“Ah, indeed! then you should have heard him but now. He has been reminding me, this youth, that two years ago he sought my hand, and he assured me that forty-eight hours sufficed to console him for my refusal.”
“I did not know that the case was so grave, or the personage so dangerous. Truly, do you mean to keep him to dinner?”
“I invited him; can I retract?”
“Very well, I will leave the place,” he cried, rising.
She uplifted her eyes to his face and remained transfixed with astonishment, so completely was his face transformed. His contracted brows formed an acute angle, and he had a sharp, hard, evil air. This was a Larinski with whom she was not yet acquainted, or rather it was Samuel Brohl who had just appeared to her—Samuel Brohl, who had entered upon the scene as suddenly as though he had emerged from a magic surprise-box. She could not remove her eyes from him, and he at once perceived the impression he was making on her. Forthwith Samuel Brohl re-entered his box, whose cover closed over him, and it was a true Pole who said to Mlle. Moriaz, in a grave, melancholy, and respectful tone:
“Pardon me, I am not always master of my impressions.”
“That is right,” said she; “and you will remain, won’t you?”
“Impossible,” he replied; “I should be cross, and you would not be pleased.”
She urged him; he opposed her entreaties with a polite but firm resistance.
“Adieu,” said she. “When shall I see you again?”
“To-morrow—or the day after—I do not know.”
“Really, do you not know?”
He perceived that her eyes were full of tears. Tenderly kissing her hand he said, with a smile that consoled her:
“This is the first time we have had any dispute; it is possible that I may be wrong, but it seems to me that if I were a woman I would not willingly marry a man who was always right.”
These words uttered, he assured himself anew that her eyes were humid, and then he left, charmed to have proved the extent of the empire he held over her.
When she rejoined M. Langis, the young man asked:
“Does it chance to be I who put Count Larinski to flight? If so, I should be quite heart-broken.”
“Reassure yourself,” said she, “he came expressly to inform me that his evening was not free.”
The dinner was only passably lively. Mlle. Moiseney owed M. Langis a grudge; she could not forgive him for having made fun of her more than once—in her eyes an unpardonable sin. M. Moriaz was enchanted to find himself once more in company with his dear Camille; but he kept asking himself, mournfully, “Why is not he to be my son-in-law?” Antoinette had several attacks of abstraction; she did not, however, omit the least friendly attention to Camille. Love had become master of this generous soul; it might cause it to commit many imprudences, but it was not in its power to cause it to commit an injustice.