Once more the mother sat at the bedside of her son, watching over him, lovingly, day and night. That her son’s life might be preserved was now her only wish, her only prayer; all else became void of interest, and was lost sight of. She only left her son’s side when Casimir Perrier came, as he was in the habit of doing daily, to inquire after her son’s condition in the name of the king, and to request the duchess to name the amount of her claims against France, and to impart to him all her wishes with regard to her future. Hortense now had but one ardent wish—the recovery of her son; and her only request was, that she might be permitted to visit the French baths of the Pyrenees during the summer, in order to restore her failing health.
The minister promised to procure this permission of the king, and of the Chambers, that were soon to be convened. “In this way we shall gradually become accustomed to your presence,” observed Casimir Perrier. “As far as you are personally concerned, we shall be inclined to throw open the gates of the country to you. But with your son it is different, his name will be a perpetual obstacle in his way. If he should really desire at any time to take service in the army, it would be, above all, necessary that he should lay aside his name. We are in duty bound to consider the wishes of foreign governments: France is divided into so many parties, that a war could only be ruinous, and therefore your son must change his name, if—”
But now the duchess, her cheeks glowing, blushing with displeasure and anger, interrupted him. “What!” exclaimed she, “lay aside the noble name with which France may well adorn itself, conceal it as though we had cause to be ashamed of it?”
Beside herself with anger, regardless, in her agitation, even of the suffering condition of her son, she hastened to his bedside, to inform him of the proposition made to her by Louis Philippe’s minister.
The prince arose in his couch, his eyes flaming, and his cheeks burning at the same time with the fever-heat of disease and of anger.
“Lay aside my name!” he exclaimed. “Who dares to make such a proposition to me? Let us think of all these things no more, mother. Let us go back to our retirement. Ah, you were right, mother: our time is passed, or it has not yet come!”
THE DEPARTURE OF THE DUCHESS FROM PARIS.
Excitement had made the patient worse, and caused his fever to return with renewed violence. Hortense was now inseparable from his bedside; she herself applied ice to his burning throat, and assisted in applying the leeches ordered by the physician. But this continuous anxiety and excitement, all these troubles of the present, and sad remembrances of the past, had at last exhausted the strength of the delicate woman; the flush of fever now began to show itself on her cheeks also, and the physician urged her to take daily exercise in the open air if she desired to avoid falling ill.