character. 'Tis as firm and well-rounded as though he
"I think he calls for a toast," says Mr. Morris, laughing, and filling
up the glasses: "To an Old Head on Young Shoulders!"
In the early part of March, Mr. Short being still on his travels, and
vexatious questions having arisen in connection with the Dutch loans,
Mr. Jefferson determined to intrust their settlement to Calvert, and,
accordingly, the young man set out for Amsterdam with scarce a day's
notice of his journey. His embassy concerned the refusal of our bankers
in Amsterdam (into whose hands Congress had placed all monies) to pay
bills for the redemption of our captives, and the medals which Mr.
Jefferson had contracted should be struck off for the foreign officers
who had engaged in the revolution. This refusal placed the American
Minister in a most embarrassing position. To his demands the Holland
bankers replied that Congress had appropriated the money in their charge
solely to the payment of the interest on the Dutch loan through the year
1790. As a failure to pay the interest on the loan would have been fatal
to the credit and standing of the infant republic in the eyes of Europe,
it was evident to Mr. Jefferson that a new loan would have to be set
going to defray the new debts. This delicate and difficult project (for
our credit was none of the best and the old loan had not all been taken
up) he intrusted to Calvert, and so quickly and satisfactorily did the
young man execute his commission that he was back again in Paris by the
end of the month with reports highly gratifying to the American
"You have a better head for finances than even Mr. Hamilton, whose
opinions are so much quoted in Congress," says Mr. Jefferson, with a
smile. "I think no one could have conducted these affairs to a better
issue. It has always been my opinion that your peculiar talents lay in
the direction of finances, and now I am persuaded of it."
So delighted was Mr. Jefferson with Calvert's performance that he
recounted the successful embassy to Mr. Morris, whose good opinion of
Calvert was greatly increased, and, having always had a liking for the
young man, he took occasion to see more than ever of him. He insisted on
Calvert's accompanying him frequently into the great world of Paris
where he himself was so welcome, and where, indeed, the young man's
presence was also demanded on all sides--even by royalty itself in the
person of Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans, whose acquaintance Mr. Morris
had made in the apartments of Madame de Chastellux in the Palais Royal.
Although accustomed to the company of the highest nobility, Mr. Morris
was somewhat uncertain whether he would get along well with royalty, and
would not have pursued the acquaintance begun by chance in Madame de
Chastellux's salon had not the Duchess expressed her pleasure in his
society in most unequivocal terms. Satiated with flattery, bored by the
narrow circle in which she was forced to move, profoundly humiliated by
the neglect and viciousness of her husband, she was charmed by the wit,
independence, and true courtesy of the brilliant American. A daughter of
the old Duc de Penthievre, the embodiment of everything good in the
ancien regime, the Duchess of Orleans was, herself, a woman of rare good
sense, beauty, and tact, all of which appealed strongly to Mr. Morris,
so that the acquaintance begun so graciously on her part and so
dubiously on his, soon ripened into real friendship.
"I never see her but I feel a throb of pity for her," declared Mr.
Morris to Calvert. "'Twas a malignant fate that made her the wife of so
dissolute a prince. She is very handsome--handsome enough to punish the
duke for his irregularities, and she has, I think, the most beautiful
arm in all Europe--of which she is properly vain! But what is a little
vanity among so many virtues?--for she is eminently virtuous, though not
averse, I think, to seeking some consolation for her profound
melancholy, for--as she has confided to me--she feels 'le besoin d'etre
aime,'" and he smiled a little cynically, as men of the world are wont
to smile at the confession of feminine weaknesses. As for Mr. Calvert,
that confession brought no smile to his lips, and, though he said
nothing, he felt a sudden rush of pity for the unhappy lady, neglected
and unloved despite her great position. After all, duchesses are but
women and must love and suffer and be content or miserable like common
mortals, and men should be the last to blame them for that divine
necessity of their beings--that of loving and being loved.
"She has heard much of you, Ned," went on Mr. Morris, "from Madame de
Chastellux, from Lafayette, and lately from myself, and has expressed
her desire to see you. I need not tell you that such a wish is a command
and so you must even go and pay your respects to royalty, my boy," and
he laughed as he clapped the young man on the shoulder.
That very evening Mr. Morris carried him off to the Palais Royal to the
apartments of Madame de Chastellux, where he despatched a message to the
Duchess to the effect that "Monsieur Morris, accompagne par Monsieur
Calvert, visitent Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans chez Madame de
Chastellux." After a few moments of waiting one of the Duchess's men
came with the request that Madame de Chastellux should bring the two
gentlemen to her apartments.
They found Her Royal Highness there surrounded by a small company. At
her side was the Vicomte de Segur, who was essaying by the witty sallies
and delightful drolleries for which he was so famous to bring a smile to
her lips; but, although the rest of the company was convulsed by his
brilliant nonsense, the Duchess's pale face did not lose its serious
expression until Mr. Morris, followed by Calvert, entered the room.
Then, indeed, a smile of pleasure lighted up her countenance, and it was
with a most gracious cordiality that she welcomed both gentlemen.
"So this is your young compatriote, Monsieur, who vanquished Monsieur de
St. Aulaire on the ice!" she said, looking at Mr. Morris and laughing
with a certain malicious satisfaction. She extended to Calvert the
famously beautiful hand and arm, from which the soft, black lace fell
away, revealing its exquisite roundness and whiteness and over which Mr.
Morris bent low in salutation. "We have heard of your prowess au
patinage, Monsieur," she continued, glancing at Calvert, and then,
without waiting for a reply, much to the young man's relief, who was
somewhat embarrassed by so direct a compliment and, in truth, utterly
weary of the whole subject, of which he heard continually, she turned
and spoke to two young gentlemen half-concealed in the deep embrasure of
a window. At her call they both came forward, the eldest, the Duc de
Chartres, who might have been sixteen years of age, laying down a violin
on which he had been playing softly, and the younger, Monsieur de
Beaujolais, who could not have been over thirteen, closing the book he
had been reading.
