With all the pomp and ceremony that should accompany the dying hours of a great lady of France, the Princesse de Rochebazon--Marquise du Gast d'Ançilly, Comtesse de Montrachet, Baronne de Beauvilliers, and possessor of many other titles, as well as the right to the tabouret--drew near her end. A great lady of France, yet a woman against whom scandal had never breathed a word; a woman whose name had never been coupled with that of any courtier in a manner disadvantageous to her fame, but who instead, since first she came into the family a bride, had always been spoken highly of. As a saint by some--nay, by many; as a Christian by all; as a good servant of the Church. Now, the priests said, she was about to reap her reward in another existence, where her exalted rank would count as nothing and the good deeds of her life as everything. Below, in the courtyard of her great hotel--which was situated in the Rue Champfleury, still called by many La Rue Honteuse because of what had gone on in that street hundreds of years before--the huge Suisse stood at the open gateway, leaning on his silver-headed cane, which he no longer dared to thump vigorously on the ground for fear of disturbing his dying mistress, stood and gazed forth into the long though narrow street. Perhaps to see that none intruded within the crimson cord set in front of the porte-cochère of the Hôtel de Rochebazon; perhaps to observe--with that pride which the menial takes in the greatness of his employers--how all the noble and illustrious callers on his mistress had to leave their coaches and their chairs outside of that barrier, and advance on foot for some yards along the filthy chaussée ere they could enter the courtyard; also, perhaps, to tell himself, with a warm glow of satisfaction, that none below royalty who had ever approached their end in Paris had been inquired after by more illustrious visitors. Above, in the room where the princess lay dying--yet with all her faculties about her, and with, though maybe she hardly thought so, a great deal of vitality still left in her body--everything presented the appearance of belonging to one of wealth and position. The apartment was the bed chamber in which none but the chiefs of the house of de Rochebazon were ever permitted to lie; the bed, of great splendour and vast antiquity, was the bed in which countless de Beauvilliers and Montrachets and du Gast d'Ançillys and de Rochebazons had been born and died. A bed with a ruelle around it as handsome in its velvet and gold lace and gilt pilasters as the ruelle of Le Dieudonné himself--for the de Rochebazons assumed, and were allowed to assume without protest, many of the royal attributes and peculiarities--a bed standing upon a raised platform, or rostrum, as though the parquet floor was not exalted enough to come into contact with the legs of the couch on which the rulers of the house stretched their illustrious limbs.