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A Versailles Christmas-Tide by Mary Stuart Boyd

A VERSAILLES CHRISTMAS-TIDE

By

Mary Stuart Boyd

With Fifty-three Illustrations by A.S. Boyd

1901

Contents

I. The Unexpected Happens II. Ogams III. The Town IV. Our Arbre de Noel V. Le Jour de l'Annee VI. Ice-bound VII. The Haunted Chateau VIII. Marie Antoinette IX. The Prisoners Released

Illustrations

The Summons Storm Warning Treasure Trove The Red Cross in the Window Enter M. le Docteur Perpetual Motion Ursa Major Meal Considerations The Two Colonels The Young and Brave Malcontent The Aristocrat Papa, Mama, et Bebe Juvenile Progress Automoblesse oblige Sable Garb A Football Team Mistress and Maid Sage and Onions Marketing Private Boxes A Foraging Party A Thriving Merchant Chestnuts in the Avenue The Tree Vendor The Tree Bearer Rosine Alms and the Lady Adoration Thankfulness One of the Devout De l'eau Chaude The Mill The Presbytery To the Place of Rest While the Frost Holds The Postman's Wrap A Lapful of Warmth The Daily Round Three Babes and a Bonne Snow in the Park A Veteran of the Chateau Un, Deux, Trois Bedchamber of Louis XIV Marie Leczinska Madame Adelaide Louis Quatorze Where the Queen Played Marie Antoinette The Secret Stair Madame sans Tete Illumination L'Envoi

CHAPTER I

THE UNEXPECTED HAPPENS

[Illustration: The Summons]

No project could have been less foreseen than was ours of wintering in France, though it must be confessed that for several months our thoughts had constantly strayed across the Channel. For the Boy was at school at Versailles, banished there by our desire to fulfil a parental duty.

The time of separation had dragged tardily past, until one foggy December morning we awoke to the glad consciousness that that very evening the Boy would be with us again. Across the breakfast-table we kept saying to each other, "It seems scarcely possible that the Boy is really coming home to-night," but all the while we hugged the assurance that it was.

The Boy is an ordinary snub-nosed, shock-headed urchin of thirteen, with no special claim to distinction save the negative one of being an only child. Yet without his cheerful presence our home seemed empty and dull. Any attempts at merry-making failed to restore its life. Now all was agog for his return. The house was in its most festive trim. Christmas presents were hidden securely away. There was rejoicing downstairs as well as up: the larder shelves were stored with seasonable fare, and every bit of copper and brass sparkled a welcome. Even the kitchen cat sported a ribbon, and had a specially energetic purr ready.

Into the midst of our happy preparations the bad news fell with bomb-like suddenness. The messenger who brought the telegram whistled shrilly and shuffled a breakdown on the doorstep while he waited to hear if there was an answer.


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