Nothing could surpass the exquisite moulding and fairness of the arm extended alternately to feed and caress the pet animal before her. No wonder the little creature looked up at her with its soft, almost human eyes, and gazed in her face, as if half bewildered by her beauty.
With a proud and stately grace, she moved over the sward, up the marble steps and passed through the great saloon of the chateau. Was there not a slight air of indifference and ennui in her face and movements? Possibly. It has been noticed that people who are loved, petted, and admired, who have plenty of gold and jewels, who sit at feasts made for princes, and have the grand shine of splendor always gleaming round them, are more likely to carry that weary aspect, than others. Queens even do not look pleased and happy more than half the time. The fact was, that Adele of Miramichi, having spent much time in Paris, during the last three years, where she had been greatly admired, now that the novelty was over, had become tired of playing a part in the pageantry of courtly life and longed for something more substantial.
As she crossed the saloon, a page informed her that Mrs. Dubois wished her presence in the library. She immediately obeyed the summons.
This apartment, one of the pleasantest in the chateau, was a favorite with the Count; and as age and infirmity crept upon him, he grew more and more attached to it, and was accustomed to spend there the greater part of his time, amused and soothed by the attentions of Mrs. Dubois and Adele. It was a lofty, but not very large apartment, the walls nearly covered with bookcases of oak, carved in quaint old patterns and filled with choice books in various languages. Several finely executed statues were placed in niches, and one large picture, by Rubens, gathered a stream of sunshine upon its gorgeous canvas.
The Count was sitting, buried in the purple cushions of an easy-chair, fast asleep, and as Adele entered the room, her mother held up her finger, warningly.
“Ma chere”, said Mrs. Dubois, in a low tone, “here is a packet of letters for you, from Paris”.
Adele took them from her mother’s hand, indifferently. She read and crushed together a note bearing the impression of a coat of arms.
“Count D’Orsay and sister wish to come here next week”, she said, with a half sigh.
“Eh, bien! ma chere, they are agreeable people. I shall be glad to see them”.
“Yes”, replied Adele, “Gabrielle is very lovely. Nevertheless, I regret they are coming”.
“Do you know, Adele, how highly your father esteems the young Count?”
“Yes, mamma, and that is one reason why I do not wish him to come now to Rossillon. You know he loves me, and my father approves. I can never marry him. But I esteem and respect him so much, that it will give me infinite pain to say nay”.
Mrs. Dubois looked at Adele very tenderly, yet gravely, and said, “Ma fille, do not throw away a true, devoted affection, for the sake of a phantom one. I fear that, while you are dreaming and waiting, happiness will slip out of your path”.