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A short story by Kate Dickinson Sweetser

Adrienne De Lafayette: A Young Patriot's Wife

Title:     Adrienne De Lafayette: A Young Patriot's Wife
Author: Kate Dickinson Sweetser [More Titles by Sweetser]

MADAME DE LAFAYETTE! How stately the title sounds, and how slender and girlish the little bride looks in her wedding finery, her dark eyes large with excitement, and a soft flush on her delicate cheeks as she gazes admiringly into the eyes of her "Big boy with the red hair," as the young Marquis de Lafayette was called by his intimate friends.

Having seen the young bride and groom, for Lafayette was only nineteen, while pretty Adrienne, his wife, was just fourteen, let us turn back the pages of history for a moment and see what led up to this remarkably youthful marriage.

To begin with, in the days of the reign of Louis XVI and the beautiful young queen, Marie Antoinette, there was no more palatial residence in all Paris than that which in 1711 came into the possession of the Duc de Noailles and was thereafter called the Hotel de Noailles.

The finest artists of the day had re-decorated its stately rooms for the Duc; its walls were hung with costly silk, its picture gallery was famous even in a city rich in art treasures, even its stables were fabulously large and far-famed. All that could minister to the joy of life was to be found in the Hotel de Noailles in those happy days before the clouds hanging low over France broke in a storm of disaster. Later in 1768, Madame D'Ayen,--wife of the Duc de Noailles, who was also the Duc D'Ayen,--mistress of the beautiful home, was leading a happy life there with her four daughters, to whose education and care she devoted most of her time.

It was the early afternoon of a day in spring. At three o'clock Madame D'Ayen had dined with her children in the huge dining-room hung with dull tapestries and family portraits, then with cheery laughter the girls had run ahead of Madame to her bedroom, which was very large and hung with crimson satin damask embroidered in gold, on which the sun cast a cheerful glow. Louise and Adrienne, the two older girls,--Louise only a year the elder,--handed their mother her knitting, her books and her snuff, and then seated themselves, while the younger children disputed as to which one should have the coveted place nearest Madame. Comfortably settled at last, the older girls busy with their sewing, Madame told them the story from the Old Testament of Joseph and his coat of many colours. When she finished Louise asked question after question, which her mother patiently answered, but Adrienne drank in the story told in her mother's vivacious way, in silence. Begged for just one more story, Madame then told an amusing experience of her convent days, on which both of the girls offered so many comments that at last Madame rose, saying rather impatiently:

"You speak in a forward and disobedient manner, such as other girls of your age would never show to their parent."

Louise looked her mortification, but Adrienne said quietly, "That may be, Madame, because you allow us to argue and reason with you as other mothers do not, but you will see that at fifteen we shall be more obedient than other children," and the girl's prediction was true.

Every month of the year was a pleasure to the happy children at the Hotel de Noailles, but to both vivacious Louise and quiet Adrienne summer was the crowning joy of their year, for then they were always taken to visit their grandfather, the Marechal de Noailles, who cheerfully gave himself up to making the visit as gay for the children as possible. He played games with them in the house, delightful games such as they never played at home, and better yet, planned wonderful picnics for them, when with other cousins, and a governess in charge of the cavalcade, they rode on donkeys to the appointed spot. The governess, it is said, was a tiny person, blonde, pinched, and touchy, and very punctilious in the performance of her duties. Once mounted on her donkey, however, she entirely lost her dignity and appeared so wild-eyed, scared, and stiff that one could not look at her without feeling an irresistible desire to smile, which made her angry, though what angered her most was the peals of laughter when she tumbled off her donkey, as she seldom failed to do on an excursion. She usually fell on the grass and the pace of her donkey was not rapid, so she was never hurt, and the frolicsome children filed by her, for if one of them tried to help her up, as Adrienne always wanted to do, a scolding was the reward.

In sharp contrast to the happy summer visits were those paid every autumn to the home of Madame D'Ayen's father, who lived at Fresnes. He was old and deaf and wished the children to be so repressed, that had Madame D'Ayen not made the visits as short as she could there would doubtless have been some disastrous outbreak in their ranks.

