Calvert’s second morning at the Legation was even busier than the first had been, so that there was no time for disquieting thoughts or the memory of troubled dreams. Indeed, the young man had very good nerves and such power of concentration and so conscientious a regard for whatever he might have on hand to do as always kept him absorbed in his work. The packet by which he and Mr. Morris had arrived being ready to start on the return voyage, it was necessary to make up the American mail, which Calvert found to be no light task. Mr. Jefferson’s large private correspondence always necessitated the writing of a dozen or more letters for every packet, several copies of the more important having to be made, owing to the unreliability of the vessels themselves and the danger of all communications being opened and possibly destroyed by the French agents before they could even be sent on their way. Besides these private letters there were also many communications concerning official business to be written. The most important one was a letter to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jay, concerning the recall of Monsieur le Comte de Moustier, whose conduct had become most offensive to the American Congress, and the possible appointment of Colonel Ternant to his office. This officer had won a great European reputation as Generalissimo of one of the United Provinces, and it was even hinted that, had he been put at the head of affairs instead of the pusillanimous Rhinegrave of Salm, the cause might have been saved. All this and other details had to be communicated to Mr. Jay, and so delicate was the business that Calvert was instructed to put the letter in cipher lest it be opened and the French Government prematurely informed of the dissatisfaction felt with its representative in America.
It was well on toward three in the afternoon before all the business was disposed of and Calvert had leisure to recall his engagement. When Mr. Jefferson heard of it he declared his intention of going, too, for it was ever one of his greatest pleasures to watch young people at their amusements. The carriage was ordered, and, after stopping in the rue de Richelieu for Mr. Morris, Mr. Jefferson ordered the coachman to drive to the terrace of the Jardin des Tuileries, near the Pont Royal, which particular place the fashionable world had chosen for a rendezvous from which to watch the skating upon the Seine.
It was a beautiful and unusual sight that met Calvert’s eyes for the first time on that brilliant winter’s afternoon as he alighted from Mr. Jefferson’s carriage. The river, which was solidly frozen over at this point, and which was kept smooth and free of soft ice by attendants from the Palais Royal, was thronged. Officers of the splendid Maison du Roi and the Royale Cravate, in magnificent uniforms, glided about; nobles in their rich dress, the sunlight catching their small swords and burnishing them to glittering brightness, skated hither and thither; now