Part 14 out of 22
"Come, gentlemen, you who are fed on the sciences--come, ladies you so
expert to guess--will none of you solve my riddle?" tried the lively
queen. "You, brother Philip, who know all things, have you never asked
this question of the sun?"
"I interest myself, dear sister, in matters which concern myself, my
family, and France," replied the Count de Provence, not over-pleased at
the appeal. "The sun, which belongs to another world, has no share in my
studies or my meditations."
"Condemned," said the queen, with a merry laugh. "No sleep for you
tonight. And you, brother d'Artois, who are such a devotee of beauty,
have you never worshipped at the shrine of solar magnificence?"
"The sun rose in this room, your majesty, about a quarter of an hour
ago," said Count d'Artois, bowing. "I can, therefore, safely say that in
the chateau of Marly it usually rises at eight o'clock."
"Compliments will not save you, D'Artois; you shall not go to sleep this
night. And what say you, my sisters-in-law, and our dear Elizabeth?"
"Oh, we dare not be wiser than our husbands!" said the Countess de
"Then you shall share their fate," returned Marie Antoinette. "And now,"
continued she, "cousin de Chartres, it is said that your merry-making
sometimes lasts until morning. You, then, must be intimately acquainted
with the habits of the rising sun."
"Ma foi," said the duke, with a careless laugh, "your majesty is right.
My vigils are frequent; but if returning thence, I have ever met with
the sun, I have mistaken it for a street-lantern, and have never given a
second thought to the matter."
"Nobody, then, in this aristocratic assemblage, knows aught about the
rising of the sun," said the queen.
A profound silence greeted the remark. The queen's face grew pensive,
and gradually deepened into sadness.
"All!" exclaimed she, with a sigh, "what egotists we are in high life!
We expect heaven to shield and sustain us in our grandeur, and never a
thought do we return to heaven."
"Am I not to be allowed the privilege of guessing, madame?" asked the
"You, sire!" said Marie Antoinette. "It does not become the king's
subjects to put questions to him, which he might not be able to answer."
"Nevertheless, I request your majesty to give me a trial."
"Very well, sire. Can you read my riddle, and tell me at what hour the
sun will rise to-morrow?"
"Yes, your majesty. The sun will rise at three o'clock," said Louis,
with a triumphant smile.
Everybody wondered. Marie Antoinette laughed her silvery laugh, and
clapped her little white hands with joy. "Bravo, bravo, my royal
OEdipus!" cried she, gayly. "The sphinx is overcome; but she will not
throw herself into the sea just yet. She is too happy to bend the knee
before her husband's erudition."
With bewitching grace, the queen inclined her beautiful head and knelt
before the king. But Louis, blushing with gratification, clasped her
hands in his, and raised her tenderly to her feet.
"Madame," said he, "if I had the tact and wit of my brother Charles, I
would say that the sun, which so lately has risen, must not set so soon
upon its worshippers. But answer me one question--what is the meaning
of the riddle with which your majesty has been entertaining us?"
"May I answer with another question? Tell me, sire, have you ever seen
the sun rise?"
"I? No, your majesty. I confess that I never have."
"And you, ladies and gentlemen?"
"I can answer for all that they have not," laughed D'Artois.
"Now, sire," said the queen, again addressing her husband, "tell me one
thing. Is it unseemly for a Queen of France to see the sun rise?"
"Certainly not," answered the king, laughing heartily.
"Then will your majesty allow me to enjoy that privilege?"
"It seems to me, madame, that you have no consent to ask save that of
your own bright eyes. If they promise to remain open all night, you have
no one to consult on the subject but yourself."
"I thank your majesty," said the queen. "And now, as none of the company
were able to solve my riddle, all must prepare to sit up with me. May I
hope, sire, that you will be magnanimous enough to relinquish the right
you have earned to retire, and afford me the happiness of your presence
Louis looked quite discomfited, and was about to stammer out some
awkward reply, when the marshal of the household threw open the doors of
the banquet-hall, and approaching the king, cried out, "Le roi est
"Ah!" said he, much relieved, "let us refresh ourselves for the vigil."
Dinner over, the company promenaded in the gardens for an hour, and then
returned to the drawing-room to await the compulsory privilege of seeing
the sun rise. Marie Antoinette, with the impatience of a child, was
continually going out upon the terrace to see how the night waned; but
the moon was up, and the gardens of Marly were bathed in a silver lizht
that was any thing but indicative of the dawn of day.
The scene was so calm and lovely, that the young queen returned to the
drawing-room in search of the king, hoping to woo him to the enjoyment
of the beautiful nature, which was elevating her thoughts far above the
kingdoms of earth and peacefully leading her heart to Heaven. But the
king was nowhere to be seen, and as she was seeking him first in one
room, then in another, she met the Count de Provence.
"I am charged, madame," said he, "with an apology from the king. His
majesty begs that you will pardon him for making use of his right to
retire. He hopes that your majesty will not enjoy your night the less
for his absence." [Footnote: Campan vol. i., p 38]
The queen colored to her brows, and her expressive face gave token of
serious annoyance. She was about to dismiss the company, saying that she
had changed her mind, but she remembered that by so doing she might
become the subject of the ridicule of the court. Her pride whispered her
to remain, and smothered her instinctive sense of propriety. She looked
anxiously around for Madame de Noailles, but on the first occasion, when
her advice might have been welcome, she was absent. She had been told
that etiquette had nothing to do with the queen's party of pleasure, and
she, like the king, had retired to rest.
Marie Antoinette then motioned to her first lady of honor, the Princess
de Chimay, and requested her to say to Madame de Noailles that her
presence would be required in the drawing-room at two o'clock, when the
court would set out for the hill, from whence they would witness the
dawn of the morrow.
"It is an unconscionable time coming," yawned the Countess de Provence.
"See, my dear sister, the hand of the clock points to midnight. What are
we to do in the interim?" asked she, peevishly.
"Propose something to while away the time," said the queen, smiling.
"Let us depute D'Artois to do it. He is readier at such things than the
rest of us," said the princess.
"Does your majesty second the proposal?" asked D'Artois.
"I do with all my heart."
"Then," said the thoughtless prince, "I propose that we play the most
innocent and rollicking of games--blindman's buff." [Footnote: Campan,
vol. i., p. 95.]
A shout of laughter, in which the young queen joined, was the response
to this proposition.
"I was charged with the duty of relieving the tedium of the court,"
continued the prince gravely. "I once more propose the exciting game of
blindman's buff." [Footnote: This game was frequently played in the
courtly circles, and not only in aristocratic houses, but in all social
gatherings. It became the fashion. Madame de Gonlis, who was fond of
scourging the follies of her day, made this fashion the subject of one
of her dramas.]
"We are bound to accede," replied the queen, forgetting her
embarrassment of the moment before. "Let us try to recall the happy days
of our childhood. Let us play blindman's buff until the sun rises and
transforms the children of the night once more into earnest and
THE FOLLOWING DAY.
The queen was alone in her cabinet, which she had not left since she had
seen the sun rise. She had taken cold in the garden, and as a souvenir
of the event, had carried home a fever and a cough. But it was not
indisposition alone which blanched her cheeks. Something mightier than
fever glowed in her flashing eyes, something more painful than malady
threw that deadly paleness over her sweet, innocent face. From time to
time she glanced at a paper lying on the table before her, and every
time her eye fell upon it her brow grow darker.
There was a knock at the door. She started, and murmuring--"The
king!"--she flung her handkerchief over the papers, and throwing back
her head, compelled herself to calmness; while her husband, lifting the
silken portiere, advanced toward the table. She tried to rise, but Louis
came hastily to prevent it, saying: "I come to make inquiries concerning
your health; but if my presence is to disturb you, I shall retire."
"Remain, then, sire--I will not rise," said the queen, with a languid
"Are you still suffering?" said Louis.
"Only from a cold, sire; it will pass away."
"A cold, for which you are indebted to the chill night-air. It would
appear that the Queens of France, who lived and died without seeing the
sun rise, were not so stupid, after all."
The queen gave a searching look at the king's face, and saw that it was
"I went with your majesty's consent."
"I believe that I was wrong to give it," returned he, thoughtfully; "I
should have remembered that for a hundred years past the court of France
has been so corrupt that unhappily the French nation have lost all faith
in chastity and purity of heart. You, madame, must teach them to
distinguish the innocence which has nothing to conceal, from the
depravity which has lost all shame. But we must be cautious, and so
conduct ourselves, that our actions may be beyond misconstruction."
"Your majesty wishes me to infer that my harmless desire to behold one
of the glorious works of my Maker, has been misinterpreted?" said the
queen, opening her large eyes full upon her husband.
The king avoided her glance.
"No, no," said he, with embarrassment. "I speak not of what has been,
but of what might be."
"And this most innocent of wishes has inspired your majesty with these
"I do not say so, but--"
"But your majesty knows that it is so," cried the queen. "It is very
generous of you to save my feelings by concealing that which you know
must subject me to mortification; but others here are less magnanimous
than you, sire. I have already seen the obscene libel to which my
pleasure party has given birth. I have read 'Le lever de l'aurore.'"
"Who has dared to insult you by the sight of it?" asked Louis,
"Oh, sire," said Marie Antoinette, bitterly, "there are always good
friends, who are ready to wound us with the weapons of others. I found
the lampoon on my table this morning, among my letters."
"You shall not be exposed to a repetition of this. Campan shall look
over your papers before he presents them."
"Do you think I am likely to find them often, sire? I hope not. But be
that as it may, I am no coward. I have courage to face any amount of
calumny--for my heart is pure, and my life will vindicate me."