"Mes fils," says the Duchess, softly, and smiling at Mr. Morris and
Calvert with a sort of melancholy pride shining in her dark eyes. In
truth, the young princes were good to look at, especially the little
Monsieur de Beaujolais, who had a most animated and pleasing
countenance. As they stood one on each side of their mother they made a
pretty group. Perhaps 'twas the remembrance of that picture in after
years which warmed Mr. Morris's heart to the exile in distress over the
seas and made him a generous friend despite the royal ingratitude.
"So she has saved something out of the wreck of her life," thought Mr.
Calvert, pityingly, looking at the two youths. "'Tis doubly fortunate
that they in nowise resemble their ignoble father," and he thought with
disgust of that dissolute nobleman of whom he had heard so much. While
these thoughts were passing through his mind the Duchess was speaking
earnestly, to Mr. Morris.
"I ask your advice, Monsieur," she said, dismissing with a smile the two
young gentlemen, who retired once more to their place at the window.
"You, who seem to know so well how to breed heroes in your own country,
can surely tell me how to bring up my sons to be an honor to their
"Your Highness," returned Mr. Morris, after an instant's hesitation,
and deeply moved at such a mark of esteem, "for Monsieur le Duc de
Chartres, who, in the inscrutable workings of Providence, may one day be
king"--the Duchess started and turned pale--"there is but one course to
follow, one education open. But for Monsieur de Beaujolais, why should
he not lend his talents to business enterprises, to great commercial
undertakings which make for the prosperity and stability of a country as
surely as even its army or navy? Thus also will he create happiness for
himself, because, if idle, at five and twenty, having enjoyed all that
rank and fortune can give him, he will be unhappy from not knowing what
to do with himself."
In spite of the democratic simplicity of the idea, the Duchess seemed
impressed and listened attentively to Mr. Morris, who was about to
explain more at length the advantages of such a career for the young
prince, when the conversation was interrupted by the lackey at the door
announcing the arrival of Madame la Comtesse de Flahaut.
At the name the Duchess threw a meaning look at Mr. Morris.
"Enfin! J'ai fait venir Madame de Flahaut ce soir. N'est ce pas que je
suis aimable?" she said, laughing, and speaking rapidly.
Mr. Morris bowed low before Madame la Duchesse, succeeding perfectly in
conveying by a look his appreciation without committing himself to
anything more serious.
"And did Your Royal Highness also send for a substitute in case I prove
wearying to Madame la Comtesse?" he asked, smiling, as he caught sight
of a gentleman who had followed Madame de Flahaut into the room and who
wore the ecclesiastical dress of a bishop. Perhaps what most attracted
Mr. Morris's notice was that he seemed a man of about his own age and,
like himself, lame. "Who is it?" he asked, in a low voice, as the two
"Monsieur de Talleyrand-Perigord, Bishop of Autun, who, I understand, is
in danger of losing his place in the affections of Madame on account of
Monsieur Morris," returned the Duchess, hurriedly, and glancing
mischievously, though keenly, at Mr. Morris's face, which, however,
preserved its expression of impassivity.
"Ah! place aux eveques!" murmured Mr. Morris, quietly.
Salutations and the presentation of Mr. Morris and Mr. Calvert having
been made, the Bishop of Autun turned to the Duchess.
"Your Highness," he said, "I have come to beg a dinner."
"And we have brought our bread with us, that we may be sure of our
welcome!" cried out Madame de Flahaut, with a little laugh. And indeed
they had, for wheat was so scarce in Paris that it was the fashion for
ladies and gentlemen to send their servants with bread when dining out.
"Monsieur l'eveque knows he is always welcome," said the Duchess,
gently, and smiling at Madame de Flahaut. "Once our guest, always our
In a little while the tutor of the young princes came in and took away
his charges, and the company sat down to supper. It was one of Her
Highness's little soupers intimes, which she gave each Thursday, and
upon which Monsieur le Duc d'Orleans and his wild companions never
intruded. Though the company was small it was very gay, and it would
have been hard to say who contributed most to the wit and sparkle of the
talk which went on ceaselessly--Mr. Morris, Monsieur le Vicomte de
Segur, or Monsieur de Boufflers, who, as usual, was present in the train
of the beautiful Madame de Sabran. As for Mr. Morris, he was in the
highest spirits and devoted himself with gallant courtesy to Madame la
Duchesse d'Orleans, on whose left he sat, much to the evident pique of
Madame de Flahaut. With that wonderful adaptability which made him at
ease in any society in which he found himself, he adjusted himself to
the company of the evening, and, being perfectly master of the French
language, could not only understand the light talk and persiflage, but
even led in the conversation.
As for Mr. Calvert, having none of that adaptability possessed in so
large a share by Mr. Morris, he felt himself out of his element,
uninterested and therefore uninteresting, and he listened with inward
irritation to the loose anecdotes, the piquant allusions, the coarse
gossip, so freely bandied about. It was with something akin to a feeling
of relief that he heard his name spoken and turned to find the keen,
restless eyes of Monsieur de Talleyrand, beside whom he was seated,
fixed upon him.
"Monsieur is not interested in the conversation?" he asked, and, though
there was a mocking smile on the thin lips, there was also a kindly look
in the brilliant eyes.
Calvert blushed hotly at being so easily found out by this worldly
looking prelate. Monsieur de Talleyrand shrugged his shoulders. "'Tis a
good sign, I think," and he looked still more kindly at Calvert. "You
have been brought up amid simpler, purer surroundings, Mr. Calvert," he
said, suddenly leaning over toward the young man and speaking in tones
so low as to be drowned in the noisy conversation. "I envy you your good
fortune," he went on. "I envy you your inability to fit yourself into
any niche, to adjust yourself to any surroundings, as your friend
Monsieur Morris, for example, seems to have the faculty of doing. See,
he is even making verses to Madame la Duchesse!"
