A VERY SPECIAL DINNER
At seven o’clock that evening I passed through the cafe on my way to the American bar. There was already a good sprinkling of early diners there, and Louis was busy as usual. Directly he saw me, however, he came forward with his usual suave bow.
“The table in the left-hand corner,” he said, “is engaged for monsieur. I have also taken the liberty of commanding a little dinner.”
“But I am not dining here, Louis!” I protested.
Louis’ expression was one of honest surprise.
“Monsieur is serious?” he inquired. “It is only a short time ago that I was talking with Mademoiselle Delora, and she told me that she was dining with you here.”
“I am dining with Miss Delora,” I answered, “but I certainly did not understand that it was to be here.”
“Perhaps,” he remarked, “mademoiselle had, for the moment, the idea of going away for dinner. If so, believe me, she has changed her mind. Monsieur will see when he calls for her.”
I passed on thoughtfully. There was something about this which I scarcely understood. It seemed almost as though Louis had but to direct, and every one obeyed. Was I, too, becoming one of his myrmidons? Was I, too, to dine at his cafe because he had spoken the word?
I made my way to number 157 precisely at half-past seven. Felicia was waiting for me, and for a moment I forgot to ask any questions,—forgot everything except the pleasure of looking at her. She wore a black lace gown,—beautifully cut, and modelled to perfection to reveal the delicate outline of her figure,—a rope of pearls, and a large hat and veil, arranged as only those can arrange them who have learnt how to dress in Paris. She looked at me a little anxiously.
“You like me?” she asked. “I will do?”
“You are charming,” I answered, “You take my breath away. Indeed, mademoiselle, I have never dined with any one so charming.”
She dropped me a little curtsey. Then her face clouded over.
“There is something I have to ask,” she said, looking at me ruefully. “Do you mind if we dine downstairs?”
“Louis has already told me that it is your wish,” I answered.
She picked up the train of her gown. I fancied that she turned away in order that I should not see her face.
“He was so disappointed,” she murmured, “and he has been so kind, I did not like to disappoint him.”
“How is your uncle?” I asked.
“I have not yet been allowed to see him,” she answered, “but they tell me that he is better. If he has a good night to-night, to-morrow morning I may go to him.”
“I certainly hope that he will have a good night!” I remarked. “Shall we go down?”
“If you are ready,” she answered. “There, you shall carry my purse and handkerchief while I put on my gloves. To put them on is foolish, is it not, when one does not leave the place? Still, one must do these things.”