Fate had reserved great things for Francoise, and with all manner of horrors it submitted the child to probation to make of it a strong and noble woman.
A severer blow came when her father, losing in gambling all the property which he had gathered in Martinique, died suddenly, leaving his family in poverty and want. Another blow more severe still came when on her return to France, whither her mother was going with her, she lost this last prop of her youth and childhood. Madame d’Aubigne died, and her body was committed to the waves; and, as a destitute orphan, Francoise d’Aubigne touched the soil of France.
And what became of the poor orphan of the Creole of Martinique?
She became the wife of a king, and nearly a queen! For Francoise d’Aubigne, the widow of Scarron, the governess of the children of Louis XIV, had caused the mother of these children, the beautiful Madame de Montespan, to be cast away, and she became the friend, the beloved, the secret spouse of the king: and the lofty Louis, who could say of himself, “L’etat c’est moi” he, with all the power of his will, with all his authority, was the humble vassal of Franchise d’Aubigne, Marquise de Maintenon!
This was the first princess whom Martinique had given to the world!
Was it not possible that the prophecies of the old negro woman could be realized? could not once more a daughter of the Island of Martinique be exalted into a princess?
“You will be Queen of France!” the negress had said.
No, it was mere folly to believe in such a ridiculous prophecy. The throne of France was now occupied. Alongside of her consort, the good, the well-beloved Louis XVI, the young and beautiful Queen Marie Antoinette, the daughter of the mighty Empress Maria Theresa, sat on the throne. She was young, she was beloved throughout France, and she had already, to the great delight of her husband and of his people, borne an heir to the throne of France.
The throne of the lilies stood then on firm and sure foundations, and the prophecies of the old negress belonged only to the kingdom of fables. [Footnote: This prophecy, nearly as related above, was told by the Empress Josephine herself to her maids of honor in the castle of Navarra.—See “Memoires sur l’Imperatrice Josephine, la Ville, la Cour et les Salons de Paris sous l’Empire, par Madame Georgette Ducrest.”]
Six months had barely elapsed since Josephine’s return from the convent when the family Tascher de la Pagerie received from their relatives in Paris letters which were to be of the greatest importance for the whole family.