"It will, indeed," said the king, tenderly. "But you must keep aloof
from the poisonous atmosphere of slander. We must live less among the
"Ah, sire, how can we keep aloof from those who have the right to be
The king started, almost imperceptibly, and his anxious glance rested
upon his wife's honest, truthful eyes. Removing her handkerchief, she
pointed to a paper.
"This is the envelope in which I found 'Le lever de l'aurore.' The
handwriting is disguised; but tell me frankly if you do not recognize
it. _I_ do."
"I--really--I may be mistaken," began the king, "but--"
"Nay, you see that it is the hand of the Count de Provence, your own
brother, sire. He it is, who enjoys the cruel satisfaction of having
forced this indecent libel upon my notice, and I doubt not for one
moment that he also is the one who sent it to you. "
"Yes, no doubt, he did it to warn us, and we must be grateful and take
the warning to our hearts."
The queen laughed scornfully.
"Does your majesty suppose that these drawings were made with the same
benevolent intention?" said she, handing him a second paper. "Look at
these indecent caricatures, made still more obnoxious by the vulgar
observations attached to them. There is no disguise of his handwriting
here, for this was not intended for my eye. "
"Too true," sighed the king--"the drawings and the writing are both my
brother's. But who can have sent you these shameful sketches?"
"I told you just now, sire, that there are always people to be found,
who stab their friends with borrowed weapons. The drawings were
accompanied by a letter, informing me, that they were executed in the
saloons of Madame Adelaide, and that the remarks were the joint
productions of your majesty's brother and your aunts."
The king passed his handkerchief over his forehead, to dry the heavy
drops of sweat that were gathering there, and rose up, with the paper in
"Where is your majesty going?" asked the queen.
"To my brother," cried he, indignantly. "I will show him this
disgraceful paper, and ask by what right he outrages my wife and his
queen! I shall tell him that his actions are those of a traitor and--"
"And when you have told him that, will you punish him as kings punish
The king was silent, and the queen continued, with a sad smile.
"You could not punish him; for the traitor who outrages the queen is the
brother of the king, and, therefore, he can outrage with impunity."
"He shall not do it with impunity! I will force him to honor and love
"Ah, sire, love will not yield to force," said Marie Antoinette, in
atone of anguish. "Were I as pure as an angel, the Count de Provence
would hate me for my Austrian birth, and Madame Adelaide would use the
great influence she possesses over your majesty to rob me of the little
favor I am gaining in your sight."
"Oh, Antoinette, do you not feel that my whole heart is yours?" said
Louis, affectionately. "Believe me, when I say that it is in the power
of no human being to sully your sweet image in my eyes. Do not fear the
royal family. I am here to protect you, and, soon or late, your worth
will overcome their prejudices."
"No, sire, no. Nothing will ever win me their regard. But I am resolved
to brave their emnity, satisfied that, in the eyes of the world, my
conduct and my conscience both will sustain me."
"Your husband also," said the king, kissing her hand.
"Sire, I hope so," said Marie Antoinette, in a tremulous voice. "And
now," continued she, dashing away the tear-drops that were gathering in
her eyes, "now give me those caricatures. They have served to convince
your majesty that I know my enemies--and defy them. Their mission is
accomplished; let us try to forget their existence."
She took the drawings from his hand, and, tearing them to pieces,
scattered them over the carpet. The king picked up a few of the
"Will you allow me to retain these as a souvenir of this hour?" said he,
gazing fondly upon her sweet face.
"But you know that princes can never receive a gift without returning
one. Therefore, do me the favor to accept this. It is paper for paper. "
He drew from his bosom a little package, to which the royal seal was
affixed, and Marie Antoinette took it, with a glance of surprise.
"What can it be?" said she, as she unfolded it.
He watched her as she read; and thought how beautiful she was, as,
blushing and smiling, she held out her hand to thank him.
"How, sire," said she, joyfully, "you make me this royal gift?"
"If you will accept it. The chateau de Trianon is a small estate, but
its mistress may at least find it a home where she will have liberty to
enjoy nature without exciting the malevolence of her enemies. No one can
watch you there, Antoinette; for your castle is not large enough to
lodge your slanderers. It will scarcely accommodate your friends."
"How can I ever thank you, sire?" said she, in grateful accents. "You
have understood my heart, and have gratified its weary longings for
occasional solitude. This, then, is my own private domain?"
"And I may rule there without interference from state or etiquette?"
"Assuredly. As chatelaine of Trianon, you alone will regulate its
customs, and all who visit you, must submit to your rules."
"And no man can enter my chateau without an invitation?"
"Not even the king himself."
Marie Antoinette smiled until the pearls encased within her coral lips
dazzled the royal vision.
"How delightful!" said she. "I do not think that the Count de Provence
will ever be invited to Trianon."
"Nor I," replied Louis.
"But the king will be asked so often, that he will certainly wish he
were the Count de Provence. Still, he must promise not to come until he
receives his invitation."
"I promise, beautiful chatelaine."
"And then to come whenever I invite him."
"That I can promise more safely than the other."
"Upon your royal word?"
"Upon my royal word. And thus I seal it with a kiss upon your fair
"Upon my hand only, sire?" asked she, while she turned a cheek, whose
hue was like the rosy lining of a sea-shell.
Louis accepted the challenge, and pressed a kiss so passionate upon that
cheek, that it flushed to a deep, burning crimson, and the queen's eyes
were cast down, till nothing of them was visible except her long, dark
The royal lover, too, grew very red, and stammered a few inaudible
words. Then bowing, awkwardly, he stumbled over an armchair, and
retreated in dire confusion.
Marie Antoinette looked after her clumsy king with a beating heart.
"Am I, indeed, to be blessed with his love?" thought the poor, young
thing. "If I am, I shall be the happiest and most enviable of women."
THE LAST APPEAL.
The carriage of the Countess Esterhazy was returning from a ball which
the empress had given in honor of her son's departure from Vienna.
Joseph was about to visit France, and his lovely young sister was once
more to hear the sound of a beloved voice from home.
It was long past midnight; but the Hotel Esterhazy was one blaze of
light. It had been one of the countess's first orders to her steward
that, at dusk, every chandelier in her palace should be lighted. She
hated night and darkness, she said, and must have hundreds of wax-lights
burning from twilight until morning. This was one of the whims of the
fair Margaret, which, although it amused all Vienna, was any thing but
comic to her husband, for it cost him one thousand florins a month.
The hotel, then, from ground-floor to attic, was bright as noon-day. Six
lackeys, in silvered livery, stood on either side of the entrance, with
torches in their hands, to light their lady to the vestibule. From the
inner door to the staircase a rich Turkey carpet covered the floor; and,
here again, stood twelve more lackeys, performing the office of
candelabra to the light-loving countess. At the foot of the stairs stood
the steward and the butler of the household, awaiting such orders as she
might choose to fling at them on her way; and at the head of the stairs,
waiting to receive her, stood a bevy of dames de compagnie, and other
The countess passed through this living throng without vouchsafing one
glance in acknowledgment of their respectful greetings. In profound
silence she swept up the stairway; her long, glossy train of white satin
following her as she went, like the foaming track that a ship leaves
upon the broad bosom of the ocean, and the diamonds that decked her
brow, neck, and arms, flinging showers of radiance that dazzled the eye
like lightning when the storm is at its height. Her head was thrown
back, her large black eyes were starry as ever, and her face was so pale
that its pallor was unearthly.
At the landing-place she turned, and speaking to the steward, said:
"Let Count Esterhazy know that in ten minutes I await him in the blue
room." Having said thus much, she continued her way, and disappeared
from the eyes of her staring household.
Her disappearance was the signal for the transformation of the
candelabra into men.
"Did you hear her?" whispered one. "She has sent for the count."
"Never troubling herself whether he sleeps or wakes," said another.
"Poor man! He has been in bed for four hours."
"No wonder he goes to bed early," remarked a third. "It is the only
place on earth where he has peace."
"Nevertheless he will be obedient and come; he dare not refuse." "Oh,
no!" was the general response. "In ten minutes he will be here; or his
amiable countess will treat us to a scene like some we have witnessed,
wherein she flings handfuls of gold out of the windows, and gathers all
the people in Vienna before the hotel to see the show. "
The servants were right; Count Esterhazy did not disobey his wife. He
trembled when he received her message, called nervously for his valet to
dress him, and at the end of the ten minutes was on his way to the
The countess was there before him, looking like an angry queen about to
condemn a recreant vassal to death. And Esterhazy, with the mien and
gait of a culprit, carne into her presence with a bow that was almost a
"You see, countess," said he, "with what haste I obey your commands. I
feel so honored at the call, that--"
He paused--for really her fiery eyes seemed to burn him; and her
contempt dried up the stream of his commonplace flattery, as the breath
of the sirocco parches up the dew-drops.
"Why do you not go on?" said she.
"I am bewildered by my own joy," replied he, blandly. "Remember--it is
the first time since our marriage that you have allowed me the privilege
of an interview in private; and I may well lose my speech in the
intoxication of such a moment."
"It is the first time. You have a good memory. Can you also recollect
how long it is since we had that interview?"
"Can I recollect? Four long years!"
"Four long years," sighed she, "to the day, and almost to the hour."
"Indeed!" exclaimed the count. "And can you forgive me for having
forgotten this charming anniversary?"
"You are happy to have tasted of the Lethe of indifference. I--I have
counted the days and the hours of my slavery; and each day and hour is
branded upon my heart. Have you forgotten, too, Count Esterhazy, what I
swore to you on that wedding-night?"
"Yes, Margaret--I have forgotten all the cruel words you spoke to me in
an outburst of just indignation."
