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"These conditions were too gratifying to madame de Maintenon to cause much delay in subscribing to them; and it was finally arranged, that the prophet and his new applicants should meet at a house in Sevres belonging to the royal family, then in the occupation of madame Cerfol (the lady of whom mention has been already made). The marchioness was to repair thither at one o'clock in the morning with a single friend. To have taken such a measure in open daylight would have been to proclaim their secret to all Paris. One person besides madame de Cerfol was necessarily admitted into their confidence, and that was the duc de Noailles, who was charged, by the king's express orders, to take every possible precaution to ensure their safety, as far as it could be done without attracting public attention to so extraordinary an affair.
"At the hour appointed madame de Maintenon and the duc de Noailles ascended a carriage which awaited them at one of the park gates, and soon conveyed them to Sevres, whither the Italian priest had gone the preceding night. This wretched man had celebrated alone the sacrifice of the mass, and had consecrated several wafers.
"Everything confirmed the opinion, that the conjuror, up to the present moment, merely supposed himself sent for to satisfy the curiosity of some country nobleman and his lady, who were both anxious and eager to read their future fortune thro' his assistance. I can only suppose, if he had been in ignorance of the real rank of those who addressed him, the sight of the king must have quickly undeceived him, as the conclusion of the story proves he well knew to whom he spoke when he delivered his prediction. However this may have been, he was no sooner alone with the marchioness, than he commenced the necessary preparations for the performance of his sorceries and enchantments; he burned perfumes, offered prayers, and with loud invocations adjured the powers of hell to answer him; and in the midst of a wild and agitating sound which pervaded the whole building, during the heavy swell of noises too dreadful to have arisen from mortal sources, and whilst a thousand visions were flitting to and fro, he drew the horoscope of the king and madame de Maintenon. He promised Louis XIV that he should succeed in all his undertakings; and that, on the very day on which he spoke the words (the 2nd of October) one of his children had been called to the inheritance of an immense fortune. Then giving him a small packet, wrapped in new parchment, 'The day in which you form the fatal resolution of acquainting yourself with the contents of this packet,' said he, 'will be the last of your prosperity; but if you desire to carry your good fortune to the highest pitch, be careful upon every great festival, that is to say, Easter, Whit-Sunday, the Assumption, and Christmas, to plunge a pin in this talisman, so that the point shall pass directly thro' it; observe to do this, and you will live perfectly happy.'
"The king accepted this fatal present, and swore upon the Gospel never to open the packet; he richly rewarded the priest, who from that period lived in a retreat so well concealed as to evade the most diligent researches of those who sought to discover it.
"Some time after news was received, that on the very 2nd of October, 1700, named by the priest, Charles II, king of Spain, had appointed in his will Philip of France, son of the dauphin, his successor and heir, an inheritance truly immense, as the astrologer had foretold. You may well think how highly this realization of the prediction inspired the king with confidence as to the fulfilment of the remainder: and, on his part, he never failed upon any saint's day or other solemn festival to stick the mysterious pin in the talisman upon which so much depended.
"Nevertheless, spite of all these observances, his undertakings did not invariably succeed, which astonished him greatly; when one day the great Bossuet, happening to be at madame de Maintenon's, the conversation turned upon magic and sorcery, necromancy and their horrible profanations; and he expressed himself with so much force and energy, that the king and madame de Maintenon looked at each other without knowing what to say, and began, for the first time, to feel compunction for what they had done, and to regret their imprudence. They talked of it much together, and at length resolved to reveal their crime to their confessors. The punishment imposed on the king by his spiritual adviser was, that he should evince his contempt for the talismanic properties of the parchment packet, by immediately opening it.
"Louis XIV did not by any means admire this method of expiating his fault; and a sort of involuntary dread took possession of him, as, in obedience to the command of his confessor, he went to procure the magic parcel, which he tore open in the presence of madame de Maintenon and father la Chaise. The packet contained nothing but a consecrated wafer, pierced thro' with as many pins as there had been saints' days since the king had received it. At the sight of this horrible sacrilege my grandfather was filled with deep remorse and consternation, from which it was a long time ere he recovered; and it was not until he had undergone many severe penances, fastings, and caused numberless masses to be said, that he felt himself at all relieved from the weight of his crime.
"But all this was only the commencement of the divine vengeance: and those in the secret of this unfortunate affair remarked, that this great monarch lost from that time as many male descendants in a direct line as he had stuck pins into the holy wafer."
Louis XV here terminated his singular history, which struck my mind with a sort of religious terror. I strove by every possible effort to dissimulate, concealing from the king the emotions to which his narration had given rise. I contented myself with observing, "that after hearing his marvelous recital, I should only be more confirmed in my determination to leave my young prophet to the tranquillity he desired."
"It will be far best so," added Louis; "I know so many fatal results which have followed any indiscreet curiosity, that I am persuaded you had much better leave such mysterious affairs to work their own solution."
I promised to follow his advice, and we then conversed upon other subjects. Since then this anecdote has recurred to my memory; and without wishing to impeach the sincerity of Louis XV, I have asked myself, whether, by the opportune relation of this adventure, probably invented by himself, he did not seek to destroy the confidence I appeared to entertain in the predictions of my prophet. I say invented, because the king had a peculiar readiness and facility in composing these sort of wonderful tales, carefully noting down every circumstance which fell under his knowledge deviating from the ordinary course of things. He had a large collection of these legends, which he delighted in narrating; and this he did with an ease and grace of manner I have never seen equalled.
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Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry -by- Baron Etienne Leon Lamothe-Langon