‘They must come to me,’ I cried. ’He will soon be well in this beautiful air; I will feed him with goat’s mild and whey, and Tryphena shall nurse him well.’
M. de Solivet made no answer to this, but told me how delighted the Queen of England had to welcome my mother, whom she had at once appointed as one of her ladies of the bedchamber; and then we spoke of King Charles, who was at Hampton Court, trying to make terms with the Parliament, and my brother spoke with regret and alarm of the like spirit of resistance in our own Parliament of Paris, backed by the mob. I remember it was on that evening that I first heard the name Frondeurs, or Slingers, applied to the speechifiers on either side who started forward, made their hit, and retreated, like the little street boys with their slings. I was to hear a great deal more of that name.
It was not till after supper that I heard the cause of M. de Solivet’s visit. Cecile, who always retired early, went away sooner than usual to leave us together, so did the Abbe, and then the baron turned to me and said: ’Sister, how soon can you be prepared to come with me to Paris?’
I was astounded, thinking at first that Eustace’s illness must be more serious than he had led me to suppose, but he smiled and said notre frere de Volvent, which was the nearest he could get to Walwyn, had nothing do with it; it was by express command of the Queen Regent, and that I might thank my mother and the Queen of England that it was no worse. ‘This is better than a letter de catche,’ he added, producing a magnificent looking envelope with a huge seal of the royal French arms, that made me laugh rather nervously to brave my dismay, and asked what he called that. He responded gravely that it was no laughing matter, and I opened it. It was an official order that Gaspard Philippe Beranger de Bellaise, Marquis de Nidemerle, should be brought to the Louvre to be presented to the King.
‘Well,’ I said, ’I must go to Paris. Ought I to have brought my boy before? I did not know that he ought to pay his homage till he was older. Was it really such a breach of respect?’
‘You are a child yourself, my sister,’ he said, much injuring my dignity. ‘What have you not been doing here?’
Then it came on me. The intendant of the King had actually written complaints of me to the Government. I was sewing disaffection among the peasants by the favours I granted my own, teaching them for rebellion like that which raged in England, and bringing up my son in the same sentiments. Nay, I was called the Firebrand of the Bocage! If these had been the days of the great Cardinal de Richelieu, my brother assured me, I should probably have been by this time in the Bastille, and my son would have been taken from me for ever!’
However, my half-brother heard of it in time, and my mother had flown to Queen Henrietta, who took her to the Queen-Regent, and together they had made such representations of my youth, folly, and inexperience that the Queen-Mother, who had a fellow-feeling for a young widow and her son, and at last consented to do nothing worse than summon me and my child to Paris, where my mother and her Queen answered for me that I should live quietly, and give no more umbrage to the authorities; and my brother De Solivet had been sent off to fetch me!