“Eh bien! madam, why do you bar me out?” I said, as though we had parted but yesterday.
In her sheer astonishment, I presume, she let down the fastening chain, and without her invitation I stepped within. I heard her startled “Mon Dieu!” then her more deliberate exclamation of emotion. “My God!” she said. She stood, with her hands caught at her throat, staring at me. I laughed and held out a hand.
“Madam Baroness,” I said, “how glad I am! Come, has not fate been kind to us again?” I pushed shut the door behind me. Still without a word, she stepped deeper into the room and stood looking at me, her hands clasped now loosely and awkwardly, as though she were a country girl surprised, and not the Baroness Helena von Ritz, toast or talk of more than one capital of the world.
Yet she was the same. She seemed slightly thinner now, yet not less beautiful. Her eyes were dark and brilliant as ever. The clear features of her face were framed in the roll of her heavy locks, as I had seen them last. Her garb, as usual, betokened luxury. She was robed as though for some fete, all in white satin, and pale blue fires of stones shone faintly at throat and wrist. Contrast enough she made to me, clad in smoke-browned tunic of buck, with the leggings and moccasins of a savage, my belt lacking but prepared for weapons.
I had not time to puzzle over the question of her errand here, why or whence she had come, or what she purposed doing. I was occupied with the sudden surprises which her surroundings offered.
“I see, Madam,” said I, smiling, “that still I am only asleep and dreaming. But how exquisite a dream, here in this wild country! How unfit here am I, a savage, who introduce the one discordant note into so sweet a dream!”
I gestured to my costume, gestured about me, as I took in the details of the long room in which we stood. I swear it was the same as that in which I had seen her at a similar hour in Montreal! It was the same I had first seen in Washington!
Impossible? I am doubted? Ah, but do I not know? Did I not see? Here were the pictures on the walls, the carved Cupids, the candelabra with their prisms, the chairs, the couches! Beyond yonder satin curtains rose the high canopy of the embroidery-covered couch, its fringed drapery reaching almost to the deep pile of the carpets. True, opportunity had not yet offered for the full concealment of these rude walls; yet, as my senses convinced me even against themselves, here were the apartments of Helena von Ritz, furnished as she had told me they always were at each place she saw fit to honor with her presence!