For the other months of the year, life at the Hotel de Noailles was a charmed existence for the children, especially for nature-loving Adrienne, who spent most of her time in the beautiful garden surrounding the house,--a garden celebrated throughout Paris for its marvellously kept flower beds, separated by winding, box-bordered paths. A flight of steps led from the house into this enchanting spot, and on either side three rows of great trees shed their long shadow over the near-by walks, while from the foot of the garden could be seen the wonderful panorama of the Tuileries. The garden was indeed an enchanted land, and the children played all sorts of games in its perfumed, wooded depths, only pausing when their mother passed through the garden, when with cries of joy they would cling to her skirts and tell her eager stories of their doings. And so, in happy play, in hours of education by her mother's side, in busy days of learning all the useful arts, seldom taught in those days to children of such high social rank, Adrienne grew to be fourteen years old. She was a reserved, well-informed, shy girl with great beautiful brown eyes, which grew large and dark when she was pleased with anything, and her finely chiselled features were those of a born aristocrat, while her good disposition was clearly visible in her expression, which was one of winning charm.

At that time in France it was customary for parents to receive proposals of marriage for their daughters at a very early age, sometimes even before the proposition had any meaning to the girl herself, and so it happened that before Adrienne D'Ayen was twelve years old, the guardian of the young Marquis de Lafayette had begged Madame D'Ayen to give her daughter in marriage to his ward, who was but seventeen, and often was one of the merry party of young people who frequented the Hotel de Noailles,--in fact Adrienne felt for him the real affection which she might have given to a brother.

The family of the young Marquis was one of the oldest and most famous in France, famous for "bravery in battle, wisdom in counsel, and those principles of justice and right which they ever practised." Young Lafayette had been left an orphan when he was eleven years old, also the possessor of an enormous fortune, at that time, of course, in the care of his guardian. He had been a delicate child, and not especially bright, but always filled with a keen desire for liberty of thought and action, and when he became old enough to choose between the only two careers open to one of his rank, he chose to be a soldier rather than a courtier, as life at the Court did not appeal to one of his temperament. Notwithstanding this, being a good looking, wealthy young man, he was always welcome at Court and made the object of marked attentions by the young Queen and her companions. Such was the young Marquis, who for reasons diplomatic and political his guardian wished to marry to a daughter of Madame D'Ayen, but Madame objected, saying that she feared his large fortune, in the hands of one so headstrong as the young Lafayette, might not make for his own and her daughter's happiness. However, her family and friends begged her not to make the mistake of refusing an alliance with a family of such distinction as the Lafayettes, and finally, although this was as yet unknown to the girl whose future it was to so closely touch, Madame withdrew her objections, and so was decided the fate of little Adrienne D'Ayen, whose name was to be in consequence linked thereafter with great events in history.

Two years later, in the spring of 1777, the Hotel de Noailles was in a bustle of gay preparations. Louise D'Ayen, now fifteen years old, had just become the bride of the Marquis de Montagu, and no sooner were the festivities over, than Madame D'Ayen called Adrienne to her room, and told her of the accepted proposal of M. de Lafayette for her hand. She added, "In accepting this honour for you, my Adrienne, I have made the stipulation that you and your husband are to remain here with me for the present, as you are but children yet, that I may still influence your education and religious experience. This proposal was made two years ago, before the education of M. Lafayette was completed, but now that it is accomplished, and you are fourteen years old, you are to become the affianced bride of the young Marquis."

No well-brought-up French girl would have thought of resisting her mother's decree, although her would-be husband was not to her liking, but in this case the idea was altogether to Adrienne's own choice, and her brown eyes grew dark with joy, and she clasped her hands, exclaiming, "Oh, quel bonheur! Quel bonheur!" then escaped to her own room to think about this wonderful fairy story happening which had come to her.

Though she and the young Marquis had been constantly thrown together before this, one can well imagine the degree of shyness which overcame the young girl on their first meeting after the betrothal had been announced. The world was in a dazzling array of spring beauty, so says the historian,--the tender almonds were budding with softest green, the daffodils and tulips were breaking into rare blooms, the world waking from its winter sleep. All seemed to smile on the young lovers who walked as in a dream-world through the flower-bordered paths and spoke together of that future which they were to share.

But such a tete-a-tete did not occur again, for after that the little bride-to-be was kept busy with her studies until the time came for a flurry of preparation just before the marriage day, and it is interesting to read the description of a wedding in those days of long ago, in a country where the customs have ever been so different from those of our own.

