When I entered the drawing-room, in which a large circle were assembled, Madame Craufurd, though the servants announced my name, could hardly believe I was indeed come. She wept bitterly while embracing me, and observed on the hardship of a person so aged as herself being called on to witness two revolutions. All the horrors of the first are recalled vividly to her mind, and her terror of what may occur is proportioned to what she remembers to have formerly taken place. Nothing seemed to pacify her terror so much as the fact of my having been permitted to pass unmolested to her house, though she considered me little less than insane to have undertaken the task.
“For myself,” said Madame C——, “I have little fear (though her blanched cheek and trembling hand told another story); but for those dearer to me than life, what have I not to dread? You who know the chivalrous sentiments of the Duc de Guiche, and the attachment entertained by him and my granddaughter for the royal family, will understand how much I have to dread for them from the vengeance which their devotion to their sovereign may draw on their heads. They are not, as you are aware, time-servers, like so many others, who will desert their king in his hour of need. No; they will brave death, I am assured, rather than forsake in adversity those whose prosperity they shared.”
The marquis d’Aligre, one of, it not the, richest landed proprietors in France, was among the circle at Madame Craufurd’s, and evinced no little composure and courage in the circumstances in which we found ourselves. He joined me in endeavouring to soothe her fears; and probably the fact of his having so immense a stake to risk in the crisis now taking place, added not a little weight to the arguments he urged to quiet her alarms. When people have so much to lose, their calmness has an imposing effect; and the rhetoric of the most accomplished orator would have probably been less successful than was the composed manner of the marquis d’Aligre, in restoring the wonted courage of our amiable hostess.
When I rose to take leave, Madame C—— tried all her efforts to persuade me to remain to sleep at her house, and I had no little difficulty to escape from her importunity. She would fain send all her men servants to escort me home, and the Marquis d’Aligre also pressingly offered his services; but I was obstinate in my refusal to allow anyone to accompany me, being convinced that there was even less danger in proceeding with a single servant than more numerously attended. I tore myself from the embraces of Madame C——, whose tears flowed afresh, and bedewed my cheeks, and I once more passed through the court-yard, followed to the porter’s lodge by the dames de compagnie, femmes de chambre, and valets de chambre, wondering at my courage, offering up their prayers for my safety, and proclaiming that only an Englishwoman would have faced such danger. The old Swiss porter would not risk opening the gate until he had assured himself, from the window, that the coast was clear, and closed it so rapidly when I had passed it as almost to have endangered my heels.