“You may as well measure my friend too,” remarked Madame Depine, as she reassumed her glossy brown wig (which seemed propriety itself compared with the bald cranium).
“What an idea!” ejaculated Madame Valiere. “To what end?”
“Since you are here,” returned Madame Depine, indifferently. “You may as well leave your measurements. Then when you decide yourself—Is it not so, monsieur?”
The coiffeur, like a good man of business, eagerly endorsed the suggestion. “Perfectly, madame.”
“But if one’s head should change!” said Madame Valiere, trembling with excitement at the vivid imminence of the visioned wig.
“Souvent femme varie, madame,” said the coiffeur. “But it is the inside, not the outside of the head.”
“But you said one is not the dome of the Invalides,” Madame Valiere reminded him.
“He spoke of our old blocks,” Madame Depine intervened hastily. “At our age one changes no more.”
Thus persuaded, the “Princess” in her turn denuded herself of her wealth of wig, and Madame Depine watched with unsmiling satisfaction the stretchings of tape across the ungainly cranium.
“C’est bien,” she said. “I return with your fifty francs on the instant.”
And having seen her “Princess” safely ensconced in the attic, she rifled the stocking, and returned to the coiffeur.
When she emerged from the shop, the vindictive endurance had vanished from her face, and in its place reigned an angelic exaltation.
Eleven days later Madame Valiere and Madame Depine set out on the great expedition to the hairdresser’s to try on the Wig. The “Princess’s” excitement was no less tense than the fortunate winner’s. Neither had slept a wink the night before, but the November morning was keen and bright, and supplied an excellent tonic. They conversed with animation on the English in Egypt, and Madame Depine recalled the gallant death of her son, the chasseur.
The coiffeur saluted them amiably. Yes, mesdames, it was a beautiful morning. The wig was quite ready. Behold it there—on its block.
Madame Valiere’s eyes turned thither, then grew clouded, and returned to Madame Depine’s head and thence back to the Grey Wig.
“It is not this one?” she said dubiously.
“Mais, oui.” Madame Depine was nodding, a great smile transfiguring the emaciated orb of her face. The artist’s eyes twinkled.
“But this will not fit you,” Madame Valiere gasped.
“It is a little error, I know,” replied Madame Depine.
“But it is a great error,” cried Madame Valiere, aghast. And her angry gaze transfixed the coiffeur.
“It is not his fault—I ought not to have let him measure you.”
“Ha! Did I not tell you so?” Triumph softened her anger. “He has mixed up the two measurements!”