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THE PRINCE DELIGHTED WITH HIS SON.
if possible, never to see him, and, above all, to keep him from seeing me, which, as above, I took effectual care of.
I was now returned to Paris; my little son of honour, as I called him, was left at where my last country-seat then was, and I came to Paris at the prince's request; thither he came to me as soon as I arrived, and told me he came to give me joy of my return, and to make his acknowledgments for that I had given him a son. I thought, indeed, he had been going to give me a present, and so he did the next day, but in what he said then he only jested with me.
He gave me his company all the evening, supped with me about midnight, and did me the honour, as I then called it, to lodge me in his arms all the night, telling me, in jest, that the best thanks for a son born was giving the pledge for another.
But as I hinted, so it was; the next morning he laid me down on my toilet a purse with three hundred pistoles. I saw him lay it down, and understood what he meant, but I took no notice of it till I came to it, as it were, casually; then I gave a great cry out, and fell a scolding in my way, for he gave me all possible freedom of speech on such occasions. I told him he was unkind, that he would never give me an opportunity to ask him for anything; and that he forced me to blush by being too much obliged, and the like; all which I knew was very agreeable to him, for as he was bountiful beyond measure, so he was infinitely obliged by my being so backward to ask any favours; and I was even with him, for I never asked him for a farthing in my
life. Upon this rallying him, he told me I had either perfectly studied the art of humour, or else, what was the greatest difficulty to others was natural to me, adding, that nothing could be more obliging to a man of honour than not to be soliciting and craving.
I told him nothing could be craving upon him; that he left no room for it; that I hoped he did not give merely to avoid the trouble of being importuned; I told him, he might depend upon it that I should be reduced very low indeed before I offered to disturb him that way.
He said, a man of honour ought always to know what he ought to do; and as he did nothing but what he knew was reasonable, he gave me leave to be free with him, if I wanted anything; that he had too much value for me to
deny me anything, if I asked, but that it was infinitely agreeable to him to hear me say that what he did was to my satisfaction.
We strained compliments thus a great while; and as he had me in his arms most part of the time, so upon all my expressions of his bounty to me he put a stop to me with his kisses, and would admit me to go on no farther.
I should in this place mention, that this prince was not a subject of France, though at that time he resided at Paris, and was much at court, where I suppose he had or expected some considerable employment. But I mention it on this account; that a few days after this, he came to me, and told me he was come to bring me not the most welcome news that ever I heard from him in his life. I looked at him a little surprised, but he returned, Do not be uneasy; it is as unpleasant to me as to you, but I come to consult with you about it, and see if it cannot be made a little easy to us both.
I seemed still more concerned and surprised; at last he said it was that he believed he should be obliged to go into Italy, which, though otherwise it was very agreeable to him, yet his parting with me made it a very dull thing but to think of.
I sat mute, as one thunderstruck, for a good while; and it presently occurred to me, that I was going to lose him, which, indeed, I could but ill bear the thoughts of; and, as he told me, I turned pale. What's the matter? said he, hastily; I have surprised you indeed; and stepping to the sideboard, fills a dram of cordial water, which was of his own bringing, and comes to me. Be not surprised, said he; I'll go nowhere without you, adding several other things so kind as nothing could exceed it.
I might indeed turn pale, for I was very much surprised at first, believing that this was, as it often happens in such cases, only a project to drop me, and break off an amour which he had now carried on so long; and a thousand thoughts whirled about my head in the few moments while I was kept in suspense, for they were but a few. I say
I indeed surprised, and might, perhaps, look pale, but I was not in any danger of fainting, that I knew of.
However, it not a little pleased me to see him so concerned and anxious about me; but I stopped a little when he put the cordial to my mouth, and taking the glass in my
INVITED TO ACCOMPANY THE PRINCE TO ITALY.
hand, I said, My lord, your words are infinitely more of a cordial to me than this citron ; for as nothing can be a greater affliction than to lose you, so nothing can be a greater satisfaction than the assurance that I shall not have that misfortune.
He made me sit down, and sat down by me, and after saying a thousand kind things to me, he turns upon me with a smile; Why, will you venture yourself to Italy with me?
I stopped awhile, and then answered that I wondered he would ask me that question, for I would go anywhere in the world, or all over the world, wherever he should desire me, and give me the felicity of his company.
Then he entered into a long account of the occasion of his journey, and how the king had engaged him to go, and some other circumstances which are not proper to enter into here; it being by no means proper to say anything that might lead the reader into the least guess at the person.