Calvert looked over at Mr. Morris and saw him tear from his table-book a
leaf upon which he had been writing and, with a bow, offer it to the
"Are we not to hear Monsieur's verses?" demands Monsieur de Talleyrand,
languidly, after a moment's silence, during which Her Highness had
regarded the lines with a puzzled air, and smiling faintly.
"These are in English--I shall have to get Madame de Chastellux to
translate them for me some day," and she folded the paper as if to put
it away, but there arose such exclamations of disappointment, such
gentle entreaties not to be denied the pleasure of hearing the verses,
that she yielded to the clamor and signalled Madame de Chastellux her
permission to have them read aloud. Amid a discreet silence, broken only
by little murmurs of appreciation and perfumed applause, the lady of
honor read the lines, translating them as she read:
"If Beauty so sweet in all gentleness drest,
In loveliness, virtue arrayed;
By the graces adorned, by the muses carest,
By lofty ambition obeyed;
Ah! who shall escape from the gold-painted dart,
When Orleans touches the bow?
Who the softness resist of that sensible heart
Where love and benevolence glow?
Thus we dream of the Gods who with bounty supreme
Our humble petitions accord,
Our love they excite, and command our esteem
Tho' only at distance adored."
There was a ripple of applause, somewhat languid and perfunctory on the
part of the gentlemen, vivacious and prolonged on the part of the
ladies, as Madame de Chastellux finished. To Mr. Calvert the scene was a
little ridiculous, the interest of the company, like the sentiment of
the verses, somewhat artificial, and Mr. Morris's role of versifier to
Madame la Duchesse decidedly beneath that gentleman's talents.
Monsieur de Talleyrand laughed softly. "'Other places--other customs,'"
he said, and again reading Calvert's thoughts so accurately that that
young gentleman scarce knew whether to be most astonished or indignant.
It would most likely have been the latter had not a certain
friendliness in the Bishop's glance disarmed his anger. "Mr. Morris is
fortunate," he went on, quietly. "See--he has pleased everyone except
Madame de Flahaut."
'Twas indeed as he had said, and, amid the applause and compliments,
only Madame de Flahaut sat silent and evidently piqued, her pretty face
wearing an expression of bored indifference. But even while Monsieur de
Talleyrand spoke, Mr. Morris, bending toward her, addressed some remark
to her and in an instant she was all animation and charm, exerting for
his benefit every fascination of which she was mistress, and showing him
by glance and voice how greatly she prized his attentions. For a moment
Mr. Calvert sat silent, contemplating the little play going on before
his eyes, when, suddenly remembering the words of the Duchesse
d'Orleans, he turned and looked at Monsieur de Talleyrand. Such a
softening change had come over the cynical, impassive countenance, so
wistful a look into the keen, dark eyes bent upon Madame de Flahaut, as
caused a feeling of pity in the young man's heart for this brilliant,
unhappy, unrighteous servant of the Church.
"So Mr. Calvert has read my secret, as I read his," said Monsieur de
Talleyrand, slowly, and returning the gaze which Calvert had absently
fastened upon him while revolving these thoughts. Suddenly he began
speaking rapidly, as if impelled thereto by some inward force, and, in a
low but passionately intense voice, heard only by Mr. Calvert:
"We are the sport of fate in this country more than in any other, I
think," he said. "I might have been a young man like yourself, as noble,
good, and true as yourself--oh, do not look astonished! 'Tis one of my
acknowledged talents--the reading of character--I, like yourself, might
have fought and loved with honor but that I am lame, and why was I
lame?" he went on, bitterly. "Because I never knew a mother's love or
care, because, when a baby, being sent from my home--and under that roof
I have never spent a night since--I fell and injured my foot, and the
woman in whose charge I had been put, being afraid to tell my parents of
my mishap, the hurt was allowed to go uncorrected until 'twas too late.
And so, being lame and unfit for a soldier's career, I was thrust into
the Church, _nolens volens_. Monsieur Calvert," he said, smiling
seriously, "when you hear Mr. Jefferson criticising the Bishop
of Autun--for I know he thinks but slightingly of the
ecclesiastic--recollect that 'twas the disappointed ambition and the
unrelenting commands of Charles Maurice Talleyrand's parents which made
him what he is! We are all like that," he went on, moodily. "Look at de
Ligne--he was married by his father at twenty to a young girl whom he
had never seen until a week before the wedding. And Madame de
Flahaut--at fifteen she was sacrificed to a man of fifty-five, who
scarcely notices her existence!" He glanced across the table and again
the power of love touched and softened his face for an instant. He
rose--for the supper was finished and the company beginning to move--and
laid his hand for an instant on Calvert's broad young shoulder. "Mr.
Calvert," he said, half-mockingly, half-seriously, "do not be too hard
upon us! There are some excuses to be made. In your country all things
are new--your laws, your habits, your civilization are yet plastic. See
that you mould them well! 'Tis too late here--we are as the generations
have made us. 'Other places--other customs!'" and he went off limping.
To his dying day Mr. Calvert never forgot the fascination, the open
frankness of Monsieur de Talleyrand's manner on that occasion, nor the
look of sadness and suffering in his eyes. When he heard him in after
years accused of shameless veniality, of trickery, lying, duplicity,
even murder, he always remembered that impulsive revelation--never
repeated--of a warped, unhappy childhood, of a perverted destiny.
Mr. Morris came to him later as he stood leaning against the wall behind
the chair of Madame de Chastellux.
"How goes it, Ned?" he asked, half-laughing and stifling a yawn. "As for
myself, I am getting confoundedly bored. I can't think of any more
verses, so the ladies find me insipid, and they are beginning to talk
politics, of which they know nothing, so I find them ridiculous. They
are already deep in the discussion of the Abbe Sieyes's brochure,
'Qu'est-ce que le Tiers Etat,' and Madame de Flahaut declares that his
writings and opinions will form a new epoch in politics as those of
Newton in physics! Can fatuity go farther? And yet she is the cleverest
woman I have met in France. The men are as ignorant as the women,
except that scoundrel of a bishop, who, like myself, is bored by the
incessant talk of politics and has just assured me that no one has an
idea of the charm of life who has not lived before this year of 1789. I
can easily believe it. But perhaps he told you the same thing--I saw you
two talking together at supper."
