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THE PRINCE TAKES SUPPER WITH ME.
Now, madam, says the prince, give me leave to lay aside my character; let us talk together with the freedom of equals; my quality sets me at a distance from you, and makes you ceremonious; your beauty exalts you to more than an equality. I must then treat you as lovers do their mistresses, but I cannot speak the language; it is enough to tell you how agreeable you are to me, how. I am surprised at your beauty, and resolve to make you happy, and to be happy with you.
I knew not what to say to him a good while, but blushed, and, looking up towards him, said I was already made happy in the favour of a person of such rank, and had nothing to ask of his highness but that he would believe me infinitely obliged.
After he had eaten, he poured the sweetmeats into my lap; and the wine being out, he called his gentleman again to take away the table, who, at first, only took the cloth, and the remains of what was to eat, away; and, laying another cloth, set the table on one side of the room with a noble service of plate upon it, worth at least two hundred pistoles. Then, having set the two decanters again upon the table, filled as before, he withdrew ; for I found the fellow understood his business very well, and his lord's business too.
About half an hour after, the prince told me that I offered to wait a little before, that if I would now take the trouble he would give me leave to give him some wine; so I went to the table, filled a glass of wine, and brought it to him on a fine salver, which the glasses stood on, and brought the bottle or decanter for water in my other hand, to mix as he thought fit.
He smiled, and bid me look on that salver, which I did, and admired it much, for it was a very fine one indeed. You may see, says he, I resolve to have more of your company, for my servant shall leave you that plate for my use. I told him I believed his highness would not take it ill that I was not furnished fit to entertain a person of his rank, and that I would take great care of it, and value myself infinitely upon the honour of his highness's visit.
It now began to grow late, and he began to take notice of it. But, says he, I cannot leave you ; have you not a spare lodging, for one night? I told him I had but a homely lodging
to entertain such a guest. He said something exceeding kind on that head, but not fit to repeat, adding, that my company would make him amends.
About midnight he sent his gentlen an of an errand, after telling him aloud that he intended to stay here all night. In a little time his gentleman brought him a nightgown, slippers, two caps, a neckcloth, and shirt, which he gave me to carry into his chamber, and sent his man home; and then, turning to me, said I should do him the honour to be his chamberlain of the household and his dresser also. I smiled, and told him I would do myself the honour to wait on him upon all occasions.
About one in the morning, while his gentleman was yet with him, I begged leave to withdraw, supposing he would go to bed; but he took the hint, and said, I'm not going to bed yet, pray let me see you again.
I took this time to undress me, and to come in a new dress, which was, in a manner, une dishabille, but so fine, and all about me so clean and so agreeable, that he seemed surprised. I thought, says he, you could not have dressed to more advantage than you had done before ; but now, says he, you charm me a thousand times more, if that be possible.
It is only a loose habit, my lord, said I, that I may the better wait on your highness. He pulls me to him ; You are perfectly obliging, says he; and, sitting on the bed-side, says he, Now you shall be a princess, and know what it is to oblige the gratefullest man alive ; and with that he took me in his arms,...I can go no farther in the particulars of what passed at that time, but it ended in this, that, in short, I lay with him all night.
I have given you the whole detail of this story to lay it down as a black scheme of the way how unhappy women are ruined by great men; for though poverty and want is an irresistible temptation to the poor, vanity and great things are as irresistible to others. To be courted by a prince, and by a prince who was first a benefactor, then an admirer; to be called handsome, the finest woman in France, and to be treated as a woman fit for the bed of a prince: these are things a woman must have no vanity in her, nay, no corruption in her, that is not overcome by it; and my case was such, that, as before, I had enough of both.
I had now no poverty attending me; on the contrary, I was mistress of ten thousand pounds before the prince did anything for me. Had I been mistress of my resolution ; had I been less obliging, and rejected the first attack, all bad
BECOME THE PRINCE'S MISTRESS.
been safe; but my virtue was lost before, and the devil, who had found the way to break in upon me by one temptation, easily mastered me now by another; and I gave myself up to a person, who, though a man of high dignity, was yet the most tempting and obliging that ever I met with in my life.
I had the same particular to insist upon here with the prince that I had with my gentleman before. I hesitated much at consenting at first asking, but the prince told me princes did not court like other men; that they brought more powerful arguments; and he very prettily added, that they were sooner repulsed than other men, and ought to be sooner complied with ; intimating, though very genteelly, that after a woman had positively refused him once, he could not, like other men, wait with importunities and stratagems, and laying long sieges; but as such men as he stormed warmly, so, if repulsed, they made no second attacks; and, indeed, it was but reasonable ; for as it was below their rank to be long battering a woman's constancy, so they ran greater hazards in being exposed in their amours than other men did.