"I wonder that you should have forgotten them, for it has been my daily
care to remind you of the vow I then made. Have I not kept my word? Have
I not crossed your path with the burning ploughshares of my hatred? Have
I not cursed your home, wasted your wealth and made you the
laughing-stock of all Vienna?"
"You judge yourself with too much severity, Margaret," said the count,
mildly. "True--we have not been very happy; since this is the first time
since our marriage-night, that we are face to face without witnesses. I
will not deny, either, that our household expenditures have cost several
millions, and have greatly exceeded our income. But the lovely Countess
Esterhazy has a right to exceed all other women in the splendor of her
concerts and balls, and the richness of her dress. Come, make me amends
for the past--I forgive you. There is still time to--"
"No!" exclaimed she, "the time went by four years ago. You can never
make amends to me, nor I to you. Look at yourself! You were then a young
man, with high hopes and a light heart. Many a woman would have been
proud to be called your wife--and yet you chose me. Now, that four years
of accursed wedded life have gone over your head, you have passed from
youth to old age, without ever having known an interval of manhood. And
I--O God! What have I become through your miserable cowardice! I might
have grown to be a gentle woman, had fate united me to him whom I love;
but the link that has bound me to you has unsexed me. Our marriage was a
crime, and we have paid its penalty; you are as weak as a woman, and
I--as inflexible as a man."
Two large tears glittered in her eyes, and fell slowly down her pale
cheeks. Count Esterhazy approached and caressed her with his hands. She
shuddered at his touch, recoiling as if from contact with a reptile.
Meanwhile, he was imploring her to begin a new life with him--to give
him her hand, to make him the happiest of men.
"No, no, no!" cried she. "In mercy cease, or you will drive me mad. But
I will forgive you even your past treachery, if you will grant the
request I am about to make."
"You will condescend to ask something of me! Speak, Margaret speak! What
can I do to make you happy?"
"You can give me my freedom," replied the countess, in a soft, imploring
voice. "Go with me to the empress, and beg her to undo what she has
done. Tell her that she has blasted the lives of two human beings--tell
her that we are two galley-slaves, pining for liberty."
Count Esterhazy shook his head. "The empress will never allow us to be
divorced," said he, "for I have too often assured her that I was happy
beyond expression, and she wouldn't believe me if I came with another
"Then let us go to the fountain head," said the countess, wringing her
hands. "Let us go to the pope, and implore him to loose the bands of our
"Impossible! That would be a slight which the empress never would
forgive. I should fall under her displeasure."
"Oh, these servile hearts that have no life but that which they borrow
from the favor of princes!" cried Margaret, scornfully. "What has the
favor of the empress been worth to you? For what have you to thank her?
For these four years of martyrdom, which you have spent with a woman who
"I cannot dispense with the good-will of my sovereign," said the count,
with something like fervor. "For hundreds of years, the Esterhazys have
been the favorites of the Emperors of Austria; and we cannot afford to
lose the station we enjoy therefrom. No--I will do nothing to irritate
the empress. She chose you for my wife, and, therefore, I wear my chains
patiently. Maria Theresa knows how I have obeyed and honored her
commands; and, one of these days, I shall reap the reward of my loyalty.
If Count Palfy dies, I am to be marshal of the imperial household; but
yet higher honors await us both. If I continue to deserve the favor of
the empress, she will confer upon me the title of 'prince.' You refuse
to be my wife, Margaret; but you will one day be proud to let me deck
that haughty brow with the coronet of a princess."
Margaret looked more contemptuously at him than before.
"You are even more degraded than I had supposed," said she. "Poor,
crawling reptile, I do not even pity you. I ask you for the last time,
will you go with me to Rome to obtain a divorce?"
"Why do you repeat your unreasonable request, Margaret? It is vain for
you to hope for a divorce. Waste my fortune if you will--I cannot
hinder you--I will find means to repair my losses; and the empress,
herself, will come to my assistance, for--"
"Enough!" interrupted the countess. "Since you will not aid me in
procuring our divorce, it shall be forced upon you. I will draw across
your escutcheon such a bar sinister as your princely coronet will not be
large enough to hide. That is my last warning to you. Now leave me."
"Margaret, I implore you to forgive me if I cannot make this great
sacrifice. I cannot part from you, indeed I cannot," began the count.
"And the empress will reward your constancy with the title of 'prince,"'
replied Margaret, with withering scorn. "Go--you are not worthy of my
anger--but I shall know where to strike. Away with you!"
Count Esterhazy, with a deep sigh, turned and left the room.
"The last hope to which I clung, has vanished!" said she, "and I must
resort to disgrace!"
She bent her head, and a shower of tears came to her relief. But they
did not soften her heart. She rose from her seat, muttering, "It is too
late to weep! I have no alternative. The hour for revenge has struck!"
The countess passed into her dressing-room. She closed and locked the
door, then, going across the room, she stopped before a large picture
that hung opposite to her rich Venetian toilet-mirror. The frame of this
picture was ornamented with small gilt rosettes. Margaret laid her hand
upon one of these rosettes, and drew it toward her. A noise of machinery
was heard behind the wall. She drew down the rosette a second time, and
then stepped back. The whirr was heard again, the picture began to move,
and behind it appeared a secret door. Margaret opened it, and, as she
did so, her whole frame shook as if with a deadly repugnance to that
which was within.
"I am here, Count Schulenberg," said she, coldly.
The figure of a young man appeared at the doorway.
"May I presume to enter paradise?" said he, stepping into the room with
a flippant air.
"You may," replied she, without moving; but the hue of shame overspread
her face, neck, and arms, and it was plain to Count Schulenberg that she
These were to him the signals of his triumph; and he smiled with
satisfaction as he surveyed this lovely woman, so long acknowledged to
be the beauty par excellence of the imperial court at Vienna. Margaret
allowed him to take her hand, and stood coldly passive, while he covered
it with kisses; but when he would have gone further, and put his arm
around her waist, she raised her hands, and receded.
"Not here," murmured she, hoarsely. "Not here, in the house of the man
whose name I bear. Let us not desecrate love; enough that we defile
"Come, then, beloved, come," said he, imploringly. "The coach is at the
door, and I have passes for France, Italy, Spain, and England. Choose
yourself the spot wherein we shall bury our love from the world's gaze."
"We go to Paris," replied she, turning away her head.
"To Paris, dearest? Why, you have forgotten that the emperor leaves for
Paris to-morrow, and that we incur the risk of recognition there."
"Not at all--Paris is a large city, and if we are discovered, I shall
seek protection from the emperor. He knows of my unhappy marriage, and
sympathizes with my sorrows."
"Perhaps you are right, dearest. Then in Paris we spend our honey-moon,
and there enjoy the bliss of requited love."
"There, and not until we reach there," said she, gravely. "I require a
last proof of your devotion, count. I exact that until we arrive in
Paris you shall not speak to me of love. You shall consider me as a
sister, and allow me the privilege of travelling in the carriage with my
maid--she and I on one seat, you opposite."
"Margaret, that is abominable tyranny. You expect me to be near you, and
not to speak of love! I must be watched by your maid, and sit opposite
to you!--You surely cannot mean what you say."
"I do, indeed, Count Schulenberg."
"But think of all that I have endured for a year that I have adored you,
cold beauty! Not one single proof of love have you ever given me yet.
You have tolerated mine, but have never returned it."
"Did I not write to you?"
"Write; yes. You wrote me to say that you would not consent to be mine
unless I carried you away from Vienna. Then you went on to order our
mode of travelling as you would have done had I been your husband. 'Be
here at such an hour; have your passes for various countries. Describe
me therein as your sister. Come through the garden and await me at the
head of the secret stairway.' Is this a love-letter? It is a mere note
of instructions. For one week I have waited for a look, a sigh, a
pressure of the hand; and when I come hither to take you from your home
forever, you receive me as if I were a courier. No, Margaret, no--I will
not wait to speak my love until we are in Paris."
"Then, Count Schulenberg, farewell. We have nothing more to say to one
She turned to leave the room, but Schulenberg darted forward and fell at
her feet. "Margaret, beloved," cried he, "give me one single word of
comfort. I thirst to know that you love me."
"Can a woman go further than I am going at this moment?" asked Margaret,
with a strange, hollow laugh.
"No. I acknowledge my unspeakable happiness in being the partner of your
flight. But I cannot comprehend your love. It is a bitter draught in a
"Then do not drink it," said she, retreating.
"I must--I must drink it; for my soul thirsts for the cup, and I will
accept its contents."
"Yes, since I must," said Schulenberg, heaving a sigh. "I promise, then,
to contain my ecstasy until we reach Paris, and to allow that guardian
of virtue, your maid, to sit by your side, while I suffer agony
opposite. But oh! when we reach Paris--"
"In Paris we will talk further, and my speech shall be different."
"Thank you, beloved," cried the count passionately. "This heavenly
promise will sustain me through my ordeal." He kissed the tips of her
fingers, and she retired to change her ball-dress for a travelling
When she had closed the door, the expression of Count Schulenberg's face
was not quite the same.
"The fierce countess is about to be tamed," thought he. "I shall win my
bet, and humble this insolent beauty. Let her rule if she must, until we
reach Paris; but there I will repay her, and her chains shall not be
light. Really, this is a piquant adventure. I am making a delightful
wedding-tour, without the bore of the marriage-ceremony, at the expense
of the most beautiful woman in Europe; and to heighten the piquancy of
the affair, I am to receive two thousand louis d'ors on my return to
Vienna. Here she comes."
"I am ready," said Margaret, coming in, followed by her maid, who held
her mistress's travelling-bag.
Count Schulenberg darted forward to offer his arm, but she waved him
"Follow me," said she, passing at once through the secret opening.
