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Every word Nicault uttered was a mortal stab to the peace of Madame de Varonne; she addressed herself to the physician, and with wringing hands and flowing tears conjured him not to abandon Ambrose. He was a man of humanity; and besides, his curiosity was strongly incited. by every thing he had heard and seen, he therefore readily engaged to spend part of the night with his patient. Madame de Varonne then sent for bedding, blankets, and sheets, and, with the assistance of Susan, made up a bed, on which Ambrose was gently lạid by Nicault and the physician; after which she sat herself down on a stool, and gave free vent to her tears.
About four in the morning the physician went, after he had bled the patient, and promised to return at noon. As for Madame de Varonne, you may easily imagine she never quitted him a moment; she remained eight and forty hours at his bed-side without the least hope; at last, on the third day, the physician thought he perceived some favourable symptoms, and at night declared him out of danger.
I shall not attempt to describe the joy of Madame de Varonne when she saw Ambrose out of danger; she would have watched the night following, but Ambrose, who now was po longer light-headed, would by no means consent, and she returned home, overcome with fatigue, The physician came on the morrow to visit her, and she was so much obliged to him, so grateful for the vast attention he had paid to Ambrose, that she could not refuse to answer his questions: she selated her history, and satisfied his curiosity. Three days after this, he was obliged to return suddenly to Paris, for he did not reside at St. Germain, leaving Madame de Varonne in good health, and Ambrose recovering
The situation of Madame de Varonne, however, was at this instant as critical as it was distressing: in a week she had expended on Ambrose what little money she possessed, except just enough to supply them for four or five days. Buť Ambrose could not, without the most imminent danger, begin to work again so soon, and she shuddered with fear lest necessity should urge him to labour once more at the hazard of his life. Then it was that she felt all the horror of want, and reproached herself most bitterly for having accepted the money of the generous Ambrose. Had it not been for me, said she, he would have been happy; his industry would have procured him a comfortable livelihood: his faithful attachment to me has robbed him of ease, health, and happiness.... nay, yet, perhaps, of life...... And I must sink to the grave without acquitting this vast obligation...... Acquitting?......Alas were the universe at my command, it would be impossible!......God alone can discharge a debt so sacred! God alone can worthily reward virtue so sublime!
One evening as Madame de Varonne sat profoundly absorbed in such like melancholy reflections, Susan came running, out of breath, to tell her that a great lady wanted to speak with her.....A lady! said her mistress, whiat lady You are mistaken...... No, no, be quick, answered Susan, I saw her myself, and she said, says she, I want to speak with Madame de yaşonne, who lives up three pair of stairs at M. Daviet's ; she said this out of her coach window:' a fine coach, with six fine horses; so as I happened to be standing at the door and heard her, I answered and said, says !, that's here, says I, an't please your ladyship; and so, says shë, gó, my dear, and tell Madaine de Varome, that I beg she will do me the honour to permit ise to speak a
few words with her ;......whereupon I put my best leg foremost, and......
Susan was interrupted by two or three gentle taps on the door, which Madame de Varonne, with great emotion, rose to open. She drew back, and beheld a most beautiful lady enter and advance with a timid, respectful and compassionate air. Madame de Varonne ordered Susan to leave the room, and as soon as they were alone, the unknown lady began the cwyersation by saying, I am happy, madam, in being the first to inform you, that the king has at last come to the knowledge of your situation, and that his goodness means hereafter to recompence you for the foriner injustice of fortune towards you......Oh, Ambroșe ! 'exclaimed Madame de Varonne, and clasped her hands, and raised her eyes to heaven, with the most forcible and expressive picture of joy and gratitude in her countenance.
Her visitant could not refrain from tears. She approached Madame de Varonne, and taking her affectionately by the hand, said, come, madam, come to the apartments that are prepared for you, come...... Oh! Madam, interrupted Madame de Varonne, what can I say? how speak;...... Yet if I durst...... I beg your pardon......but, madam, I have a benefactor......such a benefactor! suffer me to tell you how......I will leave you at full liberty, said the lady, and lest my company should at present be the least embarrassment, I will not even go
with you to your house, I shall return homewards, but first I must conduct you to your coach, which waits at the door...... My coach!...... Yes, dear madam, come, let us lose no time.
