“That would make me very happy, Madame, and I am sure that you must envy my joy to be with your mother. She has been pleased to make me write all that praise of myself, though I was rather ashamed to do it. But I am very unhappy that she is going away.”
Madame resumes the pen: “... The child, desired to converse with you ...”—which one may or may not believe. If, as I feel sure, she was bidden to the task, I don’t see how she could possibly have brought it off better than in those demure phrases. But is she not a dear little creature?
Then came the dreadful day, the 24th of March, and Madame’s coach and six horses carry her to Laval on her way to Paris. She stays there for the night and writes, of course, to her chere bonne: “... They carried off the petite personne early this morning to save me the outcries of her grief. They were the sobs of a child, so natural that they moved me. I dare say she is dancing about now, but for two days she has been in floods, not having been able to learn restraint from me!” Madame, as we know, had abundantly the gift of tears, and was assuredly none the worse for it.
In Paris, Corbinelli was secretary for a time; but she regretted the petite personne. “... I don’t like a secretary who is cleverer than I am.... The child suited me much better.”
And there the happy little figurine, having danced her hour at Les Rochers, leaves the stage. Other petites personnes there are—one the sister of La Murinette Beaute, who got on so well with M. de Rohan, and was a lady of Madame de Chaulnes’, and presently married a respectable gentleman, a M. de le Bedoyere of Rennes. But these are too high levels for the granddaughter of the good-wife Marcile. That petite personne, moreover, was a rather sophisticated young lady. One would never have seen her, in the mornings, munching a hunk of bread-and-butter “as long as from here to Easter.” No; Jeannette has fulfilled her part, providing a whiff of marjoram and cottage flowers for the castle chambers. She has read, written and said her prayers. She has the firm outline, the rosy cheeks, the simplicity of a Watteau peasant-girl—nothing of the Greuze languish, with its hint of a cruche cassee. She is as fresh as a March wind. Let us believe that she found a true man to relish her prettiness and sharp little wits.
Tom Coryat, the “single-soled, single-souled and single-shirted observer of Odcombe,” having finally bored his neighbours in the country past bearing, was volleyed off upon a tempest of their yawns to London. Exactly when that was I can’t find out, but I suppose it to have been in the region of 1605.