Thus it went on for some minutes, at the end of which they knew, by hearing her shorter breathing, that she was becoming fatigued.
“Enough! enough! Sit down now,” said Felicia. Thereupon the little white shadow halted beside an easy chair, and there remained posed, ready to start off again, smiling and breathless, until sleep overcame her, rocking and balancing her gently without disturbing her pretty pose, as of a dragon-fly on the branch of a willow dipping in the water and swayed by the current.
While they watched her, dozing on her easy chair:
“Poor little fairy!” said Felicia, “hers is what I have had best and most serious in my life in the way of friendship, protection, and guardianship. Can you wonder now at the zig-zags, the erratic nature of my mind? Fortunate at that, to have gone no further.”
And suddenly, with a joyous effusion of feeling:
“Ah, Minerva, Minerva, I am very glad that you came this evening! But you must not leave me to myself for so long again, mind. I need to have near me an honest mind like yours, to see a true face among the masks that surround me. A fearful bourgeois, all the same,” she added, laughing, “and a provincial into the bargain. But no matter! It is you, for all that, whom it gives me the most pleasure to see. And I believe that my liking for you is due especially to one thing: you remind me of some one who was the great affection of my youth, a sedate and sensible little being she also, chained to the matter-of-fact side of existence, but tempering it with that ideal element which we artists set aside exclusively for the profit of our work. Certain things which you say seem to me as though they had come from her. You have the same mouth, like an antique model’s. Is it that that gives this resemblance to your words? I have no idea, but most certainly you are like each other. You shall see.”
On the table laden with sketches and albums, at which she was sitting facing him, she drew, as she talked, with brow inclined and her rather wild curly hair shading her graceful little head. She was no longer the beautiful couchant monster, with the anxious and gloomy countenance, condemning her own destiny, but a woman, a true woman, in love, and eager to beguile. This time Paul forgot all his mistrusts in presence of so much sincerity and such passing grace. He was about to speak, to persuade. The minute was decisive. But the door opened and the little page appeared. M. le Duc had sent to inquire whether mademoiselle was still suffering from her headache of earlier in the evening.