We were to go to Madame de Choisy’s assembly. She was the wife of the Chanceller of the Duke of Orleans, and gave a fete every year, to which all the court went; and, by way of disarming suspicion, all the cavaliers who were in the great world were to attend to order that their plans might not be suspected.
Our kind Queen Henrietta insisted on inspecting Nan and me before we went. She was delighted with the way in which my mother had dressed our hair, made her show how it was done, and declared it was exactly what was suited to her niece, Mademoiselle, none of whose women had the least notion of hair-dressing. She was going herself to the Luxembourg to put the finishing touches, and Nan and I must come with her. I privately thought my mother would have been more to the purpose, but the Queen wanted to show the effect of the handi-work. However, Nan disliked the notion very much, and showed it so plainly in her face that the Queen exclaimed: ’You are no courtier, Mademoiselle de Ribaumont. Why did you not marry her to her Roundhead cousin, and leave her in England, Madame? Come, my god-daughter, you at least have learnt the art of commanding your looks.’
Poor Annora must have had a sad time of it with my mother when we were gone. She was a good girl, but she had grown up in rough times, and had a proud independent nature that chafed and checked at trifles, and could not brood being treated like a hairdresser’s block, even by Queens or Princesses. She was likewise very young, and she would have been angered instead of amused at the scene which followed, which makes me laugh whenever I think of it.
The Queen sent messages to know whether the Prince of Wales were ready, and presently he came down in a black velvet suits slashed with white and carnation ribbons, and a little enameled jewel on his gold chain, representing a goose of these three colours. His mother turned him all round, smoothed his hair, fresh buckled his plume, and admonished him with earnest entreaties to do himself credit.
‘I will, Madame,’ he said. ’I will do my very utmost to be worthy of my badge.’
’Now, Charles, if you play the fool and lose her, I will never forgive you.’
I understood it soon. The Queen was bent on winning for her son the hand of Mademoiselle, a granddaughter of France, and the greatest heiress there. If all were indeed lost in England, he would thus be far from a landless Prince, and her wealth might become a great assistance to the royal cause in England. But Mademoiselle was several years older than the Prince, and was besides stiff, haughty, conceited, and not much to his taste, so he answered rather sullenly that he could not speak French.
‘So much the better,’ said his mother; ’you would only be uttering follies. When I am not there, Rupert must speak for you.’