I turned away rather bewildered and for an hour or two watched Bee and Mrs. Jimmie being presented to those who called to pay their respects to our hostess. They were of all descriptions and fascinating to a degree. Finally the duchesse came up to me bringing a lady whom she introduced as the Countess Y.
“She is a compatriot of yours, mademoiselle.”
It so happened that Bee and Mrs. Jimmie were standing near me and overheard.
“Ah, you are an American,” I said.
“Well,” said the countess, moving her shoulders a little uneasily, “I am an American, but my husband does not like to have me admit it.”
It was a small thing. She had a right to deny her nationality if she liked, but in some way it shocked the three of us alike and we moved forward as if pulled by one string.
“I think we must be going,” said Bee, haughtily.
Jimmie’s jaw was so set as we left the house of the countess, and Bee and Mrs. Jimmie looked so disturbed that I suggested that we drive down to the Louvre and take one last look at our treasures. Mine are the Venus de Milo and the Victory, and Jimmie’s is the colossal statue of the river Tiber. Jimmie loves that old giant, Father Tiber, lying there with the horn of plenty and dear little Romulus and Remus with their foster mother under his right hand. Jimmie says the toes of the giant fascinate him.
It looked like rain, so we hastily checked our parasols and Jimmie’s stick and cut down the left corridor to the stairs, and so on down to the chamber where we left Jimmie and the Tiber to stare each other out of countenance. The rest of us continued our way to the room where the Venus stands enthroned in her silent majesty. We sat down to rest and worship, and then coming up the steps again and mounting another flight, we stood looking across the arcade at the brilliant electric poise of the Victory, and in taking our last look at her, we did not notice that it had gradually grown very dark.
When we came out, rested, uplifted, and calmed as the effect of that glorious Venus always is upon our fretted spirits, we discovered that the most terrific rainstorm was in progress it ever was our luck to behold. The water came down in cataracts and blinding sheets of rain. Every one except us had been warned by the darkness and had got themselves home. The streets were empty except for the cabs and carriages which skurried by with fares. Our frantic signals and Jimmie’s dashes into the street were of no avail.
We would have walked except that Bee and I had colds, and big, beautiful Mrs. Jimmie was subject to croup, which as every one knows is terrible in its attacks upon grown people.
Poor Jimmie ran in every direction in his wild efforts for a carriage, but none was to be had. We waited two hours, then Mrs. Jimmie saw a black covered wagon approaching and she gathered up her skirts and hailed it. The driver obligingly pulled up at the curb.