I took this for a satisfactory answer, and told his highness that I had the same thoughts in respect to the manner of his attacks; for that his person and his arguments were irresistible; that a person of his rank, and a munificence so unbounded, could not be withstood; that no virtue was proof against him, except such as was able too, to suffer martyrdom; that I thought it impossible I could be overcome, but that now I found it was impossible I should not be overcome; that so much goodness, joined with so much greatness, would have conquered a saint; and that I confess he had the victory over me, by a merit infinitely superior to the conquest he had made.
He made me a most obliging answer; told me abundance: of fine things, which still flattered my vanity, till at last I began to have pride enough to believe him, and fancied myself a fit mistress for a prince.
As I had thus given the prince the last favour, and he had all the freedom with me that it was possible for me to grant, so he gave me leave to use as much freedom with him another way, and that was to have everything of him I thought fit to command; and yet I did not ask of him with an air of avarice, as if I was greedily making a penny of him, but I martaged
him with such art that he generally anticipated my demands. He only requested of me that I would not think of taking another house, as I had intimated to his 'highness that I intended, not thinking it good enough to receive his visits in ; but he said my house was the most convenient that could possibly be found in all Paris for an amour, especially for him, having a way out into three streets, and not overlooked by any neighbours, so that he could pass and repass
without observation ; for one of the back ways opened into a narrow dark alley, which alley was a thoroughfare or passage out of one street into another; and any person that went in or out by the door had no more to do but to see that there was nobody following him in the alley before he went in at the door, This request I knew was reasonable, and therefore I assured him I would not change my dwelling, seeing his highness did not think it too mean for me to receive him in.
He also desired me that I would not take any more servants, or set up any equipage, at least for the present; for that it would then be immediately concluded I had been left very rich, and then I should be thronged with the impertinence of admirers, who would be attracted by the money, as well as by the beauty of a young widow, and he should be frequently interrupted in his visits; or that the world would conclude I was maintained by somebody, and would be indefatigable to find out the person; so that he should have spies peeping at him every time he went out or in, which it would be impossible to disappoint; and that he should presently have it talked over all the toilets in Paris that the Prince de had got the jeweller's widow for a mistress.
This was too just to oppose, and I made no scruple to tell his highness, that since he had stooped so low as to make me his own, he ought to have all the satisfaction in the world, that I was all his own; that I would take all the measures he should please to direct me, to avoid the impertinent attacks of others; and, that if he thought fit, I would be wholly within doors, and have it given out that I was obliged to go to England to solicit my affairs there, after my
husband's misfortune, and that I was not expected there again for at least a year or two. This he liked very well, only he said that he would by no means have me confined; that it would injure my health, and that I should then take a country-house in some village, a good way off of the city, where it should
ENDEAVOUR TO JUSTIFY MY WICKEDNESS.
not be known who I was, and that he should be there sometimes to divert me.
I made no scruple of the confinement, and told his highness, no place could be a confinement where I had such a visitor, and so I put off the country-house, which would have been to remove myself farther from him, and have less of his company; so I made the house be, as it were, shut up. Amy, indeed, appeared, and when any of the neighbours and servants inquired, she answered, in broken French, that I was gone to England to look after my affairs, which presently went current through the streets about us. For you are to note, that the people of Paris, especially the women, are the most busy and impertinent inquirers into the conduct of their neighbours, especially that of a single woman, that are in the world, though there are no greater intriguers in the univorse than themselves; and perhaps that may be the reason of it, for it is an old but a sure rule, that,
“When deep intrigues are close and shy,
Thus his highness had the most easy, and yet the most undiscoverable access to me imaginable, and he seldom failed to come two or three nights in a week, and sometimes stayed two or three nights together. Once he told me he was resolved I should be weary of his company, and that he would learn to know what it was to be a prisoner; so he gave out among his servants that he was gone to
where he often went, a hunting, and that he should not return under a. fortnight; and that fortnight he stayed wholly with me, and never went out of my doors.
Never woman in such a station, lived a fortnight in so complete a fulness of human delight; for to have the entire possession of one of the most accomplished princes in the world, and of the politest best-bred man; to converse with him all day, and as he professed, charm him all night; what could be more inexpressibly pleasing, and especially to a woman of a vast deal of pride, as I was?
To finish the felicity of this part, I must not forget that the devil had played a new game with me, and prevailed with me to satisfy myself with this amour, as a lawful thing ; that a prince of such grandeur and majesty, so infinitely superior to me, and one who had made such an introduction by