The princess distressed her by her reply. “I think, my dear,” she rejoined, “that Count Larinski is the last of the heroes of romance—or, if you like better, the last of the troubadours; but I have no reason to believe him to be an adventurer.”
Mme. de Lorcy could get nothing further from Princess Gulof; she had invited her to remain overnight; she got no pay for her hospitality. The princess spent part of the night in reflecting and deliberating. Samuel Brohl’s insolent menace had produced some effect. She sought to remember the exact purport of the two letters that formerly she had had the imprudence to write him from London, while he was fulfilling a business commission for her in Paris. On his return she had required Samuel to burn these two compromising epistles, in her presence; he had deceived her; he burned the envelopes and blank paper. The thought of some day having her composition quoted in court, and printed verbatim in the petty journals, terrified her, and made her blood boil in her veins; she hardly cared to take Paris and St. Petersburg into her confidence concerning an experience the recollection of which caused her disgust—but to let such an admirable opportunity of vengeance escape her! renounce the delight of the gods and of princesses! permit this man who had just defied her to accomplish his underhand intrigue! She could not resign herself to the idea, and the consequence was that, during the night she spent at Maisons, she scarcely closed her eyes.
The following day, after breakfast, Mlle. Moriaz was walking alone on the terrace. The weather was delightfully mild. She was bare-headed, and had opened her white silk umbrella to protect herself from the sun; for Samuel Brohl had been a true prophet—there was sunshine. She looked up at the sky, where no trace was left of the wind-storm of the preceding evening, and it seemed to her that she never had seen the sky so blue. She looked at her flower-beds, and the flowers that she saw were perhaps not there. She looked at the orchard, growing on the slope that bordered the terrace, and she admired the foliage of the apple-trees, over which Autumn, with liberal hand, had scattered gold and purple; the grass there was as high as her knee, and was fragrant and glossy. Above the apple-trees she saw the spire of the church at Cormeilles; it seemed to amuse itself watching the flying clouds. It was a high-festival day. The bells were ringing out a full peal; they spoke to this happy girl of that far-off, mysterious land which we remember, without ever having seen it. Their silvery voices were answered by the cheerful cackling of the hens. She at once understood that a joyful event was occurring in the poultry-yard, as well as in the belfry; that below, as well as above, an arrival was being celebrated. But what pleased her more than all the rest was the little deep-set gateway with its ivy-hung arch at the end of the orchard. It was through this gate that he would come.