It is said that there were interviews with solemn lawyers who brought huge parchments on which were recorded the estates and incomes of the two young people, but of far greater interest to the bride was the wonderful trousseau for which family treasures were brought to light, rare laces were bleached, jewels were re-set and filmy gossamer muslins were made up into bewitching finery for the pretty wearer; as well as dresses for more formal occasions made with festoons of fairy-like silver roses, panels of jewelled arabesques, cascades of lace lighter and more frail than a spider's web, masses of shimmering satins and velvets fashioned with heavy court trains, which when tried on the slender girlish figure seemed as if she were but "dressing up" as girls will often do for their own amusing. Then, too, there were priceless jewels to be laid against the white neck, slipped on the slender fingers, to marvel at their beauty and glitter, and to wonder if they could really and truly be her own!

But even the sparkling gems, the elaborate trousseau, and all the ceremony and flattery surrounding a girl who was making such a brilliant marriage, failed to turn the head or spoil the simple taste of little Adrienne. Even in her gayest moods--and like other girls, she had them--Adrienne was never frivolous, and though possessed of plenty of wit and spirit, was deeply religious and at heart unselfish and noble.

Monsieur and Madame de Lafayette! What magic there was in the new title. How proudly the young couple, scarcely more than children yet, but now husband and wife, bore themselves, as they returned from the church to the Hotel de Noailles, to take up their residence there, according to the promise made to Madame D'Ayen before she would consent to the marriage. They would have preferred a home of their own, but when shortly after their marriage Lafayette's regiment was ordered to Metz, and broken-hearted little Adrienne was left behind, she found it very comforting to be where she could child-wise sob out her loneliness on the shoulder of her sympathetic mother. Poor little Adrienne,--well it was that you could not see into the future with its many harder separations!

With the return of Lafayette the pretty bride began to lead a life much gayer than any she had ever led before, for she and her young husband, because they belonged to two such famous families, became now a part of the gay little set ruled by the caprices of Queen Marie Antoinette. That first winter after their marriage the young couple went constantly to balls and late suppers, to the opera and the play,--were in fact in a constant whirl of amusement, which had the charm of novelty to them both, and Lafayette, who had always, even as a boy, been a favourite at Court, was still popular and still called "The big boy with the red hair." He was always awkward, and conspicuous for his height, as well as his clumsiness, and danced as badly as Adrienne did well, which mortified him greatly, having discovered which, Queen Marie Antoinette would often in a spirit of mischief order him to appear on the floor, and then tease him mercilessly about his awkwardness. He was different too in many ways from the courtiers with whom he was thrown, and his dominant passion even then, at nineteen, was the ambition of a true patriot, only waiting to be turned into its fitting channel.

Both he and Adrienne enjoyed the gaiety and lack of responsibility of those first months of their married life, but more than the frivolity, Adrienne enjoyed sitting at home with her husband and friends while they discussed great national affairs, and later she loved best to slip upstairs and care for the little daughter who came to be her especial joy,--and so, absorbed in a variety of interests, the first two years of Madame Adrienne's married life slipped away, and at sixteen we find her as pretty and as slender as ever, but with a deeper tenderness and gravity in her brown eyes.

At the Court of Versailles an honoured guest from the American Colonies was being entertained,--a homely, unpolished, reserved man, named Benjamin Franklin. He was a man with a mission: America must be a free country, and France must help her in the struggle, not only with men, but with money. This was the burden of his plea and it thrilled all Paris. The plain brusque American became the fad of the hour. Shops displayed canes, scarfs, hats--even a stove "a la Franklin," and he bore away with him not only an immense gift, but also a large loan, neither of which impoverished France could afford to give.

Foremost among those whom he inflamed in the cause of liberty was young Lafayette, and Adrienne noted with keen alarm his growing indifference to all other topics except that one which was absorbing his interest, and although she said nothing to him about her fear, she went at once to each member of his family with the same plea, "Persuade him not to go! Tell him his duty is here! I would die if I were left alone after we have been so happy together!" But even as she pleaded, the passion to go to America was taking a firmer hold daily on the young enthusiast. His family forbade it, but in secret he made his plans--in secret carried them out to the last moment, when going to London for a couple of days, he sent back a letter to his father-in-law, telling of his intentions. M. de Noailles read it, sent at once for his wife, and after a brief and agitated conference Adrienne was called. Eagerly impatient to know why she had been summoned, she stood before her parents, so young and frail that the mother's heart rebelled at having to tell her the cruel news. She could not do it. Without a word she handed her the letter and turned away that Adrienne might not see her sorrowful expression. Then turning back again she said hastily, "It is an utterly absurd, selfish scheme, my dear. I will see that it is not carried out."