"Yes," said Calvert, "we were talking, but not of politics or the charm
of life. He was very interesting and unexpectedly friendly," he added,
with some emotion, for he was still under Monsieur de Talleyrand's
"I would have thought him the last man to interest you, my young
Bayard," returned Mr. Morris, with some surprise. "He appears to me to
be a sly, cunning, ambitious man. I know not why conclusions so
disadvantageous to him are formed in my mind, but so it is. I cannot
Mr. Calvert could not repress a smile, for it occurred to him that it
was more than possible that Monsieur de Talleyrand's well-known devotion
to Madame de Flahaut (whom it was evident Mr. Morris admired greatly,
though he so stoutly denied it) might have prejudiced his opinion of the
Bishop. Mr. Morris was quick to note the smile and to divine its cause.
"No, no, my dear Ned," he said, laughing, "'tis not Monsieur de
Talleyrand's connection with Madame de Flahaut which makes me speak of
him after this fashion. Indeed, there is but a Platonic friendship
between the fair lady and myself," and, still laughing, Mr. Morris
turned away from Calvert and stumped his way back to the side of the
lady of his Platonic affections, where he remained until the company
As for Mr. Calvert, in spite of Mr. Morris's predilections, he was of
the opinion that of the two--the unchurchly bishop and the pretty
intrigante--Monsieur de Talleyrand was the more admirable character.
Indeed, he had disliked and distrusted Madame de Flahaut from the first
time of meeting her, and, to do the lady justice, she had disliked Mr.
Calvert just as heartily and could never be got to believe that he was
anything but a most unintelligent and uninteresting young man, convinced
that his taciturnity and unruffled serenity before her charms were the
signs of crass stupidity.
If Mr. Calvert found the pretty and vivacious Comtesse de Flahaut little
to his taste, the society of which she was a type offended him still
more. It had taken him but a short time to realize what shams, what
hollowness, what corruption existed beneath the brilliant and gay
surface. Amiability, charm, wit, grace were to be found everywhere in
their perfection, but nowhere was truth, or sincerity, or real pleasure.
All things were perverted. Constancy was only to be found in
inconstancy. Gossip and rumor left no frailty undiscovered, no
reputation unsmirched. Religion was scoffed at, love was caricatured.
All about him Calvert saw young nobles, each the slave of some
particular goddess, bowing down and doing duty like the humblest menial,
now caressed, now ill-treated, but always at beck and call, always
obedient. It was the fashion, and no courtier resented this treatment,
which served both to reduce the men to the rank of puppets and to render
incredibly capricious the beauties who found themselves so powerful. All
the virility of Calvert's nature, all his new-world independence and his
sense of honor, was revolted by such a state of things. As he looked
around the company, there was not a man or woman to be seen of whom he
had not already heard some risque story or covert insinuation, and,
though he was no strait-laced Puritan, a sort of disdain for these
effeminate courtiers and a horror of these beautiful women took
possession of him.
"Decidedly," he thought to himself, "I am not fitted for this society,"
and so, somewhat out of conceit with his surroundings, and the Duchess
having withdrawn, he bade good-night to the company without waiting for
Mr. Morris, and took himself and his disturbed thoughts back to the
IN WHICH MR. CALVERT'S GOOD INTENTIONS MISCARRY
It was in the midst of such society that Calvert encountered Madame de
St. Andre repeatedly during the remainder of the winter and early
spring. And though she was as imperious and capricious as possible,
followed about by a dozen admirers (of whom poor Beaufort was one of the
most constant); though she was as thoughtless, as pleasure-loving as any
of that thoughtless, pleasure-loving society in which she moved; though
she had a hundred faults easy to be seen, yet, in Calvert's opinion,
there was still a saving grace about her, a fragrant youthfulness, a
purity and splendor that coarsened and cheapened all who were brought
into comparison with her. When she sat beside the old Duchesse d'Azay at
the Opera or Comedie, he had no eyes for la Saint-Huberti or Contat, and
thought that she outshone all the beauties both on the stage and in the
brilliant audience. Usually, however, he was content to admire her at a
distance and rarely left the box which he occupied with Mr. Jefferson
and Mr. Morris to pay his respects to her and Madame d'Azay. For while
Adrienne attracted him, he was yet conscious that it was best for him
not to be drawn into the circle of her fascinations, and, although he
made a thousand excuses for her caprice and coquetry, he had no
intention of becoming the victim of either. Indeed, he had already
experienced somewhat of her caprice and had found it little to his
liking. Since the afternoon on which they had skated together she had
never again treated him in so unaffected and friendly a fashion. A
hundred times had she passed him at the opera or the play or in the
salons which they both frequented, with scarcely a nod or smile, and Mr.
