CHAP. VIII. An unexpected Accident happens, by which the Prince discovers me to be his Daughter.
No sooner had I sat down to write to the Count, but a page from the Prince came to me, saying, that the Prince desired to speak with me: at this message my blood ran chill in every vein, as if I had been informed of some sudden accident ; I had no motive to fear anything, but I, knowing myself to be unfortunate, tore what I had wrote into a hundred pieces, because I would not venture to keep it about me, nor trust it under a lock, frightened by the experience of what had happened to the Count ; so torn, I tossed it into the open street, and then went to the Prince, whom I found walking about in his cabinet which joined to the door of the Duchess’s apartment ; the curtain of her door was down, nor did I hear any one in her room ; I asked him, what were his commands? As you are ready, said he, to depart for Italy, I have got a commission for you to execute, which is of the utmost importance. This beginning revived my spirits, but little did I suspect how it was to finish. The affair which we are going to treat of, said he, must be managed with a niceness superior to your age and experience ; I know that you have abilities and spirit, but, to prevent any miscarriage in this design, I will give you in writing the manner in which you must regulate your conduct ; the instructions will be short ; I will dictate, and you may sit down there and write.
It will be needless for me to tell how I was struck with horror at such a command ; because, let any one put them selves in my circumstances, they will soon guess at the source of my fears, and have motives to tremble for my sake: I knew that the Prince had three letters of mine which were wrote to the Count, and passed a little before under his eyes, and as much as I could alter my writing, I knew how easy it would be to see the resemblance, if he should confront them to each other ; it seemed almost incredible to me, that I had not foreseen, amongst all others, this danger also, and I repented my imprudence in trusting the Count with the infallible signs of a secret so long concealed by me ; I detested the effects of an amorous passion, which had blinded me to the sign of betraying myself ; and made a firm resolution, if I could surmount this difficulty, never to hazard myself again. But unhappy are those who repent too late. While I was making these reflections, I saw they were in vain ; my case demanded immediate remedy, nor was there any other resource than that of obeying without hesitation, otherwise I should stand self condemned. I sat down to his desk, and trembling began to write, while he, walking about, dictated to me. I used all my art to alter my character that it might not be known ; I flattered myself that he had not taken notice of me ; but how was I lost when he suddenly drew nigh, and cast his eyes at the few lines I had so badly wrote! You have almost spoiled, said he, within these two years, your writing ; for before you left Paris, you did not write so bad. I do not know, answered I, but my writing was always the same ; but in my answer he saw my confusion. It is not true, replied the Prince, because I have a billet of yours, which you wrote to me the night you was put in prison at Paris, and the character is quite different ; look, and decide if yourself. Here he laid before me the four lines I had wrote to him two years before at Paris, and which to that time had never entered my thoughts. My agitation on that fatal night was so violent that it prevented my reflecting on what I was about, nor did I remember to repair the damage I had committed on myself. Thus, through want of one necessary reflection, my building in which I so much confided, has tumbled to the ground ; here I am proved, by my own handwriting, to be the fugitive of Avignon.