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Not many days after the Convention had applauded with enthusiasm an extravagant speech about charity, full of absurdities and bombastic sentimentalities, made by Trzia, Robespierre demanded her arrest of the Comit de salut public. As Mme. Le Brun remarked in her own case: It is no longer a question of fortune or success, it is only a question of saving ones life, but many people were rash enough to think and act otherwise, and frequently paid dearly for their folly. Mme. de Fleury returned to Paris while, or just before, the Terror was raging, and availed herself of the revolutionary law, by which a husband or wife who had emigrated might be divorced. But soon after she had dissolved her marriage and resumed the name of Coigny she was arrested and sent to St. Lazare, one of the most terrible of the prisons of the Revolution, then crowded with people of all ages, ranks, and opinions.

It was no wonder they got neither money nor letters from the Orlans family, but Mme. de Genlis began to be uneasy about money matters. She could not get any remittances either; and although her writings would certainly ultimately support her, she could take no steps about them while she was afraid to disclose her name.

THE next day was the divorce. M. de Fontenay hurried away towards the Pyrenees and disappeared from France and from the life and concerns of the woman who had been his wife. It was impossible to spare much time to be absent from Paris, but Mme. Le Brun often spent two or three days at the magnificent chateaux to which she was invited, either to paint a portrait or simply as a guest.

In many ways it is probable that no one was more capable of giving a first-rate education than Mme. de Genlis, who had herself so much knowledge and experience, such superior talents and genuine love of art, books and study. She was also careful and strict in the religious education of her pupils, and perfectly free from any of the atheistic opinions of the day. As to the Comte de Beaujolais, he was fond of her, as all her pupils were, for she was extremely kind to them, but he hated and abhorred the principles which his father and she had succeeded in instilling into his brothers and sister, longed to fight for the King and Queen, and took the first opportunity when he met the Comte de Provence in exile to tell him so and make his submission; he had sent him messages of explanation and loyalty directly he could. For more than a year, then, there had been coldness and estrangement between the Duchess and Mme. de Genlis, who, of course, as usual, posed as an injured saint. What had she done? Why this cruel change in the affection and confidence of years? Had she not sacrificed herself to her pupils? Was she not the last person to alienate their affection from their illustrious and admirable mother? Did not all the virtues of her whole life forbid her being suspected or distrusted in any way?

Meanwhile, she and M. de Genlis had fallen in love with each other, and resolved to marry. As he had neither father nor mother, there was nobody whose consent he was absolutely bound to ask; but a powerful relation, M. de Puisieux, who was the head of his family, had already, with his consent, begun to negotiate his marriage with a rich young girl. Instead of telling M. de Puisieux the state of the case while there was still time to retire without difficulty, M. de Genlis said nothing, but proposed that they should at once marry secretly, to which neither Flicit nor her relations seem to have made any objection. She had no money, and had [367] refused all the marriages proposed to her; here was a man she did like, and who was in all respects unexceptionable, only that he was not well off. But his connections were so brilliant and influential that they could soon put that right, and it was agreed that the marriage should take place from the house of the Marquise de Sercey.