Mademoiselle Marie Anne le Normand made a large fortune, not very long ago, as a devineresse (diviner) at Paris. This adventuress was one of the last, and not the least noted, of the public and professional card-readers, or disclosers of the future through cards. She lived to a great age, having begun her career before the first French Revolution, and surviving long enough to witness that of July, 1830.
Mademoiselle le Normand took to her trade early in life. Though little more than a girl, or at least, but a young woman, at the date of the first Revolution, she had even acquired note as a devineresse, and is said to have been consulted alike by the noblesse in their hour of adversity, and by the parvenues, who in that same hour rose to notoriety, if not to prosperity. It is authentically told that Robespierre himself came to her in disguise, and trembled like an aspen when she told him not only who he was, but what would be his fate. She would even laugh in after days with malicious glee, as we learn from an account of her now before us, when telling how pale his hideous countenance had turned, as, at each shuffle which he gave to the cards placed in his hands, the grand pendu would turn up, promising to him a death of blood and violence. We should here strictly say, a “death by the halter,” seeing that the word pendu means a person “hanged.” The phrase, however, may be taken as indicating generally a public execution of any kind. The grand pendu was a card displaying a human figure in the agonies of such an end, and formed one of a pack for the use of those who tried to the grand jeu, or, in other words, who consulted the pythoness on affairs of life and death. The cards of this set were large, and presented pictures of suicides, duelists, and other fit companions to the grand pendu. Cross-bones and skulls constituted the aces, and the hearts and diamonds were simulated by drops of blood. Comparatively few persons dared to test their fate by the grand jue; and for the determination of love-matters, and other such-like concerns, Mademoiselle le Normand had less frightful, though not quite ordinary, sets of cards. As she allowed her clients, at least ostensibly, to shuffle or cut the grand jeu cards with their own hands, she used to allege and boast that she could have no share in the decisions arrived at. “Fate, fate alone,” she declared, gave the answers. Fate had fixed what was to befall Robespierre; and he “knew it,” said the devineresse, “and feared it ever.”