My object in writing this book has been to present as many phases as possible of the strangely romantic story of the British Peerage, so that those who have not the time or facilities for exploring the library of books over which these stories are scattered, may be able, within the compass of a single volume, to review the panorama of our aristocracy, with its tragedy and comedy, its romance and pathos, its foibles and its follies, in a few hours of what I sincerely hope will prove agreeable reading. If my book gives to any reader a fraction of the pleasure I have derived from its writing, I shall be more than rewarded for a labour which has been to me a delight.
le with fire; for some months she rarely saw the King but in Miss Stuart's presence.
"The King," to quote Hamilton again, "who seldom neglected to visit the Countess before she rose, seldom failed likewise to find Miss Stuart with her. The most indifferent objects have charms in a new attachment; however, the Countess was not jealous of this rival's appearing with her in such a situation, being confident that whenever she thought fit, she could triumph over all the advantages which these opportunities could afford Miss Stuart."
As a matter of fact Charles's maitresse en titre regarded the "Mademoiselle" as nothing more dangerous than a pretty, winsome child. "She is a lovely little thing," she once said patronisingly, "but she is only a spoiled child, fonder of her toys and games than of the finest lover in the world." But she was not long left in this unsuspicious Paradise. There was soon no doubt that the "child" had made a conquest of the King, an
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