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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/303

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QUEEN ANNE had several of these ignoble advisers around her. Barkilphedro was one. He also secretly worked, influenced, and plotted upon Lady Josiana and Lord David. As we have said, he whispered in three ears,—one more than Dangeau. Dangeau whispered in but two, in the days when, thrusting himself between Louis XIV., who was in love with Henrietta his sister-in-law, and Henrietta, who was in love with Louis XIV. her brother-in-law, he as Louis's secretary, without the knowledge of Henrietta, and as Henrietta's without the knowledge of Louis, wrote the questions and answers of both the love-making marionettes.

Barkilphedro was so cheerful, so compliant, so incapable of espousing the cause of any one, so ugly, so mischievous, that it was quite natural that a regal personage should soon be unable to do without him. Once Anne had tried Barkilphedro, she would have no other flatterer. He flattered her as they flattered Louis the Great, by disparaging her neighbours. "The king being ignorant," says Madame de Montchevreuil, "one is obliged to sneer at the savants." To poison the sting, from time to time, is the acme of art. Nero loves to see Locusta at work.

Royal palaces are very easily entered; a pretext suffices. Barkilphedro, having found this pretext, his position with the queen soon became the same as that with the