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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

Mademoiselle did not espouse Lauzun just then


king was on the road back to Versailles; Madame de Montespan was to return thither also, her duties required her to do so, it was said; Bossuet heard of it; he did not for a single instant delude himself as to the emptiness of the king's promises and of his own hopes. He determined, however, to visit the king at Luzarches. Louis XIV. gave him no time to speak.

"Do not say a word to me, sir," said he, not without blushing, do not say a word; I have given my orders, they will have to be executed." Bossuet held his tongue. "He had tried every thrust; had acted like a pontiff of the earliest times, with a freedom worthy of the earliest ages and the earliest bishops of the Church," says St. Simon. He saw the inutility of his efforts; henceforth, prudence and courtly behavior put a seal upon his lips. It was the time of the great king's omnipotence and highest splendor, the time when nobody withstood his wishes. The great Mademoiselle had just attempted to show her independence: tired of not being married, with a curse on the greatness which kept her astrand, she had made up her mind to a love-match. "Guess it in four, guess it in ten, guess it in a hundred," wrote Madame de Sevigne to Madame de Coulanges: "you are not near it; well, then, you must be told. M. de Lauzun is to marry on Sunday at the Louvre, with the king's permission, mademoiselle . . . mademoiselle de . .. mademoiselle, guess the name . . . he is to marry Mademoiselle,

my word! upon my word! my sacred word! Mademoiselle, the great Mademoiselle, Mademoiselle daughter of the late Monsieur, Mademoiselle grand-daughter of Henry IV., Mademoiselle d'Eu, Mademoiselle de Dombes, Mademoiselle de Montpensier, Mademoiselle d' Orleans, Mademoiselle, cousin-german to the king, Mademoiselle destined to the throne, Mademoiselle, the only match in France who would have been worthy of Monsieur!" The astonishment was somewhat premature; Mademoiselle did not espouse Lauzun just then, the king broke off the marriage. "I will make you so great," he said to Lauzun, "that you shall have no cause to regret what I am taking from you; meanwhile, I make you duke, and peer, and marshal of France." "Sir," broke in Lauzun, insolently, "you have made so many dukes that it is no longer an honor to be one, and as for the baton of marshal of France, your Majesty can give it me when I have earned it by my services." He was before long sent to Pignerol, where he passed ten years. There he met Fouquet, and that mysterious personage called the Iron Mask, whose name has not yet been discovered to a certainty by means of all the most ingenious conjectures. It was only by settling all her property on the Duke of Maine after herself that Mademoiselle purchased Lauzun's release. The king had given his posts to the Prince of Marcillac, son of La Rochefoucauld. He at the same time overwhelmed Marshal Bellefonds with kindnesses.

[Illustration: The Iron Mask----14]

"He sent for him into his study," says Madame de Sevigne,--and said to him, 'Marshal, I want to know why you are anxious to leave me. Is it a devout feeling? Is it a desire for retirement? Is it the pressure of your debts? If the last, I shall be glad to set it right, and enter into the details of your affairs.' The marshal was sensibly touched by this kindness: 'Sir,' said he, 'it is my debts; I am over head and ears. I cannot see the consequences borne by some of my friends who have assisted me, and whom I cannot pay.' 'Well,' said the king, 'they must have security for what is owing to them. I will give you a hundred thousand francs on your house at Versailles, and a patent of retainder (_brevet de retenue_--whereby the emoluments of a post were not lost to the holder's estate by his death) for four hundred thousand francs, which will serve as a policy of assurance if you should die; that being so, you will stay in my service.' In truth, one must have a very hard heart not to obey a master who enters with so much kindness into the interests of one of his domestics; accordingly, the marshal made no objection, and here he is in his place again, and loaded with benefits."

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