“So that is the plan,” she said, musing. “We betrayed ourselves when we succored America. Perhaps we are to be repaid now and Americans are to help us in this desperate strait. ’Tis a bitter humiliation to have to turn to strangers for aid, but our only true friends are all scattered now; there is no one about us but would betray and sacrifice us,” she says, bitterly, and looking at the King, whose heavy countenance reflected in a dull way her poignant distress.
“Pardon me, Your Majesty,” says Calvert, ardently, “there are still some stanch friends left to you. I have seen these gentlemen but this morning, when we discussed anew this plan, and they but wait your approval to pledge their lives and fortunes to extricate Your Majesties from the distressing situation you now find yourselves in. It but depends upon you to say whether this scheme shall be carried through. With firmness and confidence on your part it cannot fail.”
“I fear to hope again—do not arouse my expectations only to have them disappointed,” and rising in the greatest agitation, the Queen began to pace up and down the little room. “Who would have thought that Fersen could fail?—and yet he did.” She covered her face with her hands to hide the tears which filled her eyes. Suddenly she stopped before Calvert, who had risen, and gave him so penetrating and anguished a look that the young man could scarce bear to meet her glance.
“There is that in your face which inspires confidence,” says the Queen. “I think you would not know either defeat or deceit. Pray God you may not. We will trust him, shall we not?” she says, turning to the King and putting out her hand so graciously that Calvert fell upon one knee before her and kissed it. He knelt to the suffering woman who had instinctively appealed to him and her faith in him even more than to the desperate Queen.
It was by such moments of genuineness and winning sweetness that Marie Antoinette captivated those with whom she came in contact. Could such bursts of true feeling have endured, could she always have been as sincere and single-hearted as she was at such times, she would have been a great and good woman. Genius, ambition, firmness, courage, all these she had, but insincerity and suspicion warped a noble nature. To Calvert, just then, she seemed the incarnation of great womanhood, and ’twas with the utmost fervor that he pressed her to allow himself and her other faithful friends to serve her.
“In a few weeks all will be ready,” he says. “I go from here to the frontier to visit and, if possible, win over those troops whose loyalty to your Majesties has been in question; then on to secure a safe retreat in case our plan fails, which, pray God, it may not! Either Worms, where Monsieur de Conde is powerful, or Spire, whose Prince-Bishop is most devoted to your Majesties, will surely offer its hospitality and protection. It depends only on your Majesties’ firmness to escape from this