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In the convent they were safe and at peace, except for another illness of Mademoiselle dOrlans, which left her so weak that Mme. de Genlis was afraid to tell her of the execution of her father in the November of 1794. She persuaded her not to read the French papers, telling her they were full of blasphemies and indecencies not fit for her to see. She had already received news of the execution of her husband, M. de Sillery, by which she was prostrated for a time.

The Queen was in the habit of playing pharaon every evening, and on one occasion she noticed that M. de Chalabre, who kept the bank, whilst he was picking up the money of those who had lost, took advantage of a moment when he thought nobody was looking, to put a rouleau of fifty louis into his pocket.

The months they spent there were the last of the old life. The vintage went on merrily, the peasants danced before the chateau, little Nomi played with the children, M. de Montagu rode about his farms, meeting and consulting with other owners of neighbouring chateaux, and the news from Paris grew worse and worse. The Duc dAyen was safe, he had been denounced but had escaped to Switzerland, and was living at Lausanne, where Pauline had been to see him from Aix. An amusing anecdote is related by Mme. de Bassanville [76] concerning the marriage of a certain Mlle. de Mirepoix, who belonged to that family, but apparently to a younger and poorer branch of it.

Mme. Tallien is indignant at your ingratitude; she saved your life, and I advise you to go and see her. Amongst other contrasts to be remarked between Louis XIV. and Louis XV., was the opposite way in which they treated their numerous illegitimate children.

No, I shall come back here. It is not you who will go away, it is the scaffold. [448]

He was extremely kind to Mme. Le Brun, whom he always called ma bonne amie; she was often at his house, though she did not care for the great dinners of never less than thirty people, which were always at seven oclockin those days considered a late hour.

She now painted the whole day except when on Sundays she received in her studio the numbers of people, from the Imperial family downwards, who came to see her portraits; to which she had added a new and great attraction, for she had caused to be sent from Paris her great picture of Marie Antoinette in a blue velvet dress, which excited the deepest interest. The Prince de Cond, when he came to see it, could not speak, but looked at it and burst into tears.

When people in Parisian society thought of the country, they thought of lambs with ribbons round their necks, shepherdesses in fanciful costumes with long crooks, or a rosire kneeling before the family and friends of the seigneur to be crowned with flowers and presented with a rose as the reward of virtue, in the presence of an admiring crowd of villagers; of conventional gardens, clipped trees, and artificial ruins; but wild, picturesque mountain scenery was their abhorrence.

[229]

The days were rapidly approaching when she would be thankful that an early death had saved him from the fate of his brother.