Schulenberg followed, "sighing like a furnace," and looking daggers at
the confidante, who in her turn looked sneeringly at him. A few moments
after they entered the carriage. The windows of the Hotel Esterhazy were
as brilliantly illuminated as ever, while the master of the house
slumbered peacefully. And yet a shadow had fallen upon the proud
escutcheon which surmounted the silken curtains of his luxurious
bed--the shadow of that disgrace with which his outraged wife had
JOSEPH IN FRANCE.
A long train of travelling carriages was about to cross the bridge which
spans the Rhine at Strasburg, and separates Germany from France. It was
the suite of the Count of Falkenstein, who was on his way to visit his
Thirty persons, exclusive of Count Rosenberg and two other confidential
friends, accompanied the emperor. Of course, the incognito of a Count of
Falkenstein, who travelled with such a suite, was not of much value to
him; so that he had endured all the tedium of an official journey. This
was all very proper in the eyes of Maria Theresa, who thought it
impossible for Jove to travel without his thunder. But Jove himself, as
everybody knows, was much addicted to incognitos, and so was his terrene
representative, the Emperor of Austria.
The imperial cortege, then, was just about to pass from Germany to
France. It was evening, and the fiery gold of the setting sun was
mirrored in the waves of the Rhine which with gentle murmur were toying
with the greensward that sloped gracefully down to the water's edge. The
emperor gave the word to halt, and rising from his seat, looked back
upon the long line of carriages that followed in his wake.
"Rosenberg" said he, laying his hand upon the count's shoulder, "tell me
frankly how do you enjoy this way of travelling?"
"Ah, sire, I have been thinking all day of the delights of our other
journeys. Do you remember our hunt for dinner in the dirty little
hamlet, and the nights we spent on horseback in Galicia? There was no
monotony in travelling then!"
"Thank you, thank you," said the emperor, with a bright smile. "I see
that we are of one mind."
He motioned to the occupants of the carriage immediately behind him, and
they hastened to obey the signal.
The emperor, after thanking them for the manner in which they had
acquitted themselves of their respective duties, proposed a change in
their plans of travel.
"Then," replied Herr von Bourgeois, with a sigh, "your majesty has no
further use for us, and we return to Vienna."
"Not at all, not at all," said the emperor, who had heard and understood
the sigh wafted toward Paris and its thousand attractions. "We will only
part company that we may travel more at our ease, and once in Paris, we
again join forces. Be so good as to make your arrangements accordingly,
and to make my adieux to the other gentlemen of our suite."
Not long after, the imperial cortege separated into three columns, each
one of which was to go independent of the other, and all to unite when
they had reached Paris. As the last of the carriages with which he had
parted, disappeared on the other side of the bridge the emperor drew a
long breath and looked radiant with satisfaction.
"Let us wait," said he, "until the dust of my imperial magnificence is
laid, before we cross the bridge to seek lodgings for the night.
Meanwhile, Rosenberg, give me your arm and let us walk along the banks
of the Rhine."
They crossed the high-road and took a foot-path that led to the banks of
the river. At that evening hour every thing was peaceful and quiet. Now
and then a peasant came slowly following his hay-laden wagon, and
occasionally some village-girl carolled a love-lay, or softly murmured a
The emperor, who had been walking fast, suddenly stopped, and gazed with
rapture upon the scene.
"See, Rosenberg," said he, "see how beautiful Germany is to-day! As
beautiful as a laughing youth upon whose brow is stamped the future
"Your majesty will transform the boy into a hero," said Rosenberg.
The emperor frowned. "Let us forget for a moment the mummery of
royalty," said he. "You know, moreover, that royalty has brought me
nothing but misery. Instead of reigning over others, I am continually
passing under the Caudine Forks of another's despotic will."
"But the day will come when the emperor shall reign alone, and then the
sun of greatness will rise for Germany."
"Heaven grant it! I have the will to make of Germany one powerful
empire. Oh, that I had the power, too! My friend, we are alone, and no
one hears except God. Here on the confines of Germany, the poor unhappy
emperor may be permitted to shed a tear over the severed garment of
German royalty--that garment which has been rent by so many little
princes! Have you observed, Rosenberg, how they have soiled its majesty?
Have you noticed the pretensions of these manikins whose domains we can
span with our hands? Is it not pitiable that each one in his
principality is equal in power to the Emperor of Austria!"
"Yes, indeed," said Rosenberg with a sigh, "Germany swarms with little
"Too many little princes," echoed Joseph, "and therefore their lord and
emperor is curtailed by so much of his own lawful rights, and Germany is
an empty name among nations! If the Germans were capable of an
enlightened patriotism; if they would throw away their Anglomania,
Gallonmania, Prussomania, and Austromania, they would be something more
than the feeble echoes of intriguers and pedants.[Footnote: The
emperor's own words. See "Joseph II., Correspondence," p. 176.] Each one
thrusts his own little province forward, while all forget the one great
"But the Emperor Joseph will be lord of all Germany," cried Rosenberg,
exultingly, "and he will remind them that they are vassals and he is
"They must have a bloody lesson to remind them of that," said the
emperor, moodily. "Look behind you, Rosenberg, on the other side of the
Rhine. There lies a kingdom neither larger nor more populous than
Germany; a kingdom which rules us by its industry and caprices, and is
great by reason of its unity, because its millions of men are under the
sway of one monarch."
"And yet it was once with France as it is to-day with Germany," said
Count Rosenberg. "There were Normandy, Brittany, Provence, Languedoc,
Burgundy, and Franche-Comte, all petty dukedoms striving against their
allegiance to the king. Where are their rulers now? Buried and
forgotten, while their provinces own the sway of the one monarch who
rules all France. What France has accomplished, Germany, too, can
The emperor placed his hand affectionately upon Rosenberg's shoulder.
"You have read my heart, friend," said he, smiling. "Do you know what
wild wishes are surging within me now? wishes which Frederick of Prussia
would condemn as unlawful, although it was quite righteous for him to
rob Austria of Silesia. I, too, have my Silesia, and, by the Lord above
me! my title-deeds are not as mouldy as his!"
"Only that your Silesia is called Bavaria," said Rosenberg, with a
"For God's sake," cried Joseph, "do not let the rushes hear you, lest
they betray me to the babbling wind, and the wind bear it to the King of
Prussia. But you have guessed. Bavaria is a portion of my Silesia, but
only a portion. Bavaria is mine by right of inheritance, and I shall
take it when the time comes. It will be a comely patch to stop some of
the rents in my imperial mantle. But my Silesia lies at every point of
the compass. To the east lie Bosnia and Servia--to the south, see
superannuated Venice. The lion of St. Mark is old and blind, and will
fall an easy prey to the eagle of Hapsburg, This will extend our
dominions to the Adriatic sea. When the Duke of Modena is gathered to
his fathers, my brother, in right of his wife, succeeds to the title;
and as Ferrara once belonged to the house of Modena, he and I together
can easily wrest it from the pope. Close by are the Tortonese and
Alessandria, two fair provinces which the King of Sardinia supposes to
be his. They once formed a portion of the duchy of Milan; and Milan is
ours, with every acre of land that ever belonged to it. By Heaven, I
will have all that is mine, if it cost me a seven years' war to win it
back! This is not all. Look toward the west, beyond the spires of
Strasburg, where the green and fertile plains of Alsatia woo our coming.
They now belong to France, but they shall be the property of Austria.
Farther on lies Lorraine. That, too, is mine, for my father's title was
'Duke of Lorraine.' What is it to me that Francis the First sold his
birthright to France? All that I covet I shall annex to Austria, as
surely as Frederick wrested Silesia from me."
"And do you intend to let him keep possession of Silesia?" asked
"Not if I can prevent it, but that may not be optional with me. I
will--but hush! Let us speak no more of the future; my soul faints with
thirst when I think of it. Sometimes I think I see Germany pointing to
her many wounds, and calling me to come and heal her lacerated body. And
yet I can do nothing! I must stand with folded arms, nor wish that I
were lord of Austria; for God knows that I do not long for Maria
Theresa's death. May she reign for many years; but oh! may I live to see
the day wherein I shall be sole monarch not only of Austria, but of all
Germany. If it ever dawns for me, the provinces shall no longer speak
each one its own language. Italians, Hungarians, and Austrians, all
shall be German, and we shall have one people and one tongue. To insure
the prosperity of my empire, I will strengthen my alliance with France.
I dislike the French, but I must secure their neutrality before I step
into possession of Bavaria, and assert my claims to my many-sided
Silesia. Well--these are dreams; day has not yet dawned for me! The
future Emperor of Germany is yet a vassal, and he who goes to France to
day is nothing but a Count of Falkenstein. Come, let us cross the bridge
that at once unites France with Germany, and divides them one from the
other." [Footnote: These are Joseph's own words. See "Letters of Joseph
II.," p. 175.]
There was great commotion at the post-house of the little town of Vitry.
Two maids, in their Sunday best, were transforming the public parlor of
the inn into a festive dining-room; wreathing the walls with garlands,
decking the long dining-table with flowers, and converting the huge
dresser into a buffet whereon they deposited the pretty gilt china, the
large cakes, the pastries, jellies, and confections, that were designed
for the entertainment of thirty invited guests. The landlord and
postmaster, a slender little man with an excellent, good-humored face,
was hurrying from buffet to table, from table to kitchen, superintending
the servants. The cook was deep in the preparation of her roasts and
warm dishes; and at the kitchen door sat a little maiden, who, with
important mien, was selecting the whitest and crispest leaves from a
mountain of lettuce which she laid into a large gilt salad-bowl beside
her; throwing the others to a delighted pig, who, like Lazarus, stood by
to pick up the leavings of his betters. In the yard, at the fountain,
stood the man-of-all-work, who, as butler pro tem., was washing plates
and glasses; while close by, on the flags, sat the clerk of the
post-office polishing and uncorking the bottles which the host had just
brought from the cellar in honor of his friends.
