“She has the air of a princess royal and treats me as the meanest of her subjects. ’Tis a good thing we Americans have cast off the yoke of royalty,” he thought to himself, with a smile. “And as for beauty—there are a dozen belles in Virginia alone almost her equal in loveliness and surely far sweeter, simpler, less spoiled. And yet—and yet—” and the young man would find himself wondering what was that special charm by virtue of which she triumphed over all others. He did not himself yet know why it was that he excused her follies, found her the most beautiful of all women, or fell into a sort of rage at seeing her in the loose society of the day, with such men as St. Aulaire and a dozen others of his kind in her train. But though unable to analyze her charm he was yet vaguely conscious of its danger, and had it depended upon himself he would have seen but little of her. This, however, was an impossibility, as Mr. Jefferson was a constant visitor at the hotel of Madame d’Azay, who, true to her word, seemed to take the liveliest interest in Mr. Calvert and commanded his presence in her salon frequently. Indeed, the old Duchess was pleased to profess herself charmed with the young American, and would have been delighted, apparently, to see him at any and all hours, had his duties permitted him so much leisure. Besides the cordial invitations of the dowager Duchess to the hotel in the rue St. Honore, there were others as pressing from d’Azay himself, who, having secured his election in Touraine, had returned to Paris. The young nobleman was frequently at the American Legation in consultation with the Minister, whose opinions and character excited his greatest admiration, and it was one of his chiefest delights, when business was concluded, to carry Mr. Jefferson and Calvert back to his aunt’s drawing-room with him for a dish of tea and an hour’s conversation.
It was on one of those occasions that, having accompanied Mr. Jefferson and d’Azay to the rue St. Honore in the latter’s coach (Mr. Morris promising to look in later), Mr. Calvert had the opportunity of speaking at length with Madame de St. Andre for the first time since the afternoon on the ice. When the three gentlemen entered the drawing-room a numerous company was already assembled, the older