Then she stood amazed. What had come over Adrienne? She held herself erect, her eyes were dry, and she said proudly: "If my husband feels that way, it is right and best for him to go to America, and we must do all we can to make the parting easy for him. It is he who is going to leave those who are dearest to him, for the sake of a noble cause."

Brave girl! Not once after that did she allow her own feelings to check the ardour of Lafayette's patriotism, not once did she stay her hand in her careful preparation for his departure, although every article laid aside for his use was moistened by her unseen tears, while he was busy with the interesting and enormously expensive work of chartering and fitting up a ship, which Adrienne named The Victory, in which he was to make his trip across the ocean.

The preparations were completed and the day had come for his going. Slight, beautiful; too proud to show her emotion, thinking more of him than of herself, Adrienne, not yet eighteen years old, bade her husband farewell--saw him embark for a strange land, for the sake of a cause as dangerous as it was alluring to the young patriot, and went back to her quiet routine of home duties and regular occupations without one murmur.

To her family and her friends she showed little of what she felt, although many a night she did not even lie down, but sat at her desk, pouring out her heart to the dear one tossing on a perilous sea, in letters which though daily sent, never reached the young adventurer, so we must needs imagine her transports of loneliness--her passion of affection, written to ease and comfort and in a measure to fit her to take up the next day's duties calmly.

Lafayette's letters to her had a better fate than hers to him, and one day when she least expected it, a precious packet lay in Adrienne's hands. Wild with excitement at sight of the familiar writing, she held it for a long time unopened, then fled to the solitude of her own room to read its contents with no eye watching her joy.

The letter was full of tender interest in her health, and of repetitions of undying affection which warmed the heart so starved for them. Written on board The Victory, May 30, 1777, it said: "I ought to have landed by this time, but the winds have been most provokingly contrary. When I am once more on shore I shall learn many interesting things concerning the new country I am seeking. Do not fancy that I shall incur any real danger by the occupations I am undertaking. The service will be very different from the one I must have performed if I had been, for example, a colonel in the French army. My attendance will only be required in the council. To prove that I do not wish to deceive you, I will acknowledge that we are at this moment exposed to some danger from the risk of being attacked by English vessels, and that my ship is not of sufficient force for defence. But when I have once landed I shall be in perfect safety. I will not write you a journal of my voyage. Days succeed each other, and what is worse, resemble each other. Always sky, always water, and the next day a repetition of the same thing. We have seen to-day several kinds of birds which announce that we are not very far from shore."

Fifteen days later there was a second letter, and then they arrived with some degree of regularity to cheer lonely little Adrienne, watching, waiting, and living on their coming. It was a time fraught with vital issues in the American Colonies. Though to Lafayette there was somewhat of disillusion in finding the American troops not like the dashing, brilliantly uniformed ones of his own country, but merely a great army of undisciplined, half-ragged soldiers, united only in the flaming desire to acquire liberty for their beloved land at all hazards, yet soon the young foreigner lost sight of all but their patriotism, and his letters show how he too had become heart and soul inflamed by the same spirit. Only fragments of the letters can be given here, but one can picture the young wife, with her baby in her arms, in the home of her childhood, devouring with breathless interest the story of her adventurer in a strange land. On June 15th Lafayette writes:

"I have arrived, my dearest love, in perfect health at the house of an American officer. I am going this evening to Charlestown. . . . The campaign is opened, but there is very little fighting. . . . The manners in this part of the world are very simple, polite and worthy in every respect of the country in which the noble name of liberty is constantly repeated. . . . Adieu, my love. From Charlestown I shall repair by land to Philadelphia to rejoin the army. Is it not true that you will always love me?"