Monsieur Etienne surveyed his notes of preparation, and gave an
approving nod. His face was radiant as he returned to the house; gave
another glance of satisfaction around the dining-room, and passed into
an adjoining apartment. This was the best-furnished room in the
post-house; and on a soft lounge, near the window, reclined a pale
young woman, beautifully dressed, whose vicinity to a cradle, where lay
a very young infant, betokened her recent recovery from confinement.
"Athanasia, my goddess," said Monsieur Etienne, coming in on tiptoe,
"how do you feel to-day?"
She reached out her pale hand and answered in a languid voice: "The
doctor says that, so far, I am doing pretty well, and, by great
precautions, I may be able, in a few weeks, to resume my household
Monsieur Etienne raised his eyebrows, and looked thoughtful. "The doctor
is over-anxious, my dear," said he: "he exaggerates your weakness. Our
little angel there is already three weeks old, and will be standing on
his legs before long."
"The doctor is more sympathizing than you, Monsieur Etienne," began the
"My treasure," interrupted her husband, "no one can wish to spare you
premature exertion more than I. But I do entreat of you, my angel, to do
your best to remain with the company to-day as long as you can."
"I will do all in my power to oblige you," said Madame Etienne,
condescendingly, "and if you require it. I will sit up from first to
"It will be a great festival for us, provided no passengers arrive
to-day. Good Heaven! if they should come, what could I do with them?
Even the best of those we receive here are scarcely fit to introduce
among our respectable guests; and then, as for post-horses, I want every
one of them for the company. Heaven defend us, then, from passengers,
for--oh! oh! is it possible! Can it be!" said Etienne, interrupting
himself. "Yes, it is the sound of a post-horn."
"Perhaps it is some of our guests," suggested Madame Etienne. "No no,
for our postilions to-day play but one air, 'Je suis pere, un pere
heureux,'" said Monsieur Etienne, listening with all his might to the
"It is a passenger," said he, despondingly, "Athanasia, my angel, we are
So saying, Monsieur Etienne darted out of the room, as if be were
rushing off to look for himself; but he stopped as soon as he had
reached his front door, for there was no necessity to go farther. A dark
caleche, with three horses, dashed up to the door, while not far behind
came another chaise, whose post-horn was sounding "Je suis pere, un pere
"Is it possible?" thought the discomfited postmaster. "Yes, here they
come at the very moment when the guests are arriving."
Just then another horn was heard, and "Je suis peree, un pere heureux,"
made the welkin ring.
On every side they came, but the unlucky passenger caleche blocked up
the passage. Monsieur Etienne, following the impulses of his heart,
rushed past the strangers, and ran to greet the most important of his
guests, the village curate and the pastor of the next market-place. But
just then the bewildered little man remembered his duty, and darted back
to the passengers.
There were two gentlemen in the carriage, and on the box, near the
postilion, a third person, who had the air of a valet.
"The gentlemen wish to go on to the next stage?" said Etienne, without
opening the door.
"No, sir," said one of the passengers, raising his dark-blue eyes to the
post-house. "Your house looks inviting, and we would like a room and a
Monsieur Etienne scarcely knew what reply to make to this untimely
request. "You wish to dine here--here--you would--"
Down came another post-chaise, thundering on the stones, and louder than
ever was the sound of "Je suis pere, un pere heureux."
Certainly, at that moment, the song was a mockery, for Monsieur Etienne
was a most unhappy and distracted father.
"Gentlemen," said he, pathetically, "oblige me by going on to the next
"Why, will you not give us dinner?" asked the gentleman who had spoken
before. "I see a number of people passing us and entering the house. How
"Sir, they are--that is--I am," stammered the landlord; then suddenly
plunging into a desperate resolve, he said, "Are you a father?"
A shade passed over the stranger's face as he replied, "I have been a
father. But why such a question?"
"Oh, if you have been a father," answered Etienne, "you will sympathize
with me, when I tell you that to-day we christen our first-born child."
"Ah, indeed!" exclaimed the passenger, with a kind smile. "Then these
"My guests," interrupted the landlord and postmaster, "and you will know
how to excuse me if--"
"If you wish us to the devil," returned the blue-eyed stranger, laughing
merrily. "But, indeed, I cannot oblige you my excellent friend, for I
don't know where his infernal majesty is to be found; and if I may be
allowed a preference, I would rather remain in the society of the two
priests whom I see going into your house."
"You will not go farther, then--"
"Oh, no, we ask to be allowed to join your guests, and attend the
christening. The baptism of a first-born child is a ceremony which
touches my heart, and yours, also, does it not?" said the stranger to
"Certainly," replied the other, laughing, "above all, when it is joined
to another interesting ceremony--that of a good dinner. "
"Oh, you shall have a good dinner!" cried Etienne, won over by the
sympathy of the first speaker. "Come in, gentlemen, come in. As the
guests of our little son, you are welcome."
"We accept with pleasure," said the strangers, and they followed the
host into the house. The door of the room where the guests were
assembled was open, and the strangers, with a self-possession which
proved them to be of the aristocracy, walked in and mingled at once in
"Allow me, gentlemen," said the host, when he had greeted the remainder
of his guests, "allow me to present you to Madame Etienne. She will he
proud to receive two such distinguished strangers in her house to-day."
Madame Etienne, with a woman's practised eye, saw at once that these
unknown guests, who were so perfectly unembarrassed and yet so
courteous, must belong to the very first ranks of society; and she was
happy to be able to show off her savoir vivre before the rest of the
She received the two travellers with much grace and affability; and
whereas the curates were to have been placed beside her at table, she
assigned them to her husband, and invited the strangers to the seats
instead. She informed them of the names and station of every person
present, and then related to them how the winter previous, at the ball
of the sub-prefect, she had danced the whole evening, while some of the
prettiest girls in the room had wanted partners.
The gentlemen listened with obliging courtesy, and appeared deeply
interested. The blue-eyed stranger, however, mingled somewhat in the
general conversation. He spoke with the burgomaster from Solanges of the
condition of his town, with the curates of their congregations, and
seemed interested in the prosperity of French manufactures, about which
much was said at table.
All were enchanted with the tact and affability of the strangers.
Monsieur Etienne was highly elated, and as for madame, her paleness had
been superseded by a becoming flush, and she never once complained of
The dinner over, the company assembled for the baptism. It was to take
place in the parlor, where a table covered with a fine white cloth, a
wax-candle, some flowers, a crucifix, and an improvised font, had been
arranged for the occasion.
The noble stranger gave his arm to Madame Etienne. "Madame," said he,
"may I ask of you the favor of standing godfather to your son?"
Madame Etienne blushed with pleasure, and replied that she would be most
grateful for the honor.
"In this way," thought she, "we shall find out his name and rank."
The ceremony began. The curate spoke a few impressive words as to the
nature of the sacrament, and then proceeded to baptize the infant. The
water was poured over its head, and at last came the significant
question: "What is the name of the godfather?" All eyes were turned upon
him, and Madame Etienne's heart beat hard, for she expected to hear the
word "count" at the very least.
"My name?" said he. "Joseph."
"Joseph," repeated the priest. "Joseph--and the surname?"
"I thought Joseph would be enough," said the stranger, with some
"No, sir," replied the priest. "The surname, too, must be registered in
the baptismal records."
"Very well then--Joseph the Second."
"The Second?" echoed the curate, with a look of mistrust. "The SECOND!
Is that your surname?"
"Yes, my name is 'The Second.'"
"Well, be it so," returned the curate, with a shrug. "Joseph--
the--Second. Now, what is your profession--excuse me, sir, but I ask the
The stranger looked down and seemed almost confused. The curate mildly
repeated his question. "What is your profession, or your station, sir?"
"Emperor of Austria," replied Joseph, smiling.
A cry of astonishment followed this announcement. The pencil with which
the priest was about to record the "profession" of the godfather fell
from his hands. Madame Etienne in her ecstasy fell almost fainting into
an arm-chair, and Monsieur Etienne, taking the child from the arms of
the nurse, came and knelt with it at the emperor's feet.
This was the signal for a renewal of life and movement in the room. All
followed the example of the host, and in one moment old and young, men
and women, were on their knees.
"Your majesty," said Etienne, in a voice choked with tears, "you have
made my child famous. For a hundred years the honor you have conferred
upon him will be the wonder of our neighborhood, and never will the
people of Vitry forget the condescension of your majesty in sitting
among us as an equal and a guest. My son is a Frenchman at heart he
shall also be a German, like our own beautiful queen, who is both
Austrian and French. God bless and preserve you both! Long live our
queen, Marie Antoinette, and long live her noble brother, the Emperor of
The company echoed the cry, and their shouts aroused Madame Etienne, who
arose and advanced toward her imperial visitor. He hastened to replace
her gently in her arm-chair.
"Where people are bound together by the ties of parent and god-father,"
said he, "there must be no unnecessary ceremony. Will you do me one
"Sire, my life is at your majesty's disposal."
"Preserve and treasure it, then, for the sake of my godson. And since
you are willing to do me the favor," continued he, drawing from his
bosom a snuff-box richly set with diamonds, "accept this as a
remembrance of my pleasant visit to you to-day. My portrait is upon the
lid, and as I am told that all the lovely women in France take snuff
perhaps you will take your snuff from a box which I hope will remind you
of the giver.
