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Louis XIV., will go and consume itself on the altar. Dieu lui ouvre son église." She spoke to her friends of her intentions, among others, to Madame de Maintenon-the last rival-who was at that time at court. Madame de Maintenon endeavoured to dissuade her. "You do not know," she said, "all the sufferings of solitude and renunciation of the world, where God does not always come." Madame de la Vallière smiled bitterly: "Oh! Madame, when I suffer there, I shall remember all that those people have made me suffer here." And she pointed with her finger to Louis XIV. and the Marchioness of Montespan getting into their carriage. But she had good friends even at court, and among them Bossuet and la Mère Agnès. Even the fate of her children had no influence with her, and M. Houssaye says, justly enough, "I cannot forgive her having gone direct from Louis XIV. to a convent, without having stopped a moment by the way, to listen to the beating of her heart as a mother."



But still she lingered on. At last she spoke to the king. "Sire," she said, "I am dying with grief; Heaven alone can console me for your cruelties. I am going to hide my shame and anguish in the convent of the Carmelites." May Heaven be with you!" said the king, dryly; we cannot always move in the same circle. Your heart loves nothing but gloom; as to me, I like fine weather. I see, with pain, that you take everything in its tragical aspect; but if my friendship has so little weight with you, I have only one word to say, and that is, Farewell. Not only, madame, I do not weep any more, but I do not like to see you weep."


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But she saw the king once more, even after this heartless and cruel dismissal. She accepted the invitation of her haughty and impertinent rival to supper, in order to meet the king for the last time. No record exists as to what took place on that occasion. On the 20th of April, 1674, Madame de la Vallière threw herself at the feet of the queen, asked pardon for having offended her, kissed her hands respectfully, and then hastened to throw herself into the carriage which was to convey her to the Carmelites in the Faubourg Saint-Jacques. Louis XIV. and Madame de Montespan were contemplating the scene from a window, as if it had been a comedy of Molière's. "Comedy" was indeed the word that passed from mouth to mouth at court, but all was not comedy. Ali Paris was at the doors and windows of the quays and of the Rue Saint-Jacques, to see the fallen favourite go by to her living tomb. The streets were actually encumbered with spectators. She crossed the threshold, and la Mère Claire du Saint-Sacrement received her at the door of the chapel. She threw herself on her knees before her : mère," she said, "I have always made so bad a use of my will, that I come to place it in your hands never to resume it." The superior raised her up, saying: "My daughter, it is to Heaven only that you must speak thus." And then she conducted her to the altar, when, in presence of the Saint-Sacrement, she offered herself up to Heaven, as a victim of expiation for her sins. "Ah! madame," observed Mademoiselle d'Epernon, "Heaven will take into account the sacrifice of so much beauty!" There was a leaven of the world even among the Carmelite recluses. The same day that adorable head of hair, which had




so often pillowed a monarch's head, fell upon the stone pavement. Madame de la Vallière looked at it, and left it with the rest.

Her penitence was most sincere. She dressed in sackcloth, fasted, worked, prayed, walked barefoot, and moved always with her eyes cast down. "A king," said Voltaire, "who should have punished thus a guilty woman, would have been a tyrant, yet it is thus that a woman punished herself for having loved." So edifying was her repentance, that the usual time for ordeal was abridged in her instance, and by the third Sunday after Whit Sunday she was admitted into the sisterhood as "Sœur Louise de la Miséricorde." The Abbé de Fromentières preached the sermon, and Madame de Montespan "assisted" at the spectacle.

