I wished we could have gone away at once and heard no more, and so must, I think, the young preacher have felt; but he was surrounded with compliments. M. Voiture said he had never heard ’so early nor so late a sermon;’ while others thronged up with their compliments.
Madame de Rambouillet herself murmured: ’He might be Daniel hearing the compliments of Belshazzar on his deciphering the handwriting,’ so impassively did he listen to the suffrages of the assembly, only replying by a bow.
The Duke of Enghien, boldest of course, pressed up to him and, taking his hand, begged to know his name.
‘Bossuet, Monseigneur,’ he answered.
There were one or two who had the bad taste to smile, for Bossuet (I must tell my English kindred) means a draught-ox; but once more the lovely sister of the young Duke grasped my hand and said: ’Oh, that I could hide myself at once! Why will they not let me give myself to my God? Vanity of vanities! why am I doomed?’
I was somewhat frightened, and was glad that a summons of ’my daughter’ from the Princess of Conde interrupted these strange communications. I understood them better when we were called upon to ell the old Marchioness the names of every one whom we had met at the Hotel de Rambouillet, and on hearing of the presence of Mademoiselle de Bourbon she said: ’Ah! yes, a marriage is arranged for the young lady with the Duke of Longueville.’
‘But!’ exclaimed my husband, ’the Duke is an old man, whose daughter is older than I.’
‘What has that to do with it?’ said his aunt. ’There is not much blood in France with which a Montmorency Bourbon can match. Moreover, they say the child is devote, and entetee on Madam de Port Royal, who is more than suspected of being outree in her devotion; so the sooner she is married the better!’
Poor beautiful girl, how I pitied her then! Her lovely, wistful, blue eyes haunted me all night, in the midst of my own gladness; for a courier had come that evening bringing my father’s reply. He said my mother deplored my unusual course, but that for his part he liked his little girl the better for her courage, and that he preferred that I should make my husband’s home happy to my making it at court. All he asked of me was to remember that I had to guard the honour of my husband’s name and of my country, and he desired that I should take Tryphena with me wherever I went.
I am almost afraid to dwell on those happiest days of my life that I spent in garrison. My eyes, old as they are, fill with tears when I am about to write of them, and yet they passed without my knowing how happy they were; for much of my time was spent in solitude, much in waiting, much in anxiety; but ah! there then always was a possibility that never, never can return!