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The Three Racans

The present anecdote, to its merit as an humorous deception, may add that of being a fact.

When Mademoiselle De Gournay arrived at Paris, she desired to see the Marquis of Racan, an eminent wit and poet. Two of Racan’s friends knew the time they had appointed for his waiting on her; and they resolved to be revenged on Racan for many a ridiculous situation to which he had exposed them. One of these gentlemen, about two hours before thetime appointed, waited on Mademoiselle De Gournay, and announced himself as Racan. He endeavoured to talk with the lady about her own works, which he had purposely turned over the night before; and, though he did not perfectly satisfy Mademoiselle De Gournay in point of his abilities, besides committing some gross blunders, she could not, however, but think the Marquis was a very polite gentleman. He had scarce parted from her, when another Marquis De Racan was announced. She naturally supposed it was the first, who had forgotten to say something to her, and returned for this purpose; when, to her great surprize, another stranger entered. She could not help questioning him repeatedly if he was the real Marquis De Racan; and informed him of what had just passed. The pretended Racan appeared very much hurt; and declared, that he would be revenged of the insult the stranger had mutually offered them. But, to cut the matter short, Mademoiselle De Gournay softened the choleric man; and was infinitely pleased with the second Marquis De Racan, who exceeded the first in every respect. Scarce had this second counterfeit Racan issued, when the real Racan was announced! This begain to exercise the patience of Mademoiselle De Gournay. ‘What, more Racans in one morning!’ she exclaimed. However, she resolved to see the third. As soon as he entered, she raised her voice, and asked him if he meant to insult her? Racan, who, at the best, was but an indifferent speaker, remained silent with astonishment. He muttered something; and Mademoiselle De Gournay, who was naturally violent and irascible, imagined he was sent to impose upon her. She pulled off her slipper, and fell upon the real and unfortunate Racan with the rage of an irritated virago, and made him gladly retreat from a visit where he had expected to meet with a very different reception.