But to cut short this part of the story, and the history of our journey and stay abroad, which would almost fill up a volume of itself, I say, we spent all that evening in cheerful consultations about the manner of our travelling, the equipage and figure he should go in, and in what manner I should go. Several ways were proposed, but none seemed feasible, till at last I told him I thought it would be so troublesome, so expensive, and so public, that it would be many ways inconvenient to him; and though it was a kind of death to me to lose him, yet that rather than so very much perplex his affairs, I would submit to anything.
At the next visit I filled his head with the same difficulties, and then at last came over him with a proposal that I would stay in Paris, or where else he should direct; and when I heard of his safe arrival, would come away by myself, and place myself as near him as I could.
This gave him no satisfaction at all, nor would he hear any more of it; but if I durst venture myself, as he called it, such a journey, he would not lose the satisfaction of my company; and, as for the expense, that was not to be named, neither, indeed, was there room to name it, for I found that he travelled at the king's expense, as well for himself as for all his equipage, being upon a piece of secret service of the last importance.
But after several debates between ourselves, he came to this resolution, viz., that he would travel incognito, and so he should avoid all public notice, either of himself or of who went with him; and that then he should not only carry me with him, but have a perfect leisure of enjoying my agreeable company (as he was pleased to call it) all the way.
This was so obliging that nothing could be more so; upon this foot, he immediately set to work to prepare things for his journey; and, by his directions, so did I too; but now I had a terrible difficulty upon me, and which way to get over it I knew not; and that was, in what manner to take care of what I had to leave behind me. I was rich, as I have said, very rich, and what to do with it I knew not, nor who to leave in trust I knew not. I had nobody but Amy in the world, and to travel without Amy was very uncomfortable, or to leave all I had in the world with her, and, if she miscarried, be ruined at once, was still a frightful thought; for Amy might die, and whose hands things might fall into I knew not. This gave me great uneasiness, and I knew not what to do; for I could not mention it to the prince, lest he should see that I was richer than he thought I was.
But the prince made all this easy to me; for in concerting measures for our journey, he started the thing himself, and asked me merrily one evening, who I would trust with all my wealth in my absence.
My wealth, my lord, said I, except what I owe to your goodness, is but small, but yet that little I have, I confess, causes some thoughtfulness, because I have no acquaintance in Paris, that I dare trust with it, nor anybody but my woman to leave in the house; and how to do without her upon the road I do not well know.
As to the road, be not concerned, says the prince, I'll provide you servants to your mind; and as for your woman, if you can trust her, leave her here, and I'll put you in a way how to secure things as well as if you were at home. I bowed, and told him I could not be put into better hands than his own, and that therefore I would govern all my measures by his directions ; so we talked no more of it that night.
The next day he sent me in a great iron chest, so large that it was as much as six lusty fellows could get up the
CROSS THE ALPS INTO ITALY.
steps into the house; and in this I put, indeed, all my wealth; and for my safety he ordered a good honest ancient man and his wife to be in the house with her, to keep her company, and a maid-servant and boy; so that there was a good family, and Amy was madam, the mistress of the house.
Things being thus secured, we set out incog., as he called it; but we had two coaches and six horses, two chaises, and about eight men-seryants on horse-back, all very well armed.
Never was woman better used in this world that went upon no other account than I did. I had three women-servants to wait on me, one whereof was an old madam
who thoroughly understood her business, and managed everything as if she had been major domo; so I had no trouble. They had one coach to themselves, and the prince and I in the other; only that sometimes, where he knew it necessary, I went into their coach, and one particular gentleman of the retinue rode with him.
I shall say no more of the journey than that when we came to those frightful mountains, the Alps, there was no travelling in our coaches, so he ordered a horse-litter, but carried by mules, to be provided for me, and himself went on horseback; the coaches went some other way back to Lyons : then we had coaches hired at Turin, which met us at Suza; so that we were accommodated again, and went by easy journeys afterwards to Rome, where his business, whatever it was, called him to stay some time, and from thence to Venice.
He was as good as his word indeed; for I had the pleasure of his company, and, in a word, engrossed his conversation almost all the way. He took delight in showing me everything that was to be seen, and particularly in telling me something of the history of everything he showed me.
What valuable pains were here thrown away upon one who he was sure, at last, to abandon with regret! How below himself did a man of quality and of a thousand accomplishments behave in all this ! it is one of my reasons for entering into this part, which otherwise would not be worth relating. Had I been a daughter or a wife, of whom it might be said that he had a just concern in their instruction or improvement, it had been an admirable step; but all this to a whore; to one who he carried with him upon no account that could be rationally agreeable, and none but to gratify the meanest of human frailties; this was the wonder of