But bah! he was absolutely driven to find some excuse! How could he play the devoted husband to a little ugly imbecile like that, who would make him ridiculous every moment they appeared together? Yes, he knew I had done the best I could for her, but what was she after all? And her affection was worst of all. Everybody would made game of him.
There was no getting farther. The example of the Prince of Conde and the fear of ridicule had absolutely steeled his heart and blinded his eyes. He could not and would not endure the innocent wife who adored him.
Finally my mother, calling in Solivet, came to the following arrangement, since it was plain that we must part with our inmates. Cecile and her children were to be installed in the Hotel d’Aubepine, to which her husband did not object, since he would be either in attendance on the Prince, or with his regiment. This was better than sending her either to a convent or to the country, since she would still be within our reach, although to our great vexation we could not prevail so far as to hinder Madame Croquelebois from being installed as her duenna, the intendant himself returning to La Vendee.
To our surprise, Cecile did not seem so much dismayed at returning under the power of her tyrant as we had expected. It was doing what her husband wished, and living where she would have news of him, and perhaps sometimes see him.
That was all she seemed to think about, except that she would have her children still with her, and not be quite cut off from us.
And I took this consolation, that she was in better health and a woman of twenty-two could not be so easily oppressed as a sickly child of sixteen.
But we were very unhappy about it, and Annora almost frantic, above all at Cecile’s meek submission. She was sure the poor thing would be dead in a month, and then we should be sorry.
TWELTH night, or what you will.
My mother declared that M. d’Aubepine would fare the better if we left her alone and did not excite the jealousy of Madame Croquelebois, who would be quite capable of carrying her off into the country if she were interfered with.
Indeed it was not an easy or a pleasant thing to go about Paris just then, and we were obliged to stay at home. The town was in a restless state, mobs went about, hooting or singing political songs, or assembled in front of the Louvre to abuse the Cardinal, and any one who was supposed to belong to the Court party might at any time be mobbed. Annora and I much missed the explanations that our brother, Lord Walwyn, used to make to us; and the listening to his conversations with M. Darpent. The Duchess de Rambouillet and her family had wisely retired to their estates, so that there were no more meetings in the Salon Bleu; and after what my brother had said to me, I durst not make the slightest demonstration towards Clement Darpent, though I continued to give my weekly receptions to our poor hungry cavaliers, as I had promised Eustace that I would do. It was from one of them, Sir Andrew Macniven, a clever man who had been a law student in Scotland and at Leyden, that we came to some understanding of what was going on around us.