“Can you not see?—Do you not understand, Monsieur?” she said at length, hurriedly, and in a low voice. “Do not misjudge me. I have been brought up in this court life, which is the life of intrigue and dissimulation and wickedness—yes, wickedness! We know nothing else. There is no one in our world so pure as to be above suspicion. The walls of this great palace, thick and massive as they are, cannot keep out the whispers of calumny against the Queen herself. Is it so different in your country? Sometimes I abhor this life and would hear of another. Sometimes I hate all this,” she went on, speaking as if more to herself than to Calvert. “As for Monsieur de St. Aulaire, I loathe him! I thank you, Monsieur, for ridding me of his presence. If I seemed ungrateful, believe me, I was not! ’Tis but my pride which stands no rebuke. But it is late! Will you do me the favor, Monsieur, of taking me back to the Galerie des Glaces?” She turned her eyes away from the fountain, at which she had gazed steadily while speaking, and looked at Calvert. He saw that they were full of tears. The mask was down again. There was an humbled, shamed expression on that lovely face usually so imperious. The look of appeal and distress went to his heart like a knife. She made him think of some brilliant bird cruelly wounded.
For an instant she looked at him so, and then resuming her imperious air with a palpable effort and forcing a smile to her lips, she gathered up her trailing gown and passed slowly beneath the colonnade, Calvert following at her side. As she turned away, he stooped quickly and picked up the white rose she had worn where it had fallen on the path.
THE FOURTH AND THE FOURTEENTH OF JULY
For the next few weeks Mr. Calvert had little time—and, indeed, little inclination—to see Adrienne. The discovery that he loved her had brought pain, not happiness with it. He felt the gulf too wide between them, both in circumstance and character, to be bridged. How could he, an untitled American, an unknown young gentleman of small fortune, pretend to the hand of one of the most beautiful, most aristocratic, and most capricious women in Paris? He smiled to himself as he mentally compared Adrienne with the simple young beauties of Virginia he had known—with Miss Molly Crenshawe and Miss Peggy Gary—and he wondered a little bitterly why he could not have fallen happily in love with some one of his own countrywomen, whose heart he could have won and kept, instead of falling a victim to the charms of a dazzling creature quite beyond his reach. With that clear good sense which was ever one of his most distinguishing traits, he fully comprehended the difficulties, the impossibility of a happy ending of his passion, and, having no desire to play the role of the disconsolate lover, he again determined to see as little of Adrienne as possible.