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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 384 pages of information about Stray Pearls.

Thus I had to turn out my fine gowns (grown all too tight for me) and betake me to the Queen, who had become a little old woman, but was as gay and kind as ever, and told me much about my mother and sister.  The King himself came and spoke to me, and said he supposed I wished to have the old title revived; but I told him, with all thanks, that I liked my husband better by his own name than by that which I had rather leave sacred to my brother; whereat he laughed, and said he must make a low bow to me, as being the first person he had met who had nothing to ask from him.

That was all I saw of the Court.  Before many weeks had passed the cruel smallpox had carried off the young Duke of Gloucester in his twentieth year, taking him, mayhap, from the evil to come, in his bright youth and innocence, for had he lived, and kept himself unsoiled even to these days, he might have been sorely tempted to break that last promise made when he sat on his father’s knee.

Soon after Madame van Hunker came to England.  There was Wardour property, which had descended to her, and she was glad to have a good cause for bringing her daughter Emilia to England.  My children all knew and loved the fair and saint-like lady full of alms-deeds, and with the calm face that always was ready with comfort and soothing.  The very sight of it would rest the fretful, hasty spirit; and I was thankful indeed that when Emilia married, her mother still abode near to us—­I felt her like my guardian spirit.

My husband kept his post till my Lord Clarendon went out and the Cabal came in, and then, not liking those he had to work with, he gave up his office, and we retired into the country, while our children were still young enough to grow up in the love to Walwyn that I had always felt.

CHAPTER XXXIV

ANNORA’S HOME

It seemed as if I had scarcely time to understand what was the meaning of my party with my beloved brother and sister.  My poor Cecile was still so ill that I could hardly attend to anything else, and when I returned in the morning I found that, missing me, she had fallen into another crisis, and that all the danger was renewed.

However, the poor frail creature lived, little as she cared to do so, except to pray for the soul of the husband to whom her whole being had been given, ever since they had wedded her to him as a mere child.  It was well that I had her to attend to, or my home would have seemed very desolate to me, empty as it now was of my brother and sister, and with my mother spending her time between her Queen and her favourite convent.  Happily for me there was no longer required to be in waiting, but was free to finish his education.  Indeed, I believe the Queen had found out that Gaspard had put into King Louis’s head certain strange ideas about sovereigns and subjects, so that she was glad to keep him at a distance.  Queen Henrietta bade me take care what I was doing.  Thus Cardinal Mazarin being absent, and the events of former years not brought to mind, it was possible to obtain permission to retire for a time to our estates.  Indeed I fancy it was meant to disgrace two such Frondeuses as we were supposed to have been.

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