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Nancy Mitford

“A pair of young mothers now became the centre of interest. They had risen from their lying-in much sooner than the doctors would otherwise have allowed. (French doctors are always very good about recognizing the importance of social events, and certainly in this case had the patients been forbidden the ball the might easily have fretted themselves to death.) One came as the Duchesse de Berri with l’Enfant du Miracle, and the other as Madame de Montespan and the Duc du Maine. The two husbands, the ghost of the Duc de Berri, a dagger sticking out of his evening dress, and Louis XIV, were rather embarrassed really by the horrible screams of their so very young heirs, and hurried to the bar together. The noise was indeed terrific, and Albertine said crossly that had she been consulted she would, in this case, have permitted and even encouraged the substitution of dolls. The infants were then dumped down to cry themselves to sleep among the coats on her bed, whence they were presently collected by their mothers’ monthly nannies. Nobody thereafter could feel quite sure that the noble families of Bregendir and Belestat were not hopelessly and for ever interchanged. As their initials and coronets were, unfortunately, the same, and their baby linen came from the same shop, it was impossible to identify the children for certain. The mothers were sent for, but the pleasures of society rediscovered having greatly befogged their maternal instincts, they were obliged to admit they had no idea which was which. With a tremendous amount of guilty giggling they spun a coin for the prettier of the two babies and left it at that.”


Nancy Mitford, The Blessing
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The Blessing The Blessing by Nancy Mitford
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