Impulsively, Katrine clasped both the Countess’ hands in hers.
“I want to come very much,” she said. “There was never any one with whom I would rather be. I know now that you are the lady of whom Monsieur Josef spoke to me once. ‘Ach!’ he said, you know his way, ’she is the greatest lady in the world! It is not what she does, but what she is so beautifully.’”
As Katrine spoke with the earnestness of voice and manner always her own, the Countess leaned forward suddenly with a startled look.
“Who is it that you remind me of?” she cried, drawing her, black brows together. “If I could only think! Who is it that you remind me of?”
KATRINE MEETS ANNE LENNOX
During McDermott’s ten days’ stay in Paris, Katrine saw him constantly. The evening after her first visit to the Countess he received with a gay air of irresponsibility the news that she was to take up her residence with Madame de Nemours, and though he personally assisted in the establishing of herself and Nora in the queer old house, it was with the manner of one in no way responsible for what was going forward.
Some sunny rooms on the third floor were given her, a great piano was enthroned in a bright corner, gay flowers bloomed against the faded tapestry, and the Countess urged her to choose from many pictures the ones she desired for intimate friends.
She knew that McDermott visited Josef to speak of her, and that he returned delighted with the visit; but in all of his attentions there seemed even to the watchful eyes of the Countess more brotherly kindness than the solicitude of a lover. On the night before his return to the States he had a long talk with Madame de Nemours. His visit to Tours had resulted in nothing, and it was with some depression of spirits that he was making his farewells.
But the Countess was too much occupied with her new protege to be downcast over any mythical inheritance in America, and as she stood under the lamps in the doorway bidding him farewell, she said, with girlish enthusiasm: “Don’t you think about it any more. I have enough to live on nicely. And as for that glorious Katrine, I’ll deave her ears with your name! No praises. Ah, I’m too old and wise for that! It will be this way. ‘It’s a pity,’ I’ll say, ’that Dermott is not better-looking,’ and she’ll answer, ’Sure he’s one of the handsomest men in the world.’ And the next day, ‘How unfortunate he is so niggardly?’ ‘Niggardly!’ she’ll cry. ’He gives away everything he has. He’s the soul of generosity!’ Ah, trust me!” the Countess ended. “She shall persuade herself there’s none other like you. And there’s not!” she cried, kissing her hand to him as he went down the steps.
Within the week after McDermott’s leaving Paris there occurred two events, seemingly remote from Katrine’s existence, which later wrought the greatest changes in her life.