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Rue St. Pierre, and had devoutly sent her word by her fille de chambre that I would assuredly wait upon her—but I am governed by circumstances—I cannot govern them: so seeing a man standing with a basket on the other side of the street, as if he had something to sell, I bid La Fleur go up to him and enquire for the Count's hotel.
La Fleur returned a little pale: and told me it was a Chevalier de St. Louis selling patés—it is impossible, La Fleur, said I.-La Fleur could no more account for the phenomenon than myself; but persisted in his story: he had seen the croix set in gold, with its red ribband, he said, tied to his button-hole-and had looked into the basket and seen the patés which the Chevalier was selling; so could not be mistaken in that.
Such a reverse in man's life awakens a better principle than curiosity: I could not help looking for some time at him as I sat in the remise-the more I look'd at him, his croix, and his basket, the stronger they wove themselves into brain-I got my out of the remise, and went towards him.
He was begirt with a clean linen apron, which fell below his knees, and with a sort of a bib that went half-way up his breast; upon the top of this, but a little below the hem, hung his croix. His basket of little patés was covered over with a
white damask napkin : another of the same kind was spread at the bottom; and there was a look of propreté and neatness throughout, that one might have bought his pates of him, as much from appetite as sentiment.
He made an offer of them to neither; but stood still with them at the corner of a hotel, for those to buy who chose it, without solicitation. He was about forty-eight
of a sedate look, something approaching to gravity. I did not wonder.—I went up rather to the basket than him, and having lifted up the napkin, and taken one of his pates into my hand-I begg'd he would explain the appearance which affected me.
He told me in a few words, that the best part of his life had pass'd in the service, in which, after spending a small patrimony, he had obtain'd a company and the croix with it; but that, at the conclusion of the last peace, his regiment being reformed, and the whole corps, with those of some other regiments, left without any provision, he found himself in a wide world without friends, without a livre—and indeed, said he, without anything but this-(pointing, as he said it, to his croix). The poor Chevalier won my pity, and he finished the scene with winning my esteem too.
The king, he said, was the most generous of
princes, but his generosity could neither relieve or reward every one, and it was only his misfortune to be amongst the number. He had a little wife, he said, whom he loved, who did the patisserie; and added, he felt no dishonour in defending her and himself from want in this way-unless Providence had offer'd him a better.
It would be wicked to withhold a pleasure from the good, in passing over what happen'd to this poor Chevalier of St. Louis about nine months after.
It seems he usually took his stand near the iron gates which lead up to the palace, and as his croix had caught the eye of numbers, numbers had made the same inquiry which I had done-He had told the same story, and always with so much modesty and good sense, that it had reach'd at last the king's ears--who hearing the Chevalier had been a gallant officer, and respected by the whole regiment as a man of honour and integrity—he broke up his little trade by a pension of fifteen hundred livres a year.
As I have told this to please the reader, I beg he will allow me to relate another, out of its order, to please myself—the two stories reflect light upon each other and 'tis a pity they should be parted.
HEN states and empires have their periods of declension, and feel in their turns what distress and poverty is-I stop not to tell the causes which gradually brought the house d'E*** in Britanny into decay. The Marquis d'E**** had fought up against his condition. with great firmness; wishing to preserve, and still shew to the world some little fragments of what his ancestors had been-their indiscretions had put it out of his power. There was enough left for the little exigencies of obscurity-But he had two boys who look'd up to him for light-he thought they deserved it. He had tried his sword-it could not open the way the mounting was too expensive— and simple œconomy was not a match for it-there was no resource but commerce.
In any other province in France, save Britanny, this was smiting the root for ever of the little tree his pride and affection wish'd to see reblossom-But in Britanny, there being a provision for this, he avail'd himself of it; and taking an occasion when the states were assembled at Rennes, the Marquis, attended with his two boys, entered the
court; and having pleaded the right of an ancient law of the duchy, which, though seldom claim'd, he said, was no less in force, he took his sword from his side- Here, said he, take it; and be trusty guardians of it, till better times put me in condition to reclaim it.
The president accepted the Marquis's sword -he staid a few minutes to see it deposited in the archives of his house, and departed.
The Marquis and his whole family embarked the next day for Martinico, and in about nineteen or twenty years of successful application to business, with some unlook'd-for bequests from distant branches of his house, return'd home to reclaim his nobility and to support it.
It was an incident of good fortune which will never happen to any traveller, but a sentimental one, that I should be at Rennes at the very time of this solemn requisition : I call it solemn—it was so to me. The Marquis enter'd the court with his whole family he supported his lady—his eldest son supported his sister, and his youngest was at the other extreme of the line next his mother—he put his handkerchief to his face twice
-There was a dead silence. When the Marquis had approach'd within six paces of the tribunal, he gave the Marchioness to his youngest