….I was puzzling over the transparent fact that either of the
apparent exits would have led her directly into the hands of the enemy,
when the idea of a secret staircase suggested itself. A little judicious
inquiry elicited the information that one did exist. “But it is not
seen. It is locked. To view it, an order from the Commissary—that is
necessary,” explained the old guide.
To know that a secret staircase, and one of such vivid
historical importance, was at hand, and not to have seen it would have
been too tantalising. The “Commissary” was an unknown quantity, and for a
space it seemed as though our desire would be ungratified. Happily the
knowledge of our interest awoke a kindly reciprocity in our guide, who,
hurrying off, quickly returned with the venerable custodian of the key. A
moment later, the unobtrusive panel that concealed the exit flew open
at its touch, and the secret staircase, dark, narrow, and hoary with the
dust of years, lay before us.
Many must have been the romantic meetings aided by those
diminutive steps, but, peering into their shadows, we saw nothing but a
vision of Marie Antoinette, half clad in dishevelled wrappings of
petticoat and shawl, flying distracted from the vengeance of the furies
through the refuge of the low-roofed stairway.
--A Versailles Christmastide by Mary Stuart Boyd