In saying this, she presented her arın to Madame de Varonne, who scarce had power to descend the stairs. When they had reached the door, the lady desired one of her footmen to call Madame de Varonne's servants.......She thought herself in a dream, and her astonishment increased when she saw the footman beckon the carriage, which was simple and elegant, to the door, let down the step, and heard him say, my lady's carriage is ready. The unknown lady then accompanied her to her coach, took her leave, and stept into her own carriage.
Madame de Varonne's footman waited to receive her orders, and she, with a gentle and trembling voice, desired to be drove to the house of Nicault, the brazier. You will easily conceive, my children, the lively emotion, the agitation, which the sight of that house occasioned in her heart......She drew the cord, she stopped, she opened the door herself, and leaning upon her footman's shoulder for support, entered the shop of Nicault.
The first object she beheld was Ambrose...... Ambrose himself, in his working dress, scarce out of the bed of sickness, and again, notwithstanding his weakness, endeavouring to labour......The tenderness, the satisfaction, the joy she felt, are unutterable; he was labouring for her, and she came to snatch him from these painful labours, to release him from fatigue and misery. Then it was she tasted, in all it's purity, that deep and well founded gratitude which superior minds alone can taste...... Come, cried she with transport,...... Come, noble Ambrose...... follow me......quit your labours and your cares; they are ended; your fate is changed; delay not a moment but come......
In vain did the astonished Ambrose beg an explanation, in vain did he desire time at least to put on his Sunday cloaths; Madame de Varonne was incapable of hearing, or of answering; she took hold of
his arm, dragged him along, and obliged him to get into the carriage.
.... Would you please, madam, to be drove to your new house? said the servant...... Her heart leaped within her...... Yes, said she, fixing her eyes, that overflowed with tears, upon Ambrose...... Yes...... Drive us to our new house.
Away they went, and Madaine de Varonne recounted every thing as it happened to Ambrose, who listened with a joy mixed with fear and doubt: he scarcely durst believe in happiness so extraordinary, so unhoped. The carriage, at length, stopped at a neat tittle house, in the forest de St. Germain, and they alighted: as they entered the hall, they were met hy the unknown lady, who had been waiting for their arrival, and who presented a paper to Madame de Varonne...... The king, said she, has deigned to charge me with this, madam, that I might remit it to you; it is a brevet for a pension of ten thousand livres (four hundred guineas) a year, with a liberty of leaving half that sum to whoever you shall please to nominate at your decease.
This is indeed a benefaction, cried Madame de Varonne...... Behold that person, madam, behold that nobly virtuous man, who is truly worthy of your protection, and the favour of his soyereign.
Ambrose, who at first had placed himself behind his mistress, felt his embarrassment increase at these words, and taking off his cap, retieated with a bashful air; for notwithstanding the excess of his joy, he felt a painful confusion at hearing himself so much praised; besides that he was a little vexed to be seen, for the first time, by so fine a lady, in his leathern apron, dirty jacket, and without his wig, and could not help regretting, in soine degree, the want of his Sunday cloaths.
The unknown lady following, cried, Stop, Ambrose ......stop.....let me look at you, let me consider you a moment...... Dear madam, said Ambrose, bowing, I have done nothing but what was very natural, nothing to astonish
one...... Here Madame de Varonne interrupted him, to relate, which she did with rapidity and enthusiasm, how much she owed her support, her all, her life itself, to Ambrose. When she had ended, the unknown lady, deeply affected, sighed, and raising her eyes to heaven said...... And have I at last, after meeting so much ingratitude in the world, have I the exquisite delight of finding two hearts truly sensibly, truly noble ! ...... Adieu, madam, continued she......adieu!......be happy ......this house, and all that it contains, is your's; you will receive directly the first quarter of your pension...... As she finished she approached the door, but Madame de Varonne ran, bathed in tears, and threw herself at her fect. The lady raised, tenderly embraced her, and departed. She bad scarcely quitted the threshold, before the door again opened, and the physician, to whom Ambrose owed his life, entered.
Madame de Parovne, the moment she beheld him, immediately comprehended the whole affair. After having testified the gratitude with which her heart overflowed, she learnt from him that the unknown lady was Madame de P***, who resided always at Versailles, where she had great influence. I have been her physician, said he for these ten years ; I knew her benevolence, and was certain she would interest herself exceedingly in your behalf, when she had heard your history. No sooner, indeed, had I related it, than she began to verify my hopes;