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But of all the persons who visited me, the one most beloved by Zamor was madame de Mirepoix, who never came without bringing him amusing presents or some sweetmeats. The sight of her threw him into ecstasies of delight; and the moment he caught sight of her, he would clap his hands, leap with joy, dance around her, and kiss her hand, exclaiming, "Ah! mame la chale!" " ("Ah! Madame la marechale "). The poor marechale always dreaded meeting the king when she came to visit me and Zamor; for the great delight of his majesty was to make my little negro repeat a name of Israelitish origin, which he did in so ridiculous a manner, that the modesty of my fair friend was most shockingly put to the blush.
One person alone never vouchsafed to bestow the slightest glance of encouragement upon my little imp of Africa, and this was comte Jean, who even went so far as to awe him into silence either by a frown or a gesture of impatience; his most lively tricks could not win a smile from the count, who was either thoughtful or preoccupied with some ambitious scheme of fortune. Zamor soon felt a species of instinctive dread of this overpowering and awe-inspiring genius, whose sudden appearance would chill him in his wildest fits of mirthful mischief, and send him cowering to a corner of the room; where he would remain huddled together, and apparently stupefied and motionless, till the count quitted the apartment.
At the moment of my writing this, Zamor still resides under my roof. During the years he has passed with me he has gained in height, but in none of the intellectual qualities does he seem to have made any progress; age has only stripped him of the charms of infancy without supplying others in their place; nor can I venture to affirm, that his gratitude and devotion to me are such as I have reason to expect they should be;* for I can with truth affirm, that I have never ceased to lavish kindness on him, and to be, in every sense of the word, a good mistress to him.
*This wretch, whom the comtesse du Barry loaded with her favours and benefits, conducted her to the scaffold.- EDITOR (i.e., author)
There was one member of my establishment, however, whom I preferred to either Dorine or Zamor and this was Henriette, who was sincerely attached to me, and who, for that very reason, was generally disliked throughout the castle. I bad procured a good husband for her, on whom I bestowed a post which, by keeping both himself and his wife in the close vicinity of the castle, prevented my kind friend from quitting me. However, my poor Henriette was not fated to enjoy a long connubial felicity, for her husband, being seized with a violent fever, in a fit of delirium threw himself from a window into the court below, and was taken up dead. Slander availed herself even of this fatal catastrophe to whisper abroad, that the death of the unhappy man arose from his deep sense of his wife's misconduct and infidelity. This I can positively assert was not the case, for Henriette was warmly and truly attached to him, and conducted herself as a wife with the most undeviating propriety. The fact was, that Henriette had drawn upon herself a general hatred and ill will, because she steadily refused all gossiping invitations, where my character would have been pulled to pieces, and the affairs of my household discussed and commented upon: there, indeed, she had sinned beyond all hope of pardon.
She it was who pointed out to me the perfidious conduct of the duc de Villeroi. This gentleman, from the very beginning of my rise in the royal favour, had demonstrated the most lively friendship for me, of which he sought to persuade me by the strongest protestations, which, weak and credulous as I was, I implicitly believed, until one day that Henriette, availing herself of my being quite alone, let me into the secrets of my establishment and furnished me with a key to the assiduities of M. de Villeroi.
Amongst the females in my service was one named Sophie, young, beautiful both in face and form, of a sweet disposition, and every way calculated to inspire the tender passion. M. de Villeroi felt the full force of her charms, and became the whining, sighing lover--her very shadow. Up to this period I had had no cause of complaint against M. de Villeroi; and certainly I should not have interfered with his plebeian flame had he not thought proper, when questioned by my enemies as to his continual presence at the castle, and great assiduities there, to protest that his visits thither were not in honour of my charms, but for those of my waiting-maid. However, my vanity had rendered me his constant dupe.
I felt perfectly astonished as I listened to Henriette's recital; and when she had ceased, I conjured her to tell me candidly, whether she had not invented the whole tale either out of spite to Sophie or with a design to make me break off further friendship with the duke. This she most solemnly denied, and recommended me to make inquiries amongst my friends, who would be compelled to bear testimony to the truth of all she had asserted. I determined to do so; and the first person whom I was enabled to interrogate respecting the affair was the bishop de Senlis. This prelate came frequently to see me, and I found his society each day more pleasing. He served me as a kind of gazette of all that passed with the princesses, in whose opinion I had still the misfortune not to be in the very highest estimation. When occasion required it, M. de Roquelaure would venture to take my part, and that without making a single enemy; for who could be offended with one so affable, so good, so full of kindness towards all? In fact, the worthy bishop was so fortunate as to obtain the love of every person who knew him; and, in the most select society of opposing parties, each would reserve a place for good M. de Roquelaure.
When I questioned him as to his knowledge of the affair, his embarrassment was evident.
"What a world is this! "cried he. "Why, let me ask, do you listen to those who repeat such mortifying tales to you?"
"Because, my lord, my friends will not see me made the sport of a heartless and perfidious friend; and, if you entertain the slightest regard for me, I conjure you to tell me all you know upon the subject."
"And do you, my good madam, conceive that it would become my
sacred calling to speak ill of my neighbour? besides, surely you would not attach any belief to the idle reports spread about the castle by ill-disposed persons?"
"All this has nothing to do with my question, my lord," resumed I. "I ask you once again, whether you ever heard the duc de Villeroi assign his passion for one of my women as the reason for his visits to me? Have you, my lord bishop? I entreat you to answer."
"Madam, I have not," said the good prelate, colouring deeply.
"Ah, monsieur de Roquelaure," cried I, "you must not say mass to-morrow, for I greatly fear you have just committed a certain fault which is styled fibbing."
The bishop made no reply, and his silence spoke volumes of confirmation.
Scarcely had he quitted me than the duc d'Aiguillon entered, to whom I put the same question; and he frankly confessed, that the excuse alleged to have been used by the duc de Villeroi was strictly the expression of that gentleman.
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Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry -by- Baron Etienne Leon Lamothe-Langon