At these words Calvert let his gaze rest on the haughty face before him for a moment, and then, making a profound obeisance, he said, quietly:
“When you are quite ready, Madame, permit me to escort you back to the palace.” He spoke with such formality and dignity that Adrienne blushed scarlet and bit her lips.
“Before I accept Monsieur Calvert’s escort, I wish to explain—” but Calvert interrupted her.
“No explanation is necessary, Madame, surely,” he said, a little wearily.
She blushed yet more deeply and raised her head imperiously. “You are right, Monsieur. ’Tis not necessary, as you say, but I will accept no favor—not even a safe-conduct back to the palace—from one whose manner”—she hesitated, as if at a loss for words—“whose manner is an accusation. But though I am hurt, I should not be surprised by it, sir!” she went on, advancing a step and drawing herself up proudly. “It has ever been your attitude toward me. From that first night we met I have felt myself under the ban of your disapproval. Poor Monsieur de St. Aulaire and I!” and she laughed mockingly.
“I pray you, Madame, do not name yourself in the same breath with that scoundrel!” said Calvert, in a low voice.
“And why not, Monsieur? We are both of the same world, we have both been brought up after the same fashion, we are probably much alike. Ah, Monsieur,” she went on, defiantly, “is it the Quaker in you—Monsieur Jefferson has told me that your mother was a Quakeress—that makes you hate the world, the flesh, and the devil so? Is Paris, then, so much more wicked than your Virginia? Are we so different from the women of your world?” She went up to him and put her beautiful face close to his disturbed one. “Are you so different from the men of our world, Monsieur, or is it only those grand yeux of yours, with their serious expression, that make you seem different—and better?” and her eyes smiled mockingly into his. “Pshaw, sir, you make me feel like a naughty school-girl when you reprove me so. Upon my word, I don’t know why I submit to it! Though I am younger than you, sir, I feel a hundred years older in experience—and yet—and yet—there is something about you—” She broke off and again tapped the gravel impatiently with her foot.
“I have said nothing, Madame.” Calvert was quiet and unsmiling.
“No, Monsieur, ’tis that I most object to—you keep silence, but your eyes reprove me. Oh, I have seen you looking at me with that reproving glance many times when you did not know I saw it! Am I to blame, sir, for being of the great world of which you do not approve? Am I to be rebuked—even silently—for coming here with Monsieur de St. Aulaire, by you, Monsieur?” Suddenly she dropped her defiant tone and, leaning against the edge of the marble basin, looked intently and silently at the splashing water gleaming white in the moonlight.