A few days later he writes from Charlestown:

"I landed, after having sailed for several days along a coast swarming with hostile vessels. On my arrival here everyone told me that my ship must undoubtedly be taken, because two English frigates had blockaded the harbour. I even sent, both by land and sea, orders to the Captain to put the men on shore and burn the vessel. Well, by an extraordinary stroke of good luck a sudden gale of wind having blown away the frigates for a short time the vessel arrived at noonday without having encountered friend or foe. At Charlestown, I have met with General Howe, a general officer now engaged in service. The Governor of the State is expected this evening from the country. I can only feel gratitude for the reception I have met with, although I have not thought it best yet to enter into any details respecting my future prospects and arrangements. I wish to see the Congress first. There are some French and American vessels at present here which are to sail out of the harbour in company to-morrow morning. . . . I shall distribute my letters along the different ships in case any accident should happen to either one of them. . . .

"I shall now speak to you, my love, about the country and its inhabitants, who are as agreeable as my enthusiasm had led me to imagine. Simplicity of manner, kindness of heart, love of country and of liberty and a delightful state of equality are met with universally. . . . Charlestown is one of the finest cities I have ever seen. The American women are very pretty and have great simplicity of character, and the extreme neatness of their appearance is truly delightful; cleanliness is everywhere even more studiously attended to here than in England. What gives me most pleasure is to see how completely the citizens are brethren of one family. In America there are no poor and none even that can be called peasants. Each citizen has some property and all citizens have the same right as the richest individual."

After protestations of deep devotion and loneliness the letter ends with:

"The night is far advanced, the heat intense, and I am devoured with gnats, but the best of countries have their inconveniences. Adieu, my love, adieu."

A very good picture that of customs and habits which would have been to the lasting advantage of America to continue!

The letters of Lafayette grew more and more homesick and Adrienne's feelings were like a harp with its strings attuned to respond to his every emotion.

From Petersburg, Va., on July 17, 1777, he writes:

"I have received no news of you, and my impatience to hear from you cannot be compared to any other earthly feeling. . . . You must have learned the particulars of the commencement of my journey. You know that I set out in a brilliant manner in a carriage, and I must now tell you that we are all on horseback, having broken the carriage after my usual praiseworthy custom, and I hope soon to write you that we have arrived at Philadelphia on foot! . . ."

A few days later he says:

"I am each day more miserable, from having quitted you, my dearest love. . . . I would give at this moment half of my existence for the pleasure of embracing you again, and telling you with my own lips how I love you. . . . Oh, if you knew how I sigh to see you, how I suffer at being separated from you and all that my heart has been called on to endure, you would think me somewhat worthy of your love."

Poor, lonely, young couple--each was suffering in a different way from the separation, but Adrienne's misery was the hardest to bear, for not only had she lost the little daughter who had been her greatest comfort since the departure of her husband for America, but she now had a shock, for in her husband's letter of the 12th of September, after the battle of Brandywine, he wrote:

"Our Americans after having stood their ground for some time ended at last by being routed; whilst endeavouring to rally them, the English honoured me with a musket ball, which slightly wounded me in the leg, but it is a trifle, and I have escaped with the obligation of lying on my back for some time, which puts me much out of humour. I hope that you will feel no anxiety, this event ought, on the contrary, rather to reassure you, since I am incapacitated from appearing on the field for some time. I have resolved to take good care of myself, be convinced of this, my dearest love."

Notwithstanding the cheerful tenor of this letter, Adrienne was not able to eat or sleep after its arrival, until in a second letter he again assured her of the slightness of his injury, and added:

"I must now give you your lesson as the wife of an American general-officer. They will say to you, 'They have been beaten.' You must answer, 'That is true, but when two armies of equal numbers meet in the field, old soldiers have naturally the advantage over new ones. They have had besides, the pleasure of killing a great many of the enemy; many more than they have lost.' They will afterward say, 'All that is very well, but Philadelphia is taken, the Capital of America, the rampart of Liberty!' You must politely answer, 'You are all great fools.' Philadelphia is a poor forlorn town, exposed on every side, whose harbour is already closed, although the residence of Congress lent it some degree of celebrity. This is the famous city which, it may be added, we will soon make them yield to us! If they continue to persecute you with questions you may send them about their business in terms which the Vicomte de Noailles will teach you, for I cannot lose time in talking to my friends of politics."