Calvert was both offended and amused by such cavalier treatment and
"She has the air of a princess royal and treats me as the meanest of her
subjects. 'Tis a good thing we Americans have cast off the yoke of
royalty," he thought to himself, with a smile. "And as for beauty--there
are a dozen belles in Virginia alone almost her equal in loveliness and
surely far sweeter, simpler, less spoiled. And yet--and yet--" and the
young man would find himself wondering what was that special charm by
virtue of which she triumphed over all others. He did not himself yet
know why it was that he excused her follies, found her the most
beautiful of all women, or fell into a sort of rage at seeing her in the
loose society of the day, with such men as St. Aulaire and a dozen
others of his kind in her train. But though unable to analyze her charm
he was yet vaguely conscious of its danger, and had it depended upon
himself he would have seen but little of her. This, however, was an
impossibility, as Mr. Jefferson was a constant visitor at the hotel of
Madame d'Azay, who, true to her word, seemed to take the liveliest
interest in Mr. Calvert and commanded his presence in her salon
frequently. Indeed, the old Duchess was pleased to profess herself
charmed with the young American, and would have been delighted,
apparently, to see him at any and all hours, had his duties permitted
him so much leisure. Besides the cordial invitations of the dowager
Duchess to the hotel in the rue St. Honore, there were others as
pressing from d'Azay himself, who, having secured his election in
Touraine, had returned to Paris. The young nobleman was frequently at
the American Legation in consultation with the Minister, whose opinions
and character excited his greatest admiration, and it was one of his
chiefest delights, when business was concluded, to carry Mr. Jefferson
and Calvert back to his aunt's drawing-room with him for a dish of tea
and an hour's conversation.
It was on one of those occasions that, having accompanied Mr. Jefferson
and d'Azay to the rue St. Honore in the latter's coach (Mr. Morris
promising to look in later), Mr. Calvert had the opportunity of speaking
at length with Madame de St. Andre for the first time since the
afternoon on the ice. When the three gentlemen entered the drawing-room
a numerous company was already assembled, the older members of which
were busy with quinze and lansquenet in a card-room that opened out of
the salon, the younger ones standing or sitting about in groups and
listening to a song which Monsieur de St. Aulaire, who was at the
harpsichord, had just begun. It was Blondel's song from Gretry's
"Richard Coeur de Lion," about which all Paris was crazy and which Garat
sang nightly with a prodigious success at the Opera. This aria Monsieur
de St. Aulaire essayed in faithful imitation of the great tenor's manner
and in a voice which showed traces of having once been beautiful, but
which age and excesses had now broken and rendered harsh and forced.
As Calvert saluted Adrienne, when the perfunctory applause which this
performance called forth had died away, he thought he had never seen her
look so lovely. She wore a dress of some soft water-green fabric shot
with threads of silver that fell away from her rounded throat and arms,
bringing the creamy fairness of her complexion (which, for the first
time, he saw enhanced by black patches) and the dusky brown of her hair
to a very perfection of beauty. She was standing by the harpsichord when
the gentlemen entered, but, on catching sight of Mr. Jefferson, she went
forward graciously, extending her hand, over which he bowed low in
admiration of that young beauty which, in his eyes, had no equal in
There was another pair of eyes upon her which saw as Mr. Jefferson's
kindly ones did, but to them the young girl paid little attention, only
giving Mr. Calvert a brief courtesy as she went to salute her brother.
"Will you not make Mr. Jefferson a dish of tea, Adrienne?" asked d'Azay,
kissing her on both her fair cheeks. "And if we are to have music I beg
you will ask Calvert to sing for us, for he has the sweetest voice in
"What!" exclaimed the young girl, a little disdainfully. "Mr. Calvert
is a very prodigy of accomplishments!"
"Far from it!" returned Mr. Calvert, good-naturedly. "'Tis but a jest of
Henri's. Indeed, Madame, I am nothing of a musician."
"He may not be a musician, but he has a voice as beautiful as Garat's,
though I know 'tis heresy to compare anyone with that idol of Paris,"
said Beaufort, joining the group at that instant. "Dost thou remember
that pretty ballad that thou sangst at Monticello, Ned?" he asked,
turning to Calvert. "Indeed, Madame, I think 'twas of you he sang," he
added, smiling mischievously at Madame de St. Andre.
"What is this?" demanded Adrienne, imperiously. "Is this another jest?
But I must hear this song," she went on, impatiently, and with a touch
"'Twas my favorite 'Lass with the Delicate Air,'" said Mr. Jefferson,
smiling. "You must sing it for us, Ned, and I will play for you as I
used to do." He took from its case a violin lying upon the harpsichord
and, leaning over it, he began softly the quaint accompaniment that
sustains so perfectly the whimsical melodies and surprising cadences of
Dr. Arne's ballad.
Though few of Mr. Calvert's audience could understand the sentiment of
his song, all listened with admiration to the voice, which still
retained much of its boyish sweetness and thrilling pathos. Amid the
applause which followed the conclusion of the song, Madame d'Azay left
the lansquenet table and appeared at the door of the salon.
"Charming," she cried. "But I don't know your English, so sing us
something in French, Monsieur, that I may applaud the sentiment as well
as the voice."
Mr. Calvert bowed with as good grace as he could, being secretly much
dissatisfied at having to thus exploit his small talent for the benefit
of the company, and, seating himself at the harpsichord, began a
plaintive little air in a minor key, to which he had fitted the words of
a song he had but lately read and greatly admired. Being, as he had
said, nothing of a musician, the delicate accompaniment of the song was
quite beyond him, but having a true ear for accord and a firm, light
touch, he improvised a not unpleasing melody that fitted perfectly the
poem. 'Twas the "Consolation" of Malherbe, and, as Calvert sang, the
tenderness and melancholy beauty of both words and music struck the
whole company into silence:
"'Mais elle etait du monde ou les plus belles choses
Ont le pire destin,
Et, rose, elle a vecu ce que vivent les roses--
L'espace d'un matin.
"La mort a des rigueurs a nulle autre pareilles,
On a beau la prier,
La cruelle qu'elle est se bouche les oreilles,
Et nous laisse crier.
"Le pauvre en sa cabane, ou le chaume le couvre,
Est sujet a ses lois,
Et le garde qui veille aux barrieres du Louvre
N'en defend pas nos rois.'"
"'Tis a gloomy song," whispered Beaufort to the young Vicomte de
Noailles, Lafayette's kinsman, and then, turning to Monsieur de St.
Aulaire, sulkily looking on at the scene and whom he hated both for his
devotion to Adrienne and because he was of the Orleans party, he said,
with languid maliciousness, "My dear Baron, a thousand pities that you
have taken no care of your voice! I can remember when it was such a one
as Monsieur Calvert's."
