With forced gaiety he turned to his lackey. “Lad, let us love only ourselves. Self-love is always true to us. We will spend our gold and play the butterfly while the summer lasts. It will be cold soon, and then . . . pouf! To-morrow you will take the gold and balance my accounts.”
“Yes, Monsieur. Will Monsieur permit a familiarity by recalling a forbidden subject?”
“Monsieur le Comte de Brissac died last night,” solemnly.
“What! of old age?” ironically.
“Of steel. A gallant was entering by a window, presumably to entertain madame, who is said to be young and as beautiful as her mother was. Monsieur le Comte appeared upon the scene; but his guard was weak. He was run through the neck. The gallant wore a mask. That is all I know of the scandal.”
“Happy the star which guided me from the pitfall of wedded life! What an escape! I must inform Monsieur le Marquis. He will certainly relish this bit of scandal which all but happened at his own fireside. Certainly I shall inform him. It will be like caviar to the appetite. I shall dine before the effect wears off.” The Chevalier put on his hat and cloak, and took a final look in the Venetian mirror. “Don’t wait for me, lad; I shall be late. Perhaps to-night I shall learn her name.”
Breton smiled discreetly as his master left the room. Between a Catharine of the millinery and a mysterious lady of fashion there was no inconsiderable difference.
THE MUTILATED HAND
“Monsieur Paul?” cried the handsome widow of Monsieur Boisjoli, stepping from behind the pastry counter.
“Yes, Mignon, it is I,” said the Chevalier; “that is, what remains of me.”
“What happiness to see you again!” she exclaimed. She turned to a waiter. “Charlot, bring Monsieur le Chevalier the pheasant pie, the ragout of hare, and a bottle of chambertin from the bin of ’36.”
“Sorceress!” laughed the Chevalier; “you have sounded the very soul of me. Thanks, Mignon, thanks! Next to love, what is more to a man than a full stomach? Ah, you should have seen me when I came in! And devil take this nose of mine; not even steam and water have thawed the frost from it.” He chucked her under the chin and smiled comically, all of which made manifest that the relations existing between the hostess of the Candlestick and her principal tenant were of the most cordial and Platonic character.