Paul interrupted him with a magniloquent wave of the hand.
“Believe me, sir,” said he, in a voice which he endeavoured to render cutting and sarcastic, “had it not been for the imperative duty I before alluded to, I should not have intruded.”
And with these words he left the room, slamming the door behind him.
“The deuce take the impudent fool!” muttered Andre. “I was strongly tempted to pitch him out of the window.”
Paul was in a furious rage for having visited the studio with the kindly desire of humiliating the painter. He could not but feel that the tables had been turned upon himself.
“He shall not have it all his own way,” muttered he; “for I will see the lady,” and not reflecting on the meanness of his conduct, he crossed the street, and took up a position from which he could obtain a good view of the house where Andre resided. It was snowing; but Paul disregarded the inclemency of the weather in his eagerness to act the spy.
He had waited for fully half an hour, when a cab drove up. Two women alighted from it. The one was eminently aristocratic in appearance, while the other looked like a respectable servant. Paul drew closer; and, in spite of a thick veil, recognized the features he had seen in the photograph.
“Ah!” said he, “after all, Rose is more to my taste, and I will get back to her. We will pay up Loupins, and get out of his horrible den.”
MADEMOISELLE DE MUSSIDAN.
Paul had not been the only watcher; for at the sound of the carriage wheels the ancient portress took up her position in the doorway, with her eyes fixed on the face of the young lady. When the two women had ascended the stairs, a sudden inspiration seized her, and she went out and spoke to the cabman.
“Nasty night,” remarked she; “I don’t envy you in such weather as this.”
“You may well say that,” replied the driver; “my feet are like lumps of ice.”
“Have you come far?”
“Rather; I picked them up in the Champs Elysees, near the Avenue de Matignon.”
“That is a distance.”
“Yes; and only five sous for drink money. Hang your respectable women!”
“Oh! they are respectable, are they?”
“I’ll answer for that. The other lot are far more open-handed. I know both of them.”
And with these words and a knowing wink, he touched up his horse and drove away; and the portress, only half satisfied, went back to her lodge.
“Why that is the quarter where all the swells live,” murmured she. “I’ll tip the maid next time, and she’ll let out everything.”
After Paul’s departure, Andre could not remain quiet; for it appeared to him as if each second was a century. He had thrown open the door of his studio, and ran to the head of the stairs at every sound.
At last their footsteps really sounded on the steps. The sweetest music in the world is the rustle of the beloved one’s dress. Leaning over the banisters, he gazed fondly down. Soon she appeared, and in a short time had gained the open door of the studio.