"I intend," said I, "to pay you a visit at Turin."
"Are you going to bring your housekeeper with you?"
"You are wrong, for she is a delightful person."
Everybody spoke of my dear Dubois in the same way. She had a perfect knowledge of the rules of good breeding, and she knew how to make herself respected without being guilty of the slightest presumption. In vain she was urged to dance, and she afterwards told me that if she had yielded she would have become an object of hatred to all the ladies. She knew that she could dance exquisitely.
M. de Chauvelin went away in two days, and towards the end of the week I heard from Madame d'Urfe, who told me that she had spent two days at Versailles in furtherance of my desires. She sent me a copy of the letters of pardon signed by the king in favour of the relation of M.----, assuring me that the original had been sent to the colonel of his regiment, where he would be reinstated in the rank which he held before the duel.
I had my horses put into my carriage, and hastened to carry this good news to M. de Chavigni. I was wild with joy, and I did not conceal it from the ambassador, who congratulated me, since M.---- having obtained by me, without the expenditure of a penny, a favour which would have cost him dear if he had succeeded in purchasing it, would henceforth be only too happy to treat me with the utmost confidence.
To make the matter still more important, I begged my noble friend to announce the pardon to M.---- in person, and he immediately wrote a note to that gentleman requesting his presence.
As soon as he made his appearance, the ambassador handed him the copy of the pardon, telling him that he owed it all to me. The worthy man was in an ecstasy, and asked what he owed me.
"Nothing, sir, unless you will give me your friendship, which I value more than all the gold in the world; and if you would give me a proof of your friendship, come and spend a few days with me; I am positively dying of loneliness. The matter I have done for you is a mere trifle; you see how quickly it has been arranged."
"A mere trifle! I have devoted a year's labour to it; I have moved heaven and earth without succeeding, and in a fortnight you have accomplished it. Sir, you may dispose of my life."
"Embrace me, and come and see me. I am the happiest of men when I am enabled to serve persons of your merit."
"I will go and tell the good news to my wife, who will love you as well as I do."
"Yes, do so," said the ambassador, "and bring her to dinner here to- morrow."
When we were alone together, the Marquis de Chavigni, an old courtier and a wit, began to make some very philosophical reflections on the, state of a court where nothing can be said to be easy or difficult per se, as the one at a moment's notice may become the other; a court where justice often pleads in vain, while interest or even importunity get a ready hearing. He had known Madame d'Urfe, had even paid his court to her at the period when she was secretly beloved by the regent. He it was who had given her the name of Egeria, because she said she had a genius who directed her and passed the nights with her when she slept by herself. The ambassador then spoke of M.----, who had undoubtedly become a very great friend of mine.
"The only way to blind a jealous husband," said he, "is to make him your friend, for friendship will rarely admit jealousy."
The next day at dinner, at the ambassador's, Madame gave me a thousand proofs of grateful friendship, which my heart interpreted as pledges of love. The husband and wife promised to pay me a three days' visit in the following week at my country house.
They kept their word without giving me any further warning, but I was not taken by surprise as I had made all preparations for their reception.
My heart leapt with joy on seeing my charmer getting down from the carriage, but my joy was not unalloyed, as the husband told me that they must absolutely return on the fourth day, and the wife insisted on the horrible widow being present at all our conversation.