My mother’s jointure had been charged on the Ribaumont estate, and if Eustace failed to gain the suit which had been lingering on so long, there would hardly be enough rents to pay this to her, leaving almost nothing for him. Nor, indeed, was it in my power to do much for their assistance, since my situation was not what it would have been if my dear husband had lived to become Marquis de Nidemerle. And we were neither of us young enough to think that even the most constant love could make it fit to drag Millicent into beggary. Yet still I could see that Eustace did not give up hope. The more I began to despond, the more cheerful he became. Was not the King in Scotland, and when he entered England as he would certainly do next summer, would not all good Cavaliers—yes, and all the Parliament men who had had enough of the domineering of General Cromwell—rise on his behalf? My brother was holding himself in readiness to obey the first summons to his standard, and when he was restored, all would be easy, and he could offer himself to Millicent worthily.
Moreover, my mother had written something about a way that had opened for accommodating the suit respecting the property in Picardy, and Eustace trusted the report all the more because our brother Solivet had also written to urge his recall, in order to confer with his antagonist, the Comte de Poligny, respecting it. So that, as the dear brother impressed on me, he had every reason for hoping that in a very different guise; and his hopes raised mine, so that I let them peep through the letter with which I returned the jewels to Millicent.
And what was this expedient of their? Now, Madame Meg, I forewarn you that what I write here will be a horror and bad example to all your well-brought-up French grandchildren, demoiselles bien elevees, so that I advise you to re-write it in your own fashion, and show me up as a shocking, willful, headstrong, bad daughter, deserving of the worst fate of the bad princesses in Madame d’Aulnoy’s fairly tales. Nay, I am not sure that Mademoiselle de Nidemerle might not think I had actually incurred a piteous lot. But chacun a son gout.
Well, this same expedient was this. M. de Poligny, who claimed the best half of the Picardy estates in right of a grant from Henry III. when in the power of the League, had made acquaintance with our half-brother, Solivet, who had presented him to our mother, and he had offered, with the greatest generosity possible—said my mother—to waive his claims and put a stop to the suit (he knew it could not hold for a moment), provided she would give her fair daughter to his son, the Chevalier de Poligny, with the reversion of the Ribaumont property, after my brother, on whom, vulture that he was, he had fixed his eyes, as a man in failing health. My mother and her eldest