It is a mistake, she exclaimed. If I appealed to justice it would be too slow; but the beauty of clemency is that it is quick.

A few minutes later the Countess said that Mme. Le Bruns painting blouse was so convenient she wished she had one like it; and in reply to her offer [120] to lend her one said she would much rather Mme. Charot made it, for which she would send the linen. When it was finished she gave Mme. Charot ten louis.

A flight of steps led up to the portico which was the entrance to this concert hall, and was the favourite lounge of the idle, dissipated young men of fashion, who would stand there in groups, making insolent remarks upon the women who came in and out. One evening as Lisette was coming down the steps with her mother, the Duke of Orlans, afterwards the infamous Philippe-galit, stood there with the Marquis de Genlis, both making outrageous remarks to annoy whoever [26] passed them. To the relief of Lisette, however, the Duke, as he pointed her out to his friend, only remarked in a loud voice: M. de Beaune was cheerful enough when the day was fine, as he spent his time in visiting them; but when it rained he stayed at home fretting, grumbling, and adding unintentionally to the troubles of those he loved. He took to reading romances aloud to Pauline, who could not bear them, partly, perhaps, from over-strictness, but probably more because in those days, before Sir Walter Scott had elevated and changed the tone of fiction, novels were really as a rule coarse, immoral, [236] and, with few exceptions, tabooed by persons of very correct notions. However, she knew M. de Beaune must be amused, so she made no objection.

As to her writings, then so much in vogue, they were mostly works intended either to explain, assist, or illustrate the system of education which was the hobby of her life and which, if one may judge by Adle et Thodore, one of the most important of her tales, can only be called preposterous.

She was a strange character, full of artificial sentiment, affectation, and self-deception, and, unlike the first three heroines of this book, the mystery and doubts which hung over her have never been cleared up. She was so terribly frightened at a thunderstorm that once when visiting the Comte and Comtesse de Provence, as she stayed rather long and they wanted to go out, the Count had some heavy thing rolled on the floor of the room above, which she took for distant thunder and hurried away to reach home before the storm. The demi-monde at that time kept themselves apart from the rest of the company; Frenchmen of good position and manners did not appear with them in public. If they were with them at the theatre it was in a closed box; though in her Souvenirs Mme. Le Brun declares that the fortunes made by them and the men ruined by their extravagance far surpassed anything of the kind after the Revolution.

The abbey was very beautiful, and there were more than a hundred nuns besides the lay sisters and the pensionnaires (children and young girls being educated there).