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      Louis XV., at this time about forty-five, extremely handsome, immersed in a life of pleasure, magnificence, and vice, was then under the domination of the Duchesse de Chateauroux, ma?tresse en titre, the youngest of the five daughters of the Marquis de Nesle, four of whom had been for a longer or shorter period the mistresses of Louis XV. That such a father as the King should have had such a son as the Dauphin is astonishing indeed. The author of some fascinating memoirs of the day writes of him, If I have not yet spoken of M. le Dauphin, do not suppose that it is from negligence or distraction, it is because the thought of his death always envelopes my mind like a funeral pall. His premature end is ever present with me, and is a subject of regret and affliction which I cannot approach without terrible emotion. He was so grievously mourned for, he has been so universally and justly praised, that there would not be much left me to tell you if I were not to speak of his perfect beauty, which was the least of his perfections, and which perhaps for that very reason, the writers of his time never mention.... His face and figure were perfectly formed; and he had, especially in the movement of his lips and the gentle, melancholy pride of his great black eyes, an expression which I have never seen unless perhaps in some old picture of the Spanish school ... he might have been an archangel of Murillo.... He carried with him the happiness of France and the peace of the world, but one felt that it would have [166] been perfect happiness, and that one would never experience it. The subjects, perhaps the family of the King his father had provoked such terrible chastisements, that we may sorrowfully say that France and the French of the eighteenth century were not worthy to be ruled by the Dauphin Louis. [56]

      In the afternoon, while it was still broad daylight and very bright outside, it was already dusk under the arches of the temple, and bats were flitting about.

      "You are not likely to forget the fact I want to ascertain. My wife and I have had an argument about dateswe are at variance about the date of her last visit to youwhile I was awayand I should like to settle our little dispute, though it did not go so far as a wager. When was she with you? On what date did she leave you?"

      The same remarks apply equally to La Fayette, whom, by the bye, Napoleon could not bear, and would have nothing to do with.

      "Is that a flirtation?" she asked Captain Morshead, glancing in the direction of the ante-room where those two were sitting, as she and Isola's cast-off partner waltzed past the muslin-draped doorway.

      Those aching doubts which he felt as he watched beside his wife's sick-bed had vanished like clouds before the sun. Who could doubt the happiness of the mother, absorbed in her firstborn? Who could doubt the love of the wife, looking up at her husband with such tender welcome as he bent over her shoulder to take the little curled-up fist in his, unfold the crumpled fingers, and press them to his lips?

      "Oh, but this is a very pretty gownthe palest shade of pearl colourand I wear pink roses with it. It was made in Paris. I feel sure you will like me in it, Martin," Isola said hurriedly, as if even this small matter fluttered her nerves.


      She did not answer, and they remained silent for some minutes, she seated on a bank covered with heather and wild flowers; he stretched on the short, sweet turf at her feet. The heather had not begun to show its purple bloom,[Pg 89] but there was the gold of the gorse, and the brightness of innumerable wild flowers around and about them as they basked in the sunshine.He and Vergennes were said to have wasted the revenues of France, but at any rate he spent money like a gentleman, and when, in 1787, he was dismissed from office, he did not possess an cu.


      "If you will take off your hat and jacket, and sit down there, I'll get my housekeeper to attend to you," he said, with his hand upon the bell.They started by the eleven-o'clock train from Fowey next morning, husband and wife, in a strangely silent companionshipIsola very pale and still as she sat in a corner of the railway carriage, with her back to the rivers and the sea. Naturally, in a place of that kind, they could not get away without being seen by some of their neighbours. Captain Pentreath was going to Bodmin, and insisted upon throwing away a half-finished cigar in order to enjoy the privilege of Colonel and Mrs. Disney's society, being one of those un[Pg 187]meditative animals who hate solitude. He talked all the way to Par, lit a fresh cigar during the wait at the junction, and reappeared just as the colonel and his wife were taking their seats in the up-train.


      Ah! there is nothing to be said against that one.