Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June 3, 1779 Some family history


This may be a short entry as I find myself with a headache tonight and will probably retire to bed early. Was not able to do any painting as I had planned due to the weather, which was very cloudy and which rained from time to time, preventing me from painting at all outdoors and which made the light inside very bad indeed.

It did, however, mean that the entire party was forced to spend the day inside together; Msr. Lamotte and myself included. Trapped in the salon during one excessively boring rehearsal of that play we traded discreet conversation on our dislike of the venture. He too finds Beau Monte somewhat stifling and will probably leave us shortly, which made me very sad; but he showed no particular inclination for where to go after that so I believe I may persuade him to stay a while yet.

I have not succeeded in encouraging him to talk about his parents or situation yet, which seems to be a subject of some distaste to him. When I am next able to speak with Adrienne alone I will inquire of her his story, but until then I am left to conjecture that he is the bastard son of noble parentage, or else a younger son of lesser inheritance. I seem to be drawn to men of few means.

Everyone else being occupied we were able to spend the majority of the day unobserved. I wore my blue satin anglaise, but deliberately left my fichu in my room. Complaining that I was cold, he was prompted to inquire if rubbing my hands for me might warm them; a liberty I could not in the end encourage for fear of appearing very forward. Our desire not to disturb those practicing led him to lean forward and whisper into my ear several times, and the proximity of his lips was enticing. Our conversation was light and teasing, and I do think he seemed in a happier and more affectionate mind than yesterday. He had not the opportunity, however, to practice his charms on anyone else, and so I’m sure the perceived favoritism is incidental.

A letter from T- informs me that he is considering a military commission, but one which would not require him to travel very often. Such a post must be very expensive and require better friends than I can provide to secure it. I wonder if he has told me everything. Dear Thierry was inspired by my last letter to express his affections in writing, but I will savor those words elsewhere. How can I be so enticed by two different men at the same time? Very different men, I may say.

My steward writes that the grain shortages may work to our advantage, as Auvergne is at least capable of offering better prices and fair proximity to Paris (and indeed to most of the kingdom), than Provence farther south. He also writes that it will likely cost me twice what I had hoped for this trip to Versailles, as prices have risen steeply there in the last six months. With this grain business to bargain around I don’t know that any amount of money would dissuade me from my venture, as no better time may present itself. I have made it my personal goal, that as Comtesse d’Auvergne my contribution to the deeds of my ancestors shall be the reclamation of our purloined land and the wealth it brings.

I think my father would have preferred that I contribute a husband to take our name and many, many male heirs; but that will come in time. Having died when I was only five years of age, I did not know him very well, but one of my only memories of him was being in his study and hearing him bemoan the fact that for generations we have been only one heir away from the throne claiming all of Auvergne.
He was an only surviving child, as was his father, and his father before him. If Anne de la Tour had not married her cousin, Gabriel de la Tour, the name at least would have been lost; and the lands inherited by her aunt, Catherine de Medici. My poor parents I’m sure intended to have many children, but only I was born of their five short years of marriage, before the smallpox which took my father and scarred me. Mother, having remarried Msr. Cordelay less than a year after quickly proved herself capable of sons, though of the five she bore only two remain.

I said that this would not be long, but it is and my headache is not any better. Some cordial and rest I think is necessary. Perhaps some drawing or painting tomorrow. I may forget my shawl again.

Olympe, Comtesse

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