She looked shyly — with a new shyness — at her lover when he came into the room where they were dining. She observed for the first time that proud carriage of the head, with the chin thrust forward, that was a trick of his, and she noticed with what a grace he moved — the grace of one who in youth has had his dancing-masters and fencing-masters.
It almost hurt her when he flung himself into a chair and exchanged a quip with Harlequin in the usual manner as with an equal, and it offended her still more that Harlequin, knowing what he now knew, should use him with the same unbecoming familiarity.
“Do you know,” said Climene, “that I am waiting for the explanation which I think you owe me?”
They were alone together, lingering still at the table to which Andre-Louis had come belatedly, and Andre-Louis was loading himself a pipe. Of late — since joining the Binet Troupe — he had acquired the habit of smoking. The others had gone, some to take the air and others, like Binet and Madame, because they felt that it were discreet to leave those two to the explanations that must pass. It was a feeling that Andre-Louis did not share. He kindled a light and leisurely applied it to his pipe. A frown came to settle on his brow.
“Explanation?” he questioned presently, and looked at her. “But on what score?”
“On the score of the deception you have practised on us — on me.”
“I have practised none,” he assured her.
“You mean that you have simply kept your own counsel, and that in silence there is no deception. But it is deceitful to withhold facts concerning yourself and your true station from your future wife. You should not have pretended to be a simple country lawyer, which, of course, any one could see that you are not. It may have been very romantic, but... Enfin, will you explain?”
“I see,” he said, and pulled at his pipe. “But you are wrong, Climene. I have practised no deception. If there are things about me that I have not told you, it is that I did not account them of much importance. But I have never deceived you by pretending to be other than I am. I am neither more nor less than I have represented myself.”
This persistence began to annoy her, and the annoyance showed on her winsome face, coloured her voice.
“Ha! And that fine lady of the nobility with whom you are so intimate, who carried you off in her cabriolet with so little ceremony towards myself? What is she to you?”
“A sort of sister,” said he.
“A sort of sister!” She was indignant. “Harlequin foretold that you would say so; but he was amusing himself. It was not very funny. It is less funny still from you. She has a name, I suppose, this sort of sister?”
“Certainly she has a name. She is Mlle. Aline de Kercadiou, the niece of Quintin de Kercadiou, Lord of Gavrillac.”