Page:Secret history of the French court under Richelieu and Mazarin/Chapter I/Page 43
airing; then, at nine in the evening, she mounted on horseback disguised as a man, and, when five or six leagues from home, found herself without letters, without itinerary, without waiting-maid, and followed only by two servants. She was unable to change her horse during the night, and she arrived the next morning at Ruffec, one league from Verteuil, where La Rochefoucauld resided, without having taken a single hour of repose. Instead of claiming his hospitality, she wrote him the following note: " Sir, I am a French gentleman who asks your aid to preserve his liberty, and perhaps his life. I have fought an unhappy duel, and have killed a nobleman of distinction. This forces me to leave France in haste, as I am pursued. I believe you to be generous enough to serve me without knowing me. I need a carriage and a valet to attend me." La Rochefoucauld sent her what she wished. The carriage was a great relief to her, for she was worn out with fatigue. Her new guide conducted her to another house of Rochefoucauld, where she arrived at midnight; there she left the carriage and the two domestics who had hitherto accompanied her, and again set out on horseback towards the frontier of Spain. The saddle of her horse was covered with blood; this she said was from a sword thrust she had received in the thigh. She slept in a barn on the hay, and scarcely tasted food. But as beautiful and as fascinating in the black costume of a cavalier as in the brilliant attire of a court lady, her gallant mien won the admiration of all the women, and during this adventurous journey, she made, despite herself, as many conquests as when in the halls of the Louvre, and, according to La Rochefoucauld, " she showed more modesty and more cruelty than men like her usually possess." At one time she met ten or twelve cavaliers
- La Rochefoucauld, p. 356. Tallemant, Vol. i., p. 250, relates the strangest imaginable anecdotes, but we shall only cite certain and authentic facts. Extrait de l'information, etc.: A citizen's wife passed by chance, and seeing her lying on the hay, exclaimed: "This is the handsomest youth I ever saw! Sir, come rest in my house, you excite my pity," etc.