"And now," continued the emperor, to the happy Monsieur Etienne, "as I
have been admitted to the christening, perhaps you will accommodate me
with a pair of horses with which I may proceed to the next stage."
THE ARRIVAL AT VERSAILLES.
The French court was at Versailles, it having been decided by the king
and queen that there they would receive the emperor's visit. A
magnificent suite of apartments had been fitted up for his occupation,
and distinguished courtiers appointed as his attendants. He was
anxiously expected; for already many an anecdote of his affability and
generosity had reached Paris.
A courier had arrived too say that the emperor had reached the last
station, and would shortly be in Versailles. The queen received this
intelligence with tears of joy, and gathered all her ladies around her
in the room where she expected to meet her brother. The king merely
nodded, and a shade of dissatisfaction passed over his face. He turned
to his confidential adviser, Count Maurepas, who was alone with him in
"Tell me frankly, what do you think of this visit?"
The old count raised his shoulders a la Francaise. "Sire, the queen has
so often invited the emperor, that I presume he has come to gratify her
"Ah, bah!" said Louis, impatiently. "He is not so soft-hearted as to
shape his actions to suit the longings of his family. Speak more
"Your majesty commands me to be perfectly sincere?"
"I entreat you, be truthful and tell me what you think."
"Then I confess that the emperor's visit has been a subject of much
mystery to your majesty's ministers. You are right in saying that he is
not the man to trouble himself about the state of his relatives'
affections. He comes to Paris for something nearer to his heart than any
royal sister. Perhaps his hope is that he may succeed in removing me,
and procuring the appointment of De Choiseul in my stead."
"Never! Austria cannot indulge such vain hopes, for her watchful spies
must ere this have convinced the Hapsburgs that my dislike toward this
duke, so precious in the eyes of Maria Theresa, is unconquerable. My
father's shade banished him to Chanteloup, and I will follow this shade
whithersoever it leads. If my father had lived (and perchance Choiseul
had a hand in his death) there would have been no alliance of France
with Austria. I am forced to maintain it, since my wife is the daughter
of Maria Theresa; so that neither the Austrian nor the anti-Austrian
party can ever hope to rule in France. Marie Antoinette is the wife of
my heart, and no human being shall ever dislodge her thence. But my love
for her can never influence my policy, which is steadfast to the
principles of my father. If Joseph has come hither for political
purposes, he might have spared his pains."
"He may have other views besides those we have alluded to. He may come
to gain your majesty's sanction to his ambitious plans of territorial
aggrandizement. The emperor is inordinately ambitious, and is true to
the policy of his house."
"Which, nevertheless, was obliged to yield Silesia," said Louis,
That is the open wound for which Austria seeks balsam from Turkey. If
your majesty does not stop him, the emperor will light the torch of war
and kindle a conflagration that may embrace all Europe. "
"If I can prevent war, it is my duty to do so; for peace is the sacred
right of my people, and nothing but imperative necessity would drive me
to invade that right."
"But the emperor is not of your majesty's mind. He hopes for war, in
expectation of winning glory."
"And I for peace, with the same expectation. I, too, would win
glory--the glory of reigning over a happy and prosperous people. The
fame of the conqueror is the scourge of mankind; that of the legislator,
its blessing. The last shall be my portion--I have no object in view but
the welfare of the French nation."
"The emperor may endeavor to cajole your majesty through your very love
for France. He may propose to you an extension of French territory to
reconcile you to his acquisitions in Turkey. He may suggest the
Netherlands as an equivalent for Bosnia and Servia."
"I will not accept the bribe," cried Louis hastily. "France needs no
aggrandizement. If her boundaries were extended, she would lose in
strength what she gained in size; so that Joseph will waste his time if
he seeks to awaken in me a lust of dominion. I thirst for conquest, it
is true--the conquest of my people's hearts. May my father's blessing,
and my own sincere efforts enable me to accomplish the one purpose of my
"You have accomplished it, sire," replied De Maurepas, with enthusiasm.
"You are the absolute master of your subjects' hearts and affections."
"If so, I desire to divide my domains with the queen." said Louis, with
a searching look at De Maurepas. The minister cast down his eyes. The
king went on: "You have something against her majesty--what is it?"
"The queen has something against me, sire. I am an eyesore to her
majesty. She thinks I am in the way of De Choiseul, and will try every
means to have me removed."
"You know that she would try in vain. I have already told you so. As a
husband, I forget that Marie Antoinette is an Archduchess of Austria,
but as my father's son--never! It is the same with her brother. I may
find him agreeable as a relative; but as Emperor of Austria, he will
know me as King of France alone. Be his virtues what they may, he never
can wring the smallest concession from me. But hark!--I hear the sound
of wheels. You know my sentiments-communicate them to the other
ministers. I go to welcome my kinsman."
When the king entered the queen's reception-room, she was standing in
the midst of her ladies. Her cheeks were pale, but her large, expressive
eyes were fixed with a loving gaze upon the door through which her
brother was to enter. When she saw the king, she started forward, and
laying both her hands in his, smiled affectionately.
"Oh, sire," said she, "the emperor has arrived, and my heart flutters
so, that I can scarcely wait for him here. It seems to me so cold that
we do not go to meet him. Oh, come, dear husband, let us hasten to
embrace our brother. Good Heaven! It is not forbidden a queen to have a
heart, is it?"
"On the contrary, it is a grace that well becomes her royalty," said
Louis, with a smile. "But your brother does not wish us to go forward to
meet him. That would be an acknowledgment of his imperial station, and
you know that he visits us as Count of Falkenstein."
"Oh, etiquette, forever etiquette!" whispered the queen, while she
opened her huge fan and began to fan herself. "There is no escape from
its fangs. We are rid of Madame de Noailles, but Madame Etiquette has
stayed behind to watch our every look, to forbid us every joy--"
Just then the door opened, and a tall, manly form was seen upon the
threshold. His large blue eyes sought the queen, and recognizing her,
his face brightened with a bewitching smile. Marie Antoinette, heedless
of etiquette, uttered a cry of joy and flew into his arms. "Brother,
beloved brother!" murmured she, in accents of heartfelt tenderness.
"My sister, my own dear Antoinette!" was the loving reply, and Joseph
drew her head upon his breast and kissed her again and again. The queen,
overcome by joy, burst into tears, and in broken accents, welcomed the
emperor to France.
The bystanders were deeply affected, all except the king--he alone was
unmoved by the touching scene. He alone had remarked with displeasure
that Marie Antoinette had greeted her brother in their native tongue,
and that Joseph had responded. It was a German emperor and a German
archduchess who were locked in each other's arms--and near them stood
the King of France, for the moment forgotten. The position was
embarrassing, and Louis had not tact enough to extricate himself
gracefully. With ruffled brow and downcast eyes he stood, until, no
longer able to restrain his chagrin, he turned on his heel to leave the
At this moment a light hand was laid upon his arm, and the clear,
sonorous voice of the queen was heard.
"My dear husband, whither are you going?"
"I am here too soon," replied he, sharply. "I had been told that the
Count of Falkenstein had arrived, and I came to greet him. It appears
that it was a mistake, and I retire until he presents himself."
"The Count of Falkenstein is here, sire, and asks a thousand pardons for
having allowed his foolish heart to get the better of his courtesy,"
said Joseph, with the superiority of better breeding. "Forgive me for
taking such selfish possession of my sister's heart.. It was a momentary
concession from the Queen of France to the memories of her childhood;
but I lay it at your majesty's feet, and entreat you to accept it as
your well-won trophy."
He looked at the king with such an expression of cordiality, that Louis
could not withstand him. A smile which he could not control, rippled the
gloomy surface of the king's face; and he came forward, offering both
"I welcome you with my whole heart, my brother," said he in reply. "Your
presence in Versailles is a source of happiness both to the queen and to
myself. Let me accompany you to your apartments that you may take
possession at once, and refresh yourself from the fatigues of
"Sire," replied Joseph, "I will follow your majesty wheresoever you
please; but I cannot allow you to be inconvenienced by my visit. I and a
soldier, unaccustomed to magnificence, and not worthy of such royal
accommodation as you offer."
"How!" cried the queen." You will not be our guest?"
"I will gladly be your guest at table if you allow it," replied the
emperor, "but I can dine with you without lodging at Versailles. When I
travel, I do not go to castles but to inns."
The king looked astounded. "To inns?" repeated he with emphasis.
"Count Falkenstein means hotels, your majesty," cried the queen,
laughing. "My brother is not quite accustomed to our French terms, and
we will have to teach him the difference between a hotel and an inn. But
to do this, dear brother, you must remain with us. Your apartments are
as retired as you could possibly desire them."
"I know that Versailles is as vast as it is magnificent," said Joseph,
"but I have already sent my valet to take rooms for me in Paris. Let us,
then, say no more on the subject. [Footnote: "Memoires de Madame de
Campan," vol. i., p. 172.] I am very grateful to you for your
hospitality, but I have come to France to hear, to see, and to learn. I
must be out early and late, and that would not suit the royal etiquette
"I thought you had come to Paris to visit the king and myself," said
Marie Antoinette, looking disappointed.
"You were right, dear sister, but I am not so agreeable that you should
wish to have me constantly at your side. I wish to become acquainted
with your beautiful Paris. It is so full of treasures of art and wonders
of industry, that a man has only to use his eyes, and he grows
accomplished. I am much in need of such advantages, sire, for you will
find me a barbarian for whose lapses you will have to be indulgent."
"I must crave then a reciprocity of indulgence," replied Louis. "But,
come, count--give your arm to the queen, and let her show you the way to
dinner. To-day we dine en famille, and my brothers and sisters are
impatient to welcome Count Falkenstein to Versailles."