"You were ever a sad flatterer, my dear Beaufort," returned St. Aulaire,
one hand on the hilt of his silver dress sword, the other holding his
chapeau de bras. He regarded Beaufort for an instant with a sour smile,
and then turned and made his way to Calvert.
"Ah, Monsieur," he said, and his voice was suave, though there was a
mocking light in his eyes, "I see I have made a mistake. I had thought
you a past master in the art of skating, now I see that your true role
is that of the stage hero. You would become as spoilt a favorite as
Garat himself. The ladies all commit a thousand follies for him."
"Sir," returned Mr. Calvert, quietly, though he was white with
unaccustomed anger, "I see that you are one destined to make mistakes. I
am neither skating nor singing-master, nor clown nor coward. I am an
American gentleman, and, should anyone be inclined to doubt that fact, I
will convince him of it at the point of my sword--or with pistols, since
English customs are the mode here."
As Calvert looked at the handsome, dissipated face of the nobleman
before him a sudden gust of passion shook him that so insolent a
scoundrel should dare to speak to him in such fashion. And though he
retained all his self-control and outward composure, so strange a smile
played about his lip and so meaning an expression came into his eye as
caused no little surprise to St. Aulaire, who had entirely
underestimated the spirit that lay beneath so calm and boyish an
exterior. As he was about to reply to Calvert, Madame de St. Andre
approached. Making a low bow, and without a word, Monsieur de St.
Aulaire retired, leaving Calvert with the young girl.
"Come with me, sir," she said, smiling imperiously on the young man and
speaking rapidly. "I have many questions to ask you! You are full of
surprises, Monsieur, and I must have my curiosity satisfied. We have
many arrears of conversation to make up. Did you not promise to tell me
of General Washington, of America, of your young Scotch poet? But, first
of all, I must have a list of your accomplishments," and she laughed
musically. Calvert thought it was like seeing the sun break through the
clouds on a stormy day to see this sudden change to girlish gayety and
naturalness from her grand air of princess royal, and which, after all,
he reflected, she had something of a right to assume. Indeed, she bore
the name of one who had been a most distinguished officer of the King
and who had died in his service, and she was herself the descendant of a
long line of nobles who, if they had not all been benefactors of their
race, had, at least, never shirked the brunt of battle nor any service
in the royal cause. On her father's side she was sprung from that great
warrior, Jacques d'Azay, who fought side by side with Lafayette's
ancestor in the battle of Beauge, when the brother of Harry of England
was defeated and slain. On her mother's side she came of the race of the
wise and powerful Duc de Sully, Henry of Navarre's able minister. One of
her great uncles had been a Grand Almoner of France, and another had
commanded one of the victorious battalions at Fontenoy under the
Marechal Saxe. The portraits of some of these great gentlemen and of
many another of her illustrious ancestors hung upon the walls of the
salons and galleries of this mansion in the rue St. Honore. The very
house bespoke the pride of race and generations of affluence, and was
only equalled in magnificence by the Noailles hotel near by. As Mr.
Calvert looked about him at the splendor of this mansion, which had been
in the d'Azay family for near two centuries and a half; at the spacious
apartment with its shining marquetry floor, its marble columns
separating it from the great entrance hall; at the lofty ceiling,
decorated by the famous Lagrenee with a scene from Virgil ('twas the
meeting of Dido and Aeneas); at the brilliant company gathered
together--as Mr. Calvert looked at all this, he felt a thousand miles
removed from her in circumstance and sentiment, and thought to himself
that it was not strange that she, who had been accustomed to this
splendor since her birth, should treat an unassuming, untitled gentleman
from an almost unknown country, without fortune or distinction, with
supercilious indifference. Indeed, in his heart Mr. Calvert was of the
opinion that this dazzling creature's beauty alone was enough to place
her above princesses, and (thinking of the fresco on the ceiling) that
had Aeneas but met her instead of Queen Dido he had never abandoned her
as he did the Carthagenian.
Perhaps something of the ardor of his thoughts was reflected in his
expression, for it was with a somewhat embarrassed look that Adrienne
pointed to a low gilt chair beside her own.
"Will you be seated, sir? And now for your confession! But even before
that I must know why you come to see us so seldom. Were you provoked
because I rebelled at being taken to task that afternoon on the ice? But
see! Am I not good now?" and she threw him a demure glance of mock
humility that seemed to make her face more charming than ever.
"You are very beautiful," said Mr. Calvert, quietly.
"Tiens! You will be a courtier yet if you are not careful," returned
Adrienne, smiling divinely at the young man from beneath her dark
"Tis no compliment, Madame, but the very truth."
"The truth," murmured the young girl, in some embarrassment at Calvert's
sincere, if detached, manner. "One hears it so seldom these days that
'tis difficult to recognize it! But if it was the truth I fear it was
not the whole truth, sir. I am sure I detected an uncomplimentary
arriere pensee in your speech!" and she laughed mockingly at the young
man, whose turn it was to be embarrassed. "I am very beautiful,
"But you would be even more so without those patches, which may be
successful enhancements for lesser beauties but are beneath the uses of
Madame de St. Andre," returned Calvert, bravely, and joining in the
laugh which the young girl could not repress.
"Pshaw, sir! What an idea!" said Adrienne. "Am I then so amiable that
you dare take advantage of it to call me to account again? I am
beginning to think, sir, that I, who have been assured by so many
gentlemen to be perfection itself, must, after all, be a most faulty
creature since you find reason to reprove me constantly," and she threw
Calvert so bewildering a glance that that young gentleman found himself
unable to reply to her badinage.
"Besides, Monsieur," she went on, "you do not do justice to these
patches. Is it possible that there exists a gentleman so ignorant of
women and fashion as not to know the origin and uses of the mouche?
