The memoirs of the Baroness Cecile de Courtot, lady-in-waiting to the Princess de Lamballe, Princess of Savoy-Carignan
September 18, 1793.
Oh, my timid little birdie — my poor, poor Cecile ! How I
thank Heaven now that I decided to receive her. Alas, what
terrible misery there is in the world ! When I helped the dear
creature out of the coach at Magdeburg and met those piteous,
deeply sorrowful eyes that gazed at me half vacantly and yet
with such a wistful hungering for love, a world of tenderness
filled my heart for the hapless girl. My arms opened of themselves, I drew her to me and mingled my tears with hers as
she lay weeping on my bosom. From that moment, she won
my love, my whole soul went out to her and called her sister,
and when Cecile — for that is her sweet and musical name —
whispered in her broken German, " Du Gute, du Liebe, du ! "
I caught with delight the sound of the dear familiar thou and
at once determined in my newly awakened affection to use the
same address with her.
And how quite, quite different she is from what I had pictured ! I expected, from what I knew of her previous history,
to find a spoiled grande dame who would have great difficulty
in accustoming herself to our simple country life; and instead,
here is a shy and gentle girl, who with her dark eyes and
beautiful features looks younger than I, although she says she
is 30. These dark eyes, with their black eyebrows and lashes,
form a most peculiarly attractive contrast to her reddish fair
hair. How bewitching she must have been when those lovely
eyes could laugh — now they look as if they had long forgotten
how. Grief has already graven her runic lines on the white
brow and woven a silver thread or two among the beautiful
tresses, and the piteous little mouth is ever drawn as if on the
point of weeping. Her whole appearance is so inexpressibly
affecting that I can scarce restrain my tears whenever I look
And the gratitude of the sweet soul ! Her eyes are for-
ever seeking mine, and she cannot bear me to leave her side.
My Werner is quite jealous of her, and says the stranger is
drawing me away from him. Oh, you dear, foolish fellow,
as if anything in the world could draw me away from you!
However, it is devoutly to be hoped that she will soon be
quite restored to health.
Two days later. [20 september 1793]
I am half afraid that Cecile is going to be seriously ill !
It would not be surprising considering all she has gone
through in the last few months. The symptoms are bad —
she sleeps very little and, do what I will, I cannot persuade her
to eat more than a mouthful now and then. She simply sits
with her hands in her lap, silent and brooding, gazing into
the far distance.
Over and over again in these sunny autumn days I have
begged her to come down into the garden with me, but in
vain — she is tired, she says, and cannot be induced to leave
her low armchair at the window. She broods and broods,
and the tearless eyes have at times a glassy stare as if they
saw some dreadful sight.