The next afternoon, which was Sunday, we went, all except my brother and sister, who had what my mother called Puritan notions as to Sunday, to see royalty walk in the Tuileries gardens. The Queen was there, slowly pacing along with one of her sons on each side, and beautiful boys they were, in their rich dresses of blue velvet and white satin, with rich lace garnishings, their long fair hair on their shoulders, and their plumed hats less often on their heads than in their hands, as they gracefully acknowledged the homage that met them at each step. Perhaps I thought my Gaspard quite as beautiful, but every widow’s only son is the king of her heart; and we had so trained the boy that he did his part to perfection kneeling and kissing the hand which King Louis extended to him. Yet it had—to me who was fresh to such scenes—something of the air of a little comedy, to see such gestures of respect between the two children so splendidly dressed, and neither of them yet nine years old.
The little King did his part well, presented M. le Marquis de Nidemerle to his brother the Duke of Anjou, asked graciously whether he could ride and what games he loved best, and expressed a courteous desire that they might often meet.
My sister-in-law was also presented to the Queen, who filled her with ecstasy by making her some compliment on the services of M. la Comte d’Aubepine, and thus began our career at court. We were in favour, and my mother breathed freely.
Cavaliers in exile.
My safety and freedom being thus secure, I was asked, as mistress of the house, whether I would continue the custom my mother had begun of receiving on a Monday, chiefly for the sake of our exiled countryfolk at Paris.
It had been left in doubt, till my fate and my wishes should be known, whether the reunion should take place on the Monday or not; but all lived so simply and within so short a distance that it was very easy to make it known that Lady Walwyn and Madame de Bellaise would receive as usual.
The rule in ordinary French society was then as now, to offer only eau-sucree, sherbets, and light cakes as refreshments, but my mother told me with some disgust that it was necessary to have something more substantial on the buffet for these great Englishmen.
‘Yes,’ said Annora, ’I do believe it is often the only meal worth the name that they get in a week, unless my brother invites them to supper.’
On learning this Tryphena and I resolved that though pies were the most substantial dish at present prepared, we would do our best another time to set before them such a round of salt beef as would rejoice their appetites; and oh! the trouble we had in accomplishing it.
Meantime I submitted to be dressed as my mother wished, much indeed as I am now, except that my hair was put into little curls, and I had no cap. The Queen-Regent wore none, so why should I? Moreover, my mother said that it would not be good taste to put on any jewels among the English.