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John Bessac had arrived in Madrid penniless and friendless.

As luck would have it there was a group of young Frenchmen in Madrid. It was not John’s wish to lean on friends for assistance. However, after a few weeks of living on next to nothing John was becoming desperate. His outgoing personality allowed him to make friends quite quickly. Among those young Frenchmen were some on the king’s personal guard. The Spanish royal family preferred the French for that security force.

John allowed his new friends to know he was looking for work. The word was passed around. John was made aware of an opening on the royal security force. John’s friends were the sons of French Courtiers. The Royal Guard, likewise, was made up of the same group of select people. John eventually found work as a member of the Royal Guard.

Guarding Charles III, King of Spain, Naples and Sicily, Duke of Parma, was a plum occupation.

Charles III, King of Spain, Naples and Sicily, Duke of Parma

Also guarding the king was Don Ramon de M.

What the “M.” stood for we are not told.

Don Ramon was not a guard of his king but rather a guard of Charles III’s health as well as the royal family’s health.

Don Ramon was the royal physician and he had a beautiful daughter who caught John Bessac’s eye.

John Bessac was either fortunate enough, or forward enough, to make her acquaintance. They formed a friendship and spent many leisure hours together.

It was summer time and the royal family made their annual move . It was a short trip only thirty-five miles north to nearby Segovia. There, at the foot of the forested northern slopes of the Sierra de Guadarrama, was a magnificent summer palace; La Granja de San Ildefonso.

The young girl’s father had been assigned to accompany the family there. John’s Royal Guard duties, likewise, also called him there. It was not coincidence that they would spend summer months together.

The palace gardens were a perfect setting for the two young people to discover each other’s mutual interests. There were antique statues and busts to make comment on. A particular relief allowed them to discuss the story it told. St. Ildefonso Palace was adorned with much artwork to be admired.

The young friendship started with the purest principles of esteem and mutual regard. The bud of romance appeared and John found himself growing closer and closer to the young girl.

His anticipation was dashed. She suddenly died from a fatal fever. The summer flower never fully bloomed for John. The joy went out of his world.

Madrid had now lost its principal attraction for him. Darkness and brooding overcame John Bessac.