COUNT FALKENSTEIN IN PARIS.
A modest hackney-coach stood before the door of the little Hotel de
Turenne, in the Rue Vivienne. The occupant, who had just alighted, was
about to enter the hotel, when the hunt, who was standing before the
door, with his hands plunged to the very bottom of his breeches pockets,
stopped the way, and, not very politely, inquired what he wanted.
"I want what everybody else wants here, and what your sign offers to
everybody--lodgings, "replied the stranger.
"That is precisely what you cannot have," said mine host, pompously. "I
am not at liberty to receive any one, not even a gentleman of your
"Then, take in your sign, my friend. When a man inveigles travellers
with a sign, he ought to be ready to satisfy their claims upon his
hospitality. I, therefore, demand a room."
"I tell you, sir, that you cannot have it. The Hotel de Turenne has been
too highly honored to entertain ordinary guests. The Emperor of Austria,
brother of the beautiful queen, has taken lodgings here."
The stranger laughed. "If the emperor were to hear you, he would take
lodgings with someone more discreet than yourself. He travels incognito
"But everybody is in the secret, sir; and all Paris is longing for a
sight of Count Falkenstein, of whom all sorts of delightful anecdotes
are circulated. He is affability itself, and speaks with men generally
as if they were his equals."
"And pray," said the stranger, laughing, "is he made differently from
The host eyed his interrogator with anger and contempt. "This is very
presuming language," said he, "and as his majesty is my guest, I cannot
suffer it. The French think the world of him, and no wonder, for he is
the most condescending sovereign in Europe. He refused to remain at the
palace, and comes to take up his abode here. Is not that magnanimous?"
"I find it merely a matter of convenience. He wishes to be in a central
situation. Has he arrived?"
"No, not yet. His valet is here, and has set up his camp-bed. I am
waiting to receive the emperor and his suite now."
"Is the valet Guther here?"
"Ah, you know this gentleman's name! Then perhaps you belong to the
"Yes," said the stranger, laughing, "I shave him occasionally. Now call
There was something rather imperious in the tone of the gentleman who
occasionally shaved the emperor, and the landlord felt impelled to obey.
"Of course," said he, respectfully, "if you shave the emperor, you are
entitled to a room here."
The stranger followed him up the broad staircase that led to the first
story of the hotel. As they reached the landing, a door opened, and the
emperor's valet stepped out into the ball.
"His majesty!" exclaimed he, quickly moving aside and standing stiff as
a sentry by the door.
"His majesty!" echoed the landlord. "This gentleman--this--Your
"I am Count Falkenstein," replied the emperor, amused. "You see now that
you were wrong to refuse me; for the man whom you took for an ordinary
mortal was neither more nor less than the emperor himself."
The landlord bent the knee and began to apologize, but Joseph stopped
him short. "Never mind," said he, "follow me, I wish to speak with you."
The valet opened the door, and the emperor entered the room, the
frightened landlord following.
"These are my apartments!" continued Joseph, looking around.
"Yes, your majesty."
"I retain four of them--an anteroom, a sitting-room, a bedroom, and a
room for my valet. I will keep them for six weeks, on one condition."
"Your majesty has only to command here."
"Well, then, I command you to forget what I am in Austria. In France, I
am Count Falkenstein; and if ever I hear myself spoken of by any other
name, I leave your house on the spot."
"I will obey your instructions, count."
"You understand, then, that I desire to be received and regarded as an
ordinary traveller. Whence it follows that you will take in whatever
other guests apply to you for lodging. You have proved to me to-day how
unpleasant it is to be turned away, and I desire to spare other
applicants the--same inconvenience."
"But suppose the Parisians should wish to see Count Falkenstein?"
"They will have to submit to a disappointment."
"Should any one seek an audience of--the count?"
"The count receives visitors, but gives audience to no one. His visitors
will be announced by his valet. Therefore you need give yourself no
trouble on that head. Should any unfortunate or needy persons present
themselves, you are at liberty to admit them."
"Oh!" cried the host, with tears in his eyes, "how the Parisians will
appreciate such generosity!"
"They will not have the opportunity of doing so, for they shall not hear
a word of it. Now go and send me a barber; and take all the custom that
presents itself to you, whether it comes in a chariot or a
The host retired, and as the door was closing, Count Rosenberg appeared.
The emperor took his hand, and bade him welcome.
"I Have just been to the embassy," said Rosenberg, "and Count von Mercy
"That I told him I would take rooms at the Hotel of the Ambassadors, but
I also reserve to myself this nice little bachelor establishment, to
which I may retreat when I feel inclined to do so. The advantage of
these double quarters is, that nobody will know exactly where to find
me, and I shall enjoy some freedom from parade. At the Hotel of the
Ambassadors I shall be continually bored with imperial honors. Here, on
the contrary, I am free as air, and can study Paris at my leisure."
"And you intend to pursue these studies alone, count? Is no one to
accompany you to spare you inconvenience, perchance to assist you in
"Oh, my friend, as to peril, you know, that I am not easily frightened,
and that the Paris police is too well organized to lose sight of me.
Monsieur de Sartines, doubtless, thinks that I need as much watching as
a house-breaker, for it is presumed at court that I have come to steal
the whole country, and carry it to Austria in my pocket."
"They know that to Count Falkenstein nothing is impossible." replied
Rosenberg. "To carry away France would not be a very hard matter to a
man who has robbed the French people of their hearts."
"Ah, bah! the French people have no hearts. They have nothing but
imagination. There is but one man in France who has genuine
sensibility--and that one is their poor, timid young king. Louis has a
heart, but that heart I shall never win. Heaven grant that the queen
have power to make it hers!"
"The queen? If Louis has a heart, it surely cannot be insensible to the
charms of that lovely young queen!"
"It ought not to be, for she deserves the love of the best of men. But
things are not as they should be here. I have learned that in the few
hours of my visit to Versailles. The queen has bitter enemies, and you
and I, Rosenberg, must try to disarm them."
"What can I do, count, in this matter?"
"You can watch and report to me. Swear to me, as an honest man, that you
will conceal nothing you hear to the queen's detriment or to mine."
"I swear it, count."
"Thank you, my friend. Let us suppose that our mission is to free my
sister from the power of a dragon, and restore her to her lover. You are
my trusty squire, and together we shall prevail over the monster, and
deliver the princess."
At that moment a knocking was heard at the door. It was opened, and an
elegant cavalier, with hat and sword, entered the room, with a sweeping
bow. The emperor stepped politely forward, and inquired his business.
The magnificent cavalier waved his hat, and with an air of proud
"I was requested to give my advice regarding the arrangement of a
"Ah, the barber," said the emperor. "Then be so good, sir, as to give
your advice, and dress my hair."
"Pardon me, sir, that is not my profession," replied the cavalier,
haughtily. "I am a physiognomist. Allow me to call in my subordinate."
"Certainly," said the emperor, ready to burst with laughter, as he
surveyed the solemn demeanor of the artiste. The latter walked
majestically to the door, and opened it.
"Jean!" cried he, with the voice of a field-marshal; and a youth
fluttered in, laden with powder-purses, combs, curling-tongs, ribbons,
pomatum, and the other appurtenances of a first-rate hair-dresser.
"Now, sir," said the physiognomist, gravely, "be so good as to take a
seat." Joseph obeyed the polite command, upon which the physiognomist
retired several paces, folded his arms, and contemplated the emperor in
"Be so kind as to turn your head to the left--a little more--so--that
is it--I wish to see your profile," said he after a while.
"My dear sir, pray inform me whether in France it is customary to take a
man's portrait before you dress his hair?" asked the emperor, scarcely
able to restrain his increasing mirth; while Rosenberg retired to the
window, where Joseph could see him shaking, with his handkerchief before
"It is not customary, sir," replied the physiognomist, with grave
earnestness. "I study your face that I may decide which style becomes
Behind the chair stood the hair-dresser in a fashionable suit of
nankeen, with lace cuffs and ruffles, hovering like a large yellow
butterfly over the emperor, and ready at the signal to alight upon the
imperial head with brush and comb.
The physiognomist continued his study. He contemplated the head of the
emperor from every point of view, walking slowly around him, and
returning to take a last survey of the front. Finally his eye rested
majestically upon the butterfly, which fluttered with expectation.
"Physiognomy of a free negro," said he, with pathos. "Give the gentleman
the Moorish coiffure." [Footnote: "Memoires d'un Voyageur qui se
Repose," vol. iii., p. 42.] And with a courtly salute he left the room.
The emperor now burst into shouts of laughter, in which he was heartily
joined by Rosenberg.
Meanwhile the butterfly had set to work, and was frizzing with all his
"How will you manage to give me the Moorish coiffure?" asked the
emperor, when he had recovered his speech.
"I shall divide your hair into a multitude of single locks; curl, friz
them, and they will stand out from your head in exact imitation of the
negro's wool," answered the butterfly, triumphantly.
"I have no doubt that it would accord charmingly with my physiognomy,"
said the emperor, once more indulging in a peal of laughter, "but to-day
I must content myself with the usual European style. Dress my hair as
you see it, and be diligent, for I am pressed for time."
The hair-dresser reluctantly obeyed, and in a few minutes the work was
completed and the artiste had gone.
"Now," said Joseph to Count Rosenberg, "I am about to pay some visits.
My first one shall be to Monsieur de Maurepas. He is one of our most
active opponents, and I long to become acquainted with my enemies. Come,
then, let us go to the hotel of the keeper of the great seal."
"Your majesty's carriages are not here," replied Rosenberg.
