“What—what do you mean?” Mme du Joncquoy resumed. “You imagine that Monsieur de Bismarck will make war on us and beat us! Oh, that’s unbearable!”
Indeed, they were laughing round Mme Chantereau, who had just repeated an assertion she had heard made in Alsace, where her husband owned a foundry.
“We have the emperor, fortunately,” said Count Muffat in his grave, official way.
It was the last phrase Fauchery was able to catch. He closed the door after casting one more glance in the direction of the Countess Sabine. She was talking sedately with the chief clerk and seemed to be interested in that stout individual’s conversation. Assuredly he must have been deceiving himself. There was no “little rift” there at all. It was a pity.
“You’re not coming down then?” La Faloise shouted up to him from the entrance hall.
And out on the pavement, as they separated, they once more repeated:
“Tomorrow, at Nana’s.”
Since morning Zoe had delivered up the flat to a managing man who had come from Brebant’s with a staff of helpers and waiters. Brebant was to supply everything, from the supper, the plates and dishes, the glass, the linen, the flowers, down to the seats and footstools. Nana could not have mustered a dozen napkins out of all her cupboards, and not having had time to get a proper outfit after her new start in life and scorning to go to the restaurant, she had decided to make the restaurant come to her. It struck her as being more the thing. She wanted to celebrate her great success as an actress with a supper which should set people talking. As her dining room was too small, the manager had arranged the table in the drawing room, a table with twenty-five covers, placed somewhat close together.
“Is everything ready?” asked Nana when she returned at midnight.
“Oh! I don’t know,” replied Zoe roughly, looking beside herself with worry. “The Lord be thanked, I don’t bother about anything. They’re making a fearful mess in the kitchen and all over the flat! I’ve had to fight my battles too. The other two came again. My eye! I did just chuck ’em out!”
She referred, of course, to her employer’s old admirers, the tradesman and the Walachian, to whom Nana, sure of her future and longing to shed her skin, as she phrased it, had decided to give the go-by.
“There are a couple of leeches for you!” she muttered.
“If they come back threaten to go to the police.”