Thrilling indeed were those days of 1777 after the battle of Brandywine, for the Americans struggling so valiantly for the liberty they were so determined to secure, and valiant was young Lafayette in upholding that Cause which he had so bravely espoused. A letter from General Greene to General Washington in which he speaks glowingly about the young Frenchman would have filled Adrienne's heart to overflowing with pride, could she but have read it, for it was full of descriptions of her husband's bravery even before he had recovered from the wound received at the battle of Brandywine, and General Greene adds:

"The Marquis Lafayette is determined to be in the way of danger." But Lafayette's own account of his doings, both to General Washington, with whom he was on the most intimate and affectionate terms, and to his wife, were always most modest and self-depreciatory. But because of Lafayette's illustrious connections, the loyalty he showed for the cause of American liberty, and also because of the marked discretion and good sense he had shown on several critical occasions, Washington recommended to Congress that the young Frenchman receive command of a division in the Continental army, which suggestion was carried out on the 27th of November, 1777, and of course Lafayette's ardour for the Cause he was supporting flamed higher than before, on receiving this honour.

Soon, in accordance with General Washington's plan, it was decided that the American army was to encamp for the winter at Valley Forge, and of the dreary march there, uncheered by any great triumph, and when most of the soldiers were suffering from both cold and hunger, and the still drearier arrival and terrible subsequent privations and hardships, the pages of history have made us too well acquainted to need to dwell on them here.

During that hard winter, there were those in command who were jealous of the intimacy between Washington and the young Marquis who attempted to break it up by offering Lafayette the command of an expedition into Canada, which it was thought his military ambition would tempt him to accept. It did, and in consequence he hastened to the headquarters of General Gates at Yorktown to receive further orders, where he found the General dining, surrounded by such evidences of luxury and high living as were never seen at Valley Forge, and when he proposed the toast, "The Commander-in-chief of the American Armies," to his surprise the toast was received without a cheer, which was his first intimation that there was any feeling in the American ranks hostile in the slightest degree to General Washington.

Almost at once he set out to undertake the commission given him, and not until it had proved a disastrous failure did he discover that it had been given without the sanction or even the knowledge of Washington. He wrote a letter of profound regret and humiliation to his Commander-in-chief, laying the whole matter before him, saying that he felt utterly distressed about the matter, to which Washington replied in a fatherly and calm letter, assuring the young Marquis of his continued esteem, and gladly then Lafayette hastened back to Valley Forge, to again enjoy the companionship of his Commander-in-chief, to be inspired by his fatherly counsel.

But of what Lafayette was exposed to, of privation or of struggle, at that time Adrienne knew little, for he always wrote cheerfully to her, dwelling at length on any bit of brightness of which he could speak.

After having returned to Valley Forge he writes:

"My presence is more necessary to the American cause than you can possibly conceive. Many foreigners have endeavoured by every sort of artifice to make me discontented with this revolution and with him who is their chief. They have spread as loudly as they could the report that I was quitting the Continent. The English have proclaimed also loudly the same intention on my side. I cannot in justice appear to justify the malice of these people. If I were to depart many Frenchmen who are useful here would follow my example. General Washington would feel very unhappy if I were to speak of quitting him. His confidence in me is greater than I dare acknowledge, on account of my youth. In the place he occupies he is likely to be surrounded by flatterers or by secret enemies, he finds in me a sincere friend in whose bosom he may always confide his secret thoughts and who will always speak the truth. . . ." Again he says, "Several general officers have brought their wives to the camp. I envy them--not their wives--the happiness they enjoy in being able to see them. General Washington has also resolved to send for his wife. As to the English, they have received a re-inforcement of three hundred young ladies from New York!" Then with boyish simplicity he adds, "Do you not think that at my return we shall be old enough to establish ourselves in our own house, live there happily together and receive our friends?" and the letter concludes, "Adieu, my love. I only wish this project could be executed on this present day."