"Dear friend, my equipages are always in readiness. Look on the opposite
side of the street at those hackney-coaches. They are my carriages for
the present. Now let us cross over and select one of the neatest."
Perfect silence reigned in the anteroom of Monsieur de Maurepas. A
liveried servant, with important mien, walked forth and back before the
closed door of the reception-room, like a bull-dog guarding his master's
sacred premises. The door of the first anteroom was heard to open, and
the servant turned an angry look toward two gentlemen who made their
"Ah," said he, "the two gentlemen who just now alighted from the
"The same," said the emperor. "Is monsieur le comte at home?"
"He is," said the servant pompously.
"Then be so good as to announce to him Count Falkenstein."
The man shrugged his shoulders. "I am sorry that I cannot oblige you,
sir. Monsieur de Taboreau is with the count; and until their conference
is at an end, I can announce nobody."
"Very well, then, I shall wait," replied Joseph, taking a seat, and
pointing out another to Count Rosenberg.
The servant resumed his walk, and the two visitors in silence awaited
the end of the conference.
"Do you know, Rosenberg," said Joseph, after a pause, "that I am
grateful to Count de Maurepas for this detention in his ante-room? It is
said that experience is the mother of wisdom. Now my experience of
to-day teaches me that it is excessively tiresome to wait in an
anteroom. I think I shall be careful for the future, when I have
promised to receive a man, not to make him wait. Ah! here comes another
visitor. We are about to have companions in ennui."
The person who entered the room was received with more courtesy than
"the gentlemen who had come in the hackney-coach." The servant came
forward with eagerness, and humbly craved his pardon while informing him
that his excellency was not yet visible.
"I shall wait," replied the Prince de Harrai, advancing to a seat.
Suddenly he stopped, and looked in astonishment at Count Falkenstein,
who, perfectly unconcerned, was sitting in a corner of the room.
"Great Heaven! his majesty, the emperor!" cried he, shocked, but
recovering himself sufficiently to make a deep inclination.
"Can your majesty pardon this unheard of oversight!"
"Peace, prince," replied the emperor, smiling; "you will disturb the
ministers at their conference."
"Why, man, how is it that his excellency is not apprised of his
majesty's presence here?" said the Prince de Harrai to the lackey.
"His excellency never spoke to me of an emperor," stammered the
terrified lackey. "He desired me to admit no one except a foreign count,
whose name, your highness, I have been so unlucky as to forget."
"Except Count Falkenstein."
"Yes, your highness, I believe--that is, I think it--"
"And you leave the count to wait here in the anteroom!"
"I beg monsieur le comte a thousand pardons. I will at once repair my
"Stay," said the emperor, imperatively. Then turning to the Prince de
Harrai, he continued good-humoredly: "If your highness is made to wait
in the anteroom, there is no reason why the Count of Falkenstein should
not bear you company. Let us, then, wait together."
The ministerial conference lasted half an hour longer, but at last the
door opened, and Monsieur de Maurepas appeared. He was coming forward
with ineffable courtesy to receive his guests, when perceiving the
emperor, his self-possession forsook him at once. Pale, hurried, and
confused, he stammered a few inaudible words of apology, when Joseph
interrupted and relieved him.
He offered his hand with a smile, saying: "Do not apologize; it is
unnecessary. It is nothing but right that business of state should have
precedence over private visitors." [Footnote: The emperor's own words.
Hubner. "Life of Joseph H.," p. 141.]
"But your majesty is no private individual!" cried the minister, with
"Pardon me," said the emperor, gravely. "As long as I remain here. I am
nothing more. I left the Emperor of Austria at Vienna: he has no concern
with the Count of Falkenstein, who is on a visit to Paris, and who has
come hither, not to parade his rank, but to see and to learn where there
is so much to be learned. May I hope that you will aid Count Falkenstein
in his search after knowledge?"
THE QUEEN AND THE "DAMES DE LA HALLE."
A brilliant crowd thronged the apartments of the Princess d'Artois. The
royal family, the court, and the lords and ladies of high rank were
assembled in her reception-rooms, for close by an event of highest
importance to France was about to transpire. The princess was giving
birth to a scion of royalty. The longings of France were about to be
fulfilled--the House of Bourbon was to have an heir to its greatness.
The accouchement of a royal princess was in those days an event that
concerned all Paris, and all the authorities and corporations of the
great capital had representatives in those reception-rooms. It being
only a princess who was in labor, and not a queen, none but the royal
family and the ministers were admitted into her bedchamber. The
aristocracy waited in the reception-rooms, the people in the corridors
and galleries. Had it been Marie Antoinette, all the doors would have
been thrown open to her subjects. The fishwives of Paris, the laborers,
the gamins, even the beggars had as much right to see the Queen of
France delivered, as the highest dignitary of the land. The people,
then, who thronged both palace and gardens, were awaiting the moment
when the physician should appear upon the balcony and announce to the
enraptured populace that a prince or princess had been vouchsafed to
From time to time one of the royal physicians came out to report the
progress of affairs, until finally the voice of the accoucheur
proclaimed that the Princess d'Artois had given birth to a prince.
A cry of joy followed this announcement. It was that of the young
mother. Raising her head from her pillow, she cried out in ecstasy, "Oh,
how happy, how happy I am!" [Foreword: Madame de Campan, vol. i., p 216.
The prince whose advent was a source of such triumph to his mother, was
the Duke de Berry, father of the present Count de Chambord. He it was
who, in 1827, was stabbed as he was about to enter the theatre, and died
in the arms of Louis XVIII., former Count de Provence.]
The queen bent over her and kissed her forehead, whispering words of
affectionate sympathy in her ear; but no one saw the tears that fell
from Marie Antoinette's eyes upon the lace-covered pillow of her
She kissed the princess again, as though to atone for those tears, and
with tender congratulations took her leave. She passed through the
reception-rooms, greeting the company with smiling composure, and then
went out into the corridors which led to her own apartments. Here the
scene changed. Instead of the respectful silence which had saluted her
passage through the rooms, she encountered a hum of voices and an eager
multitude all pressing forward to do her homage after their own rough
Every one felt bound to speak a word of love or of admiration, and it
was only by dint of great exertion that the two footmen who preceded the
queen were able to open a small space through which she could pass. She
felt annoyed--even alarmed--and for the first time in her life regretted
the etiquette which once had required that the Queen of France should
not traverse the galleries of Versailles without an escort of her ladies
Marie Antoinette had chosen to dispense with their attendance, and now
she was obliged to endure the contact of those terrible "dames de la
halle," who for hundreds of years had claimed the privilege of speaking
face to face with royalty, and who now pressed around her, with jokes
that crimsoned her cheeks while they were rapturously received by the
With downcast eyes and trembling steps, she tried to hurry past the
odious crowd of poissardes.
"Look, look," cried one, peering in her face, "look at the queen and see
her blushing like a rose-bud!"
"But indeed, pretty queen, you should remember that you are not a
rose-bud, but a full-blown rose, and it is time that you were putting
forth rose-buds yourself."
"So it is, so it is," shouted the multitude. "The queen owes us a
rose-bud, and we must have it." "See here, pretty queen," cried another
fish-wife, "it is your fault if we stand here on the staircases and out
in the hot sun to-day. If you had done your duty to France instead of
leaving it to the princess in yonder, the lackeys would have been
obliged to open the doors to us as well as to the great folks, and we
would have jostled the dukes and princes, and taken our ease on your
velvet sofas. The next time we come here, we must have a tramp into the
queen's room, and she must let us see herself and a brave dauphin, too."
"Yes, yes," cried the fish-wives in chorus, "when we come back we must
see the young dauphin."
The queen tried to look as though she heard none of this. Not once had
she raised her eyes or turned her head. Now she was coming to the end of
her painful walk through the corridors, for Heaven be praised! just
before her was the door of her own anteroom. Once across that threshold
she was safe from the coarse ribaldry that was making her heart throb
and her cheeks tingle; for there the rights of the people ended, and
those of the sovereign began.
But the "dames de la halle" were perfectly aware of this, and they were
determined that she should not escape so easily.
"Promise us," cried a loud, shrill voice, "promise us that we shall have
a young dauphin as handsome as his mother and as good as his father."
"Yes, promise, promise," clamored the odious throng; and men and women
pressed close upon the queen to see her face and hear her answer.
Marie Antoinette had almost reached her door. She gave a sigh of relief,
and for the first time raised her eyes with a sad, reproachful look
toward her tormentors.
Just then a strapping, wide-shouldered huckster, pushed her heavy body
between the queen and the door, and barring the entrance with her great
brown arms, cried out vociferously: "You to not pass until you promise!
We love you and love the king we will none of the Count de Provence for
our king; we must have a dauphin."
The queen still pretended not to hear. She tried to evade the poissarde
and to slip into her room; but the woman perceived the motion, and
confronted her again.
"Be so kind, madame," said Marie Antoinette, mildly, "as to allow me to
"Give us the promise, then," said the fish-wife, putting her arms
The other women echoed the words, "Give us the promise, give us the
Poor Marie Antoinette! She felt her courage leaving her--she must be rid
of this fearful band of viragos at any price. She would faint if she
stood there much longer.
Again the loud cry. "Promise us a dauphin, a dauphin, a dauphin!"
"I promise," at last replied the queen. "Now, madame, in mercy, let me
have entrance to my own rooms."
The woman stepped back, the queen passed away, and behind her the people
shouted out in every conceivable tone of voice, "She has promised. The
queen has promised a dauphin!"
Marie Antoinette walked hurriedly forward through the first anteroom
where her footman waited, to the second wherein her ladies of honor were
Without a word to any of them she darted across the room and opening the
door of her cabinet, threw herself into an arm-chair and sobbed aloud.