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Chapter 13

THE DUCHESS D'ORLEANS.

Madame the Duchess d'Orleans is a rare woman, of
great wit and common sense. I do not think that she is
fully appreciated at the Tuileries. The King, though,
holds her in high esteem and often engages in long
conversations with her. Frequently he gives her his arm to
escort her from the family drawing-room to her
apartments. The royal daughters-in-law do not always appear
to act as kindly towards her.

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February 26, 1844.

Yesterday the Duchess d'Orleans said to me:

"My son is not what one would call an amiable child.
He is not one of those pretty little prodigies who are an
honour to their mothers, and of whom people say: 'What
a clever child! What wit! What grace!' He has a kind
heart, I know; he has wit, I believe; but nobody knows and
believes this save myself. He is timid, wild, uncommunicative,
easily scared. What will he become? I have no
idea. Often at his age a child in his position understands
that he must make himself agreeable, and, little as he is,
sets himself to play his role. Mine hides himself in his
mother's skirt and lowers his eyes. But I love him, just
as he is. I even prefer him this way. I like a savage
better than a comedian."

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August, 1844.

The Count de Paris has signed the birth certificate of
the Princess Françoise de Joinville. It was the first time
that the little prince had signed his name. He did not
know what was wanted of him, and when the King handed
him the certificate and said "Paris, sign your name," the
child refused. The Duchess d'Orleans took him on her
knee and whispered something to him. Then the child
took the pen, and at the dictation of his grandfather wrote
upon the certificate L. P. d. O. He made the O much too
large and wrote the other letters awkwardly, and was very
much embarrassed and shy.

He is charming, though, and adores his mother, but he
hardly knows that his name is Louis Philippe d'Orleans.
He writes to his comrades, to his tutor, and to his mother,
but he signs his little missives "Paris." It is the only name
he knows himself by.

This evening the King sent for M. Regnier, the prince's
tutor, and gave him orders to teach the Count de Paris to
sign his name.

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1847.

The Count de Paris is of a grave and sweet disposition;
he learns well. He is imbued with a natural tenderness,
and is kind to those who suffer.

His young cousin of Wurtemberg, who is two months
older, is jealous of him; as his mother, the Princess Marie,
was jealous of the mother of the Count de Paris. During
the lifetime of the Duke d'Orleans little Wurtemberg was
long the object of the Queen's preferences, and, in the little
court of the corridors and bedchambers, it was the custom
to flatter the Queen by comparisons between the one and
the other that were always favourable to Wurtemberg.
To-day that inequality has ceased. The Queen, by a touching
sentiment, inclined towards little Wurtemberg because
he had lost his mother; now there is no reason why she
should not lean towards the Count de Paris, seeing that he
has lost his father.

Little Michel Ney plays with the two princes every
Sunday. He is eleven years old, and the son of the Duke
d'Elchingen. The other day he said to his mother:

"Wurtemberg is an ambitious fellow. When we play
he always wants to be the leader. Besides, he insists upon
being called Monseigneur. I don't mind calling him
Monseigneur, but I won't let him be leader. One day I
invented a game, and I said to him: 'No, Monseigneur, you
are not going to be the leader. I will be leader, for I
invented the game, and Chabannes will be my lieutenant.
You and the Count de Paris will be soldiers.' Paris was
willing, but Wurtemberg walked away. He is an ambitious fellow."

Of these young mothers of the Château, apart from the
Duchess d'Orleans, Mme. de Joinville is the only one who
does not spoil her children. At the Tuileries, everybody,
even the King himself, calls her little daughter
"Chiquette." The Prince of Joinville calls his wife
"Chicarde" since the pierrots' ball, hence "Chiquette." At
this pierrots' ball the King exclaimed: "How Chicarde
is amusing herself!" The Prince de Joinville danced all
the risquée dances. Mme. de Montpensier and Mme.
Liadères were the only ones who were not decolletees. "It
is not in good taste," said the Queen. "But it is pretty,"
observed the King.

Victor Hugo