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Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry

Chapter 1
Letter from Lebel--Visit from Lebel--Nothing conclusive--Another visit from Lebel-
-Invitation to sup with the king--Instructions of the comte Jean to the comtesse
One morning comte Jean entered my apartment, his face beaming with delight.
'Read," said he, giving me a letter, "read, Jeannette: victory is ours. News from
Morand. Lebel is coming to Paris, and will dine with us. Are we alone?"
"No, there are two of your countrymen whom you invited yesterday."
"I will write and put them off. Morand alone must dine with Lebel; he ought to
have a place at the feast which he furnishes with such good music. Come, my
dear girl, we touch the moment of importance, it is in your beauty and power of
pleasing that I place all my hopes. I think I may rely on you; but, above all, do not
forget that you are my sister-in-law."
"Brother-in-law," said I, laughing, "it is not unnecessary that I should know
decidedly to which of family I am married? The custom in France is not that a
woman be the undivided property of three brothers."
"That only happens in Venice," replied the comte; "my brother Elie is too young,
you must be the wife of Guillaume, my second brother."
"Very well; I am the comtesse Guillaume du Barry; that does famously well; we
like to know whom we are married to."
After this conversation, comte Jean insisted on presiding at my toilette. He
acquitted himself of the task, with a most laughable attention. During two good
hours, at least, he tormented first Henriette, and then the female hairdresser, for I
had not yet followed the mode, which began to be very general, of having my hair
dressed by a man. Comte Jean passed alternately from my dressing-room to the
kitchen. He knew Lebel was a gallant and a gourmand, and he was anxious to
please him in all senses at once.
At one o'clock I was under arms, and prepared to receive him on whom my
destiny depended. As soon as I reached the drawing-room, comte Jean
compelled me to submit to the test of a rigid examination.
His serious air amused me much as he gazed at me some time in solemn
silence. At length his forehead relaxed, a smile of satisfaction played on his lips,
and extending his arms to me, without venturing to touch me, "You are charming,
divine," he said; "Lebel ought to go and hang himself if he does not fall down at
your knees."
Soon afterwards the folding-doors were hastily opened, and a servant
announced M. Lebel, premier de sa Majeste, with M. Morand. The comte went to
meet the arrivals, and as I now saw Lebel for the first time, he presented him to
me formally.
"Sister, this is M. Lebel, premier de sa Majeste , who has done us the honor to
come and dine with us."
"And he confers a real pleasure on us," said I, looking smilingly on M. Lebel. My
look had its effect, for Lebel remained mute and motionless from admiration at
my person. At length he stammered out a few incoherent words, which I