“I know, I know.”
We had arrived at this point in that interesting conversation when the ballet ended. The bishop and myself were assailed by an actual whirlwind of skaters, and my little Westphalian peasant-girl found me where she had left me.
“I declare!” she said to me, “so you come to confess at the opera? Give him absolution, Morin, and give it to me, too. Now then, come along to the greenroom.”
She took my arm, and we went off together, while the excellent Morin, with gravity and dignity beneath his sacred ornaments, withstood the shock of this avalanche of dancers.
After George had related how he had been married off at twenty-two by his aunt, the Baroness de Stilb, Paul said: “I was married off by a circus charger. I was very nearly forty years of age, and I felt so peacefully settled in my little bachelor habits that, in the best faith in the world, on all occasions, I swore by the gods never to run the great risk of marriage; but I reckoned without the circus charger.
“It was in the last days of September, 1864. I had just arrived from Baden-Baden, and my intention was to spend only twenty-four hours in Paris. I had invited four or five of my friends—Callieres, Bernheim, Frondeville, and Valreas—to my place in Poitou for the shooting season. They were to come in the first part of October, and it needed a week to put all in order at Roche-Targe. A letter from my overseer awaited me in Paris, and the letter brought disastrous news; the dogs were well, but out of the dozen hunting horses that I had there, five, during my sojourn at Baden, had fallen sick or lame, and I found myself absolutely forced to get new horses.
“I made a tour of the Champs-Elysees sellers, who showed me as hunters a fine collection of broken—down skeletons. Average price, three thousand francs. Roulette had treated me badly of late, and I was neither in the humor, nor had I the funds, to spend in that way seven or eight hundred louis in a morning.
“It was a Wednesday, and Cheri was holding his first autumn sale. I went to the Rue de Ponthieu during the day; and there out of the lot, on chance, without inquiry, blindly, by good-luck, and from the mere declarations of the catalogue—’Excellent hunter, good jumper, has hunted with lady rider,’ etc.—I bought eight horses, which only cost me five thousand francs. Out of eight, I said to myself, there will always be four or five who will go, and who will be good enough to serve as remounts.