Come, sir, attend closely while I give you a lesson in beauty and
gallantry! These patches which you so disdain were once tiny plasters
stretched upon black velvet or silk for the cure of headache, and,
though no one was ever known to be so cured, 'twas easy for the illest
beauty to perceive that they made her complexion appear more brilliant
by contrast. The poets declared that Venus herself must have used them
and that they spoke the language of love; thus one on the lip meant the
'coquette,' on the nose the 'impertinent,' on the cheek the 'gallant,'
on the neck the 'scornful,' near the eye 'passionate,' on the forehead,
such as this one I wear, sir, the 'majestic.'" As she spoke, so rapidly
and archly did her mobile features express in their changes her varying
thought that Calvert sat entranced at her piquancy and daring. "And now,
Monsieur, have you no apology to make to these maligned patches?" and
she touched the tiny plaster upon her brow.
"A thousand, Madame," said Calvert, politely, "if you will still let me
be of my opinion that your beauty needs no such aid."
"So you would prevent my wearing so innocent a beautifier? You are more
of a Quaker than Dr. Franklin himself, whom I remember seeing here
often," said Adrienne, with a little laugh and a shrug. "I think he
liked all the ladies and would have continued to like them had they worn
rings in their noses! But as for you--'tis impossible to please you. No
wonder you Americans broke with the English! You are most difficile. But
I am sure that Mr. Jefferson or the witty Mr. Morris could have found a
handsomer reply than yours, Monsieur! Ah, here he is now," and she rose
as Mr. Morris entered the room and made his way to her side.
"At last I have the pleasure of saluting Madame de St. Andre!" he said,
"You are late, sir. We had about given over seeing you this evening. Mr.
Jefferson and Mr. Calvert have been with us an hour."
"I envy them their good fortune, Madame! But--I have been detained."
"What a lame and insufficient excuse!" cried Adrienne, laughing. "'Tis
no better than one of Monsieur Calvert's compliments!"
"Ah, Madame," said Mr. Morris, recovering himself, "you must forgive us
and remember that you complete our mental overthrow already begun by the
dazzling brilliancy of the gayest capital in the world and the multitude
of attractions it offers. A man in your Paris, Madame, lives in a sort
of whirlwind which turns him around so fast that he can see nothing.
'Tis no wonder that the people of this metropolis are under the
necessity of pronouncing their definitive judgment from the first
glance, and, being thus habituated to shoot flying, they have what
sportsmen call a quick sight. They know a wit by his snuff-box, a man of
taste by his bow, and a statesman by the cut of his coat." As he
finished speaking there was a general movement at the card-tables, and
Madame d'Azay, accompanied by Mr. Jefferson, who had been looking on at
the game (for he never played), and followed by the company, entered the
"Ah, Monsieur Morris!" she said, catching sight of that gentleman. "You
have a talent for being always a propos, Monsieur! We have just finished
our game and are ready to listen to the latest gossip, which, I am sure,
you have heard from that charming friend of yours, Madame de Flahaut."
"The Duchess has just won prodigiously at quinze from the Abbe Delille,
who hates damnably to lose," whispered Segur to Calvert, "and, having
won, she stopped the game in the best of humors."
"Alas, Madame!" said Mr. Morris, in answer to the Duchess, "I have not
had the pleasure of seeing Madame de Flahaut, but am just from the Club
de Valois. As you can imagine to yourself, I heard nothing but politics
at the Club."
"Unfortunately, one does not have to go to the club to hear politics,"
replied Madame d'Azay, dryly. "It has required all my authority to
restrain these gentlemen this evening from discussing such subjects.
Indeed, I think Monsieur Jefferson and Monsieur de Lafayette, in spite
of my defense, which I now remove, have had a political debate," and she
snapped her bright eyes and nodded her withered old head severely at the
"_Peccavi_!" said the Marquis, bowing low. "I am the culprit, but
surely, Madame, you would not have me fail to listen to Mr. Jefferson's
counsels when I am so fortunate as to be offered them! He advises me,"
continued Monsieur de Lafayette, turning to Mr. Morris, "to burn my
instructions from the noblesse, which engage me absolutely to favor the
vote by orders and not by persons, and, should this produce an
irrevocable rupture with my electors, boldly to take my stand with the
tiers etat. I have seen Necker to-day and he is as far as ever from a
solution of this great and first question which must come up before the
States-General. Indeed, there is but one rational solution, and I must
disregard my instructions in an endeavor to bring it about."
"I would advise you to resign your seat!" said Mr. Morris, bluntly. "You
have been elected by an order in whose principles you no longer
believe. Should you continue their representative your conscience will
be continually at war with your duty. Should you break away from your
constituency you will offer an example of insubordination and
lawlessness which may have the most deplorable results."
"I cannot agree with you, Mr. Morris," broke in Mr. Jefferson, warmly.
"In the desperate pass to which affairs are already come in this nation,
desperate remedies must be employed. Shall Monsieur de Lafayette deprive
the tiers etat of his enthusiasm, his earnest convictions, his talents,
when, by an act of courage, entirely in accord with his conscience, he
can become one of them and can lead them to victory and to that fusion
with the other orders which is so vital to the usefulness, nay, to the
very life of the States-General?"
"In my opinion there is less need that Monsieur de Lafayette should lead
the tiers etat--they will travel fast enough, I think," says Mr. Morris,
dryly--"than that he should stick to his own order, strengthening in
every way in his power this conservative element, which is the safeguard
of the nation. This annihilation of the distinctions of orders which you
speak of seems to me to be the last thing to be desired. Should the
nobles abandon their order and give over their privileges, what will act
as a check on the demands and encroachments of the commons? How far such
ultra-democratic tendencies may be right respecting mankind in general
is, I think, extremely problematical. With respect to this nation I am
sure it is wrong. I am frank but I am sincere when I say that I believe
you, Monsieur de Lafayette, and you, Monsieur d'Azay, to be too
republican for the genius of this country."
"Or, Monsieur Morris, trop aristocrate," said the Marquis, with a bitter
smile on his disturbed countenance, for his vanity, which was becoming
inordinate, could not brook unfriendly criticism.
