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The Story Of The Duchess Of Cicogne And Of Monsieur De Boulingrin
1920

written by "France, Anatole, 1844-1924"
...n accomplished, ordered that the sleeping Princess should be placed in the Blue Chamber, on a bed of azure embroidered with silver. Shocked, and full of consternation, the courtiers made ready to weep, practised sighing, and assumed an expression of deep affliction. Intrigues were formed in every direction; it was reported that the King had discharged his Ministers. The blackest calumnies were hatched. It was said that the Duc de La Rochecoupe had concocted a draught to send the Princess to sleep, and that Monsieur de Boulingrin was his accomplice. The Duchess of Cicogne climbed the secret staircase to the chambers of her old friend, whom she found in his night-cap, smiling, for he was reading La Fiance du roi de Garbe. Cicogne told him the news, and how the Princess was lying on a blue bed in a state of lethargy. The Secretary of State listened attentively. "You do not believe, I hope, my dear friend, that the fairies have anything to do with it?" he said. For he did not believe in fairies, although three of them, ancient and venerable, had overpowered him with their love and their staves, and had drenched him to the skin in a disgusting liquid, in order to prove their existence to him. The defect of the experimental method pursued by these ladies is that the experiment was addressed to the senses, whose testimony one can always challenge. "The fairies have had everything to do with it!" cried the Duchess. "The Princess's accident may have the most unfortunate results for you and for me. People will not fail to attribute it to the incapacity of the Ministers, and possibly to their malevolence. Can one tell how far calumny may reach? You are already accused of niggardliness. According to what is being said, you refused, on my advice, to pay for warders for the young and unfortunate Princess. Worse than that, there are rumours of black magic, of casting spells. The storm has got to be faced. Show yourself, or...

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