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Grains Of Truth
by [?]

One thing I liked about France was that the people were willing, at a slight advance on the regular price, to treat a very ordinary man with unusual respect and esteem. This surprised and delighted me beyond measure, and I often told people there that I did not begrudge the additional expense. The coachman was also hostler, and when the carriage was ready he altered his attire by removing a coarse, gray shirt or tunic and putting on a long, olive green coachman’s coat, with erect linen collar and cuffs sewed into the collar and sleeves. He wore a high hat that was much better than mine, as is frequently the case with coachmen and their employers. My coachman now gives me his silk hat when he gets through with it in the spring and fall, so I am better dressed than I used to be.

But we were going to say a word regarding the porcelain works at Sevres. It is a modern building and is under government control. The museum is filled with the most beautiful china dishes and funny business that one could well imagine. Besides, the pottery ever since its construction has retained its models, and they, of course, are worthy of a day’s study. The “Sevres blue” is said to be a little bit bluer than anything else in the known world except the man who starts a nonpareil paper in a pica town.

I was careful not to break any of these vases and things, and thus endeared myself to the foreman of the place. All employes are uniformed and extremely deferential to recognized ability. Practically, for half a day, I owned the place.

A cattle friend of mine who was looking for a dynasty whose tail he could twist while in Europe, and who used often to say over our glass of vin ordinaire (which I have since learned is not the best brand at all), that nothing would tickle him more than “to have a little deal with a crowned head and get him in the door,” accidentally broke a blue crock out there at Sevres which wouldn’t hold over a gallon, and it took the best part of a car load of cows to pay for it, he told me.

The process of making the Sevres ware is not yet published in book form, especially the method of coloring and enameling. It is a secret possessed by duly authorized artists. The name of the town is pronounced Save.

Mme. Pompadour is said to have been the natural daughter of a butcher, which I regard as being more to her own credit than though she had been an artificial one. Her name was Jeanne Antoinette Poisson Le Normand d’Etioles, Marchioness de Pompadour, and her name is yet used by the authorities of Versailles as a fire escape, so I am told.

She was the mistress of Louis XV, who never allowed her to put her hands in dishwater during the entire time she visited at his house. D’Etioles was her first husband, but she left him for a gay but rather reprehensible life at court, where she was terribly talked about, though she is said not to have cared a cent.

She developed into a marvelous politician, and early seeing that the French people were largely governed by the literary lights of that time, she began to cultivate the acquaintance of the magazine writers, and tried to join the Authors’ Club.

She then became prominent by originating a method of doing up the hair, which has since grown popular among people whose hair has not, like my own, been already “done up.”

This style of Mme. Pompadour’s was at once popular with the young men who ran the throttles of the soda fountains of that time, and is still well spoken of. A young friend of mine trained his hair up from his forehead in that way once and could not get it down again. During his funeral his hair, which had been glued down by the undertaker, became surprised at something said by the clergyman and pushed out the end of his casket.

The king tired in a few years of Mme. Pompadour and wished that he had not encouraged her to run away from her husband. She, however, retained her hold upon the blase and alcoholic monarch by her wonderful versatility and genius.

When all her talents as an artiste and politician palled upon his old rum-soaked and emaciated brain, and ennui, like a mighty canker, ate away large corners of his moth-eaten soul, she would sit in the gloaming and sing to him, “Hard Times, Hard Times, Come Again No More,” meantime accompanying herself on the harpsichord or the sackbut or whatever they played in those days. Then she instituted theatricals, giving, through the aid of the nobility, a very good version of “Peck’s Bad Boy” and “Lend Me Five Centimes.”

She finally lost her influence over Looey the XV, and as he got to be an old man the thought suddenly occurred to him to reform, and so he had Mme. Pompadour beheaded at the age of forty-two years. This little story should teach us that no matter how gifted we are, or how high we may wear our hair, our ambitions must be tempered by honor and integrity; also that pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a plunk.