They parted company at once, the Prince and the lady in the rajah silk going toward the Castle, King toward the gates, somewhat dazed and by no means sure of his senses. He came down to earth after he had marched along on air for some distance, so to speak, and found himself deciding that she was a duchess here, but Loraine at school. What a wonderful place a girl's school must be!
At the same time it was characteristic of the Duchess, that while she was thus painting the portrait of the Cardinal for the private eye of his sovereign, she should address the banished minister himself in a secret strain of condolence, and even of penitence. She wrote to assure Granvelle that she repented extremely having adopted the views of Orange.
The Princess was ordered by Her Majesty to cultivate the acquaintance of the late Duchess of Gordon, who was supposed to possess more influence than any woman in England in order to learn the sentiments of Mr. Pitt relative to the revolutionary troubles. The Duchess, however, was too much of an Englishwoman, and Mr.
Count Saxe would occasionally insist on taking me to the palace, although I objected to going on the ground that the duchess had said I was ugly. But this was reckoned a witticism of mine. Anyhow, as Count Saxe remarked, I could return the compliment to the lady. The entertainments there were dull, and besides, every Russian we saw scowled at us and there was a Russian at every turn.
I recommended a ride after the ambassador. It was impossible. He was to be the escort of a duchess; then to go to a dinner at the Russian embassy, and was under engagements to three balls in the course of the evening. Nothing could be clearer than that such duties must supersede the slight concerns of office.
We confess to a disappointment in his colour, though his paint was not new to us; but time has lent no pleasing patina to his canvases, the majority of which are rusty-looking, cracked, discoloured, dingy or dark. There are several exceptions. The nude and dressed full-lengths of the Duchess of Alba are in excellent preservation, and brilliant audacious painting it is.
The subject of this biography became Duchess of Gordon, a title which involved increased responsibilities and increased anxieties. Happily she realised her position, and determined, by the help of God, to show more clearly that, in whatever rank of life she was, she was striving to be a faithful servant of her Heavenly Master.
The intrigues set afoot by the De Mogyns to get the Duchess of Buckskin to her parties, would strike a Talleyrand with admiration. I have the following story from my noble friend Lady Clapperclaw herself, Lady Kathleen O'Shaughnessy that was, and daughter of the Earl of Turfanthunder:
"Wheresh my lil' present for Duchess?" he wailed. "Can't go 'ome without lil' present." Jonah was in despair. At last he rolled his handkerchief into a ball and thrust it into Dad's hand. Then Dad, relieved and happy, cast Jonah off, and stood for a moment like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Why, good Heavens! you have a thousand arts! But, of course, if the little flame is to be blown into a blaze by a score of so-called friends " He shrugged his shoulders. The Duchess did not take his rebukes kindly, not having, in truth, deserved them. "You are rude and unkind, Jacob," she said, almost with the tears in her eyes. "And you don't understand it is because I myself am so anxious "