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THE LIFE OF ROXANA

by some words let fall by a person I conversed with, who was, perhaps, likely enough to have brought such a thing to pass, had it been sooner; but that game began to be pretty well over at court. However, the having mentioned such a thing, it seems a little too publicly, it brought abundance of people about me, upon a wicked account too.

And now I began to act in a new sphere. The court was exceedingly gay and fine, though fuller of men than of women, the queen not affecting to be very much in public. On the other hand, h is no slander upon the courtiers to say, they were as wicked as anybody in reason could desire them. The king had several mistresses, who were prodigious fine, and there was a glorious show on that side indeed. If the sovereign gave himself a loose, it could not be expected the rest of the court should be all saints; so far was it from that, though I would not make it worse than it was, that a woman that had anything agreeable in her appearance could never want followers.

I soon found myself thronged with admirers, and I received visits from some persons of very great figure, who always introduced themselves by the help of an old lady or two who were now become my intimates; and one of them, I understood afterwards, was set to work on purpose to get into my favour, in order to introduce what followed.

The conversation we had was generally courtly, but civil. At length, some gentlemen proposed to play, and made what they called a party. This, it seems, was a contrivance of one of my female hangers-on, for, as I said, I had two of them, who thought this was the way to introduce people as often as she pleased; and so indeed it was. They played high and stayed late, but begged my pardon, only asked leave to make an appointment for the next night. I was as gay and as well pleased as any of them, and one night told one of the gentlemen, my Lord ——, that seeing they were doing me the honour of diverting themselves at my apartment, and desired to be there sometimes, I did not keep a gaming-table, but I would give them a little ball the next day if they pleased, which they accepted very willingly.

Accordingly, in the evening, the gentlemen began to come, where I let them see that I understood very well what such things meant. I had a large dining-room in my apartments, with five other rooms on the same floor, all which I made drawing-rooms for the occasion, having all the beds taken down for the day. In three of these I had tables placed, covered with wine and sweetmeats, the fourth had a green table for play, and the fifth was my own room, where I sat, and where I received all the company that came to pay their compliments to me. I was dressed, you may be sure, to all the advantage possible, and had all the jewels on that I was mistress of. My Lord —— , to whom I had made the invitation, sent me a set of fine music from the playhouse, and the ladies danced, and we began to be very merry, when, about eleven o'clock, I had notice given me that there were some gentlemen coming in masquerade. I seemed a little surprised, and began to apprehend some disturbance, when my Lord perceiving it, spoke to me to be easy, for that there was a party of the guards at the door which should be ready to prevent any rudeness; and another gentleman gave me a hint as if the king was among the masks. I coloured as red as blood itself could make a face look, and expressed a great surprise; however, there was no going back, so I kept my station in my drawing-room, but with the folding-doors wide open.