"'Tis strange," said the Vicomte d'Azay, "to hear an American arguing
against those principles which have won for him so lately his freedom
and his glory! As for me, I think with Mr. Jefferson and the Marquis,
and, thinking so, I have sided with the people, which is, after all, the
"Yes," broke in Mr. Jefferson with animation and speaking to d'Azay,
"you have found the vital truth. 'Tis no king, but the sovereign people,
which is the state. It has been my firm belief that with a great people,
set in the path of civil and religious liberty, freedom and power in
their grasp, let the executive be as limited as may be, that nation will
still prosper. A strong people and a weak government make a great
"But who shall say that the French are a strong people?" demands Mr.
Morris, impetuously, and turning to the company. "You are lively,
imaginative, witty, charming, talented, but not substantial or
persevering. Inconstancy is mingled in your blood, marrow, and very
essence. Constancy is the phenomenon. The great mass of the common
people have no religion but their priests, no law but their superiors,
no morals but their interests. And how shall we expect a people to
suddenly become wise and self-governing who are ignorant of statecraft,
who have existed for centuries under a despotism? Never having felt the
results of a weak executive, they do not know the dangers of unlimited
power. No man is more republican in sentiment than I am, but I think it
no less than a crime to foist a republic upon a people in no way fitted
for it, and all those who abandon the King in this hour of danger, who
do not uphold his authority to the fullest extent, are participants in
that crime and are helping to bring on those events which I fear will
shortly convulse this country."
"Mr. Morris is no optimist either in regard to French character or the
progress of public affairs," said Lafayette, bitingly. "But I can assure
him that if the French are inconstant, ignorant, and immoral, they are
also energetic, lively, and easily aroused by noble examples. Moreover,
the public mind has been instructed lately to an astonishing point by
the political pamphlets issued in such numbers, and 'tis my opinion that
these facts will bring us, after no great lapse of time, to an adequate
representation and participation in public affairs, and that without the
convulsion which Mr. Morris so acutely dreads."
The company listened in silence with the intensest interest to this
animated conversation, the women following with as close attention as
the men (the Duchess nodding her approval of Mr. Morris's opinions from
time to time), and 'twas but a sample of the almost incredibly frank
political discussion taking place daily in all the notable salons of
Paris. As for Calvert, although he loved and honored Mr. Jefferson
before all men and held him as all but infallible, he could not but
agree with Mr. Morris's views as being the soundest and most practical.
Indeed, from that day Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Morris differed more and
more widely in their political faiths, but the nobility of Mr.
Jefferson's nature, the admirable tact of Mr. Morris, and, as much as
anything, the common affection they felt for Calvert, who would have
been inexpressibly pained by any breach between them, kept them upon
Mr. Morris, conscious that he had spoken impetuously and perhaps with
too much warmth, made no reply to Monsieur de Lafayette's last words,
spoken with some animus, and in a few minutes made his way to Calvert.
"Come away, my boy," he said, in a low tone. "Come away! Lafayette, who
can still believe that mighty changes will take place in this kingdom
without a revolution, does not even know of this day's fearful business
in the rue St. Antoine. I had it from Boursac, who arrived at the Club
two hours ago with both windows of his carriage broken, the panels
splintered, and his coachman with a bloody cheek. He had tried to pass
through the faubourg, where two hundred of the rabble have been killed
by Besenval's Swiss Guards at the house of a paper merchant, Reveillon.
The villains have broke into his factory, demolished everything, drunk
his wines, and, accidentally, some poisonous acid used in his
laboratory, of which they have died a horrible death, and all because
the unfortunate merchant dared in the electoral assembly of Ste.
Marguerite to advocate reducing the wages of his men. I ordered my
coachman to drive by the faubourg, hoping to see for myself if the
affair had not been greatly exaggerated, but I was turned back by some
troops proceeding thither with two small cannon. 'Twas this which
detained me. Boursac says 'tis known for certain that the whole affair
has been instigated by the Duc d'Orleans. He passed in his coach among
the rioters, urging them on in their villany, and 'tis even said by some
that he was seen giving money to the mob. And this is the man whom the
King hesitates to banish! Perhaps, after all, boy, I did wrong to
counsel Lafayette and d'Azay to stand by a King who is weakness itself
and who knows not how to defend himself or his throne!"
It was just a week after Mr. Calvert's visit to the hotel d'Azay and the
affair of the rue St. Antoine, that the day arrived for the consummation
of that great event toward which all France, nay, all Europe, had been
looking for months past.
With a sudden burst and glory of sunshine and warm air the long, hard
winter had given way to the spring of that year of 1789. By the end of
April the green grass and flowering shrubs looked as if summer had come,
and the cruel cold of but a few weeks back was all but forgotten. And
with the quickening pulse of nature the agitation and restless activity
among all classes had increased. The whole kingdom of France was astir
with the excitement of the rapidly approaching convocation of the
States-General. Paris read daily in the columns of the _Moniteur_ the
names of the newly elected deputies, and by the 1st of May those
deputies were thronging her streets.
D'Azay, Lafayette, Necker, Duport, Lameth, and many others, who saw
their ardent wishes materializing, were quite beside themselves with
delight, and prophesied the happiest things for France. Madame d'Azay,
being of the court party, held widely differing views from those of her
nephew, and was out of all conceit with this political ferment, while
as for Adrienne, she looked upon the opening of the States-General and
the grand reception of the King on the 2d of May as splendid pageants
merely, to which she would be glad to lend her presence and the lustre
of her beauty. Indeed, it is safe to say that for nearly every
individual in that restless kingdom of France the States-General held a
different meaning, a different hope, a different fear. Fortunate it was
for all alike, that none could see the ending of that terrible business
about to be set afoot.
In all the brilliant weather of that spring of 1789, no fairer day
dawned than that great day of Monday, the 4th of May. By earliest