But what gave to this dainty collation a singularly apostolic and papal character were sundry symbols of religious worship carefully represented. Thus there were charming little Calvaries in apricot paste, sacerdotal mitres in burnt almonds, episcopal croziers in sweet cake, to which the princess added, as a mark of delicate attention, a little cardinal’s hat in cherry sweetmeat, ornamented with bands in burnt sugar. The most important, however, of these Catholic delicacies, the masterpiece of the cook, was a superb crucifix in angelica, with a crown of candied berries. These are strange profanations, which scandalize even the least devout. But, from the impudent juggle of the coat of Triers, down to the shameless jest of the shrine at Argenteuil, people, who are pious after the fashion of the princess, seem to take delight in bringing ridicule upon the most respectable traditions.
After glancing with an air of satisfaction at these preparations for the collation, the lady said to Mrs. Grivois, as she pointed to the gilded arm-chair, which seemed destined for the president of the meeting: “Is there a cushion under the table, for his Eminence to rest his feet on? He always complains of cold.”
“Yes, your highness,” said Mrs. Grivois, when she had looked under the table; “the cushion is there.”
“Let also a pewter bottle be filled with boiling water, in case his Eminence should not find the cushion enough to keep his feet warm.”
“Yes, my lady.”
“And put some more wood on the fire.”
“But, my lady, it is already a very furnace. And if his Eminence is always too cold, my lord the Bishop of Halfagen is always too hot. He perspires dreadfully.”
The princess shrugged her shoulders, and said to Mrs. Grivois: “Is not his Eminence Cardinal Malipieri the superior of his Lordship the Bishop of Halfagen?”
“Yes, your highness.”
“Then, according to the rules of the hierarchy, it is for his Lordship to suffer from the heat, rather than his Eminence from the cold. Therefore, do as I tell you, and put more wood on the fire. Nothing is more natural; his Eminence being an Italian, and his Lordship coming from the north of Belgium, they are accustomed to different temperatures.”
“Just as your highness pleases,” said Mrs. Grivois, as she placed two enormous logs on the fire; “but in such a heat as there is here his Lordship might really be suffocated.”
“I also find it too warm; but does not our holy religion teach us lessons of self-sacrifice and mortification?” said the princess, with a touching expression of devotion.