After a year's initiation, when it was deemed that La Vallière sinner had been changed into La Vallière the penitent, she took the black veil of the "épouses de Dieu." The whole court was once more present at the sacrifice-the radiant Madame de Montespan, who did not at that time anticipate the same fate for herself, the vindictive Olympe de Mancini, the sentimental De Sévigné, and the sympathetic queen. The king alone was not there. The archbishop presided at the altar. Bossuet delivered one of his most celebrated discourses. Madame de la Vallière had not attained her thirtieth year when she entered the convent of the Carmelites. She was not the first victim to a king's lusts. Mademoiselle d'Argencourt, of the House of Conti, and maid of honour to the queen-mother, and of whom little has been said, was the first. Her home was the convent of Sainte Marie de Chaillot. "First mistress, first convent," says M. Houssaye; "it was always at the convent that the king's loves ended." Not always; the fate of Madame de Montespan, of Mademoiselle de Fontanges-a spring flower trampled under foot-were either more or less edifying, according to the judgment of individuals; they were certainly more appalling. And yet Louis XIV. is called "le Grand Monarque!" Madame de la Vallière lived thirty-six years in the convent of the Carmelites, the most humble of all the penitents within its walls. But the sad memory of the past still lingered in her footsteps, and she is said to have perished of thirst. Seeing one day a sister of her order drinking from a well with her hands, this reminded her so keenly of an incident that had occurred in the forest of Fontainebleau, where the king, finding her similarly engaged, had drank out of her palms, declaring that the water was converted into wine, that from that time henceforth she refused to drink any more! In the terrible year of 1793, the crowd that had violated the tombs of Louis XIII., recognised by his moustache, and of Louis XIV., still distinguished by his large features-black as they were also went to the Carmelites, and broke open the tomb of Sister Louise de la Miséricorde. They sought for jewels, but they only found the ebony crucifix which she held against her bosom when she gave up her soul to her Creator.







"No letter to-day, François ?" "Alas, no! Monsieur le Baron. I waited till after the usual hour. The night had not been stormy, but the post brought nothing." "And the one I wrote? You are sure it was sent, François ?" "Certain, Monsieur le Baron, for I put it myself in the letter-box." "Ah, yes! I have asked you the same question a hundred times. I ought to remember. Three weary days and no reply !"

"Perhaps, Monsieur le Baron, there may be another revolution. If Mademoiselle Bianca has not received your letter she cannot reply to it."

"No, François. There is no change in public affairs. Her silence must have some other cause; what it can be I fear to imagine."

The conversation between Monsieur de Gournay and his servant was broken off by a knock at the door.

"Some one is there, François. See who it is. It may be the letter." Through the half-opened doorway three persons were visible: a stout, burly man, with a red face and beetling eyebrows; another, small of stature, smart and smug; and the third, tall, handsome, young, and fashionable-looking.

"This here's the shop," said the stout man, one of the prison turnkeys; "you'll find Mounseer in, I fancy, for out of that he's never been since here he come."

"Have you letterre ?" asked François, blocking up the entrance. "Give me him!"

"No letter," replied Mr. Scobell's clerk. "Something better!" And he grinned at his unpremeditated versification.

Hubert perceived that the questioner was a Frenchman-indeed, the turnkey remarked that he was "Mounseer's valley"—and he spoke to him in his own language.

"Ah, Monsieur le Baron!" cried François, beside himself with joy at Hubert's communication, "vous êtes libre-vous êtes libre !"

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Monsieur de Gournay rose hastily.

"Comment!" he exclaimed, gazing amazed at the two strangers who, followed by the turnkey, now entered th


Hubert was the spokesman, and, using French as before, informed Monsieur de Gournay that he was really free.

"By what means?" he asked, in the same state of astonishment. "By the simplest," replied Hubert; "the debt for which you were confined has been paid.

"Has Montrichard heard of my misfortune? Is it to him I owe my liberty? There can be no one else!"

"At present

"We will speak about that another time," said Hubert. I have other news to report which you will be equally glad to hear. Your daughter has arrived in London."

Monsieur de Gournay sank trembling on his chair, and buried his face in his hands. When he raised it, tears were streaming down. "She is well! She is safe! Oh, my God, I thank thee! Tell me, sir, you who are the messenger of so much good, tell me where I shall find her."

"I made myself the bearer of this intelligence," said Hubert, "that I might have the pleasure of being your guide. I am ready, Monsieur de Gournay, to conduct you to her present place of abode."

"To thank you enough, sir," returned Monsieur de Gournay, "is impossible. Permit me to learn your name?"

"I am known to Mademoiselle de Gournay," was the answer, "by that of Hubert."