While Lafayette was living through all sorts of thrilling experiences and receiving still higher promotion as a reward for his brilliant military exploits, across the sea had come the disquieting rumour to Madame D'Ayen of his death, and the mother-heart stood still with fear that it should reach the brave wife, already saddened enough by the suspense of her loneliness, and now the mother of another little daughter who needed all the happy smiles that Adrienne could give. With great haste and diplomacy Madame D'Ayen urged Adrienne to visit her grandfather at Fresnes, and unsuspecting Adrienne welcomed the suggestion of a change of scene, as her heart-hunger for the "big boy" over the water was daily growing more insistent. She returned in better health and spirits, but as the rumour had not yet been discredited, Madame D'Ayen insisted on another visit to the country, and never did Adrienne know of the report which would have almost killed her, until a glad unexpected day, when, without any warning to expect him, Adrienne found herself again in the arms of her husband. Lafayette had been overcome with homesickness at a time when affairs looked bright enough for the American army to risk his absence, and he had impulsively taken the first steamer sailing for France and home. Then and only then did Adrienne hear of the rumour which had caused her mother such disquietude, and then for the first time Madame D'Ayen had the opportunity for which she had longed, to learn the details of that alliance between France and America, in which she was profoundly interested and in the making of which Lafayette had played such a prominent part. There was indeed much to talk about after the long separation, and Lafayette felt that he could not have Adrienne and the little daughter whom he had not seen before, out of his sight even for a moment. Adrienne would have been quite happy, had not a dark disquietude troubled even her nights, for Lafayette had come but to go again, and if the first parting had been hard, this was doubly so, for she knew now how devotedly she loved him, and that the changes made in him in his two years of adventure and real privation, had only given her affection a stronger desire for his presence and protection. But with characteristic courage she made no plea that he should stay, but showed a keen bright interest in all the news which came from America, and Lafayette remained with her until after the birth of his son, who was christened George Washington Lafayette. Soon after this event, Adrienne was obliged once again to say farewell to her husband, and as before, she held herself in proud courage, a courage which a woman twice her age might have been proud to show, offering no word which might sadden his going, but spurred him on with the dauntless spirit of the woman who inspires a man to be his best self.

Three long years now went by and Adrienne alone bore the anxiety and responsibility of her baby boy's alarming sickness, at the same time constantly kept on the rack of suspense by newspaper accounts of the dangerous campaigns in which Lafayette was playing a prominent part. But she remained outwardly calm and courageous, and even made herself enter a little into Court festivities, that she might brighten the lives of her mother and the children who looked to her for their sunshine.

Days, weeks and months went by, and then there came a grand fete at the Hotel de Ville, to celebrate the birth of the Dauphin, and despite her heavy heart Adrienne went to it, looking very pretty in her stately Court gown of stiff brocade, which threw into sharp contrast her girlish figure and face. Trying not to put a damper on the party, she was chatting as gaily as possible with a courtier who was her devoted admirer, when a message was brought to her. There was a general stir of excited interest around her. What was it they said? Adrienne could scarcely credit the news. The Virginia campaign brought to a successful end? The Marquis de Lafayette at home? Cornwallis surrendered? Lafayette at home, and waiting for her? Even the Queen was wildly excited by the good news, and being fond of both Adrienne and Lafayette, she rushed to the dazed girl's side, exclaiming impatiently, "Rouse, dear, rouse; make haste, or," this laughingly, "your red-headed boy may have sailed again for his beloved land of freedom!" Still Adrienne made no movement, and Marie Antoinette took her by the arm, saying, "I see I must personally conduct you to your own happiness. Come, my own carriage waits!"

By this time Adrienne's heart had responded to the bewildering news, and bending over the Queen's hand she would have thanked her for her favour, but Marie Antoinette was young and romantic, and pushed aside the ceremonious thanks, to impel the still dazed Adrienne into the carriage.

The Queen's carriage! The Queen herself! was whispered on every side at the unwonted sight of royalty driving so unceremoniously through the Rue Saint Honore, but the Queen paid no heed to the fact that she was doing something unusual, and Adrienne saw nothing--heard nothing--she only kept repeating, "The campaign is over--Cornwallis has surrendered. He is back!"

The massive gates of the courtyard of the Hotel de Noailles swung open to admit the carriage. Marie Antoinette only waited to murmur an exclamation of congratulation, to press a hasty kiss on Adrienne's cheek, then drove away, while Adrienne, her great brown eyes lustrous with excitement and joy, her cheeks flaming with such crimson as had not flushed them for weary months, ran up the steps between the rows of stiff lackeys, ran so fast that she tripped on her absurdly ceremonious dress of brocade, tripped and tripped again, and then with a cry of joy ran into the arms of her beloved boy with the red hair!

Brave little Adrienne--the pages of history are filled with the noble deeds of that husband who so early in life took up the cause of American liberty, and so valiantly fought for it, but who dares say that your name too should not be honoured with his, by every true American, because of your loving thoughts, your prayers and hopes which, winging their way across the ocean, inspired the young French patriot to all that was finest in his achievement!

[The end]
Kate Dickinson Sweetser's short story: Adrienne De Lafayette: A Young Patriot's Wife