Cordial was the grasp with which Monsieur de Gournay wrung the young man's hand, and as cordially was the pressure returned. The formalities for release were then gone through, and directions having been given to François to follow with his master's effects, Monsieur de Gournay and Hubert quitted the prison together.

On their way, Monsieur de Gournay eagerly sought to know in what manner Hubert had acquired a knowledge of his situation, how he became aware that his daughter was in London, and not the least urgent was his wish to learn who had supplied the money which had been advanced for his liberation.

The two first questions were easily disposed of, Hubert making light of the service he had rendered to Bianca in the émeute, which he described as trifling, and passing over the facts with which he was acquainted respecting the Marquis de Saverne; but the last was more difficult to answer, as he did not desire-at least then-to acknowledge that he was himself the person.

He had, he said, an explanation to make which, when the proper time arrived, would, he trusted, completely satisfy Monsieur de Gournay, and he intimated that those who, he believed, were not without claims to justify their interference, had procured the aid of the law to effect their object. It would be a satisfaction, he added, if the inquiry were not urged for the present, and Monsieur de Gournay, feeling the obligations he was already under to Hubert, readily assented to his request; he was so occupied, too, at that moment with the thought of pressing his daughter to his heart, that all other considerations were lost in that yearning.

At the door of the hotel where Bianca and Justine had been left, Hubert took leave, requesting permission to call at a later hour.

Bianca's joy at meeting with her father had yet its painful side, for she had that to speak of which she dreaded to utter, but could not think of concealing. Her fear arose from her knowledge of the impetuosity of Monsieur de Gournay's nature, while the outrage she had endured— the memory of which was quick within her-afforded the only clue to the conduct of the Marquisde Saverne, which her father tortured himself in vain to understand.

"For what purpose," said Monsieur de Gournay, after minutely repeating the particulars of his arrest-" for what purpose I was made a victim weighs upon me even more than the indignity of the act itself. It is true that there was once estrangement between Saverne and myself, but that is so long ago, and the cause of it has been so long at


"It is useless, my father," said Bianca, interrupting him, "to seek for Monsieur de Saverne's motive in the past. I am able to tell you the reason; but"-she took his hand as she spoke-" you must promise to be calm."

"Calm, my child!" repeated Monsieur de Gournay, with lips that trembled and eyes suddenly informed with a strange expression" calm, Bianca! You capable of explaining! What do you mean?"

"It is as I say, my father," returned Bianca, sadly; "but again I must entreat you to listen as if neither of us had suffered wrong at the hands of that bad man."

"Well, Bianca, well, I will do my best."

Not without hesitation Bianca began, relating, point by point, the insidious attempts of Monsieur de Saverne to engage her affections, and for a time her father listened with looks of surprise alone; but, as she proceeded, the blood that crimsoned his forehead bore witness to the feeling he was striving to repress; and when she entered into the darkest part of her story, and showed with what object she had been sought, her smothered voice revealing its nature almost as clearly as her speech, Monsieur de Gournay could contain himself no longer starting up, he paced the room with hasty steps, uttering words of incoherent passion.

It was no time for Bianca to pause. The keen sensitiveness of her own honour of the honour of her race-urged her on, and rising as her father rose, she left nothing of her tale untold.

Suddenly Monsieur de Gournay stopped and caught his daughter to his breast.

"Noble girl," he cried, "were I slow to punish this villain kinsman, your spirit would quicken me. You have the weapon with which he threatened you?"

Bianca turned pale as she falteringly acknowledged that it was amongst her effects.

"Let me see it," said Monsieur de Gournay.

Bianca went into her bedroom and presently returned with the pistol. Monsieur de Gournay took it from her, and gazed upon it silently for

some moments.

"It is his," at length he said: "here is a proof indeed. The next time he sees it


"Oh, my father!" exclaimed Bianca, "you will not risk your life against that of one so worthless!"

"Bianca," returned Monsieur de Gournay, solemnly, "if I were not a father with a daughter to avenge, I am still a Frenchman! There is no alternative."

"Had I a brother," said Bianca, "I would not counsel forbearance ; but in your case

"It makes no difference," said Monsieur de Gournay, quickly finishing the sentence. "What your brother might have done your father must. Let that rest for the present. Another matter must be thought

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